Saturday, December 20, 2008

SOUL Service Trip 2008 video blog 4

It's 5:30 a.m. local time, and we load the van for departure in about ten minutes. Here's one last video (more pointless than the others) that we thought was pretty funny. Next stop - Bluffton, Ohio!

We found this little treasure on the camera after getting back to Camp Victor. Mark was trying to take a photo but didn't realize the camera was in "movie" mode instead. So many random things going on here...

Friday, December 19, 2008

SOUL Service Trip 2008 video blog 3

Mark takes a minute during lunch to chat with Jerry and Eileen, a wonderful couple with whom we had the pleasure of working throughout the week...

A van update, complete with amazing text-o-art

By request, an update on the van (before we tackle I-10, 65, 71, and 75 on Saturday):

The tire was still flat a day later, so we decided the best thing would be to put in the spare, provided it was not one of the little tiny ones that come with most cars. After checking it out, the spare was the exact same as the regular tire, so we went ahead with the procedure. Text-o-art!

                                       vanvanvanvanvanvanvanvan     KELSEY  flashlight
tire   tire     tire   jack  DAN

After about an hour in the dark dealing with jacks, lug nuts, and car snot (i.e. grease), we can report that the tire has been changed and all has been going swimmingly since the procedure on Tuesday night. At least as far as the tire is concerned.

Now if only we could do something about the growing (2-inches per day) crack at the top of the windsheild...


Friday - last day of our work week

Our work week in Mississippi is over. Although we did not work a typical 5-day, 40-hour work week, we made good progress on the house(s) on which we worked. The next group should be able to finish up in a fairly timely manner; with assistance from local sub-contractors.

My Friday was spent mainly with doors. A back door, a shed door, and a few doorknobs. I completed the installations with Aaron, our second supervisor. Each of us had only one previous installation "lesson" under our belts, but we collectively got the doors in properly leveled, spaced, and straight.

An additional shed door didn't quite fit into the opening in the shed, so that door will be left for another day. I definitely enjoyed the work I was doing, and it was also fun to get on the roof in the early afternoon to help nail down some tarpaper. The beautiful weather, 75 and sunny, was more than one could ask for in which to work. I'm thankful for the work that was completed but wish that we could spend more hours working. I'm also thankful for our group's safety and enjoyable time this week. Stay classy Mississippi.

We are headed for real winter weather tomorrow! Merry Christmas to all!

John Badertscher

Philippians 2.12-13
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Almost the End...

24 hours from now we will be aproximately in Kentucky (As long as we make it out of Alabama. It tends to go on for awhile...). We'll be van-worn, sleeping, reading, bored, and asking ourselves where the week went. I can't believe that it's time for us to go home already (well, in the morning). This week mostly went fast. Even the work day, possibly because we took a half hour break and hour lunch. However, time flying means you're having fun, right? And we sure did have fun. I have thoroughly enjoyed the week, getting to know the others a little better, seeing New Awlins again, looking out at the Gulf at night, and laughing a whole lot (it's what I do).

The house we worked on now has a roof. And we did it. WE did it! Who knew what some Bluffton students could do? I'll admit, I was quite frightened on the roof today. My shoes have no traction, there was even more sawdust on it, and we layed tar paper down which means it could rip (and maybe I did rip it accidently... whoops!). I like heights, so why was I afraid? I just don't like the thought of falling off and breaking bones. However, it would've sure made this trip even more memorable! I'm glad to say though that I accomplished my goal of not falling of the roof this week!

I learned a lot on the construction site this week. I've done this working-on-houses things before, but I am not even close to being a pro. In the past, I've helped reconstruct broken parts of homes, like a floor, patio, or roof. This time we worked on a completely new home. It was nice for a change and to see all the work that goes into it. And those city men must sure have a lot of faith in us Habitat volunteers. The inspector came yesterday and walked up, looked, and said, "Yup, it's good!" We are mighty!!!

I guess this is a rather random post. My thoughts aren't all still collected from this week because it doesn't seem quite over yet. All in all, it was a great time. Everyone should do this. You can never have enough servants in the world. Well, I'm going to go and enjoy the warm weather here before we had back to ice-storm land :)
-Kelsey Smith


We're finally done with the workweek. It really is amazing to think what we did in just four days with a small group of people (don't be fooled, though, in the list below Tasha left out everyone's favorite site assistant, Aaron). I'll be sad to leave the house and the people, but it will be good to be home.

Tonight we'll be getting some sleep before our big trek home, but our last real night in Mississippi (last night) was pretty sweet. No one had any great ideas about what to do so we all just settled for the beach. Rumor was that it was only about a mile away, but it was definitely more than a mile. But it was worth the trek because we got to see a miracle of life. We walked around the beach for awhile and then someone pointed out that a ways further down the beach there was something mooving. Come to find out there were sea turtles hatching and making their way to the gulf. Awesome. If you check out the photo slide show there are probably some sweet pics.

And then to ruin a beautiful moment, Jason and I peed of the pier. But I like to think we didn't ruin a beautiful moment but made a new beautiful moment.

And now, A Soul Service Trip Haiku:

Habitat Gulf Coast
Rooftop danger, forearm pain
Sixteen hours, home 'gain


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tasha's Second Post

OK, so maybe the best part about this entire week (I may or may not be kidding) was the Krispy Kremes we stopped for on the way home from our worksite. They were the "hot-off-the-line" kind and I LOVED them! I've never had doughnuts that fresh before, and man were they delicious! Ahh, fresh Krispy Kremes, just puts a smile on your face doesn't it? And this evening, I picked up a few more Christmas gifts, had a really good dinner from Wendys, and went to play in the ocean (or Gulf, if you really want to be more specific). How can that not be the best day ever!?

As far as actual work goes, I'm exhausted. I'm not used to getting up this early (well except Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when someone *cough cough Dan cough cough* had me scheduled to work bright and early in the mailroom), and it's a job in and of itself to get moving everyday. Truth be told, the beds make my body hurt, I can't get a cold drink to save my life at Camp Victor, and I've missed Grey's Anatomy this week (UGH!), but thinking about the work we're doing in Gulfport makes it all OK. It's remarkable how rewarding it can be to arrive the first day of work to a house that doesn't even have all its tresses up, and know that by the time we leave tomorrow, we'll probably have the shingling started. It's crazy to think about how much 8 students, 3 female Americorps NCCC, 2 mid-sixties parents from Michigan, and 1 Brad can do in four days. I'm having an absolute blast on the worksite, learning about construction and when lunch break is from Jerry. I have loved nearly every minute of my time on site :)

Speaking of the Americorps, I'm really starting to look at what kind of service I'd like to do post-Bluffton. I really like this Americorps thing I've seen the past few years, and would love opportunity to live out my life of service working on projects like this. I'd love to be a part of something like what's going on here in the Gulf Coast. What an amazing responsibility, to show God's love through actions to assist those who need help meeting the most basic of needs, a home.

That's it, I'm done. It's late here, and as I've said before, we get up bright and early here in Mississippi. I hope you're all having a splendid week.

Tasha M. Nickler

PS: I think I was supposed to mention something about sea turtles for Mark. Rupp. Not Bourassa

Thought this was cool

All week you've been reading (and watching) how we've spent time working mainly on the roof of one particular house. Here's something that will hopefully illustrate exactly what we've done on the house over the past three days:

1 p.m. on 12/16

4 p.m. on 12/18

Kind of neat, no? There are a few more photos with greater detail in the SOUL web album - feel free to check them out.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Taste of Mississippi

Greetings from Ocean Springs, MS

Starting off bright and early this morning, like the past few, we were met with a heavy blanket of fog.  Though very sleepy, our group arrived on site and ready to begin the new projects of the day.  For many of us, the day was spent placing sheets of wood up top in order to create a roof for our house.  Day two was met with better efficiency and consistency in knowing our jobs.  It's exciting to see a group work together to create a visual change to something, in this case a house. Our group is made up of unique characters who are always providing the energy and enthusiasm to whatever task we run into on our journey.

This evening, we had a chance to go out and explore.  We started in Ocean Springs and took a walking tour of the town in search of food.  Unsuccessful, we had a recommendation to go to The Shed.  If one was to create a picture of a place for terrific barbecue, The Shed was the place.  Placed in-between small lakes, the exterior is a joint lit with dim lights, outside seating, and a music stage.  Inside, the owner has built an eclectic wall-to-wall establishment of pictures, music memorabilia, license plates, Mississippi pride and what-nots and do-dads to create an atmosphere of home style cooking.  The food, far exceeded expectations with soft pulled pork and brisket that melted in your mouth to sides and sauce that provided a kick to the taste buds.

With programs like Habitat for Humanity, we are reminded of a chance to do service on a monumental scale.  It is important to take back from this experience, that life offers moments all the time for us to take charge and make a difference, even if small, in our environment.

Hey all, Mark here.  I figured it was about time that I blogged so that it actually seems like I'm on this trip.  I'm not going to give a run-down of the last three days because everyone else has already talked about everything thus far.  Read their stuff... it's much more funny and witty than I will ever be.  
Anyway, today was our second day of work and both were a really good time.  It's amazing to see where the house has come in just these two days, and I'm learning a lot about building houses in general.  We actually got to do some things today without the supervisor babysitting us the whole time.  To be fair, he did come by later to tell us what we did wrong, but for about 30 minutes we were totally flying solo.  I got up on the roof a little the first day, but quite a bit today.  At first I felt like a wuss because I spent more time trying not to fall than actually doing work, but after I figured out that being more vertical was better for balance I started to get my "roof legs".  I was on the roof a little, I helped with cutting plywood a little, I was on a ladder nailing stuff up a little.  I never seemed to do one thing for very long, which is ok because I would probably have gotten bored.
Other than work the trip has been a good time as well.  We went out tonight as a whole group to get something to eat that was a little fancier than Wendy's.  After walking around Ocean Springs for about 45 minutes complaining the entire time because there was no where good to eat we hopped in the van and headed up to Biloxi to a place that one of the locals recommended.  It was a barbeque place called "The Shed" and usually I'm not a big can of barbeque places, but it was real good food, and a really fun atmosphere.  It was great to just sit around as a group and not be working or driving.  
I realized today that we spend a lot of time on the trip looking forward to getting breaks or getting off work a little early, but also that we chose to come do this.  It's hard work, but it's good work.  Giving up the first week in a long time that I've had free of all stress was a huge decision which I probably made on a whim, but I'm still glad I did it.  It's hard to go back to my nice house and fancy things knowing that there are families out there who don't even have a decent house to live in.  This year at Bluffton I've heard a lot about standing in solidarity with the poor, and in a way I think the tired muscles, the early mornings, and the offering of time throughout this week are all a small way that that happens.  We do this for others, but we also do this to remind ourselves that we live in a broken world.  
Too deep...pull it back out!  This trip is great and I'm learning a lot and having a lot of fun.

Hello, world!

Today was our 2nd day at the job site, 4th day of the trip, and past the half-way point of the entire trip. It's definitely been a good one so far. Let me start from the beginning... since I've been lagging on the journal (Sorry, Dan :( )

Sunday morning we arrived at the vans at 3:15 am. Whoa, buddy! So it's a littler early... or late... however you want to look at it. Lucky me, I had only gotten about an hours worth of sleep before that and am usually unable to sleep in vans. And that surely happened for this trip. So I stayed up durring the wee hours of the night as mostly everyone else slept and maybe slept a little during the day. But really, I'm the one benefiting. I get to see the beauty of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Alabama, Alabama, Alabama, Alabama, and Mississippi. And I have to admit, I definitely missed my Backseat Buddies from last year (Tree and Shannon). We arrived at Camp Victor and just hung out for the night (Really, I can't remember. That was a long time ago!).

Monday was "Let's be a tourist!" day as we traveled to New Orleans. We traveled on Route 90 through Billoxi and I was astonished by the damage. The whole strip was basically wiped out. Foundation among foundation with no buildings left. And this went on foreeeeever. They have rebuilt some, but wow, I can't imagine. We walked around the French Quarters, saying "no" to balloonists, eating donuts, and checking out voo-doo stores. I can't imagine what that place would be like on the weekends. Yay for Mondays! We then went on to see what was familiar to those of us who went last year. First stop was at the Musician's Village, in which we worked underneath houses and on top of roofs for the week. It was great to see the progress they had made. It was beginning to look like a little village within the city. It was also good to see some of the clean-up that had been done to the houses around that area that we passed everyday, simple as boarding up windows or removing a pyle of rotted wood. Second stop was at the no longer pink Pink Project by Brad Pitt. Last year there was a place that explained what the process would be and showed examples of the houses they would be building. And here those little 8 inch long models were made into real houses. They are surely distinguishable, with tilted roofs and bright colors. I encourage everyone to read up on the Pink Project and see what's going on.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was our first day on the site. In the morning I learned that we would be roofing and I was pretty stoked. It beats the ever-so-exciting chicken-wiring under houses last year. As we left Camp, we drove through some local neighborhoods (nonpurposely.. perhaps misdirection?) and I was surprised to see the damage in the more hidden areas. The roofs were caved in, doors sideways, trash outside. These neighborhoods are still a mess. The main roads have been cleaned possibly to look better, but when you're traveling where most people don't, you see that some places are still left untouched from the hurricane.

We arrived at the site, had our tutourial, and started working. I began up in the raftors of the attic and just loved it. I like being up high! Unless my safety is an issue... which at this point, was not. There's a retired couple working with us who came down to volunteer with Habitat for the month to get away from winter. I'm impressed by their choice compared to what they could've done. But there's definitely still A LOT of work that needs done down here. As we left for the day, I felt like we actually had a lot of progress, but it could be just because it's more visible this time. Needless to say, eventually this house will be weather free... hopefully. It is me that's doing the roofing after all :)

Back at camp, we watched an hour and a half video about Katrina: what life was like a year before it happened- life was looking up for southerners, how people were warned to get out and some chose not to, how busy the interstates were and traffic was stopped for hours, the people who called 911 when their houses started flooding and they were stuck but emergency vehicles weren't allowed on the roads, pictures of the high wind and flooding, the destruction- oh my the destruction- only pictures can explain how terrible it was, the emotions of all the returning citizens to their houses, seeing nothing left of so many memories, seeing people trying to figure out where to go from there. After seeing all the destruction pictures, it put into perpspective how far the south has in fact come since the hurricane. That was A LOT of cleaning, for miles and miles, among cities, country, oceans, roads, houses, businesses, everywhere. Oh so much. And now it's cleaned, but foundations and vacant buildings are left. This area is the the rebuilding-process. You can make new homes, but you can't rebuild the memories.

Today I worked on the roof again. However, it rained and was wet. Let me tell you- a steep wet roof and muddy shoes doesn't make me feel very safe! So I did what I could on the raftors until the roof dried enough. So then I got on and started nailing away. I really wish I had more friction between me and the roof. I definitely didn't walk without a hand on the roof, ready to catch my fall... which never happened!!!... yet...

It was a fun day. I'm really enjoying the group. It's small, but we all basically just do everything together. It's laid-back, fun, picking-on-eachother, picking-on-Dan-for-not-stopping-at-Krispy-Kremes, and whatever else happens. And that Tasha girl? Yeah, I guess you could say she's pretty cool. Being that she's the only other girl, I'm sure enjoying that it's her. It's been a good trip so far, well, other than the fact that I'm sick. That part REALLY stinks. However, I'm trying not to let it affect the work I'm doing here. I just don't understand why my sickness would come this week out of the past 18 available weeks? But, whatever. It's a good time here and that sickness won't ruin it! So, we're off now... out on the town in Ocean Springs!!! You'll be hearing from me again sometime. So, until then, have a good week!


SOUL Service Trip 2008 video blog 2

Tasha and Kelsey talk for a bit about what they did today...