On Saturday, November 2nd, 2019, a group of six left Stillwater to travel to Clarksdale, MS, to spend a week working on a Habitat for Humanity home. The group consisted of Jenny Powell, Peggy Peterson, Tom Weber, Carol Weber (all St. Paul Lutheran members), and two friends of SPLC, CAHFH Board member Marlay Smith from Stillwater and Christa Scheider from Duluth. As always, God provided with a wonderful group to travel and work with (many of whom were long-serving veterans of this ministry) and just the right number of people with the skills and talents that were necessary for the jobs that needed to be done during our work week.

We spent Saturday night in Mattoon, IL and then continued our travel on Sunday, arriving at the Clarksdale Habitat dorm on Sunday afternoon. On Monday morning we met with our job site supervisor, Ben Williams, headed to the job site to go over what they would like to have us work on during our work week, and then we jumped in and got to it. During our week, we finished laying porcelain floor tiles; did some touch-up sheet rock mudding and sanding; primed and put two coats of paint on all the interior walls; built, primed and painted the window framing for all the windows; primed, painted and installed all the window trim; primed, painted and installed the closet and room doors; cleaned and prepared two of the room floors for the tile grout; and did some job-site clean-up. By Friday afternoon, the house at an “almost finished point” and was ready to have the kitchen cabinets polyurethaned and hung, the bathroom fixtures installed, the floor tile grouting done, the HVAC and water heater installed, final cleaning and it would be ready for a family to call home.

During our evenings we enjoyed important community building times. We spent one late afternoon/early evening at the Spring Initiative program, which is a program for school age kids of all ages to get some extra help and encouragement with their homework. There were two age groups and part of our team worked with the younger kids and the other part worked with those in 5th-6th grades. We were each assigned a student and we were able to get to know the students, what their story was, what their goals and dreams are, and help them with their homework. It is an amazing program, and the organizers of the program are wonderful, dedicated people. It has helped many students do better in school, graduate and go on to further their education. One evening we invited a couple, Margaret Brown and Robert Stone, to join us for supper at the dorm. They were Habitat homeowners who had just paid off their mortgage. We celebrated that milestone with them and they shared their story of their lives before their Habitat home, their journey to get their Habitat home, and their life changes after they moved into their Habitat home. It was a very enlightening and emotional evening. One of the other evenings we were invited to a “thank you” potluck hosted by the Clarksdale Habitat board members. They provided a delicious “spread” of food and it was a great time of fellowship, getting to meet the board members, talking with them about their struggles, visions, hearing their stories, sharing ideas and a time of prayer and praise.

On Friday afternoon, we cleaned up the dorm, packed and loaded our things, said goodbyes, and we started our journey home. We planned a “special side trip” for the way home – our last adventure as a group. We traveled to Branson, Missouri, spent Friday night in Branson and then on Saturday morning attended the live performance (complete with live animals!) of “The Miracle of Christmas.” It was a wonderful way to end the trip and start the Christmas season. We arrived back home on Sunday afternoon, November 10.

A couple of our team members shared some comments and memories of the trip:

I loved this particular trip . . . it just seemed special, everyone so laid back but so focused on the work. I do have some memories of a super bunch of folks doing a lot of great work and being more than repaid by the tenderness of all the people we encountered. Especially Ben, Bobbie, Ms, K., Elliott, Matt and Anja. Then the lovely side trip to Branson and the show was that amazing. Just what the doctor ordered! I hope to go again next year for sure!

I was so amazed by the different emotions I had during this week. It ranged from insecurity to absolute peace. The people we met were so beautiful and happy. Working with Ben was joyful every day. The potluck prayer was one of the most beautiful I have ever heard. It touched me to tears. When Miss K started singing, I had all I could do to stay composed. I was pleased, proud and disappointed in what was done, and what was left undone. Returning home was such an odd feeling. I felt I didn’t belong and I may be needed somewhere else. I am grateful to be home, but miss the hard work and satisfied feeling we had at the end of each day. I will be going again! Loved the experience! Thanks to all.
~Peggy Peterson