Village Voice - August, 2006

Summer Mission Trip 2006

Dan and I survived the Extreme Build project with just a few bruises, sunburn and sore muscles.  It was an awesome experience.  It is so refreshing to me to visit the Bible belt of this country.  There are so many devout Christians there and they are not afraid to show it.  When we were on the road I saw two churches with signs that said “Visitors Welcome – Members Expected.”

 The Extreme Build project was extremely well organized.  We were a little disappointed with our resort campground but we stuck it out.  I learned that things are not always what they appear on the internet.  Also, you should double check your Mapquest directions.

The Extreme Build project was a year in the planning stages.  It was a partnership between McCHDO and KBF.  McCHDO is the McCreary County Housing Development Organization which is dedicated to providing quality, energy efficient housing to multi-generational families.  KBF stands for Kentucky Baptist Fellowship.  The family this house was built for was a grandmother and her three grandchildren she is raising, including Dalton who is handicapped.  We weren’t just building a house – we were building hope.  Hope for the family and hope for the community that better housing is possible.  Our motto was BUILD UP HOPE!           

We worked really hard.  We got up at 5:30 a.m. every morning.  Breakfast was served beginning at 6:00 a.m. at a community center which was part of the Christian Appalachian Project.  Christian Appalachian Project provided the transportation to the worksite every day.  The workers consisted of about 12 teams.  A team had a crew leader and 4 or 5 team members.  There were at least 4 teams led by women.  My team leader was a woman named Michele.  Michele was a House Leader who gained experience through her work with Habitat for Humanity.  She was a part of Habitat called “Women for Habitat”.  These women build houses entirely with women volunteer teams.  Dan’s team leader was a man named Elmo who was the nicest person you would want to meet.  The first day we worked from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.  I worked on building walls that day.  I learned how to use a miter saw and a circular saw.  Michele showed me how to mark the wood to construct the walls by reading the plans for the house.  I learned that hammering nails is a lot harder than it looks.  Dan worked on building the walls in the basement that day.

The second day we worked on completing the exterior walls of the house.  Using a hammer stapler, I learned how to attach a special paper on the window sills that protect them from water.  I also helped attach the ribbon portion of the house.  When Elmo saw Dan’s truck one evening at the campground he said, “Do you know what we call those trucks in Kentucky?  They’re “cowboy Cadillacs.”  Tuesday evening we were so tired we went to sleep before the sun went down.

 The third day we began working on insulation and drywall.  I got to be fairly proficient with the drill on the drywall.  Some tools like drills were fairly scarce.  There were so many people working that you had to become protective of your tools or someone else would take them.  I was teased about not letting go of my drill.  People asked me if I took it to lunch with me, but actually Michele and I hid our drills in the bathtub when we went to lunch.  On Wednesday we had a prayer meeting in the parking lot of the motel/campground where we were staying.

 On the fourth day we continued work on the drywall.  I think I used every power tool on the site.  Dan was the hero of the day with his drywall finishing skills.  He gave a lesson to everyone on how to finish drywall.  On Thursday evening the former Miss America from Kentucky gave a concert at the state park.

Every day there was a “goof ball award” given to the person doing the silliest thing.  The first goof ball award was given to a woman who was so excited about working that she drove her car to the worksite.  You weren’t supposed to drive to the worksite because there wasn’t enough space to park, and then she rode the shuttle bus back and forgot about her car.  The second day the award went to a man (who was a Pastor) who said he had to go to Wal-Mart to buy some more underwear because he thought two pair would be enough for the week.  The third day some women must have done something silly to have some drywall fall on them (no one was hurt).  The last day’s award went to a man who was demonstrating to the women how the drywall screws are supposed to be sunk into the drywall.  If the screws are still sticking out you need to tap them in with a hammer.  He proceeded to demonstrate by taking a hammer and making a hole in the wall.  We insisted that he put his initials by the hole so everyone would know it was him that ruined our beautiful wall.

On the last day we only worked about half a day.  We didn’t get the house entirely finished in the interior but we did get an amazing amount of work accomplished in a very short time.  It was frustrating sometimes when we didn’t have enough tools and when there were so many people around you couldn’t move.  The house was dedicated on Friday.  The family was presented with a bible signed by everyone who worked on the house.  A good portion of the volunteers were from about six different Baptist churches in Louisville, KY, but there were also a few Catholics, Presbyterians and Methodists represented.  The volunteers were between the ages of 14 to 70+ and they were husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives without their spouses.  We never could have accomplished what we did without the cooperation of all of the volunteers, local community volunteers and organizations working together.  There was an article in the local newspaper and we were on the local news. 

You can’t help but be blessed by participating in a mission trip.  I was especially empowered by this experience, because I stepped outside of my comfort zone and learned that I can do things I never thought were possible.  That shouldn’t surprise me since with God, all things are possible.  The family across the street from the build site consisted of a man and his wife, a little girl and a baby.  Their house had no front door or window.  Their running water came from a garden hose.  This experience has inspired me to work with Habitat for Humanity.  I now know how to use power tools and have some basic knowledge of construction.  I encourage everyone to seriously consider taking a mission trip when the opportunity arises.  Even though you may think you don’t have anything to offer, there is always something for everyone to do.  There was a group of women who spent two and half days staining the doors and trim.  We needed people to sweep and clean up the worksite.  I met a woman named Odessa who decided after the first day that she needed to change her job because she couldn’t swing a hammer or climb a ladder.  She joined the Food Crew and said she was also going to work on sewing curtains for the house.  There was also a Bible Group crew who went to two different sites everyday to work with children.  If you have two hands, you can serve the Lord.  BUILD UP HOPE!

Kathy Estrada

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