New Orleans-Ella Mae

Jason-New OrleansToday was our first day to really get our hands dirty, and we did it in style. We partnered with an incredible ministry named United Saints to work on various projects in run-down churches and homes in an area of fairly dense poverty. The guys spent the morning at abandoned church moving dirt and putting bars on the windows to keep people from breaking in and ruining the new construction work inside. For lunch, we went to a unique restaurant called Reconcile Cafe, which has its own story I’ll let one of the others tell. The day for me was highlighted by our afternoon work at the house of an 82 yr old woman named Ella Mae. She was a successful woman in her working years, but now struggles with dementia and is clearly alone with her poverty. Our assignment was to hang siding on her home. We attempted this with some limited success. We improved, but we certainly weren’t Bob Vila. However, I was amazed at the poverty this precious lady lived in. She currently has no running water, her house is literally crumbling down around her, and yet there she sat on her front porch, greeting each of us personally, dressed up with all her jewelry on. I was speechless as I stood on the ladder looking at the gaping holes in her house, the weeds growing on the parts of her roof that haven’t caved in, and seeing the crumbling foundation. She has a port-a-john in her front yard for her bathroom, and she just recently received this. It’s not that I didn’t know folks lived this way; I just had never seen it up close like this before. Those who live in conditions like this hadn’t told me their name, looked me in the eye, and shaken my hand. Until today. It was humbling. I thought about the numbers of “Ella Maes” that live in Jacksonville. As I processed this experience, I remembered a verse in I Corinthians 4 that says “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” Everytime I meet someone like Ella Mae and hear her story, I am trusted with something of immense value. I must prove faithful. As I spoke with the leader of United Saints about Ella Mae as we wrapped up our work for the day, you could see the passion in his eyes to change her life and make her days better as he spoke about all the things he wanted to do for her. He has no money or budget to help her. He said they need at least $8,000 in supplies alone to make her home livable. But as he said, “It’s the right thing to do and I’m believing in faith it will happen.” He had no connection with her other than a compassion that fueled his passion. I was changed by meeting Ella Mae. He will show me daily how to be faithful with experiences like today. I can’t wait to go back to her house, learn to hang siding with excellence and bless her.

Jason Oliver

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~ by Celebration Missions on June 23, 2009.

One Response to “New Orleans-Ella Mae”

  1. I’m not sure who wrote this, but what an awesome story and a great experience! You guys are so amazing letting God use you to bless His forgotten children. I can’t wait to read more stories that you guys post in the coming week. I’m praying for you and rejoicing with our Father at all the wonderful things you are all doing up there! God bless you and keep you safe… let NOTHING of the enemy prosper where you leave your hearts and fingerprints! I send all my girls a big kiss and hug!! xoxo P.S. Hilary your mom has emailed and called me worried so I’m glad you got there ok… please post a blog so she can feel better that you are safe! LOL Love you all!!

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