Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. *

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Well, the 19 hour bus ride brought us safely back to campus. It is good to be back home at Concordia.

What surprised me about Santa Fe?
The snow! I never thought New Mexico got as much snow as we do here in Minnesota. Despite the crazy weather, we learned to live with it. We built a house in it, walked a couple miles on it, shoveled it, and drove many miles on it. When we arrived back in Moorhead, the snow didn't seem to bother me as much. Usually I grumble and complain about it, but when I saw it I thought to myself, well they even get it in New Mexico! Now that I don't correlate it with blizzardly Minnesota, it doesn't really both me as much.

What is my favorite memory?
There are just too many to choose from. Here is one I can think of now...I love downtowns in any town or city. The architecture is beautiful and unique to each location. I especially enjoyed walking around downtown in the Plaza with everyone. There were so many shops and a huge variety of items to choose from. I love coffee and there were coffee shops galore! We also visited chocolate shops, the largest handmade boot store in the country, and so on.

What did I learn?
I learned to go with the flow. I am a planner and I like things to run as scheduled. When we arrived in Santa Fe our plans had to change a lot because of the unexpected snow. Great memories can be made even in the midst of change and the unexpected.

The theme verse for our last day was a send off and a blessing for each of us on the trip. I leave you with this verse as well.
"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." -2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

-Brooke (Santa Fe, NM)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Shout Out From Santa Fe

I caught everyone in the middle of the day while they were hard at work. Here is a little shout out from Santa Fe, NM.

-Brooke (Santa Fe, NM)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Retirement Plans Anyone?

Friday was a duplicate of Thursday except that we finished the roofing today… yeah! The weather was very cooperative so we worked really fast, got done early and spent the remaining time taking pictures with the care-a-vanners.

We were really intrigued by their dedication and decision to spend their retirement days building homes. They set the bar high for us and for most of us, this was a challenge. What a cool way to spend their retirement days… travelling around the country, and giving back in a most impressive way.We also got to meet the owner of the home that we had been working on. She was very thankful that we decided to spend our Spring break helping build her home.

This trip has added so much meaning to all of our lives. It has been a life-changing, eye-opening experience for most of us. We were challenged by the people we encountered, praised for deciding to use our Spring break to help others, got an idea of how to spend our retirement days, had fun at Disney World and ate loads of delicious food. We even learned how to hammer - holding the hammer at the end of the handle and pounding the nail as if it were the boyfriend that broke up with you :)

This is a video of one of the care-a-vanners who shared her personal story with me.

-Peace (Florida)

Yes Work, Yes Food

Where to begin? A lot has happened in the past two days so I am going to try to be as brief as possible. Half of Thursday was spent at the work site putting up roof boards, hammering, hammering and just hammering. You would probably think that I have use the word hammering too much, but there is not a good enough way to express how much we hammered. Every single thing we did, apart from loading and unloading our truck, involved hammering. At the end of our work day, we had finished putting nails every 6 inches around the house and part of the roof.

We also went on a citrus picking trip… yeah! Luther, one of the founders of Habitat for Humanity in Dade City, was really impressed with the work we had done on Monday, so he invited us to his citrus orchid to pick as many fruits as we could. We ate most of the time because they were so good, and we picked a variety for our trip back home.

The better part of our evening was spent with the care-a-vanners. They are a group of retired people who drive their RVs around the country, volunteering for a couple of months at different Habitat for Humanity camps. We had a wonderful evening filled with stories, music, words of encouragement, chili and loads of desserts. It was a fun evening I tell you, and we got to learn quite a ton from these dedicated care-a-vanners.

I also learned that the Habitat for Humanity home owners get the houses after they have volunteered 400 hrs, 200 of which goes to the building of their own houses. Kristiana, the volunteer coordinator, told me that the more hours the home owners volunteer, the faster their names move up the list. I thought that this was a very good deal, and I guess that it makes other volunteers feel better when they know that the home owners are working as hard to build their homes.

-Peace (Florida)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Experience of a lifetime!

Guess what! The snow didn't stop us today. We worked through the snow and wind, and made significant progress on our house foundation.

More importantly, tonight we had the privilege to meet the family that will receive this house in the future. A single mother and her 5 teenage daughters have been given this opportunity to start anew. They provided an amazing dinner for us called Frito Pies that was a first for our whole group.

The mother took some time after dinner to express her thanks and gratitude for our work, even though we were only in the beginning of the house building process. She said it meant SO much to her. She's never been able to get ahead in life, and she really wants this new opportunity for her daughter, "so they can have a place they can call home," she said. Talking with everyone afterwards, our whole group was deeply moved by meeting the family. It brought tears to everyone to hear their story and journey, and certainly solidified the absolutely incredible experience we have had so far. It's been difficult to see that we're providing a home, with the weather and doing only initial jobs and tasks, but tonight definitely made that a reality for everyone. We're providing a home - and hope - for a family in need. That is something that no one can put a dollar sign on or take away. We have been told over and over again just how much this means, that we would use our spring break to better a strangers' lives. We have all expressed that there is no better way to spend our break, and we have a feeling that the memories and experiences will continue to show well into the future.

Returning home soon, changed forever,
-Jeff (Taos, NM)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hat? Check!
Gloves? Check!
Wool Socks? Check!
Winter Coat? Check!

This is how we greet our 19 degree cold days at our Habitat for Humanity site in Santa Fe, NM. After shoveling snow after we arrived on our first day, we have work diligently on putting up fencing, insulation, and chicken wire on to the 3 houses we are working on.

Building each of the houses has sure given us a cultural lesson on New Mexico. The fences are made out of posts called "latias." Each of the houses has to have chicken wire attached to the outside after the insulation and paper covering for the stucco to be molded to. It is an interesting process and one definitely not used back too often at home in the Midwest.

The weather may be the same as it is back home, but the work experience on the houses is something completely new.

-Brooke (Santa Fe, NM)

From the roof to the stage of American Idol

Continuing with our mission here in Dade City, we spent the whole of Tuesday putting up hurricane straps on a habitat house. It was a day filled with hammering, sweating and there was a lot of tanning going on. By the end of the day, we were able to complete the strapping of the roof. It was a job well done for us. Yeah!

Wednesday was our day off so off we went to Disney World. We had a rolling devotion, meaning that we had devotion in the car as we drove down to Disney. We had an opportunity to tell each other the strengths that they bring to the work site. From those complimented on their professionalism and caring attitude to those praised for their ability to handle the hammer, it was all encouraging that others actually notice your hard work and appreciate it. I think that recognizing and admiring strengths of members of a group is very important in motivating members and creating a better group dynamic.

Disney was all day fun for most people, but for one member, it was an awesome experience. Bekah, a sophomore in our group, got to audition for American Idol. Guess what? She passed the audition, and won the preliminary round. We were all super excited for her, and we got to support her as audience of the American Idol live recording. This goes to show that while we are here doing good and working hard on providing habitat for humanity, we can also have fun and have cool things happen to us.

-Peace (Florida)