Saturday, July 5, 2014

Louisiana and Texas, Part 2

I continue to have wonderful experiences as I travel to talk about my work with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in CAR and answer questions about the situation there.  (I can note that I am ready to be in one spot for longer than a couple of days, but that goes with the territory after 5 weeks of travel and presentations!)

In the past week, I visited Louisiana and Brenham and Katy, Texas.  Today I go to Lake Jackson; after liturgy there tomorrow I will be flying back to PA (from Houston).  On the road again…  I can definitely say that my knowledge of Texas and Louisiana’s geography is improving, but is still inadequate.

Charles Short picked me up at the airport in New Orleans and drove me to his home north of Baton Rouge.  I gave a temple talk, children’s sermon, and presentation (at lunch) at his church, St. Paul’s, Baton Rouge.  That Sunday afternoon he and I visited the state capital building in Baton Rouge where I was reminded of some of the state’s history, especially related to Huey Long who had the building build and where he was shot (bullet hole still visible in the marble.)  We also visited an old Episcopal church (Grace) with its cemetery and other places around Feliciana Parishes (East and West), including Cat Island which is now a Wildlife Management Area.

Baton Rouge and New Orleans are at the mouth of the Mississippi River.  Some coal barges we saw remind me of those we seen on the rivers around Pittsburgh.  In fact, some of these, no doubt, come from PA coal country – down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.  We are all connected. 

In the evening we had dinner with people from St. Paul’s at P. J. Chang’s, one of a chain of Chinese restaurants.  I had never heard of them, but will definitely keep my eyes open to eat in another one if I have the chance. 

Monday Chuck was again tour guide to show me some of the French Quarter in New Orleans.  I got to sample beignets (French donuts – similar, but not the same as the beignets in CAR/Cameroon).  I can say that New Orleans better fits my old image of cities.  It is built an area with limited space and started long ago.  Streets are narrower (than Houston and Fargo, for example) and many buildings are taller.  It is true that there is a lot of Spanish (and some French) influence in the buildings and there are horse-drawn carriages in the Quarter which exist in NYC and Philadelphia, but not many other of the cities in eastern US. 

We also met with Rev. Bonnie Parker and Kim at Gethsemane Lutheran in Chalemette (just outside of New Orleans)  This is an area that has been hard hit by flooding (from hurricanes) on several occasions. Rev. Ken Shuman from Church of the Galilean of La Place, LA was also there.  Turns out he had served as pastor in Sharpsburg (near Pittsburgh, PA) and had his church flooded there after a hurricane only to arrive in LA and have a repeat performance (by the effects of a different hurricane).  Small world. 

Back in Texas I visited Rev. Alan Kethan in Brenham.  He currently serves St. Peter’s and First Lutheran churches (but is soon moving to Columbus, TX).  I also spoke at St. Paul’s and to the deanery (area
conference) meeting. (This picture is from St. Paul’s.)  
Pastor Alan took me to see some of the Brenham area, including the Antique Rose Emporium.  Beautify roses and flowers cultivated) from old plants (some going back to the 1800s) set on gorgeous grounds.

I continue to be warmly received everywhere as I eat my way through visits!  Hospitality naturally includes delicious food and lots of it.  I may have to roll back to the plane, though.  Good thing they don’t weigh me before and after or I would be charged for the extra weight I am sure! Everyone tells me that I have also been fortunate since temperatures are running below normal and are only in the high 80s in the afternoons.  Mornings and evenings have been pleasant to be outside. 

Yesterday was the Fourth, Independence Day.  Mine was calm and restful – just what I wanted.  I spent it with the Drees family; we had grilled hamburgers and turkey burgers and saw some fireworks.  All was well! 

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend and had a great Fourth of July celebration.  


  1. It has been an immense pleasure and honor to have you with us, Susan. You know that I have loved your blog articles, and now will read them with greater care and respect for the work you do to bring about God's kingdom here on earth. Blessings and peace to you.

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