First Day on the job

It was a great feeling today to see old friends.
No, not the heat or the humidity, but Brad and Denise, our two site supervisors.

We arrived at our site, which is located at 2202 Choctaw Ave, Pascagoula, MS 39567. If you look at google maps, you can see what the site once looked like... a lot.. not "a lot" as in plenty, but simply, a lot of land.

Okay, so much to say, so little brain power.

1) We're happy to be back
2) Our newbies are excellent!
3) Brad and Denise are like coming home to family, we even spoke about our other family members (Spikes, Paul, et al) that weren't present, to catch up, just as you would do at a reunion.
4) rumor on the street is that Brad might enter our video, "All Work, All Pray" in as a volunteer video in some competition...
5) here's the rest...
(I type this, with Gary M by my side, editing video, while the rest of the gang has showered and gone off to have some frozen custard.. sniff.. Okay, truth be known, the guys are bringing us back some dessert.. :) )

It's hot. Not screaming hot like the first trip, but still, hot. But there are opportunities to work in the shade.

We're working on two houses that stand on stilts. Hopefully you'll be able to see from the pictures and videos.

Our Site Managers
Brad and Denise haven't changed, except in the area of their hearts.

Just chatting with them, it seems that Brad's growing in his faith, as is Denise, but also that God's been good to them providing them jobs that they love to do, and a church that helps them grow. Denise's transition from Americorp to Habitat staff has allowed her to put down some roots for a bit and get involved with the kids at her church (same church as Brad and Paul's, which we'll visit this Sunday). It's really exciting to hear how their hearts are being humbly moved by the significance of their work.

Work is moving along well. Not that it was planned this way, but many of the newbies ended up painting siding. It's a hot job in the hot sun, but they did so with smiles and infectious laughter. Other work performed today was preparing for likely putting up the siding tomorrow, with our team being joined by 11 others that we haven't met yet. But except for two additional volunteers, who brought the gift of cookies with them to the job site, we had the site to ourselves. It was a good first day, hard work, and the heat got to a few of us. We're going to rest well tonight.

It was a lot of work on scaffolding, but unlike Mathias' work last year, we didn't have to construct the scaffolding, we were just able to benefit from a previous team's work. With the scaffolding in place, we were able to get straight to work, and move freely. It's very reassuring to know that you're part of a bigger picture, with one team coming before you, you doing your part, whatever that may be, and then handing it off to the next team. That really helps us in our overall faith.

Steve O gave the devotional this morning, about prayerfully keeping our eyes open to see God moving in the lives of those we encounter, while still performing well on the job site.

Peter gave a devotional last night about how we might be blocked from seeing God's movement among people because of various reasons (sin, distraction, pride, etc.). He confessed something that he once thought was a small sin, but realized how it was larger than he thought, and was affecting his preparation for the trip. Once he identified it as a problem, confessed it to God, and was able to see more clearly what God was doing in his life and those he might encounter during the Biloxi trip.

Click for some pics from the day

Some follow up news from yesterday
Sorry guys, was really busy and we were kinda tired, so we couldn't post up too much yesterday.

The plane trip went well, Tommy did a devotional during our layover, and we landed without incident.

We landed and visited the area, in doing so, met a few people along the way, talking about where there lives were at..

Gary M was able to pray for a woman and her needs at the airport...
Follow up to the follow up: Gary received an email from the woman he met, "L".  She's doing well, and says she has felt our prayers so she thanks the team.  She says she is interested in what we are doing here in Biloxi.

The facilities we are staying at, New Life Disaster Relief Center, are in the building of a local church. I mean, like the guys and girls are sleeping in converted rooms that are about 5' outside of the sanctuary. It's a little tight, but the atmosphere is really nice. And there's no place like home at the end of a hard day.

We toured some of our previous build sites, and to be honest, our hearts sank a little when visiting one of our build sites, the homes are ready to be moved into, but they remain vacant, a few had real estate signs on them from local realtors. The Habitat staff explained that some of the houses in those neighborhoods were pending some further steps for partner families, but that indeed, some homes were available for purchase, and no buyers.

  • Many people don't realize they qualify for Habitat homes
  • Others are unaware of the vacancies
  • and sometimes there can be a small and inaccurate preconception about Habitat homes.
    • Some people fear the homes are built not as well, but the truth is, they're often built better than local homes because they are exceeding local codes or energy standards. We know that most of the homes we have worked in have fantastic energy savings for their future home owners.
    • Some people fear that there might be a stigma attached to the home. I think it's in line with receiving charity... The truth is, no one can tell what is and isn't a Habitat home, except that it might be one of the nicer ones on the block, in my humble opinion.....
with that in mind, please pray for Habitat as a whole. Things are okay down here, the affiliate is doing well and managing well, but it would be a shame, whether in Mississippi, or elsewhere, someone didn't look into a Habitat home because of misconceptions and/or unnecessary fears...

Some videos:

Okay, now a juicy bit for you troopers who took the time to read this whole post...

Brad (Site manager, Biloxi) and Amy (from the local affiliate back home) bumped into each other while serving in Nepal last year, and chatted it up because Brad recognized the San Gabriel Valley Habitat logo from the cap we gave him last year. The two became fast friends.

The two are top on our list of our favorite people, but I've made it clear, that it's, selfishly, to our advantage having each of them stay put exactly where they are. :) But I'm just sayin..