The Beauty of New Orleans

I will admit it. I am not the kind of person who consistently puts others before myself. At times I can be self-centered and ignorant of others. However, the summer of ’08 rolled around and I took the initiative of signing myself up for a mission trip.
Hurricane Katrina demolished without hesitation. From the minute I walked out of the airport, I was drenched by the wave of emotions New Orleans held. Three years had past and you could still taste the devastation.
It reeked of pain. It was everywhere, everywhere with the exception of the household of an impoverished old lady. She invited us to join her for a quick lunch, but we got more than we bargained for; jambalaya and an incredible story. That woman was honestly the definition of a weathered fighter. Her humble home-gone, her first child-gone, her husband for God’s sake-gone. No, my eyes did not well up with salty tears. And no, I did not pity her. Instead I envied her.
This frail, old lady who was forced to endure something I can’t even begin to comprehend, had such a burning passion and stood tall with a soul so mighty that it was contagious. And here I was with my 100-dollar work shoes taking a mere week out of my year to put someone else’s needs before my own.
I do not remember her name, but I do remember what she taught me. She showed me that even when the life you have built is shattered you have to trudge on with a smile. She made me realize that complaining and selfish thinking doesn’t help anything. This ancient, 5-foot-tall woman crept into my heart and her story leaked into my memory. It changed me for the better.

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