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2011 Mission Trip to New Orleans

October 20 to November 5

 Our mission trip to New Orleans was lead by David and Janie Satterfield of St. Stephens Church, Richmond.  Participants through Fork included Reverend Anne Kerchmier, Ruth Syman-May, Todd Dickenson, Kerry Kablack and myself, Howard Anderson.  Ruth and I stayed for the entire week while the others participated part of the week.  We arrived in New Orleans on Saturday and stayed at Annunciation Mission on Claiborne Ave, where they provided us with housing and meals.  We were working through the Rebuild Program of the Episcopal Diocese of New Orleans.

This was the 12th mission trip to New Orleans since Katrina for Dave and Janie, who are best described as students of New Orleans.  Their knowledge of the city, its history, and places to go is extraordinary.  Although we spent Halloween on Bourbon Street, at other times Dave and Janie would take us to places frequented by the locals.  The result was always excellent food at reasonable prices.  Music and musicians were everywhere, and we saw the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in the lower 9th ward.

Our workday began at 8 in the morning and concluded at 3 p.m. each weekday.  Our task was to paint the exterior of a retired school teacher’s house in the 7th ward, about five minutes from the French Quarter.  While we worked outside, a team of students from Alfred State College in New York worked on the interior of the house.  By week’s end, we had finished our creation of a yellow house with red and green trim.

On Tuesday afternoon, which was All Saints Day, a “Line” came down the street past the house we were working on.  A Line is an impromptu parade with all sorts of musicians and a horse drawn cart.  It is called a Line because, as the parade progresses, more and more people join in with the singing, clapping and dancing.  The Line is led by a gentleman dressed in a black tuxedo and sporting a fancy umbrella to shield the sun and another person that can only be described as someone dressed as a VooDoo character.  The neighbors told us we were very lucky to have experienced a Line, as they are spontaneous and form out of nowhere.

We spent most of our spare time on Charles Street or Magazine Street.  Charles Street has the famous cable cars running down the center of the tree lined street and there are magnificent homes on all sides.  Tulane University is at one end.  Magazine Street is a couple of blocks over from Charles Street and has restaurants, antique stores, costume stores, open air bars, etc; it reminds me of Carytown on steroids.  The parks with magnificent live oaks and Spanish moss dripping everywhere are an incredible experience. Sunday afternoon in the park there was a tailgating party. The Saints football game blaring over speakers; big caldrons of food were cooking over portable stoves…  All in all, the mission trip was wonderful.  We were able to do meaningful mission work and enjoy the music, food and culture of a wonderful city.

Dave and Janie are supposed to let us know when there are going again, so let Howard Anderson know if you are interested in participating.  Remember, you can go for the whole week or just a couple of days.  It is an easy journey with flying time of a little over two hours.