Every experience on this trip has been extraordinary. Adapting to a new environment has been a challenge and I have never relied on my faith more than the test of this trip. Mennonite Disaster Service kindly offered us housing during our two weeks of volunteering. Living in very close proximity to others for a long period of time can be difficult especially when it is something you are not used to. The highlight of our stay with MDS was getting to know each other more and making connections with the long term volunteers who were all so welcoming and kind. Construction was something that most of us were unfamiliar with. Thankfully, with the help and patience from the MDS long term team leaders, we all got to try something new and learned how to do many things. One thing that I was scared to try but learned to like was laying flooring, my knees hurt at the end of the day but it is something I would definitely enjoy doing again.I am fortunate that we got to experience this opportunity and I am sure it will help us get through the rest of our lives.
Our final Sunday was a chance for our bodies to relax and reconcile with the past two and half weeks. Most service days we have been on a very strict schedule with lots of responsibilities. Fortunately, this experience brought us to the realization that hard work eventually pays off because we got to dedicate two houses to the homeowners and meet the neighborhood dog. Which is a pretty amazing feeling for us as well as the owner. A home dedication is when the home is finished and the owner gets the keys to their brand new house. Seeing how grateful and emotional the owners were and how excited the children were to finally have a safe and sturdy home to live in was a feeling I’ll cherish forever.
Sunday morning started off without alarms, and for those of you who know me, that is something so simple yet it makes me so happy to not have to wake up early. This is especially true when late Saturday night was spent roaming the cabin and inspecting every crook and cranny for possible spiders and/or any other unwanted critters. Staying in a cabin in the woods was a new experience for most of us. On the bright side,it got us girls out of our comfort zones and got us even more used to adapting to new environments, which is a good life skill. Each night consisted of laughter and discussing the fun things we got to experience each day. Eventually, thanks to the great bond we have built, us girls just decided to share a twin bed to avoid any uncertainties the night may have brought.
After a slow start to our Sunday morning we worked our way down to the main cabin where we were able to make our own breakfast. Everyone had their own preferences so it worked out great for each person to decide what they wanted. I enjoyed peanut butter toast with some berries and sat on the porch looking at a great view while I sipped on a cup of coffee. The weather was a bit chilly so some of us relaxed inside while others took a short hike. It has been nice to get some much needed downtime before our departure back to Indiana.
This evening it was my group’s turn to cook dinner. “Las cuatro amigas” prepared a Mexican meal that consisted of flautas, beans, red rice, and some Choco flan for dessert. The twist is that we did it all within the budget for groceries. I may be biased but it was absolutely delicious and we really rocked that grocery store haul. This time was good for us to get together and brainstorm how we were going to make it all work out. It has been difficult to make food that everyone will like and can eat with allergies. However, we worked together and did our best which is what matters most.
As I think about our next transition and heading back to Indiana, I am grateful for all the new things I have learned throughout this time. I also look forward to connecting with the students who I made relationships with in the future. I am excited to see how much we all have improved over these past few weeks physically and mentally. I pray for safety as we all part our own ways and continue working hard at Goshen College.
Written by: Olivia Lehr