TRIP 2011

Update #28 - December 29
Shreveport, Louisiana
6,517.12 miles (10,427.39 KM)

This is going to be the last update for the year. Usually, I have been posting updates every two weeks or so but there hasn't been anything new to talk about. My time here in Shreveport is almost over. Since arriving here in late September, I have been volunteering with the Fuller Center For Housing of NW Louisiana .

The Fuller Center has been building two homes for the city. The finishing up of the construction on the two homes didn't go as fast as they had hoped so they will be completed some time next month in the new year. The concrete work was completed so I was able to put down the sod for the two yards. I put down 11 pallets of sod down. Each pallet of sod weighed 2,000 pounds (909 kilograms). Even with all of that sod, there wasn't enough sod ordered so either more sod will have to ordered next year or the un-sodded will be seeded.

I have been getting involved with more of the people in the neighborhood. There are a couple of people in the neighborhood who developed and are maintaining a community garden called the "Allendale Garden of Hope and Love". This garden is a highlight of the neighborhood because the area used to be a hangout of drug dealers. I was able to locate a good free service and I was able to design a website for the garden. Here is the

 Allendale Garden of Hope And Love

Along with these two homes, I helped work on two other houses through the center's Operation Blessing program. One of the homes was in Bossier City across the Red River owned by an elderly gentleman who was a Vietnam War veteran. His house needed painting and there was also some inside rebuilding.

The second home was by far one of the worst homes that I had ever been in. With all of the things wrong with it, it should have been demolished but that was out of the question. The home was the residence of a poor black family that extended to four generations. The ages of the family went from a young boy under one years old to a great-grandmother who was in her high-eighties. From what I understand, the extended family had to move out last year but had to come back. During the time that the house wasn't being lived in, it had been vandelized. Almost all of the glass had been broken out so the windows had been covered with sheets of plywood. Holes had been punched into the walls inside. Also, there was problems with the electrical system and the plumbing. The state was getting ready to take the four children away and place them into foster homes unless the Fuller Center hadn't stepped in. We got most of the problems corrected so the children were able to come back before Christmas.

Looking back at this year's mission trip, it might have been the shortest in mileage traveled (6,517 miles (10,427 kilometers)) but there were a lot of things that I did. I helped after three natural disasters (a thunderstorm that had serious straight line winds in Norman, Oklahoma ; the tornado in Joplin, Missouri ; and I was caught myself in Hurricane Irene (the second hurricane that I got caught in)). I spent two days and three nights at a Red Cross emergency shelter that was at a church in the Wilson, North Carolina area.

I rode south from northwest Illinois down the Mississippi River to Mississippi; west to NE Texas; north back up to Southern Minnesota; east to New York; south to Florida, and then west back to Shreveport, Louisiana. Along the way, I was able to speak at thirty churches. I also worked on three other homes (a home through the
Central Oklahoma Habitat For Humanity in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and two other homes in Shreveport, Louisiana during my first visit to the Fuller Center. In total, I worked on eight homes this year.

During this year's trip, I helped people out in other ways. One of the people who is still on my mind is the homeless veteran that I had helped out in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He had recently been discharged from the Marines and for some reason he found himself stranded and was living under an overpass bridge. He was very dehydrated and malnourished. I gave him food to last him a couple of days and also some water. Also, I made an effort to find some resources for him and was able to contact a veteran's group that would contact him on the streets and try and help him out.

In about a week, I'll be heading down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for about a month. Sometime in February, I'll possibly be heading out on my 22nd mission trip. I've decided to head west this year across the desert to California but I'm planning to not go passed the Pacific Crest Mountains. From El Centro, California, I'll possibly head north through the Imperial Valley passed the Salton Sea and then up the San Joaquin Valley, through Bakersfield, and then on to Sacramento. From Sacremento, California, I'll be heading north to Portland, Oregon through Salem. From Portland, I might be heading northeast to Spokane, Washington and then head back east to the East Coast. I am not sure where I will be ending next year's mission trip.

I will keep everybody abreast through upcoming updates. Usually, I try and add a new update every two weeks but it might be longer if nothing really happens in the upcoming weeks. The next update might be posted as early as January 15th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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