On a mild June morning the cars arrive in the church parking at easy intervals.

One my one greetings are exchanged. Soon duffels, sleeping bags, coolers, and buckets of tools sit in a clump ready for loading into either of the two vans that will transport us. Men outnumber women for this event and they load the supplies with efficient experience.

We gather around a tailgate for devotion. Then it’s time for a group photo — how convient that the mother of our youngest member agrees to play photographer. We divide into two quartets and claim a seat for the journey.

The adventure begins. Do new things. Have new experiences. Interesting how little phrases can ripple out into a life. Now I’m on a journey to New Orleans to work on home re-construction for a week with a group of almost strangers.

My seat partner, a veteran of several similar trips, draws me into an easy get-acquainted conversation as miles flow by in a pleasant morning. A few hours into the trip the highway drops from the bluff country to flat, rich delta and the crops become more Southern.

“Is that camel real?”

Eyes dart to the right. There, within the fence of a concrete lawn ornament business a real, live camel reaches for a green snack. In a ragged chorus we reply. “Yes.”

An engine overhead alerts us to the next highlight of the morning. A bright yellow crop duster swoops low over the cotton field, climbs and turns in rapid ascent at the end to avoid both trees and billboard.

God has bless this stage of our journey. Variety abounded in the urban areas of St. Louis and Memphis; fields of corn, cotton, and rice; and stands of pine in red Mississippi soil.