Monday, September 19, 2005

Post from CCDA Member Kevin Brown in New Orleans

Thursday, September 15, 2005 John Paul and Roz Bartley, along with their daughter Sarai, came to visit from Houston today. JP is the guy I am grooming to be my right hand man. Sandy broke into tears at the sight of them, not because of the way they looked but because of her deep love for them. Sarai, five years old and the most wonderful kid, clung to us like long lost relatives. She has spent many days at our house and is very special to us.

We may have found an apartment for them closer to us than the current five hours (they are living in Houston in a two-bedroom apartment along with 12 other people). They would live with a woman who has MS and has an extra apartment next to her house. In exchange for some work on her behalf they would receive free rent. JP and I went into the city together. His house is ruined. Black mold is growing up the walls about 6 feet from the floor. His house is elevated about 3 feet above the ground on stilts. That means there was up to 9 feet of water in Hollygrove. Everything he owns is ruined. It was his first home, one we helped him purchase after we did years of renovations with youth groups and Adventures in Missions trips. It was a former crack house. He had only lived there for a few months.

Next we went to the Center. Part of the roof is missing and you can see the sky from two of the bedrooms. But that's not the bad news. We lost all of our trees. The downstairs had water almost to the ceiling. All the books, computers, office furniture, refrigerator, pool table, furniture, everything is ruined. The smell is indescribable, sort of like raw sewerage mixed with death. The sight is awful. The whole neighborhood is dead. The grass was killed by the toxic sludge, leaving behind a gray and black residue. All of the houses are vacant with the front doors kicked in by search and rescue crews. They left their marks on the doors, flourescent orange spray paint indicating the number of dead inside or whether the house was vacant. It looks like what you might see in a movie about the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.

The only signs of life were stray dogs and army patrols with huge machine guns and face masks. Military checkpoints are everywhere. The military are dressed in fatigues and roam the city in Humvees armed to the teeth. It really is surreal and quite sad. Our first group is coming on Saturday to secure the roof so that we don't get any rain through the roof. Hopefully we can board up the windows, too. We anticipate many more such groups in the weeks and months ahead, rebuilding the Center as a beachhead in a rough neighborhood where people can go to get some hope. We'll need to rebuild the computer center so they can access FEMA, Red Cross and more. We'll use the Center also as a staging ground for more mission teams. If they can deal with the smell, they'll have a place to sleep. I'll need lots of help.

The sight was so discouraging. I'll need people to pull stuff out of the building because it's just too difficult to figure out what needs to go and what we might be able to salvage. The discouragement is crippling and I couldn't even begin to make a plan, it's almost 40 years of ministry wiped out in one fell swoop. Granted we have lots of lives as a testament to our work but little of the stuff that means so much is salvageable.

Here is one example. I saw our old Rolodex, full of all the phone numbers in our network. I picked it up and it was full of the toxic sludge which poured out all over me. The cards were all matted and illegible. When I got home I stunk. Sandy wouldn't hug me until I took a shower. And then the mold began to make me wheeze and sneeze. I took antihistamine tablets and a shower. Less than an hour later I involuntarily fell asleep and dreamed restlessly of the lives and dreams that have been shattered by Katrina.Posted by Kevin Brown, Trinity Christian Community on September 18th, 2005

Noel's Fall Calendar

September 23-24: Los Angeles for RELOAD training.
September 28: Speaking at Indiana Weslyian University Chapel.
September 29: Speak at Taylor University Chapel.
October 14-15: Miami RELOAD and promo for CCDA Institute classes in January 2006.
October 20-22: Seattle RELOAD and promo for Institute claases in March 2006.
October 28-29: Phoenix RELOAD training.
November 16: 8 Institute classes being offered the day the CCDA conference begins. Check for more info.
November 16-20: CCDA National Conference in Indianapolis, IN.
December 8-10: DeVos Urban Leadership Initative workshop in Indianapolis, IN.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

TV Does NOT Reflect our Mestizo Future

If you look at the winners of the Emmy Awards from tonight, there is not one Latino, African American, or Asian actor. At least this year, it seems mestizo viewers will not see themselves in the top rated shows. Just interesting.

Peggy Lupton's Memorial Service

One of the amazing stories of CCDA is the ministry Bob and Peggy Lupton have established in Atlanta, GA. While Bob has played a more up front role, Peggy has been very involved in many aspects of the ministry, including working as a general contractor for the development of low income housing projects and living in the hood as a 'good neighbor'.

After four years of battling cancer, Peggy went home to be with our Lord this past week. Marianne and I attended her memorial service on Thursday in Atlanta, and we are glad we went. It was a great celebration of Peggy's life as well as an opportunity to mourn and share in her family's suffering.

For all of us that know the Lupton family, our prayers are with Bob and the kids.

David versus Goliath (In NYC)

Fernando Ferrer is the democatric canidate that will oppose incumbent Billionaire Bloomberg in New York City. Could it be that we will have a Puerto Rican mayor in NYC and Antonio Villaraigosa, the son of a Mexican immigrant, the new mayor of Los Angeles in these influencial positions?

Another clear sign of the emerging mestizo future of our nation.

Boca Grande Taqueria

On a recent trip to Boston, my son and I stumbled accross a killer taqueria not far from Harvard on Massachusettes Ave. The carne asada was perfect and the price was better. I didn't expect to find comida casera in Boston.

Missing In Action

It has been so long since I have posted anything, someone asked me if I went AWOL. I'm not sure what happened to me since my summer vacation, but I felt very little motivation or time to blog.

Not that there has not been so much going on related to mestizaje. With Katrina and all, it seems we are at a crossroads time as a nation regarding poverty, racism, and classism.

Lots has gone on in my family, as my 18 year old is set up in Boston working with City Year. He will be serving at a local school in Roxbury.
Since the summer, I've been back to Pasadena to do a one day training at Harambee with Rudy, have been busy setting up CCDA Institute classes in New Jersey, Miami, Seattle, Chicago, and getting ready for the 8 classes we are offering before the CCDA national conference in Indianapolis on November 16th. Finally, I just returned from a few days in Washington DC at a meeting hosted by the Acton Institute, a think tank on religion and the free market/capitalism.

If you want more info check out Rudy Carrasco, Liz Rios, Jeremy Del Rio, and Abner Ramos for their thoughts and reaction.