Peacemaking.

Today was a super fun day in this pastor’s opinion. It was our practice peacemaking day which means we started the day in the convention center. We joined in worship and then had time in the exhibition halls.

It was crazy how much they put in one building! There were zip lines and basketball games. There were exhibits on violence and injustice that happens around the world. There was a center dedicated to the ELCA 100 Well Challenge and Malaria Campaign. It was there we spent most of our morning.

We jumped in line behind many others to pick up a 40 pound blue container of water (see below) and walk a mile. That’s right – voluntarily. (Okay. There was a free tshirt involved too.)

The challenge to walk a mile around the track they had set up in the convention center was to give us a taste of what people go through in Africa everyday. Children and women walk an average of nearly four miles to get water everyday. Us, walking a mile inside an air conditioned building, was only a small taste.

And it was hard. We sweated. And had to take breaks. And got bit by mosquitoes (a volunteer marking our arm with red dots). And had arms like jello at the end of it. But we all passed the finish line.

After we walked with our jugs of water, we donated money to the 100 Wells Challenge. Red Oak Grove had taken two noisy coin offerings specifically for this occasion and place to hand them off. So far, the gathering has raised more than $250,000 from congregations who brought their offerings. Awesome.

The rest of the day was equally awesome. We rode the street car down St. Charles Ave. in the garden district, seeing wonderful sights along the way. We grabbed a quick dinner and then were off to our last mass gathering where we remembered Ghandi’s words: Be the change you wish to see in the world.

It’s incredibly hard to grasp that we will go to worship tomorrow morning, board a bus, and then say goodbye to NOLA and to our new friends. This trip has gone so quickly! While I think we all are a little ready to go home, to eat regular meals and vegetables and sleep in our own beds, it will be sad to leave. What a great experience it has been. We can’t wait to tell you all about it when we get home.

You know the drill – a few photos:

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