This spring break Ave Maria students went out on mission trips to Haiti, Mexico City, Jamaica, and Destin, Florida to do service work. This is the first round of mission trips with the Mother Teresa Project. With launch of the new Mama T Project, we went out to put her teachings into action and follow in her footsteps of giving ourselves in service.
Today we had a Service Learning retreat, and all the spring break mission groups came to share their stories. I’m finally getting a chance to blog about my spring break experience after catching up on my sleep and homework this week. Along with six other students, I went on the trip up to Destin for Habitat for Humanity. I had never done Habitat for Humanity before, so I was super excited to get to work on a house for someone. After packing up our van (the Holy Roller) we set off on the nine hour drive up to Destin. We met up with students from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of South Florida; they joined our group for the week. That Sunday, we went to Mass together and then hit up the gorgeous beach to relax and play football in the sand.
Then the hard work began. Every day, we woke up early and prayed a rosary and the Litany for Humility on the way to the worksite. Humility was something we tried to focus on as a group over the course of the trip, and boy did God ever give us our fair share. We worked on the house with local volunteers pretty much all day. We hung siding, drywall (that stuff is heavy let me tell you), put up fences, did some landscaping, and helped out at the Habitat re-store. Often the work was challenging, but the volunteers were super helpful and we got to use pretty awesome tools like a palm hammer and screw guns. We would then head back to where we were staying, covered in drywall dust, to get ready for dinner. Each night a different family hosted us and made us dinner, they were all so generous and sweet, thanking us for giving up our break to come and work on the house. When we returned to our apartment, we had “prayer and share” where we talked about the day and reflected on readings from the Mother Teresa Project book.
We were able to meet the soon to be owner of our house, and she stopped by a couple times during the week to help us out. She was a 22 year old single mother with four kids under the age of four, currently living in a two bedroom, single-wide trailer. Needless to say, she was extremely excited about her house. I am so glad we got to meet and work with her, she was so full of joy and so worthy, we truly were blessed to be working alongside her to build her a real house.
The last day, the head of the county’s chapter of Habitat thanked us all for coming, saying that she had been reading about the many college students that were getting into trouble on the beaches just minutes away. Instead, we were there, volunteering our time to give a deserving family a home. I was so struck by the gratitude of everyone we were working with, how willing they were to help out and give of their time and talents, as well as how grateful they were for our presence there. I am so glad Ave has so many opportunities for alternative spring break trips, and I can’t wait to go back next year!