We’ve made it through our week working with Habitat for Humanity in West Virginia! We made major progress on the house demolition today, getting all of the siding off and everything out of the inside. We even got to begin sledgehammering some drywall, which is always everyone’s favorite activity- it’s a great stress reliever! The house is nearly ready to be bulldozed now, and soon it will be completely gone and the lot will be ready for a new house to be built on it. We worked for the day, then went to pack up and get ready for the long drive back to Minnesota. It feels so good to know we did such great work this week, and very soon more families in this area will have a safe, warm home. The people that we spent time with here in Lewisburg have definitely made an impact on our lives, as well. They were all so welcoming and cheerful, and made our time here even more enjoyable. I can’t think of a better way I could have spent my spring break. Now, it’s time to let the country roads, as well as freeways and highways, take us back to Augsburg!
Our final group picture in front of the house we’ve been working at all week!
Finally, finally, we got to work for the full day today! It felt so good to make so much progress, and accomplish so much! It took the whole day to remove all of the doors, windows, salvageable boards, cabinets, and sinks, load them into the truck, and take them to the store. I spent a great deal of the time pulling old nails out of boards, a task I found extremely difficult and frustrating, but also quite satisfying (I’d like to think I nailed that task). The house now almost completely empty, and looks almost ready to be fully demolished to make way for the new house. It’s sad that tomorrow is the last time we’ll be working on this project, but it’s good knowing we have done so much to make it possible for a family from this area to have a home.
This evening, we got the fantastic opportunity to go out to dinner with some of the families in the area who are working with Habitat to get homes, and the Habitat leaders in this community. Getting to actually see who will benefit from our work, and tangibly experiencing the results of our labor makes this whole trip even more meaningful. We had great conversations with all of these people, and learned so much about them and their lives. Some of them had hilarious and extremely interesting stories. All of us came together after the meal to talk about the fun things we had heard from those we were dining with, and everyone had a great time. I am so happy that I’ve got to get to know so many wonderful people on this trip, from Lewisburg and Augsburg.
Today, our morning activities were once again delayed, due to the extreme cold and wind chill. Though we were a little disappointed we didn’t get to work again, we were also glad for more time to just hang out. By the afternoon, the weather had changed enough that we could finally get back to work! We split into a few groups- some of us going to our worksite to continue taking down the house we had previously been demolishing, and some of us stayed behind to help with tasks at the church that is hosting us. I got to spend some time working with a community member here, cleaning and organizing a storage area. It felt good to be helping out this place we are staying in, and getting to work with people from here, who are so invested in making it a welcoming and positive place for the community.
The most exciting part of the day was that a local TV news reporter came to do a story on our group spending our spring break working here. A couple of us gave interviews and were actually featured on the news!
Later in the evening, we designated an hour for large group bonding time. We played a trivia game, which got really competitive, but was a good time. We all learned some random tidbits of information that we didn’t know before! We also had time with our small groups; it’s been nice to have a set group of people to check in with at the end of each day. Tomorrow, we are all definitely going to be working outside at the house. Hopefully it will be a little bit warmer, and we can accomplish a lot.
In an unexpected change of plans, we decided to take today off of work and have a free day due to the snowy weather making work potentially more difficult. We got to sleep in this morning, something everyone was quite excited about, then spent our morning chilling out and having some large group reflection time. After lunch, we headed to downtown Lewisburg, a historic area with lots of shops, museums, and other things to see. Many of us headed to the cute little coffee place first, then spent a few hours wandering the streets, taking photos and picking up souvenirs. It was fun to explore the area we are staying in,(Lewisburg was named the “Coolest Small Town in America” in 2011, and it’s easy to see why after looking around for a bit), especially because the buildings in the older area of town were so beautiful and interesting to look at. In the evening, we visited the American Heritage Music Hall in Ronceverte, to attend their Tuesday night jam session. Listening to the old country music and dancing around was a unique experience to say the least! Afterwards, we headed back to where we are staying for some small group reflection time. It seems like we’re all getting to know each other well, even though we’ve only been on this trip for a few days, which is pretty awesome. Tomorrow, it’s back to work; hopefully we’ll make a lot of progress working with Habitat!
Our first day of serving with Habitat for Humanity started with an early rise and some breakfast, then a drive over to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where our worksite is. We learned that we would assist in taking down an old house on the property, so a new one can be built. Though it was a little bit chilly, and many of us had never done this kind of work before, we jumped into the jobs with excitement and eager attitudes. One group worked on taking old furniture, fixtures, and other assorted objects out of the house and putting them onto a truck to be taken to Habitat for Humanity’s Re-store. The group I was in worked on removing siding, insulation, and gutters from the exterior of the house. At first, I was quite intimidated by crowbars and ladders, but I quickly found my groove and even had some fun prying nails out of the siding. We made great progress on the project!
At lunch, some of us had the chance to get to know the other workers at this site this week, students from St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia. It was really interesting to learn a little bit about them, and it was really great to see other students from other areas of the country who wanted to spend their spring break helping others, just like we did.
After lunch, we loaded another truck full of things to be taken to the Re-store, then we all went over to Lewisburg to help unload and set things up in the store. After that, we headed back to where we’re staying for some dinner and an evening of hanging out with each other, as well as getting some much needed rest. Our first workday was so packed, I can’t wait to see what happens during the rest of our days here!
Here we are at the house we worked on today!
The last 24 hours have been quite an adventure- I, for one, can’t believe we’re finally here!
We left Augsburg at 9:00 last night, and as we passed through moonlit Minnesota, Iowa, and some of Illinois, most of our eyelids were heavy with sleep, dozing off as we got used to the bus. Morning brought us a beautiful sunrise, and a stop for breakfast at McDonalds. Back on the bus we went, driving through Indiana before stopping in Ohio for lunch. Countless fields of corn and herds of cattle greeted us along the way. Sometime in the afternoon, we crossed into West Virginia, and started seeing the beautiful rolling hills that would eventually become the Appalachians. We were able to see the sunset in between the mountains as they got steeper and more heavily covered in trees; and we arrived in Lewisburg just before nightfall.
Through six states, with the help of several movies, many naps, snacks, stops, and all of the wonderful people with us, we made it here. Learning a little bit more about what we’ll be doing and who we’ll be helping has made us so excited about being here. Now, it’s off to get some rest before tomorrow- it’s sure to be a packed day!
Us right as we arrived to our sleeping site. Taken by the Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity leader.
Habitat has been helping us in our journey. This trip is a blessing in my life because I am learning more about other people and myself. I have been meeting wonderful people in this trip. I am having a challenging experience because I am learning how to use construction tool, which can be dangerous if a person use them in the wrong way. In addition, it is interesting not just to read, but to hear and to be able to see other people’s experiences end perspectives about different issues such as: migration, poverty, housing issues and so on. At Laredo, We have been building team work and breaking language barriers. I am able to see how people speaking two different languages can communicate themselves by other methods. Today, I felt delighted because I am able to help other people to understand what is been said.
In general, I am having a great time meeting new people, having new experiences. At the end of this day I felt proud of our progress building the house and helping with what we can. – Fidelina