This year for The Well's spring break mission trip we went to Atlantic City, New Jersey to do relief work from Hurricane Sandy. There were thirty-four students and six adults, and early Friday morning March 8th we loaded a trailer full of luggage, sleeping bags, air mattresses, tools, and food, piled into a van, mini bus, and car and set out! We arrived in Egg Harbor Township late that night, where we would be staying for the week at Greentree Church.
Saturday morning we got right to work! We were split into three teams, and I had ten students on my team. We were the only team that got to work at the same house all week, and that was a huge blessing because it allowed us to form a really good relationship with Mel, who lived at the house with his mother and son. When you first walked into the house you wouldn't have known that anything was wrong, because it looked pretty normal, but after the hurricane there had been two feet of standing water in the downstairs of the house. Everything under the floors and behind the walls was starting to mold, and it would all need to be replaced. The first few hours of work were the most fun I think, because we all got to take crowbars to the walls and tear down all of the drywall. Then we pulled up the linoleum in the living room, hardwood floors in the kitchen, and started tearing up the sub-flooring, which was the most difficult and time consuming thing we did all week.
On Sunday morning we went to church at Greentree, had our lunch there, and then spent the rest of the day and evening in Atlantic City. It was kind of odd to have our "fun day" at the beginning of the trip, but that's just how it worked out this time. It seriously took us about 25 minutes to find somewhere to park our bus and van together, and at one point Seth got out of the van and forgot to put it in park. It started rolling backward, I covered my eyes and sort of quietly screamed, and one of the guys sitting in the first row had to dive into front and slam on the brake with his hands! That was the highlight of the early afternoon. Once we found parking, the first stop for my little group was the boardwalk and beach. It was strange to be walking on the beach in boots, a coat, hat, and gloves!
|Even though the sun wasn't out, it was still bright, so we're all squinting. In the sand we wrote #atlanticcity2013, which was the hash tag we all used whenever we tweeted about the trip.|
|Me and Ashlynn, one of the girls from my Class '16 freshman small group.|
|And Lauren and I. She was in my Class '13 small group, and now she's graduating in May!|
|In front of us everything was gray.|
|And behind us everything was quite colorful.|
After the beach we went into one of the lobby areas of a casino to get some Starbucks, and then to a little mall sort of place where we saw two guys getting arrested for shoplifting. That was the highlight of the middle afternoon. Then we headed for the outlets; we went to J.Crew, Gap, H&M, Fossil, Life is Good, Nike and Famous Footwear and I managed to only buy one thing! A pair of shorts at J.Crew for $25. For dinner we went to Sack 'O Subs, a popular sub shop. I thought my sub was just ok, but my table split orders of regular fries, spicy curly fries, and pizza fries, and they were amazing. Definitely the highlight of the evening.
|Lauren got really excited about the revolving doors at the casino and took pictures of everyone going in.|
|These are the two shoplifters, handcuffed. We were a floor up, looking down.|
|And here's our whole group. I'm in front making a horrible face.|
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were more or less the same. Get up, eat breakfast at 7:30, pack a lunch, leave the church by 8:10ish, and go to our work sites. We'd eat lunch there and then return to the church anywhere between 4:00 and 5:30. On Monday my team finished tearing up all the flooring and sub flooring, which involved busting up tile with sledge hammers! We also installed new insulation in the walls and treated all the floor joists for mold.
|Alex, Haley, and Debbie.|
|Ashlynn and Kelcie.|
|That's mold on the walls, behind where the cabinets, fridge, and stove were.|
|We had to wait a little while for some more supplies, so we got to play with Mel's son's dog, Bolt.|
|I actually worked too!|
|My team! Alex, Martin, Ashlynn, Mason, Lauren, Mel - who's house it was, Ashley, Haley, Tiffany, Debbie, and Kelcie.|
I only had the camera with me on Monday, so I can't show the rest of the progress, but over the next three days we finished tearing up all the flooring, installed insulation in the walls and floors, and laid down new sub flooring. You could also say we installed insulation in the floors several times, because we all kept stepping through it! Until all the sub flooring was down we had make shift walkways, but we still had to do lots of walking back and forth just balancing on the floor joists. The insulation covered the wood up though, and it was easy to miss-step. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt, just some bruises and minor scrapes.
On Tuesday, before we put in new insulation, we all wrote a message to Mel on the floor joists. It was so neat to glance up from working and see students scattered throughout the living room, awkwardly crouched between the wooden slats, writing prayers and Scripture. Even though I knew those messages would most likely never be seen again, I loved knowing that the house would literally be founded on the Truth. Mel wasn't at the house when we did this, and so later we just told him about it. The next day, when he got back from the Dollar Tree, where he works, he had two pieces of poster board and a pack of markers. He told us that since he would never be able to see what we had written, he wanted us all to write it again on the posters, and that he would hang it up to remember us by. It was then that I realized we were doing so much more than just working on his house, we really were touching his heart. I do not think that Mel knows Jesus, but I know he saw Jesus through our students. And for me, that is why this trip was a huge success!
|*Shout out to Lauren Ray for these photos!|
The church that we stayed at was very nice and accommodating. We had a commercial grade kitchen to prepare all of our meals in, and a gym to eat and hang out in. We slept in classrooms and had plenty of room. There was only one shower for the guys and one shower for the girls though, and they shared the same hot water heater. So needless to say that resulted in long lines for the showers, which were often quick and cold. But we made it work and it really ended up not being a big deal. One night I waited until pretty late to shower, so I could have a somewhat long and hot one. And everything was going according to plan until the lights went out! The bathroom lights were on a motion sensor, and I'd been in the shower long enough that the sensor didn't pick up any movement. Thankfully all I had to do was step out for a moment and they came back on!
It was the church's missions emphasis week that week, and on Wednesday night they had a mutli-cultural dinner. They had little stations set up all around the gym with authentic food from different countries, and we could sample whatever food we wanted. My favorite was the matzo ball soup from Israel and the dish from Poland which had sausage, cheese, and potatoes. It was also a fun night because after three days of wearing work clothes and looking kind of rough, it gave us a reason to "dress up" and feel nice.
|Lauren curled my hair with one of those curling wands. I need to get me one of those!|
|All of the ladies of the trip.|