Louisiana Clan

It happens about once a year when I visit my family in Louisiana. My sister Jo has lived there for over 45 years. Her boys are now grown men with families and directions of their own.

I love this part of our country, the scent of the gulf, the air that has it’s own personality and the slur in the tongue to it’s natives.

When you visit it is required to have a Po-Boy of either shrimp or roast beef and don’t forget to say “dressed” or else your sandwich will not be oozing in mayo and the lettuce and tomatoes will not fall out when taking a bite. We ate at Parkway in New Orleans, (voted the best in town) and my Po-Boy sandwich had endless fired shrimp with the crustiest bread, my inconsiderate appetite did not leave even one morsel for the birds.

I wanted to visit Baton Rouge but Jo would not hear of it. I also wanted coffee and beignet’s at Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter’s but that too was not going to happen. I was not going be denied my picture with the back drop of the Mississippi, it took some coaxing but finally Jo and her son Nick drove to the Harvey Locks. I stepped down the deep levy and took in the scenery, a crane looked as if it was wading in the water and tug boat helped a bigger vessel navigate it’s way through the narrow path and the city was staring at us from a distance.

At first the photo shoot was a disaster, for some reason, probably because wearing white gives a distorted appearance, all my pictures were displeasing and unattractive. Nick was my photographer and as much as he attempted the worst the situation got. I had a great idea to move closer to the water’s edge, Nick warned me that the rock’s were unsteady, I insisted on sitting, the unsteady rock brought me down. It was not so bad but it was at an awkward angle that I needed assistance in getting up. Nick was laughing so hard that his arms were like over cooked spaghetti and had to collect himself before he could help!  With the loud announcement of the fall I made a scene with the others enjoying the view sitting on the park benches above me.img_3119img_3102

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Sophie
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Jake, Lynda, Jo, Julia Stacie Torie and Tyson
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Nick, me and Jo

We had dinner with Jo’s son Torie and his family. Stacie, Torie’s wife and their children Julia, and the twins Tyson and Jake and Myra, Stacie’s mother. After dinner a Bible study that with all the distraction turned out to be great. Jo’s oldest son Frank and Lindy were busy with their boys so our visit was short and sweet. Nick and Michele and their daughter Sophie had dinner with us the following day and another short Bible study.

The following day was an adventure of eating at The Mint, a trendy restaurant in the Uptown District. New Orleans infrastructure is still suffering the aftermath of Katrina. Almost every street is under construction and to find this restaurant even with navigation was an adventure of many wrong turns. Rocky, Jo’s youngest son beat us to restaurant  and kept calling wondering where we were. I was lost in the beauty of the stately mansions, each with its own charm and character some of which were at one time plantations. From across the broad streets the old oak trees seems to greet each other with a friendly hug, I could not tell where a branch started and where the ended.

Everyone still blames Katrina for everything, they speak in terms of pre Katrina and post Katrina. Katrina, the category 5 Hurricane that sweep the city clean and then drowned it in salt water brought it’s citizens to it’s knees but also bonded them as one. No hurricane will ever destroy the the hearts of it’s people and New Orleans stands proof of this.

As Jo sweeps the floors of her business she listening to the Italian singer, Edith Piaf, sing  “Non, Jo No Regrette Reim,” the only thing she understands of the lyrics is “no regrets.”  My sister Jo is about to make a big transition in her life, downsizing from her empty nest to a smaller more quaint home. The move is exasperating and she need to organize and get ready for this new faze in her life. Since I can remember from our childhood she was always the one doing all the chores, running the errands for our family. The only change is now she is doing it for her family. She visits her ex-husband’s grave on a regular basis, reminding him how much he is missed and what he has missed out on. Her attitude is upbeat and within her family is known as the woman who can do whatever she put her mind to, to me she is just fascinating.img_3003

 

 

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Homeless Update

img_2894In  the 15 years that we have been serving the homeless I have never witness such atrocious conditions. The streets that we usually make our way through were impassable due to all the tents taking up most of the sidewalks. With the increase of population comes the anger and with the anger comes the contention. One lady was so upset when a drugged out man ran off with her obese Chihuahua. The woman almost took a swing at the person  that informed her of the dognapping. The dog owner’s volcanic mouth spewed out about five “F” bombs all in one sentence, her green hazel eyes were  glazed over in angers as she carried away the dog like a newborn.  We are well trained soldiers and never get in the way of this type of dispute unless it is a matter of life and death, and even with that we are forever watching each others backs.

I met a Caribbean man that gave way too much information about a snake bite, opening his shirt exposing his torso of all the skin grafting, it really resemble a patchwork quilt. It was when he told me that a large part of his buttocks was also grafted that I politely held up my hand and told him “Ok, Ok, I understand.” The poor man is still suffering an open wound ripe for an infection and especially in these conditions. I asked him why he was homeless and, he said that he had no papers; his chubby friend said that he was visiting him, with that they both laughed at the whopper.

It was just Robert, John and myself, and with so few of us it’s a challenge to pray for homeless because we have to keep an eye on two carts and sandwiches or else they get stolen. It’s a miracle that our vehicles have never been vandalized, I know that God assigns special angels to guard them.

There was a parking spot in front of our homeless friend Carlos’ area, I have know him for years and as a matter of fact he served as our photographer. At first Carlos was reluctant to have anything to do with using my phone but after a short lesson he did a great job, Carlos is peaceful soul that has earned the respect of other homeless.

At every street block is an area that is run  with what I call the “master,” that person controls who get to hang out there and if you are not welcomed by the “master” you best find another street block. The homeless have a pecking order and the one with most anger is the leader.  The women are victims of their drug abuse, where they can obtain the drug on a regular basis that is where they make their dwelling.

 

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Batman and Cleo

The homeless are lonely so this is where the Chihuahuas come in, they are a low maintenance dog, eating small amounts of scraps, their dung is also small in comparison to those of a Pit Bull. If you research online animal shelters, you will discover that the Chihuahua ranks second and third, no one wants them,  oh the irony! The homeless are doing a service by keeping the yappy dog out of the shelters.

Darell and his friend Tanisha did not really want prayer but I prayed for them anyway. As I was praying the Lord was revealing things about Darell, and though he was most skeptical to receive prayer, he quickly reacted when I mentioned that he would be using his voice for singing again. He chuckled, and asked me how “How did you know that I could sing?” “The Holy Spirit revealed it to me” I told him. He and Tanisha will not make these streets their home, through the grace of God they well find their way out.

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John, Robert and me praying for Joseph

I prayed for Joseph, a precious wheelchair bound man, he was completely receptive of what God had for him. Joseph’s sweet dispositions and many others like him always eases our ministry to operate in the love of God.  For the  over 2,500 homeless in this 40 block area that are referred to the chronically homeless we pray that God will protect them during this transition.  They make up a small population of the staggering statistics of over 82,000 homeless in the greater Los Angeles area.

If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose water never fail. (Isaiah 58:10-11)

God Bless you!

 

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The Man That Did Not Know God

He was successful in business and in life, blessed with great wealth that took a lifetime to achieve but he did not know God. His wife of over 40 years served God as a Catholic and remained steadfast in her belief. Together they built their dream home high on a hill over looking the rest of the world, they planned to spend the rest of their lives there.

With his deep love for his wife, a celebration was planned to renew their wedding vows; a priest from out of town did the officiating. The man liked the Godly priest and welcomed him in his home.

Shortly after the celebration came the startling news that the man had cancer… a bad type of cancer. The family did all they could do and agreed to an aggressive treatment. Things seems to look better for a short while but the malignancy came back with vengeance to attack his body.

At  our Bible study one of the ladies shared his plight and we prayed because he did not know God.  Every week would come a new report on the man’s condition and it was despairing news, we prayed special graces for his wife and their children but mostly for him to turn to God. The man bravely and honorably fought but it was not to be.

Last week I attended funeral services for the man that did not know God. His children both shared heart-rending stories about their loving father. His beautiful poised granddaughter spoke eloquently about her grandfather and the love that they shared. The loving wife was left numb by his absence but she never gave up on him, she was the families’s silent spiritual backbone.

At the memorial the same priest that renewed their wedding vows, would also eulogize the man. This priest and the man had formed a bond and the man called upon the priest to help him prepare for his death. The man  asked the priest if it was too late for him to know God and the priest answered “No.” As the priest shared his story of how a person who was given so much and gave so much of himself to those he loved that the mercy of God came to save him. These words represented the man’s gentleness and his free will that lead him to God. The parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) was the missing link for the man that did not know God. I listen intently as the priest connected the parable to the man, the priest reminded us that it was a year of mercy and that the Lord allowed the celebration with close friends and family with the renewing of their vows because God knew that the man’s time was short.

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle,[a] and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’

8 “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 9 And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”

The hours of the workday correlate to stages in life when people turn to God, Christ in his vineyard, where they harvest much fruit for God before the sun sets on their earthly life . It does not matter if the conversion is early or late in life, we are all awarded the generous and equal gift of eternal life.

What a beautiful end to the story of this man; all the prayers from his family and strangers lead him to know God and he will forever be remembered as the man who walked in the arms God. Yes, that is how easy our maker makes it for us!

I remain, a faithful servant of the most high, praying for all who stumbles across these writings.img_2873

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