Once I learned to receive love, I was able to give it. In New Orleans, I received more love than I was able to give. - Gwen
On the 22nd of July, 3 Thistle Farms employees, 2 staff members and 2 volunteers made the trek from Nashville to New Orleans. Becca Stevens, our founder and Executive Director, had been asked to speak at a gathering of 36,000 Lutheran teens at the Super Dome. Niki, Bev, Gwen, Ali, Marlei and Melissa were particularly excited to see Becca speaking in front of that many people and in such a huge stadium (of course Becca might not have been quite so care-free as the rest). Two of the employees who went, Gwen and Bev, have shared their views of the experience with us.
Going to New Orleans was a wonderful. I thank God for my recovery and being clean so that I am now able to see the world. I have no limitations. And I realized that in New Orleans. When I was in my addiction, I was always thinking about drugs and caught up in that. I couldn’t see beyond it then, but I can now. Magdalene has afforded me a lot of opportunities to do new things and meet new people. The gift of Magdalene is learning to give back and help others. I feel the purpose of our presence at the convention was to share about Magdalene and how to love. And that’s what Magdalene is about – love.
I became very emotional when I first saw the Super Dome empty. All I could think about was the devastation that came with hurricane Katrina. Then when I saw it filled with 37,000 teens, I saw that it was filled with the spirit of God.
BeverlyWe had fun on the trip but at the same time we were working. It was really nice because we got to walk around all over in the French quarter.
Thursday was when Becca spoke - we sold our products outside and got to see the program. It was so beautiful to see Becca speaking. We were at the top looking down from the top of the Superdome so I got the perspective to see all the teenagers.
After the program, the teenagers came and knew what we were about. Which was different from most conventions we’ve been to where we are telling everyone the story of Magdalene and Thistle Farms.
Becca came out barefoot which was really cool. Then she spoke about drug addiction and prostitution. I thought that that was phenomenal that she could so clearly talk to 37,000 youths on their level because their age was an important age where they are making decisions about the rest of their lives. I really appreciate her for being so vocal about those issues. So I think that that stepping out and talking about subjects that are a definite reality is something that not a whole lot of people speak out to.
Becca spoke about grace and learning to love one another. It’s hard to love the homeless person sometimes, or the drug addict, or people that are struggling, but Becca got that message across really well. She is so humble and honest when she speaks.
Click here to see a quick (and loud) video taken from up high in the Super Dome, right before Becca comes on to speak. And click here for some (very) casual comments from the team while setting up our product table at the Super Dome.
Interviewed and compiled by Caitlin Bradley.
Video clips and photos of the inside of the Super Dome courtesy of Melissa Wert and her handy iPhone.