Last week I talked about extraordinary love, and next week I do plan on talking about hoping against hope…. However I did want to interrupt this week to update you all on the NJ Mission trip, which was just a week ago! Thank you to each of you for your spiritual and financial support! I hope this column can be a place that you see the fruits of your support.

Overall, the trip was incredible. The teens, who gave up their April vacation to serve, and the adults, had a life changing experience, filled with a lot of laughs, as well as, building new friendships.

We worked on a home in Keansburg, NJ near the shoreline. We worked for a homeowner named Pat, who is a retired NY detective. After a levy gave way and flooded her house, Pat’s husband passed away AND her daughter also passed suddenly due to cancer. In the middle of the chaos, Pat took the $100,000 the government paid her to rebuild, and paid a contractor to rebuild her home. During the most vulnerable time in her life, the contractor built a foundation (costing around $10,000) and walked away with the rest of the $90,000. Pat was left with no money, and only a foundation. During the week, we worked with St. Bernard Project to rebuild Pat’s home. We did our small part of installing laminate wood floors, painting two rooms, tiling a bathroom and kitchen floor. When St. Bernard Project started working with Pat, she was guarded, cold and a shell of the person she really is. Now, Pat visits every day to say hello, share a few laughs and check on the progress of her home. Pat now smiles and has a renewed hope from the volunteers who have come to support her in her time of need. She was kind enough to buy us pizza and soda for lunch one day! We came to serve, but through Pat’s presence and willingness to buy us lunch (for 15 people), she, in a way, served us.
We stayed at a nice retreat center, and were served hot meals every night for dinner by a friendly staff. Their support brought us the physical and emotional lift that we needed to get through the week. In the evenings, we played Apples to Apples and sang different songs, like having our Karaoke night, and I’m proud to say through the singing we did not wake up any of the priests (that is a miracle in itself! The cafeteria speakers were pretty loud!). We had a nice trip to Six flags, and got caught in a very heavy rainstorm. Let’s just say, you come to love community that much more when you can be soaked in the rain on a 30 minute walk back to the car AND get stuck in traffic, on the 3 hour drive home, in soaking wet clothes and still be able to laugh about it.
Thank you for your spiritual and financial support! With your help we were able to change the lives of 12 teens and adults while serving Pat, and bringing her closer to moving into a brand new home. Thank you again for providing the opportunity to serve!