The work team on I-81 en route to New Orleans' Ninth Ward. Sam, Ralph, Elmer, and Phil (not pictured) in the cab, with luggage, tools, cement, and playground parts in the back. Stay tuned to this page and Facebook for more updates from New Orleans throughout the week. If you'd like to contribute to the cost of the trip you can pledge here.
Today marked the end of a long week journey of building Frank Lewis’s house. We started off the week with lots of energy but as the days went by our energy went down. We got restless because it seemed that there was so much to do, but so little time to do so. In the end we accomplished a lot. We painted half the house, covered the roof, got almost all of the siding done, installed the front porch, started on the back porch, and finished up small details on the inside. When everything was cleaned up, we stepped back to admire our contribution in building the Lewis’s house. It was amazing to see our accomplishment over the past five days. Especially, since many of the youth had not participated in this kind of service project. In the end, this house was not only the Lewis’s house, but ours as well. Something that Jeongih Han said, during pow-wow-how (that is, “pow” what was really hard today, “wow” what was really great today, and “how” did we see God at work today?), connected with our service project. That it is not only the poor that benefited but us as well because we bonded over this experience and created new memories that we will cherish forever. After a long day of successful work, we visited Habitat for Humanity’s International Village. The exhibit consisted of various houses that they built from around the world. They had many unique designs starting from shacks, to tree houses, to clay homes displaying conditions that people live in all around the world. This experience was very eye opening to how blessed most Americans truly are compared to people that live in tiny homes that aren’t kept up very well at all. To end a very accomplished day, the youth group went over to the Lyman-Barner’s home to cool off in their pool. We are grateful for the opportunity to be down here in Americus, Georgia and thank all who have contributed towards the trip, our growth as a youth group, and other experiences.
Kelly Ndayizigiye and Emma Nouri a.k.a Kiwi and M&M
Today everyone woke up very sleepy as we had played body-body as a group until late. Smiles greeted us as everyone was still buzzing about the game the night before, and how it was a great opportunity to relax and get to bond. We then continued to load up and return to Cassie’s house to finish seeding her yard. With everyone pitching in we got the job done really quickly, and we were then able to move back to our original work site. We got right to work with the excitement of what we might accomplish fueling our smiles and laughter. Today was a hard workday where we started to finish our tasks and see the house really turn from a construction site into a place for a family. The roofing crew got right to work, and managed to finish the roof even in the blistering heat. The siding crew worked really fast in order to completely side the front of the house, with the paint crew following behind. The porch crew started to wind up the front porch in order that our last day could be focused heavily on the back four by four porch. With Andre and Brendan doing up high on the ladder nailing the beams, I got to reconnect with Grace Lyman-Barner. And what a treat that was. Grace and I had been good friends when she lived in Harrisonburg, and getting to catch up with her, as well as just be, was really meaningful to me. Some conversations we had made me think more about this experience and what it means in my life. When the top was done, we moved to create steps to finish off the porch. We had the privilege of meeting one of Grace’s closest friends, Christian, who was quite the character and really fun to interact with. The time crept closer to five as we all wanted to finish our tasks. We rushed back to clean up before heading right back out to a picnic that Americus Mennonite Fellowship put together for us. The evening there was really meaningful to me, as I got to interact with five boys that Genevieve, Andre, and I started a game of Ultimate Frisbee with. José, Jesus, Marco, José, and Joe were really cool to play with because of the way they interacted with us and with each other. We played till eleven, and had a blast doing so! Overall, the day was really fun and meaningful.
Lucas Schrock-Hurst created a devotional in the morning that inspired many of us, and sparked something that will stick with us forever. I truly saw God working in us throughout the whole day. It’s a great journey we have been on this week, and I am sad to see the end coming closer, but the relationships and skills we gained on this trip will stay with us, even when we leave this quaint place.
Kayla Leaman aka Kale
The very first day... done! I was amazed at what was accomplished. Most of us knew nothing at all about building a house, and we kind of just jumped in there and got started. I was on the siding crew, and I learned how to use a nail gun. I had no idea that it was so much fun! My dad is a carpenter/contractor, and it was fun to see what he does every day... and do it with him!
In the morning when Kirk was telling us what all we had on our list to do that day, I was thinking, there is no way that we will be able to do all of that. Well, we drove to the job site, split ourselves into teams, and just started working. I was very surprised at how efficient we all were, and in the end, we got it all done.
We learned about giving to others and sharing God’s love with people who aren’t as lucky as we are. I feel like I’m finally fulfilling a part of that duty. There was one time today when we were taking a drink break, and I just realized how meaningful this was, and not only the people we are building the house for will benefit from this, but we will too! I was feeling God’s love and appreciation for me in that moment.
SAND DAM TRIP 2014
Working with the Utooni Development Organization in the Ukambani District of Kenya
by Aaron Kishbaugh