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K10: Lessons from the Storm

mlab Behind The Scenes, Sarah, Staff

“Ten years ago…” If you know anyone from the Gulf Coast, you’ve probably heard him or her start off a story like that recently. You’ve seen the Facebook posts. You’ve read the editorial columns. A decade has passed since Hurricane Katrina took her toll on this region, washing bare the shores of the coast and turning New Orleans into a bowl of water, grime, and chaos. My stack of stories is extensive. I could share what it was like to be a twenty-one year old who stayed through the storm. I could tell you about the winds howling through the city as the eye of Katrina passed just to the east of us. I could tell you about the immense …

Happy Thanksgiving

Getting through the holidays in (mostly) one piece

mlab Behind The Scenes, Sarah, Staff

Thanksgiving is a loud affair in the Barnett household. Too many Italian women cooking too much food in too small of a kitchen – it’s a recipe (pardon the pun) for disaster. By the time we sit down at the table, laden with autumn hues and the Pilgrim salt and pepper shakers that predate both my sister and me, we’ve had at least three arguments, spilled something on another thing that’s probably dry-clean-only, and someone has whispered a cuss word or two under his or her breath because inevitably, we’ve burned the rolls. I love it. Sometimes the holidays don’t turn out quite like we envision, though, do they? Sometimes they fall at inconvenient times. Sometimes while it seems that …

Tea Cup

NOLA to Greece: Tea and tears

mlab Global, Missions, Sarah, Staff

“Syaw or sabz?” I must have clumsily asked that question a dozen times, mostly because my Farsi is non-existent and I had to keep repeating myself to be understood. “Black tea or green?” Over and over again. Wednesdays are a little different at the refugee center: only women in the building, a more relaxed atmosphere, and lots and lots of hot tea. I knew deep down as we started the day that something significant was happening. I had been feeling it all week, and I sensed it even more so with each handshake and kiss exchanged as the refugee women filed in. As we settled in with our tea, our hostess, an incredible woman who has served at the center …

NOLA to Greece: Check your “savior syndrome” at the door, please

mlab Global, Missions, Sarah, Staff

I am not a hero. I am NOT a hero. I am not a HERO. Sometimes I have to repeat that phrase to myself so I’ll remember, well, to remember that I am no hero. I don’t have super powers, a glowing, golden lasso, or even a cleverly named sidekick. But there is something about going on a volunteer trip that kicks that latent “savior syndrome” into high gear. Those of you who know me personally know that I spend a lot of time trying to coax this syndrome out of the groups that volunteer with MLab in New Orleans, so you would probably think that since I rail against “savior syndrome” so much that I’d be immune to it. …

NOLA to Greece: “But when do we start??”

mlab Global, Missions, Sarah, Staff

If you’ve been following #NOLAtoGR on social media (if not, you definitely should be!), you’ve seen a little bit of our Grecian journey so far, and let’s be honest, from our pictures of the delicious food, incredible views, and plenty of smile-filled selfies, it probably doesn’t seem like we’re “roughing it” as you might expect us to do on a trip like this. You might be wondering when our “real work” begins, and you’re probably not the only one asking that question. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: sometimes serving and volunteering involves more than nose-to-the-grindstone tasks. Sometimes it’s sharing a meal and a conversation with a local ministry partner. Sometimes it’s catching up with a …

Nine Years Later, and I’m Still Not Strong Enough

mlab Sarah, Staff

“God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” How many times have you heard it? How many times have you said it? To be honest, it’s all too common around these parts, especially when we’re standing in front of someone walking through some profound tragedy. My story is not unique. At the most basic level, it’s a story of human suffering and God’s redemption of that pain. As a tried and true New Orleans girl, I’ve been marked by the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It will always be a significant moment, followed by a series of very dark days, a whole new level of introspection and doubt, and ultimately, the Lord pulling me from the darkness. The …

Be Still.

mlab Behind The Scenes, Sarah, Staff

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news lately, you’ve probably seen clips about the major freeze that swept across the southeastern part of the U.S. this week. Though we have our fair share of “winter moments” here in New Orleans, it’s not often that we’re immobilized by an ice storm. Since the majority of our year is spent enjoying subtropical temps, the presence of ice on the roads (and all over our cars) caused a massive two-day pause around here. MissionLab, NOBTS, and essentially most of NOLA spent two days in stillness, and while it might seem fairly common to those of you from other parts of the US, stillness isn’t the norm around here. I took a …

New Year, New Resolutions

mlab Behind The Scenes, Sarah, Staff

It’s official: 2014 is upon us. The holidays are over, the calendar has been flipped, and gyms are filling up with people determined that this will be the year they actually keep their resolutions. While I have nothing against resolutions – I love a good to-do list – I also tend to be just a little bit of a perfectionist. Even as I was growing up, I was always my toughest critic, so the first few months of the year tend to be slightly stressful for me. I spent my first evening of 2014 journaling and mapping out some plans and goals for the year. The list started out fairly generic: eating better, working on time-management, etc. But if there’s …

Notes From The Garden

mlab Behind The Scenes, Local, Missions, Sarah, Staff

I might be your average city girl, but I come from a long line of West Virginia women who moved to New Orleans and still managed to can their own vegetables, pickle just about any part of a pig, and occasionally wring the necks of two chickens at once. (SPOILER ALERT: this NOLA girl hasn’t lived up to that legacy.) Pickling days at my grandmother’s house were the absolute worst, especially since the window units never seemed to be working properly. On those hot afternoons, I would escape to the small patch of garden in the backyard. I’m not sure if it was the idea of making something grow from practically nothing or the pure bliss of being out of …

Greece: A Few Final Thoughts

mlab Global, Missions, Sarah, Staff

If I’m being honest, I could talk for hours about my trip to Greece: the people we met, the work we did, the things we saw and experienced, the food we ate (!) – the list goes on and on. After visiting three times and falling more in love with the country and its people each time, I’ve got a few stories to tell. For obvious reasons, though (like this isn’t my personal blog and not everyone gets as stoked about Europe as I do), the time has come to wrap things up. In doing so, I figured I would answer the three questions that seem to come up the most. (By the way, if any of you want to …