I remember it well.
It was sometime in June, 2007, and it was my first Summer mission trip
with the youth group of the last church I was serving,
Southminster Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village.
We packed up a couple of 12 passenger vans
with sleeping bags and gear and kids—including Meg Swagerty
and Hannah too, I think
and we drove from Kansas City to
John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Metarie, Louisiana,
a suburb of New Orleans
where we unloaded the sleeping bags and gear and kids
and got ready for a week of mucking out
and demolition in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
And we got there,
and we sat in a big circle for orientation
and they talked to us about the storm and its aftermath
the things we might expect to see as we drove through the city
not just the cleaned up parts prioritized for tourists
but the lower wards, where there might just be one or two
residents who had stayed on an entire city block
and the FEMA trailers and the flood lines marking how high
the waters came.
They told us how to wear the special respirators to protect us from the mold
and how to avoid stepping through a nail and how to not be under a ceiling
when swinging a sledgehammer.
You know, good things to tell 7 through 12th graders.