Mississippi Habitat Mission Trip Recap
On Saturday, October 15th, five of us left to travel to Clarksdale, Mississippi for a week working on a Habitat for Humanity home. This year’s participants were: Tom and Carol Weber, Chuck and Judy Clausen and Marlay Smith. God always seems to provide us with just the right number of people for the jobs that are needed to be done each year, so, with Ben (the job site supervisor), three members from the family that will be the homeowners, and Matt (a former job site supervisor and current Habitat Board member), we had work for everyone to keep busy and got everything that we hoped to accomplish done during our week. This project has been a mission of St. Paul Lutheran for many years and a much appreciated part of the lives of the people of Clarksdale. Habitat projects in the smaller more poverty stricken communities in the U. S., like Clarksdale, need more support and volunteer groups. Unlike the Habitat builds in larger metro areas where there is corporate sponsorship and many corporate groups and other volunteer groups working on the homes every day, Clarksdale has no corporate sponsorship so money for building supplies is very tight. Sometimes they don’t know if there will be funds to purchase the supplies needed when a group comes to work, but God is faithful in taking care of his children, so the funds for the much needed houses somehow comes in. Also, there are not groups there working on a daily/weekly basis as there are in the larger metro areas. There is a group coming sometime in the next couple weeks to work on siding the house we worked on, but the next scheduled group coming in will be in January. Unlike the larger metro Habitat builds, it takes at least a year to finish a house and they usually only have one house being worked on at a time. But that one house is very important to a family and the community!
Sherry, the homeowner, and her family send their love and great appreciation to St. Paul Lutheran for your support of the Clarksdale Habitat program and for the our work group, your prayers, financial support for materials, and love that is making it possible for her to get a new, safe home for herself, her daughter, Aramis, and her grandson, Cali. Our work team also thanks you for the support of this project, for your prayers for safe travel and a productive trip, and for your financial support.
Some thoughts from this year’s volunteers:
For the last six years I have had the honor of accompanying St Paul Lutheran on their annual Habitat For Humanity Trip, a ministry they have maintained since 1990, which by any standard is remarkable in its longevity. Our destination has always been the same - Clarksdale, Mississippi, a small town with a large need for respectable housing. It is impossible to estimate how much St. Paul Lutheran’s annual trip has meant to this town, but 26 years or more appropriately 26+ weeks of work has made a tangible, quantifiable impact, an impact that
St. Paul Lutheran should be incredibly proud of. We begin each day with a devotion, a reminder of the reason why we came....not just to build a house but to build a community based on the premise that the God given dignity of the individual is first and foremost and that living in a decrepit shack does not reflect that dignity. Our goals are simple...push the project farther along...closer to the day when someone can call it home. The houses are straight forward, no frills, a good maintenance free exterior and a good open living space inside. When I think of this ministry and I ponder The Beatitudes, I too, as well as my traveling companions, feel incredibly blessed by the people we meet, their thoughtfulness, their joy, their appreciation - but in reality it is us that come away feeling blessed far beyond what we can explain. Marlay Smith
It was a very rewarding experience for me to be back in Mississippi to work for Habitat. We learned that what we thought would be our tasks, wasn't exactly what we did. I was sore and tired at the end of each day of hammering, climbing ladders and caulking seams. We put in windows, after framing the window so the window will stay in place. We worked on the soffit and fascia for the house. The men worked on this and we women painted the wood before it went up (most of the time). I was able to work with the homeowner on the caulking and we both learned the process by the time we had the places caulked. The homeowner was a wonderful, kind person and was anxious to work when she had the time. Her daughter and son also helped when they were able. They were so appreciative of our coming down to work. She even made us a supper meal of catfish (loved it) one night, truly unexpected. Thursday night was the potluck for us and other habitat homeowners. I really felt the love in that room of the volunteer center that night. It was wonderful. I also enjoyed the experience of visiting the after school program Matt has started for the children. I got to read with a fifth grade girl who has a very sad family life. There were many positive rewards for me. I will not forget the wonderful people I met. Judy Clausen