Katrina Relief

Today was a big day. We did not quite finish the house we were working on. To put it positively, the house was VERY well made. The cabinetry was all solid wood and very hard to tear down, even with crowbars and sledgehammers. And the drywall was nailed very thoroughly. In fact, there were probably a minimum of ten nails per stud that ALL had to be removed. So lots of hammers pulling lots of nails out of lots of studs took a long time. The worst part was the metal corner bead, which had about ten nails on EACH SIDE. What a pain...

To do my part, I took down about 75% of the cabinets in the kitchen and also demolished a bathroom, tiled shower and all. Took out the cabinets and the counter and the sink and the closet... The only thing we left was the toilet! Worth saving I guess!! What a process.

Now we are on our way to Starbucks on Magazine Street, apparently a swanky/artsy area similar to Northwest Portland. We have 17 people riding in a van right now that has seating for 11! Here's what we did. We fouind a cast iron bench, like the kind you find on porches, and we put it in the back of the van facing toward the rear. We have several people sitting on the floor and between the seats as well.

No, there is no seatbelt law in Louisiana. They don't even have an open container law, much less a seatbelt law. You can buy daiquiri's at drive-thru windows. Who needs a seatbelt??

By the way, did you know Nutria's are edible? Apparently they taste like rabbit. "They good eatin'."

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

*Sent via Blackberry



Emerging Worshiper

Bourbon Street and the Bayou

Today we were able to get back to the house we started yesterday and get the whole place cleaned out. Tomorrow we will return and remove all the drywall and paneling and reduce the interior to the stud frames. Then we'll be done. I get on a plane Saturday afternoon and fly back to Portland.

This afternoon we had a half day off and we went on a tour of the swamp. It was incredible. Our tour guide's name was Claude, and he was quite a storyteller. We explored the rivers, sloughs and bayous by boat. We saw alligators, blue herons, bald cypress and tupelo gum trees, duckweed and spanish moss... We even saw a house that had been moved a quarter mile down the river by hurricane Katrina. Amazing stuff. The houses in the swamps are all on stilts. Smart thinking!

Tonight was surreal. We went to Bourbon Street again and stayed a little late. We checked out a few music clubs and souveneir shops. I bought a couple T-shirts and some alligator body parts, severed heads, teeth, etc. We saw a good blues band play. They had a song called "Kiss My A**, I'm Not Takin' Your Sh** No More". (If you know what those asterisks mean, then I don't need to apologize to YOU for writing them!) Needless to say, hillarious! It was good to see the town in a fun and happy mood. Lots of people out enjoying themselves. But at the same time that I wanted join in the celebration, my heart was heavy over what so many were turning to in order to find that enjoyment. Lots of booze. Lots of sex. Lots of things that feel good for a short time, but in the end are empty and meaningless apart from Christ.

BUT, I have to admit that I love a good blues guitar solo! MAN I wish I had more time to check out the scene here. But there are more pressing matters at hand. Back to work in the morning.

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

*Sent via Blackberry



Emerging Worshiper

Rain, Rain, Rain

Today we had some severe thunderstorms in the morning. We went out to a homesite anyway, unpacked all the tools and wheelbarrows, got drenched, and then came back home. All told, we were gone for 2 hours. My clothes are still soaking wet. The humidity is close to 90%, so the chances are not good that they will dry anytime soon.

So we "worked from home" today. We cleaned things up around the church/mission shelter. We fixed wheelbarrows and sorted laundry, installed drywall and fixed leaks... We were a big help to the staff, as they are getting ready to go home for a break over Thanksgiving and needed to get a lot of this stuff done before they go.

The forecast calls for sunshine Thursday and Friday, so we'll be back out in the neighborhoods again cleaning out houses. In the meantime, we're trying to stay dry and busy.

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

*Sent via Blackberry



Emerging Worshiper

I Had No Idea

So today was really a wake up call. It's been 14 months since hurricane Katrina and there are still total neighborhoods that are like ghost towns. Houses full of people's belongings, furniture, clothes, appliances, toys, books, photos... All devastated by water damage, mud, mold... Abandoned and rotting... Full of rats, roaches, spiders, lizards... Left behind...

We cleaned out two houses today. The first had water damage from a leaking roof. The second had been totally flooded to the ceiling... At least eight feet of water, maybe more. We found the remains of a pet that had been left, a cat or small dog. It was just bones and fur, laying on what was left of the bed.. The clock on the wall had stopped at 12:39. The closets were still full of clothes. The couch was upside down, where it came to rest after floating in the living room. The cars were still in the driveway. Abandoned. And the house next door looked the same. And the house next to that...

What amazes me is that volunteers from all over the country are coming to New Orleans and cleaning up the place. 14 months later. And the city is still a wasteland. How long will it be? What is the city doing? What is the state doing? What is the federal government doing? I'm sure they're doing SOMETHING. But its not enough. Can they do more? I don't know. I'm not in a position to know. Part of me thinks "This is America?" Then part of me realizes I don't even know what that means.

What I DO know is that I had no idea before today that things were still this bad. And I'm shocked that I didn't know. How many people like me around the country are oblivious to what it's like down here?

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

*Sent via Blackberry



Emerging Worshiper

New Orleans

Greetings from New Orleans! I am with the missions team from Our Place working with Crossroads Missions doing Katrina clean up. Today is my first day. I got in yesterday afternoon...

It is amazing that there is still so much devastation here. Just driving in from the airport we saw hundreds of abandoned houses and apartments, whole strip malls left deserted, gas stations boarded up, broken windows, damaged roofs... How long has it been? And still things are this bad.

We are just about to leave to head out to the worksite. Some of us are cleaning out houses and some will be doing construction. I am on the demo team. Should be fun. And sad at the same time. I'll blog more later.

Sorry its been so long since my last blog. Thanks to Terry for the encouragement to start again!!

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

*Sent via Blackberry



Emerging Worshiper