This is a very joyful column, for many reasons! We have a lot to talk about and share regarding this past April NJ trip! For five days, Monday the 17th to Friday the 21st, seven missionaries from St. Ann’s went to the Long Branch NJ area to work on homes damaged by hurricane Sandy. All of the local neighborhoods are still picking up after this devastating storm five years later.

For housing work, we worked in Keansburg, NJ for the third straight year, in just about the same neighborhood. We worked for a married couple who decided to stick out the hurricane four years ago. Hours later, they were on their dining room table while seven feet of water entered their home. They almost had to get on their roof to avoid drowning, but the water receded in about a half hour. The couple stayed behind in their home to fight off looters and protect their home. It wasn’t until several months later that someone found mold and the roof about to cave in before the family was forced to leave their home. That’s when St. Bernard Project came in to assist the family and rebuild their home. St. Bernard Project was about two months working on this home, and we were asked to paint and floor the home. Throughout the course of the week, our group put on two coatings of paint, floored two bedrooms, almost finished flooring the living room and kitchen, and created window sills and trim for 3 windows. All of these projects were completed in 3 days! It was a busy three days, but we worked hard for this family to hopefully move back in by the end of Summer 2017! Overall the work was physically hard, but we worked hard and had high quality work! We have a bit of a reputation with St. Bernard Project now after 3 straight years: St. Ann’s is known as one of the hardest working groups, who put a lot of quality into their work. Everyone works as if they were working on their own home, and it is something I am proud to speak of!

Even better, this trip was so much more than just the housing work. Every day we also shared meals together, had two daily Wawa trips (the only way we can explain it, is its like an upscale 7/11 with a lot more to offer) and an evening reflection to recap how we saw Jesus in each day. This trip in particular the reflections were a great gathering time to pray, talk about some of the best and most challenging moments of the day, and see the bigger picture of our work/service. This time was very fruitful, as well as the time after our reflection known as Tea Time: a time where adults and teens gather to play cards and unwind after a long day.

I want to thank everyone who supported this trip, and for all of the prayers during this week!

This was our third year running the April NJ trip, and this year was a special trip. We experienced so many little God moments (as I like to call them!) and I hope to share a few with you soon. Until then, thank you for your support and prayers, each one of you are the ones that made this trip possible and extra special for each of the adults and teens involved. I tip my cap to you, and look forward to continue working with you in our mission of serving Christ with those in need.