I looked back at the last couple of New Orleans posts and they sound a lot more depressing than I really felt - especially compared to my April trip. Signs of life and sheer New Orleanian determination are everywhere. To close out the trip, here's a few observations:
* Volunteerism continues. 50 of us went down from my church to help rebuild. We replaced a group of more than 20. At least two other churches from Shreveport were in town the same weekend.
* True faith abounds. Many of these folks have been let down by every institution they trusted, but they sang their hearts out in Mass: "Come my here, my Lord." I cried.
* Three babies were baptized in church Sunday morning.
* When the pastor asked how many people planned to return to their homes in the next month, several hands went up.
* A car displayed THREE bumper stickers: "I (heart) St. Bernard"
* The attitudes of people have shifted from shock and despair to perseverance and hope.
* St. Gabriel (the church where we stayed) had raised $1.3 million toward rebuilding its church campus -- without asking the parishioners for any money.
* Church volunteers were working on more rebuilding projects than demolition.
* Trash is being picked up.
* Everyone who went on the trip will continue to talk about the experience. In the words of Sunday's Old Testament reading: "For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch." (Isaiah 62:1)