NOLA: a summary.

24 Jul
I’ve returned to good old Austin, MN.  phew.  What a trip.  There is more info on the ROG site, which maybe you read.  Maybe you didn’t.  Either way, here’s my summary in true list form. 
The awesome:
— The speakers each night.  My favorite was Nadia Bolz-Weber.  You can watch her talk here.  It is totally worth your 20 minutes.  Not all pastors are stuffy and old and pious.  Amen.
— beignets at Cafe du Monde were pretty delicious.
— walking a mile while carrying a 40 lb. container of water.  It was a part of the 100 Wells Challenge education.  The ELCA is currently raising money to bring clean drinking water closer to people living in Africa.  It’s not uncommon for women and children to walk four miles each day just to get water.  The Red Oak Grove youth and I waited in line to carry 40 lbs. around ten times [which equaled one mile] in an air-conditioned building.  It was only a taste of what people in Africa must do.  And it was hard!  I did one lap and wondered how in the world I would ever do nine more.  Somehow, with a combination of breaks and pushing the jug on the smooth concrete floor for little bits, I made it.  All the youth did too.  [Two of the ladies admitted they cheated a little bit; they coerced a boy into carrying theirs for a segment of a lap.  Oh, girls.]
— bonding with the ROG youth.
— seeing seminary and synod friends!
— flashlight hellos.  I never did run into the Dawson group but twice they gestured hello across the superdome by waving their flashlights and phones in my general direction.  I waved my bright orange hat in return.  For cute.
— worshipping with no leadership role.
— a service project day that took us to a local Boy’s and Girl’s club to read with them.  What a great experience.
— It’s estimated that 38,000 Lutherans each doing four hours of service will be of value to the city of New Orleans worth more than $2million.  How awesome is that?
— a ride in a streetcar through the garden district.  [with crabby kids.  but we’ll forget that detail.]
— great music.  dancing.
— the openness with which sexual orientation and bullying topics were addressed.  It needed to be said; I’m glad they took the opportunity.
The not-so-awesome:
— the bus ride home.  We were part of three buses which caravanned together.  Basically our group and a group from Mankato.  Note to self: If ever a large trip like this is organized again, go with one bus and only one bus.  Three was not so much fun.  Whenever we stopped – be it bathroom or meal stops – the lines were long.  Communication between leaders was not great.  I will say – with my nose in the air – that our group was so well behaved.  It was the other group that, well, had attitude.  The other group also had a child that decided not to eat anything all week and only drink Mt. Dew and Red Bull, which led to a four hour layover in the middle of Sunday night at a hosptial in Memphis.  Our trip home went from an expected 22 hours to a horribly long 29 hours.  It was miserable.
— little sleep.
— having a diet consisting of Subway and fast food for a week.  I went to the store tonight and my cart was mostly fruits and veggies.
— little to no Lindsay time.  Things were tense there for a day or two.
— swollen ankles.  Last night, they looked like they were drawn by a cartoonist.  Swelling is going down but they’ll be elevated again tonight as I go to bed.  
— we depart from the First Lutheran parking lot and we wave to all the family gathered.  One of my youth says to me, Aww.  You have no one here to say goodbye to you.  Thanks for reminding me I’m all alone.
Trust me when I say the awesome outweigh the not-so-awesome, even if the lists seems pretty even at first glance.  It was a good trip.  And now I can say I’ve been to New Orleans and – if I’m honest – I can say that I don’t ever need to go back.  [Unless it were to be to a b&b in the garden district.]  Bourbon Street has no appeal for this girl.  No thank you.  The next gathering: Detroit in 2015.  I’m thankful it won’t require an overnight bus trip!

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