Day Five: Our last day in Nola started with breakfast at Hope Church followed by worship and a message by Pastor Matt Tipton. During breakfast we got to fellowship with the congregation and hear stories of what God is doing in their lives. The music team led us in worship and Matt gave the message from John 18:1-27.
What an wonderful experience to be able to walk alongside Hope Church, Matt, Elaine and their sweet children. It is amazing to see how God is growing their ministry and changing the lives of so many people. They have such a love for the people of Nola.
God's glory is evident in New Orleans. He is transforming so many lives and giving hope in a city that has been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Lastly, our group had a wonderful time this week doing all that was asked of us. We had fun serving and building relationships within the community while at the same time doing it all for the glory of God.
Written By Dotty John
Day Four: Today started off a bit slow and sore, but once we arrived at Hope Church we were ready to get started! Everyone was assigned a task for cleaning - bathroom, trash taking, window cleaning, floor sweeping/mopping. Or a task for women's dinner prep - salad preparation and table decoration. After getting all our tasks completed, we enjoyed a delicious lunch of cold cuts and chicken salad while participating in a wonderful bible study lead by Brandy Novoa, our dinner speaker. Our lunch time lesson was over surrendering our lives to God, realizing we're not in control, scripture was taken from Romans. Whew! We had a busy morning, as a reward and because we had time, we headed back to the hotel for a quick rest and freshen up for the dinner.
Shelia was our driver today and she did an excellent job! Our way to the church was always direct and took precisely 15 minutes. The way home was a different story, we NEVER took the same route twice. I'm not sure if you've ever driven around NOLA, but all the one way streets and cut through the canal make it quite a challenge! Upon our afternoon return there wasn't very much street parking as large buses had taken our easy parking. No fear driver Shelia is here - she parallel parked that church bus like she had been driving it for years! We were all so much more than impressed with her skills!
We returned to the church about an hour before the dinner stared and began preparing the plates for the first course and typical last minute items - ice in glasses, coffee, lighting candles in the table center pieces. The bus left to pick up several guests while the others of us gathered in prayer for the evening. As the guests arrived, we mingled greeted, and visited. It was so good to see some ladies we'd invited as we had gone through the neighborhood on Thursday afternoon! We played some fun games and enjoyed a yummy dinner provided by a local Cajun restaurant. Blackened chicken pasta was a huge hit! Then it was time for the speaker - the main event! We were all excited to hear Brandy speak. Her life story was real and raw and truly captivating. We hung on her every word, laughed when she did and cried when she did. Her message of turning your whole life over to God, surrender to God, and listen to Him was powerful and touching.
Written by Liza Heise
Day Three: Today we started off with a trip to the French Quarter for some free time to tour around New Orleans. We thank Pilar for her tremendous driving and navigation of the streets of New Orleans as well as her parking skills as it is no small feat to park the church bus in any downtown city lot.
Our group enjoyed delicious beignets, powdered sugar and all, at Café Du Monde. Then we moved on to check out the exciting happenings in the French Market and shopping at the various vendors and shops around the area. We did a lot of walking around the town seeing the sites including Jackson Square and Saint Louis Cathedral and worked up an appetite. Everyone found divine restaurants in which to dine for lunch. Several had the world's famous Banana's Foster at Brennan's where the dish was originally invented. Others found their favorites including Muffalettas Jambalaya, Gumbo and La Freezes to name a few.
Tonight we continued preparations for the Women's Dinner at Hope Church prepping food items and putting together the games and gifts for the ladies. Then we had nine darling children of the church staff and volunteers spend the evening with us while their parents had a night out. We had a great time playing games, watching movies, pushing cars and trucks around and building forts with blocks. The kids enjoyed making handprint and photo magnet crafts to share with their moms and dads. Precious memories for all.
We concluded the night with a nice devotional by Shelia and reflected on the comradery of the day. Off to rest up for the big day.
God is doing a great work in the ministry of Hope Church and the New Orleans area. Please lift up the Women's Dinner on Saturday and that God will move in the hearts and lives of the women that are coming.
Written by Rachel Brown
Day Two: We began the day with an exciting bus ride to Hope Church. Matt oriented us to the DNA of Hope Church and the dynamics of the surrounding neighborhoods. We were all so impressed by the way he has built relationships with the people in the area and the way the Lord is drawing many to Himself through Hope Church. After a tasty lunch at French Press, we went to work all around the Hope campus.
Lisa and Nancy hosed down the bounce house and wiped down toys. Dana and Matt replaced about a dozen of the fluorescent lightbulbs. Rachel, Pilar, Amy, and Emily pulled weeds and spread pine straw in the landscaping. Liza, Beth, Shelia, and Dana organized closets full of cleaning and maintenance supplies. Kathy, Dotty, and Sandy shopped for groceries with which Dotty and Sandy prepared amazing meals for two Hope families who are struggling with cancer.
Later in the afternoon, we delivered the meals to the two families and prayed with them. Then we canvassed the Martinique area to invite the women to the Women’s Dinner that we will host on Saturday night. Many of the neighborhood children joined us to help hang invitations on doorknobs. Some of our group met a woman who is completing chemotherapy and had the privilege to pray with her.
Time to eat again! We enjoyed dinner at Casa Garcia before we returned to our hotel. Nancy led our time of devotion, and Amy helped us process our day. After more “get to know you” games, we headed to bed.
It was a very full and very good day.
Written by Emily Butler
Day One started out with the group meeting at the church at 6:45 am. Rachel Powell prayed for our group and we hit the road. Although it had been suggested to the group that we keep our liquid consumption to a minimum so as to avoid excessive bathroom breaks, some of us chose to purchase and drink fancy Italian water on the bus and add a couple of unscheduled stops onto our trip. (Not mentioning any names, Emily.)
We were thankful for our bus drivers Sheila, Pilar and Nancy and for Kathy driving behind in her car. We had a fearless last minute lane change onto Hwy 59 in Birmingham and a minor fender bender in Kathy’s car, but the Lord provided and delivered us safely to Chick- Fil-a for lunch.
Ten hours in a bus full of women offered up many chances to connect, learn each other’s life stories, take a few cat naps, and hear from Amy about some of what we could expect over the next few days. There was also a rousing Hee-Haw sing a long. We arrived safely in New Orleans with nary a u-turn and checked into our hotel.
Dinner was at the world famous Chef Ron’s Gumbo Shop where we feasted on New Orleans favorites and enjoyed lots of laughs. We played “getting to know you games” where we answered questions about our childhood, favorite Bible characters and the strangest thing we had ever eaten. We came back to the hotel where Kathy led us in missions training and we prayed that God would use our group to make an impact and to make the people we come into contact with feel the love of Jesus.
Please pray that God will put people in our path who need encouragement and that He will equip us to make an impact for the Kingdom.
Written By Dana Tucker