New Orleans, LA – Today was a day of travel: as Sister Monica put it when we told her of our adventure, today was “our version of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (minus the train ride). We started our day with a two hour drive to the airport, and, no, I did not get lost. I just took my passengers on the “scenic route” instead of taking the exit for Terminal 2. Our flights (MN to Chicago and then Chicago to New Orleans) were miraculously on time. This is my first experience flying where the flights all left according to plan!

As one of the leaders, I was concerned about the hypothetical situation of having one or two people not being sociable with others, or beginning the trip with a fear of exclusion. To my great joy, this was not an issue. Despite the quietness of the group in the beginning, everyone spent the day mingling with others and laughing together. Lots of great conversation was shared among our group as well as with friendly strangers we met along the way. One woman in particular, who chatting with at least five of us during our flight into New Orleans, gave us some great advice on how to be safe during our time in the city and how to have fun, especially as we enjoy the authentic food! As someone who cannot stomach seafood, she made fried, stuffed shrimp sound heavenly.

Since we spent the whole day traveling, we did not meet the sisters until 9 p.m. Despite our exhaustion from the day, they revitalized us with their charm and energy. And never have a group of strangers made me feel more at home or caused me to laugh as hard as they did tonight! We had a brief introduction to their gorgeous house and we shared a couple of hours reflecting, praying, and sharing funny stories together.

Now that the day is done and most people have gone to sleep, I sit back and think of all those cranky moments some of us may have experienced while traveling (guilty!), and I realize that it was all in all a very blessed day. We made it safely and on time, and the sisters made a wonderful impact on our outlooks for this trip. Despite some people’s fear that I will share my cold with them (*cough* Theresa ;D) I believe this week we will all be able to cast aside our worries related to school and life back home, and simply embrace the here and now of this brief service opportunity.

Bailey Windsperger