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Unexpected Tears

“Don’t touch anything without your gloves on!” shouted our trip leader.

A group of us inhaled one last deep breath of fresh air before entering another moldy home. Dinner time was approaching, my energy was vanishing, and the last thing I wanted to do was haul out loads of grungy items. Within ten minutes, I was covered in sweat. This was not my idea of a relaxing Spring Break.

I was a young, outgoing, and single-minded teenager. My view of Spring Break consisted of going to the beach, and shopping, instead here I was doing this grimy, dirty work.

“Jana, are you just going to stand there? I need help carrying this bed-frame outside,” a classmate of mine said.

I snapped out of my daydream, yet could not shake off my grouchy mood. Instead of working hard, I kept thinking about my friends enjoying their break without me. I obviously did not want to be cleaning out filthy houses in New Orleans! The true reason I agreed to participate? Because I still needed community service hours to meet school requirements.

Hurricane Katrina had taken place months before our visit, but New Orleans still needed desperate help. Each home we entered reeked, making my eyes burn and stomach churn. The waterline reached clear up to the ceiling in most the homes. Piles of individual’s belongings were smothered in grime. Our job consisted of clearing everything out, and then completely gutting the house.

I walked into a bedroom and started to clean out the closet. I reached into the closet, grabbed a mangled up jacket, and instantly froze in my tracks. I owned that exact same jacket. The room felt eerie, lonely, and cold, it was just me and that jacket. As I peered into the closet, I saw numerous items that were just like mine. How would I feel if my closet had been destroyed? Tears immediately sprang to my eyes. In that moment of silence, I thanked God for what I do have.

People’s belongings, memories, and meaningful items were washed away in hurricane Katrina. There I stood, observing the destruction firsthand. I became ashamed with my self-indulgence, begging God to veer me away from my egocentric viewpoint.

I knew God had put me in that moldy room at that exact moment. He knew how stubborn I was being. Through Him I learned to see the world through a whole new perspective, and appreciate the blessings He has provided.

Jana Kubrock Carter writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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About Jana Kubrock Carter

Jana Kubrock Carter

Jana Kubrock Carter

writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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