serving the wider world

As members and friends of Mira Vista UCC, we have helped rehabilitate homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in New Orleans (four years in a row). New Orleans blog here. 

New Orleans in May 2010

Our fourth annual work week in New Orleans was Saturday May 1 - Saturday May 8. The need is still extensive. Over 900 FEMA trailers are still - five years after the storm - in use. While other organizations have pulled out of New Orleans, the United Church of Christ is planning to continue working there through 2011. See this year's blog on the "our blogs" page!  

Back from New Orleans

by Pastor Susan, from The Fellowship Post, June 2008

Yes, we know there's work to be done here too. Yes, we know that rebuilding homes is only one tiny piece of all that needs doing in New Orleans. Yes, we know that it is inefficient to send unskilled volunteer workers across the country to work in an unfamiliar climate and work environment. And yet, and yet...we want to do it again. Why?  

Speaking just for myself: I will never be able to forget the criminal negligence and the racism I saw on television right after the Storm, and I want to keep on voting with my feet and my hands and my heart to "treat everybody right," as the spiritual says: New Orleans is a kind of epicenter for all the justice issues of our nation. Now I have also fallen in love with the people and places of New Orleans, and I feel newly compelled to return. Perhaps I can be not only part of the restoration, but also part of the birth of that which was not previously possible.  

Then there's the effect this work has had on me. While on the job in New Orleans, I do things I am afraid to do, I do things I am not skilled at, I do things I don't know how to do, and I do things I don't like to do...and by the end of the week I feel like I and especially all of us together can do ANYTHING!  

And so I will continue to do my little bit, with your help. Thanks to all of you who donated, we delivered two checks for more than $4,300 each, one to the UCC home rebuilding work, and one to Common Ground Relief. It was a thrill to pass on the love and energy and money of so many who supported our New Orleans benefit dinner. Thanks be to God!

Ave Maria*

by Bonnie Hariton, from The Fellowship Post, June 2008

After a morning of painting the exterior of a

double-shotgun house in New Orleans parish and

an afternoon of touring outlying areas

including the lower ninth ward, where signs of life

were scattered like sunflowers here and there

in still-empty lots two and a half years after the Storm

we sat in a sanctuary to watcf slides and even

without pictures of bodies floating face-down

(which we also still held in our heads)

the images one after the other slammed on us

like torrential unceasing rain wind and water

For the photographer they were sacred, even

healing but for us they were scary and

leading to emotional devastation the valley

of woe and how do you lift up for air? so many

waterlined statues of madonna in the wreckage

where are the real madonnas and why are her

hands outstretched and her face inclined why

her downward gaze her almost imperceptible

smile and will she be there for the memory

of the dead and for those rebuilding

and for the lonely and for the displaced?

These hands held the boards the hammer the brush the

ladder the ammonia spray the sandwiches and the saxophone -

we were there, and volunteers came before us,

and a group after us will come, and we will come again.

*Ave Maria, by Ruth Cunningham on HARC's Inside Chants CD