“I don’t want to go!” I told my mom, in a stern voice, as I slammed the door. In the summer of 2007, these were my words for two weeks prior of July 13th. As a rising sophomore, I was very active in my church. One of ten kids, I was nominated to go on a mission trip to Pecan Island, Louisiana, with the organization “Young Neighbors in Action”. This program helped different cities in various situations across the United States.
Two years prior of my arrival, Pecan Island had become a victim of nature’s most violent creature. Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 hurricane, had made history in August of 2005. Louisiana was destroyed, thousands were killed, and hundreds had gone missing. When people just started to recover from Katrina, another unfortunate piece of news came; Hurricane Rita, yet another Category 5 storm, was on its way. Pecan Island would have to withstand these two ‘back-to-back’ forces of nature, while hoping for the best and expecting the worst.
Young Neighbors in Action assigned my group to a special job, since there were ten of us. We were told to help a fairly elderly couple (they could not perform the tasks for one of them had a disability and the other was diagnosed with cancer) tear down their three room (permanent) extension to their mobile home. These three rooms had water standing in them for the past two years. The molding of the walls and ground was so unbearable, that we had to wear facemasks for our own protection. With this big task ahead of us, we started what was to be a six-day job.
At the work place, there was no shade. We worked from 9 AM until about 4 PM every day with a half-hour lunch break. It might have been hard work, but it was mentally satisfying. Over the next couple of days, we were able to uncover special, personal, and valuable items that had not been destroyed by the storm. We learned about the Louisiana culture and the enjoyed much of the Cajon food there. $300 later and a missed flight, I regret saying those words to my mom, and thanked her for sending me to the Young Neighbors in Action. The experience but realization in my eyes and made me thankful for what I have.
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