I have to admit. I don't understand why the youth group chose "Waste Your Life" as the theme for their mission trip this year. It made no sense to me. It is based on Mark 8:35-"For whoever wants to hold on tightly to their life will lose it, but whoever gives their life away for me and for the good news will find it." The idea is that Christ gave so much of his love that he could waste it on us and that we should give of ourselves to the point that our love is wasted as well.
The youth group from Columbia Presbyterian Church took 51 youth and adults to New Orleans to work on houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina as part of Project Homecoming. They were in New Orleans during the heat of the summer--July 16-23. Chris decided to go on this trip awhile ago. He worked at the fundraising auction that helped with the cost of the trip and had to come up with some money on his own for the rest of the cost.
They went to the Garden District their first night there to have Creole cuisine at Frankie and Johnny's. Chris said he got the alligator nuggets there and enjoyed them. They got to experience two different kinds of churches--a Presbyterian church and a gospel Methodist church on Sunday. And the warm Southern hospitality of both those congregations. They also went to the French Quarter a couple of different times to go to Cafe du Monde for coffee and beignets, see St. Louis Cathedral and shop. One night they went to a bayou near where they were staying and got to see an alligator.
The main purpose of their trip was to work on houses. Chris worked on a house in the Lower Ninth Ward that was nearly finished. Some groups also worked at getting a school ready by painting and moving books, worked with some children, and at a food bank in addition to working on houses. The devastation is still pretty significant. There are many houses that are completely gone. Some that are finished by groups like Project Homecoming and Habitat for Humanity. One can question God's plan when seeing that kind of devastation but Christopher did see the good that came out of it. How people come together when bad things happen. So he felt it was a worthwhile trip and also enjoyed getting to know some of the kids in the youth group better.
If you are interested in a more in depth review of what they did, the minister and a mom wrote a blog while they were down there-Waste Your Life.