HLG students spend fall break in New Orleans
By Brandy Campbell
HLG Public Relations
November 15, 2005
Hannibal – Although the images of the destruction from Hurricane Katrina are slowly fading from the nation’s television screens, 11 students from Hannibal-LaGrange College (HLG) have a renewed visual of the devastation. Since the first reports of the catastrophic storm, HLG has been making plans to send a team to New Orleans to assist with cleanup and disaster relief. Over fall break, they were finally able to put those plans into action.
“My initial reaction to the hurricane was that was just another storm that had hit the coast,” said Justin Martin, an elementary education major from Boonville. “At first, I didn’t realize the impact that this storm was having. The news began to spread and I eventually began to realize the detrimental impact. My heart began to break with what I saw. I made the decision that I would try my hardest to go if there was a mission team going down there.”
Marc Neddo, HLG’s director of missions, said that the team’s job was to “serve as slaves and show God’s love and grace in simple practical ways.” The team was assigned to work in the supply distribution tent where upwards of 1,000 cars filed by each day to receive basic supplies. Work began at 8:30 each morning and lasted until 7 p.m.
“It was taxing work in many ways,” said Neddo. “But the students never let up, serving relentlessly, turning down break times, and jumping at the opportunity to do extra.”
HLG students spent the bulk of their time passing out items and serving as greeters outside the lot. Whitney Walters, from Pana, Ill., said she was able to spend several hours a day “simply talking to people and praying for them and sympathizing with them…”
“Being a people person, it was such a blessing to be able to spend most of my day talking and sharing with people,” said Walters. “To see the smiling faces through the broken spirits was a pretty awesome sight to see.”
Dana Whitt, a special education major from Trenton, said that even though the team arrived two months after the hurricane, there was still plenty of work to be done.
“Trees were still down, power lines were still destroyed…We went inside a church where the pews were strewn all over the sanctuary and a piano was upside down on the stage,” remembers Whitt. “The flood line was higher than twice my height. I guess I never thought about that kind of aftermath before. I couldn’t help but wonder how the people of that city could possibly have any hope for the future. However, I am thankful that God is hope when we are hopeless.”
Neddo concluded that “we were but worthy slaves simply doing what we ought to do, showing the grace and love of God in unpretentious, practical ways. Jesus meant it when he said: ‘In as much as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done unto me.’ (Matthew 25:40)”
For more information on the missions program at Hannibal-LaGrange College, contact Marc Neddo in the Missions Office at 573-221-3675, ext. 384 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.