Monday, July 19, 2010

New Orleans Day 4

Greetings from New Orleans – Blog #4

The Youth Leaders meet every morning at 7:15 am to discuss ideas, share concerns, review the day’s events, and handle any questions that might arise. This is followed by the daily challenge of waking up our Youth so we don’t show up late for the day’s first event. Like most teens, anything before 10 am is early rising.

Most groups have a couple of different colored t-shirts with the logo of the Gathering printed on them which they wear on different days. Our own Youth have three different colored shirts to wear. Sunday it was grey, Monday’s the color was teal blue, and tomorrow’s will be bright green. Most groups do the same, some don’t. I will say, from the perspective of an “old” pastor, husband, and father, modesty in terms of girls’ tops appears to have disappeared down here. However, we can be proud of our Youth and chaperones because their clothes do reflect the modesty of Sarah that St. Peter praises highly in his first epistle.

The morning group Bible study was very good. It is led by the campus pastor at the University of Michigan. (I would have written “U of M” but most of you from Glen Burnie would have thought I meant “University of Maryland” and our principal would have thought about the “University of Missouri!” WRONG!) The study focused on John 9, the healing of the blind man. Over 3000 were in the study together. The presenter did a great job!

One of the interesting side blessings of the trip has been watching our Youth when it comes to dining out. Well, the nutrition is not exactly on their top priority in ordering meals! (I wonder if they ever learned in school what a vegetable is or the value of having fruit everyday?) But what is even more fascinating is listening to them decide on what to tip the waiters or waitresses. Either they only eat out at McDonalds and Pizza Hut, or they have never in their lives seen mom or dad lay down a tip after a meal. What is the suggested tip on an $18.00 meal these days? “Is one dollar enough??? Ha! Ha!

After the Bible Study our Youth and chaperones attended a session called “Look Off Site.” These sessions are designed to teach the youth something about New Orleans culture. We walked about ¾ of a mile to a large warehouse which is the home of Mardi Gras World. Here we learned about the history of the Mardi Gras, the relationship to the Mardi Gras and Christianity (Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday,” which is the day before Ash Wednesday!), and how the Mardi Gras floats are made. We also saw the many floats that are stored and reused year after year in one of the many annual Mardi Gras parades. (Trivia question: when does Mardi Gras begin? January 6, Epiphany.)

We walked back to the convention center for our next sessions. The Youth can select various workshops or Christian concerts to attend. These last between on1-1 ½ hours. They are repeated every two hours so if one time slot is filled, a person could come back and attend a second offering. At the same time the youth are in their sessions, there are sessions for the adult leaders, too.

When the afternoon sessions ended we walked about a mile to a restaurant where we were joined by other youth groups from our Southeastern District. In addition to a delicious banquet of New Orleans cuisine, a local entertainer taught us how to do four different “line dances.” Only Leslie Jaseph, Sean Jones, Jeff Sullivan, and I were brave enough to venture out on the dance floor. My pride could be embarrassed for only so long before I sat down. Only Sean must have dancing legs because he stay out there the whole time.

After dinner we walked about ¾ mile to the Super Dome for our second Mass Event. It was most exciting. Again a Christian band played and a praise team led us in singing contemporary songs. Two comedians got us all laughing to their antics and Christian humor. A magician portrayed Jesus calming the storm and did some mind boggling tricks. Another comedian portrayed a nightly news broadcaster and there was the second installment of a Christian soap opera. The highlight of the night was a mother sharing her faith and moments of doubt when her eighteen year old daughter was killed in an auto accident. You could hear a pin drop in the Dome as she shared with 27,000 youth how God’s love and faithfulness pulled her though the most awful and tragic night in her life.

I think I now understand why they have us walk so much and so long to the different event sites. When we walked back to the hotel from the Dome, we reminded our Youth that they have a midnight curfew. I think just about everyone chose to go to bed instead: tired from walking all day!

Keep us in your prayers as you are in ours!

Pastor George

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