One more workday to go and then we are done with our work on the house. So far I had so much fun with challenging myself and meeting new people. I was very excited to be involved in helping to build a house because I have never done it before. It was a little scary to use a power tool but after trying a couple of times I felt more confident in doing it and it was actually fun! Even though I am having a great time here in Laredo, yesterday was the first time I felt homesick since I have been in America as an international student. The whole day I thought about home and wasn’t even paying attention. I was so focused on the one month that is left when I will see my family again. When I told my friend how I felt at the end of the day she told me that often times she is so focussed on the future or the past that she doesn’t even pay attention on the present and what is happening now. It really helped me today with my homesickness because I told myself that I should focus on the trip in order to get the most out of it. Because of this, I was much more productive today than I was yesterday only because I changed my mindset.
Overall I am very happy to be on this trip. A lot of laughter, a lot of new experiences, making new friends and working on my Spanish!
Wow! Day Two is coming to a close! Another long day in the sun.
Today was slow-going at first, but as our work picked up speed many of us got into a solid rhythm.
Some of us did some landscaping, loosening and leveling out the land surrounding the house. Talk about hot, dirty work!
Some of us finished putting up the trusses on the roof or put more supports up. Auggies faced their fears and challenged themselves to lend a hand high up in the air!
Hector, who is in charge of the work site, told us that it usually takes three days to get trusses up, but it took our group only two! We definitely felt proud of our work.
It was swelteringly hot and ridiculously sunny, and we all left completely sweaty and grimy, but I think we all felt awesome about the teamwork we performed and the good work we accomplished. Our house is really starting to look like a house!
Our first full day in Texas began with the scent of coffee wafting through the heat infused church gathering space. Sleepy eyes blinked away the last of the night and groaning muscles shook off the aches of the 24 hour bus ride. Cheery birds greeted us in the early morning light amidst the sound of early morning life. The work site was located a 20-minute drive from our ‘home base’ and it showed the signs of the past weeks rain and college crew. Muddy footprints tracked around the cement foundation, enticing our eyes and our curiosity to follow. We began with a brief introduction to some of the power tools and a dividing of groups and supplies amongst the team members, a hammer, nails, squaring tool, and measuring tapes being the standard fare. The peculiar smell of sunscreen began to mix with the smell of the dirt as we readied ourselves for a day in the Texas heat. Seven hours later, after several water and snack breaks, we loaded ourselves onto a bus for the next chapter in our adventures. Our day’s work stood out the rear mirrors as we pulled away from the site showing a mostly erected roof, newly landscaped lawn, and styrofoam coated house. With sunburn at a minimum and spirits high, we traveled to the border checkpoint between Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to wave hello to Mexico. Gray-green water cut a divide between the two neighbors as we stood in the grass along the banks of the Rio Grande. The group was encouraged to ponder the meaning and construction of borders as we gazed at foreign faces across the river. What are their lives like just 5oo yards away from where we stood? It was a powerful exercise as we slowly began to realize the true construct of borders.
Stay tuned for more to come from Laredo!
After being sore for the past couple days, I wasn’t prepared to do much more heavy lifting. Thankfully our smaller group ended up doing some cleaning around the Flower Festival site and building some walls. It was also refreshing to have the whole tent up as the sun was beating down the whole time.
Since I had some prior experience with some of the tools, I could teach people how to use each one. That was a great feeling being able to teach someone a new skill that will benefit them later in life. It was also a pleasure having a little more one on one time with other people as it was definitely lacking the prior days being in the large group.
It all ended with dinner going to the Oyster House. I ended up trying alligator for the first time there and all I have to say is that it was DELICIOUS!!! Loved every single savory chewy bite of it! Overall today was my favorite day this week with all the good that happened. I am finishing this off as I am half asleep and getting energized for our final full day in Alabama, looking forward to another great day!
-Zane (AKA Vincent)
Hello, it’s Lee! It is Wednesday night, and we completed our second work day for Habitat for Humanity. A unique part of this trip has been working with others and helping our friends rise up – no matter the obstacle or situation. I have noticed some of the greatest group reactions to others accomplishments, and that sense of community was amazing to witness.
Yesterday, Tuesday, we were all on the bus going to the park for a grilled dinner. Everyone was engaged in conversation when out of nowhere Grace screamed “I got the job!” Although not everyone understood what that was about, the bus erupted with screams and clapping. It might be one of my favorite moments just because I look up to Grace so much and know how hard she worked to get a position with Young Adults in Global Mission (ELCA), but also because of the support she received.
This morning at the work site, we were putting large poles in huge holes in the ground. Some of the holes needed to be cut down in order to fit, so Danny took the chainsaw first. Once he got it going and cut off the end of the pole, our whole group clapped and cheered once again. Simple victories matter.
The encouragement given was inspiring and shows how tight of a community we have built within just a few days of being together.
Hi ya’ll. This was our third days in Alabama helping with Habitats For Humanity. Things went fantastically well throughout today as the previous two days. We were up early this morning around 7am and had breakfast together before we headed to our construction site. We worked separately in small groups and were assigned to do different duties. I got to work in one of the groups that were assigned to put the poles up into the holes that are 3-foot deep. I thought the work would be so easy because the only thing needed to be done was just to put each pole straight into the hole. But it turned out that was not the ideal. Each pole needed to be so precisely done. The unfortunate thing was that most of the holes were filled with a foot of water (if not two). It was impossible!!!!!!
But I learned today that team work makes the impossible possible. Each of our team members worked hard and we got WONDERFUL result (well, after several failed attempts in the muddy holes). We got all the poles up today and my team alone got 11 poles up!!! WOW… We got a lot done today!
We called off for the day at 4 pm. We came back to the Church and got to shower and get ready for dinner. I have never appreciated a shower as much as I do now after a long working day. We had Home made pasta today made by our assigned group. I’m not kidding, but the pasta was the MOST delicious pasta I have ever had in my life!!!! With the sweet tea that was kindly shared by our team member Danny. OH GOSH… What a taste!
After dinner we used our spared time in the coffee shop (with delicious gelato!) in downtown Alabama. There we had a group discussion about racism. It was an interesting talk with Pastor Justin and other peers. Now we are preparing for our next destination tomorrow and please keep your thoughts and prayers as for us.