Thursday, July 18th we arrived in New Orleans to begin our 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering. Then we experienced our first night in the Superdome! It was amazing, even though we were up in the nosebleed section. The music was wonderful and the speakers were fantastic. Our favorite speaker of the first night was Nadia Bolz-Weber. She had a very inspirational story. I like how she said that God will use all of you, not just your gifts and talents, but your mistakes and failures too!
Near the end of our time in the dome, you could hear the sounds of thunder outside. By the time the dome worship was over there was a full-blown thunderstorm raging outside. The rain was coming down hard and the lightning was huge! Because of the lightning and rain, we were forced to stay in the Superdome, until the weather got better. We ended up walking back in to the hotel in the storm anyway because we were kicked out of the dome which was closing.
Today, Thursday, July 19th, we began our day practicing discipleship. We split up into groups and learned the 7 ways-Give, Study, Pray, Invite, Worship, Encourage, Serve-to be a disciple. Then after learning about being good disciples we went to practice what we learned around the city (while doing some touring). During this time, we went to see Our Lady of Guadalupe church. It was very old and had a lot of beautiful artwork and statues. Next we went over to St. Louis Cemetery #1, which is an above ground cemetery. Here we saw the tomb of Marie Leveau, a voodoo priestess. Then we continued to on to visit a Voodoo Spiritual Temple and Gift Shop. We had a very interesting experience talking to the owner/priestess of the temple. We then enjoyed touring around the French Market were we found some food and Pastor Sue got some interesting masks.
After shopping around the French Market we headed to the Superdome for our second night of worship. Once again the music and speakers were amazing! We listened to two women tell stories about how God had called them to do risky things and go outside their comfort zones. Then we listened to Shane Claiborne who talked about how he and a few others took a risky stand against social injustice. I especially enjoyed his speech. We also got to watch a lovely performance form some rope acrobatics.
So far we have really enjoyed our time here in New Orleans. We look forward to be updating y’all again shortly.