Eighth Mission: The Sisters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

By: Barbara Grzenia

The team assembles early on the morning of day #1 of trip #8

“Blessed are the ones who hear the call of the Lord and respond.”

It is not always easy to answer the call but on May 17th eleven people made the journey from Darien, Illinois, to New Orleans, Louisiana, to continue the work with “Hope’s on the Way,” a grass roots effort of deacons and lay people who continue to bring hope through their efforts of rebuilding homes, churches and religious communities still in need.

This was the eighth mission to New Orleans since hurricane Katrina and Rita, now almost three years ago. The work we were asked to do was challenging yet very fulfilling, knowing that the convent owned by the Sisters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel would finally be the home they once knew. Additionally, a family would begin seeing some hope of returning to their refinished home.

Upon arriving at the convent on Sunday afternoon, our very first mission was to re-sod the area of Cub’s corner, the outside preschool area where the children will be able to once again play. There is hope that the preschool will be opening in September. This was a project that was enjoyed by the entire team. The ground was raked as the three pallets of sod nearly six feet tall was distributed and laid. On Thursday, God answered our prayer when the rain fell which helped the sod take root.

Sixteen bathrooms on the 3rd floor of the motherhouse were painted within the first two days by four women who came to experience a different meaning of what hope is for a community of sisters. The next day they took on the venture of refurbishing twenty-four wooden chairs for the good sisters dining area. Sanding, staining and polyurethane became a task that we became rather proficient at. It is amazing how our gifts and talents emerge in ways we don’t ever conceive, until we answer the call God sends us.

While the women were working in the convent the men went over to a house that needed to be completely dry walled. The home is located within the St. Gabriel the Archangel parish, some six miles from the motherhouse that we were staying at. The working conditions were extremely hot, humid and rustic. The electricity came from the next door neighbor when sawing, charging the drills and lights were needed. Under the direction of Deacon Dwight from New Orleans our dry-wall crew had the expertise necessary to complete their mission. Mr. Michael Melton and his family were one step closer to moving back home, almost three years after the hurricane and subsequent flood. After experiencing such a loss they will once again find some joy.

Many have forgotten about the people who lived through the tragedy of the hurricanes and the flood of 2005. “Hope’s On the Way” will continue bringing hope to theses forgotten people through their prayers, good works and future missions. We must continue to have the courage to answer God’s call.

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