Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Another Mission Trip

Well, after returning from our family Pentecost Mission Trip in General Cepeda, Mexico, I had one week to rest up and then pack up again.  This time I was helping our youth director chaperone a group of 29 on a youth mission trip/youth retreat in New Orleans called Alive in You.

Every summer for the past 12 years or so, we have brought a group from our parish to one of the Steubenville Conferences.  It was always a very fun and faith-filled weekend, but in the past few years our numbers began to dwindle.  Our youth director decided that we needed a change, and after receiving an Alive in You flyer and checking out the website, we both agreed that this looked like the change we wanted.

So last Tuesday I left behind my husband and kids, we loaded up about 24 teens, 3 moms, 1 grandma, and a priest, and headed down to New Orleans for 6 days.  We arrived at the St. Clement of Rome school and unloaded our bags---suitcases, sleeping bags, and air mattresses.  We found our PreK classroom and began blowing up all the air mattresses.  I am NOT a fan of air mattresses, so I rolled out a camping mat and my new sleeping bag. I had forgotten my pillow along with many other things!  (Last minute packing = failed)

Wall to wall girls & air mattresses (29 to be exact)
We then headed out to check out the shower trailers.  Because we were staying at an elementary school, there were no showers.  The Alive in You crew had ordered shower trailers for us to use.  Of course, I had forgotten to bring a bathing suit to shower in, so I prayed that the trailer had individual stalls and was not an huge open area.  Answered prayer #1!   The showers really weren't that bad and had private stalls!  God does love me!

We were blessed again with our assignments.  We worked at the Museum of Art in their Sculpture Garden in the mornings pulling weeds under this nice shady tree.

And cutting down some overgrown "marsh grass looking stuff".

Father Jeff was determined to get it all cut.

Our afternoon assignment was cleaning and more weeding at the Sisters of the Holy Family Convent.   Our crew jumped in and followed all of Sister Anne's orders without blinking an eye.  Some continued outdoor work in the sisters' gardens.  Others followed Sister upstairs to the bathrooms and began cleaning the tubs, showers, floors, walls, and toilets without any complaint.  Another group spent the entire afternoon cleaning the numerous windows on all three floors and wiping down all the blinds in the three story convent.  These kids did these tedious and unpleasant jobs for three days without any grumbling, but rather with a lot of joyful singing and beautiful smiles!

A group of window wipers
The best part of working at the convent was getting to know the sisters.  It was so wonderful to sit down with them and listen to their stories.  (I'd say the average age of the sisters had to be at least 70!)  They were so happy to have all these young ladies and a few young men around the convent.  They especially liked baby Molly!   It was so good for these young teens to see the joy in these women who had given their entire lives to Christ and His Church. 

Sr. Josephine loved wheeling around chatting with the kids.

Identical twin sister Sisters

After three days of hard work, these Sisters decided to do something for us.  Before we left on Friday afternoon, they made fresh homemade shrimp po-boys and had some local men boil crawfish for us.  There was one other group working there with us from Florida, and they wanted to give them a taste of "real" Louisiana cooking.  All 70 of us were treated to a half of a shrimp po-boy and a quart sized bag of boiled crawfish.  They were so excited to be able to do something for us after we gave the convent a good ole' fashioned Spring cleaning.

Our evenings were spent having crazy themed dinners, competing in crazy competitions, listening to testimonies, and singing praises to God. 

One of our teens leading the rosary
Stache Bash Dinner

One of the competitions

The best part of the evening was our late night "family" talks.  Some of our teens were asked to give their testimony to their own peers.  They all stepped up without batting an eye.  They gave their "witness" talks which got the conversations rolling.  It was really awesome to hear how these teens stepped up and out of the normal high school drama.  Teens talking about attending Adoration when they have problems, not following the crowd, standing up for what it right, depending on the Eucharist for strength---was so amazing to hear.  It gave me hope.

On Saturday, we had some free time to spend enjoying the sights of New Orleans.  Our group decided to do a pilgrimage to Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos' shrine at St. Mary's Assumption Church.  I had first heard of Father Seelos at a retreat a few years back and had prayed to him many times for his intercession for family members' healings.  I was anxious to go and find our more about him and to ask for his help once again.

His story was amazing and really touched me.  The stories of the known miracles and the beatification process were also captivating.  The church and its history was just as beautiful as the stories.  We all had a chance to pray to Blessed Seelos and the crucified Jesus for whatever was on our hearts.  It was such a blessed morning.

Afterwards, we headed down to the Riverwalk for some lunch, beignets, ice cream, and fudge!  We ended the day with Adoration.  The conference ended Sunday with a closing Mass which I missed because I got up very early and headed home to surprise my husband and kids on Father's Day.  The look on their faces when they woke up to mine was priceless!


  1. Found your blog via Catholic Moms Online. I am a new member too :)


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