Sunday, January 31, 2010

Work, New Orleans, etc...

Hey Ya’ll!

So after speaking to my parents, I realized I needed to explain some things a little more. To be honest, this first week has been so busy that I really haven’t had a chance to blog. Now I’m getting into the swing of things, and I’m looking forward to sharing experiences and posting photos.

Here is my plan for the next ten weeks:

I am volunteering with Mission on the Bay. This is an organization run by LESM (Lutheran Episcopal Services in Mississippi). LESM houses and feeds volunteers who come to do hurricane relief work. I am interning with LESM so my job is to work with these volunteers. I’ve spent my first week learning about the organization, but now the real work begins. Starting tomorrow I will be on a weeklong rotation schedule and this will teach me everything I need to know about running a non-profit organization. My first week will be spent in the kitchen… making meals for all of the volunteers staying here at the center. My second week in the case management office… determining what families need our help. My third week on the worksite doing construction. And my fourth week will be working with the administration. I’ll be working with Butch (the guy in charge), and I’m really excited for him to teach me everything he knows. After this first month of rotations, I’ll choose my favorite and spend the rest of my time working with that department. I’ve also requested to volunteer in an elementary school one day a week, and hopefully that will begin this week.

I apologize for not posting more this first week. I’ve just been trying to figure out exactly what I’m doing, and now I feel like I have a good handle on things. I’ve been experiencing the culture this week and loving it. The south truly is a whole different world.

I spent this last weekend in New Orleans. After Katrina, I always wondered why hurricane victims didn’t just leave. I didn’t understand why they would continue to rebuild, even though another hurricane would most likely come in a few years. I didn't understand one bit.

Now I get it. I started to understand in Bay Saint Louis this week, but after being in New Orleans, it makes perfect sense. I really can’t even explain it, but New Orleans has more pride, love and personality than any city I’ve ever seen. They are united by what they’ve been through, and they are stronger because of it. This is home, and leaving it isn't even an option for them. I was part of the New Orleans crowd on Saturday. I spent my day walking around, talking to fun people, and visiting little shops. I even bought myself a “WHO DAT” sweatshirt. I don’t even want to leave after spending a week here. I can understand why someone who’s spent his or her whole life here wouldn’t leave after the storm. I have a new respect for these people and what they stand for.

Time for bed, but I promise I’ll post more.

xoxo, Fran

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just a few pics...

This is where I live!! The fence with all the signs is a project I did on my first day. These signs were made by all of the different groups who have stayed at the center. I drilled lots of holes and fastened this to the fence with zip ties! haha!

You guys are awesome! Thanks for following. It means a lot :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

We have arrived!

Greetings from Bay St. Louis!

Sorry I haven’t posted. So much has been going on. I was in Moscow last week and loved seeing everyone, but it broke my heart to say goodbye. I am so thankful for so many amazing friends. But now I am in Mississippi and am absolutely loving it! I can’t even really explain it, but there’s a feeling I get when I’m in the south. The people have the biggest hearts, and everyone is always willing to tell a story or have a conversation. It really does feel like home.

But now I’ll tell you about what I’m doing here…

I’m working with an organization called Lutheran Episcopal Services in Mississippi (LESM). I guess I’m officially considered staff at Mission on the Bay because I am interning here at the volunteer center. This volunteer center houses thousands of volunteers every year. Some are working with Habitat for Humanity, others with Americore, and some simply work for Mission on the Bay. I’m working at the center with volunteers so they can do great things and have an amazing experience. Some days I’ll spend my time learning about the administrative side of things, others will be focused on hospitality, and some are spent doing casework. Of course, I’ll also be doing lots of construction. I’ve requested to volunteer at a local elementary school once or twice a week, and I’m meeting with the principal tomorrow, so hopefully that will work out.

I seriously love it here. The people are amazing. There is no doubt in my mind that some of these people will be my lifelong friends… and I’ve only been here for 24 hours. Yesterday was ridiculous! The Saints won so it was a celebration! We had a bon fire and stayed up way too late even though we all had to wake up at 6:00 am. I can’t wait for all these new experiences.

I’m really tired tonight, and I have so much homework, but soon I want to write and focus on some of the books I’m reading and connect them to this experience! Shoot me a text or e-mail sometime. I’d love to hear from everyone!

Xoxo Fran

Thursday, January 14, 2010

All Packed!

Well, I’ve officially fit my whole life into two bags! I was really worried about it, but it all fit. I’m driving to Moscow with my family in the morning, and I’ll be there for a full week before I leave for Mississippi. Be sure to give me a call if you’re in Moscow!!
P.S. Keep Haiti in your prayers… I’m heartbroken about the whole thing and really want to look into taking a trip to help in some way. Let me know if you’re interested!