A group of 18 youths and adults from North Carolina was among the many Lutherans arriving in New Orleans today for this week’s ELCA Youth Gathering. This group, from Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Lincolnton, N.C., was spotted at the Hilton Hotel around noon Tuesday. They’d caught an early  flight into the city, then a shuttle to the hotel.

“Our driver was a Hurricane Katrina survivor,” said Karen Lounsburg, 43, youth group leader. “He was gracious and shared his experience with us. Once he started talking, the entire bus got quiet. The kids were very attentive.”

Once at the hotel, the youths were eager to check into their rooms and head to lunch. The universal refrain: “We’re starving.”