I have had a distant love and attraction to the city of New Orleans since hurricane Katrina and the aftermath devastated that city in 2005. Before Grace Community Church officially launched, we wrote our first check to relief efforts in that city. I was in New Orleans for the first time earlier this week. I spent a couple days visiting our student ministry team who were there on a mission trip. It was a very quick trip, but in addition to seeing the great work our team was doing, I was able to visit with a few great pastors doing good work in the city.
I had been to Louisiana a couple times, but had never made it into the city of New Orleans. It was hot and humid, but I left with some good memories and was glad to see some ways God is impacting that city.
On a short bus ride from the car rental hub to the airport terminal, the bus driver asked what I liked most about the city. It was an easy answer:
Food – Sorry to put that first, but it was that memorable. I never had a bad meal. I asked at the hotel where I should eat and, while she did give me a recommendation, she also said, “You won’t find a bad meal around here.” She was right by my experience.
People – Everywhere I went, regardless of the class of people I met or the side of town I was on, they were friendly and helpful. I’m sure there are a few scrooges in New Orleans, but those may be the tourists and I didn’t encounter them. From the police to the restaurant workers to the clerks in a store, the locals seemed exceptionally nice.
Resolve – New Orleans is coming back after Katrina. That period remains very much on the minds of the people. It was obviously a defining moment in their history. Progress appears slower than some want it to be and there are still frustrations with the government, but from an outside perspective I saw a people determined to love their city back to health.
Yes, there are still problems. I wish those who choose to litter wouldn’t. There are some places good Christians shouldn’t go. The roads could use some attention. They could lower the humidity a bit for my comfort. I suspect they could find some of those issues in my city as well. Overall, I was impressed with the city of New Orleans.
Have you been to New Orleans either before or after Katrina? What were your impressions?