Patrick Schmees, third-year pharmacy student from Fairfield, Ohio, recaps his week in Jackson, Miss., with ONU Habitat for Humanity.
Saturday, February 23Road Trip Traditions
At 5 a.m., we left snowy, cold Ada for Jackson, Miss. Most people slept as we drove south, stopping periodically for meals. We watched "The History of the Chicken," a documentary that has become a Habitat trip tradition. Around 8:30 p.m., we arrived in Jackson and settled into Northminister Baptist Youth House, where we would be staying throughout the week.
Sunday, February 24Jackson
Today we got our first taste of Jackson on a bus tour; we saw the governor's house, the capital building and the neighborhood where Ohio Northern built its first Habitat home. We also saw the neighborhood where we would be working. After church services, a group of students prepared a spaghetti lunch. The rest of the afternoon was free for everyone to hang out, go for a walk or play games. That evening we had praise and worship, after which I gave a devotion about emulating Jesus' humility and putting others ahead of oneself.
Monday, February 25Beautiful Day
The 7 a.m. wake-up call found us eager to arrive at the worksite and start building. Our group was divided into several teams to put up scaffolding, prime and paint walls, construct walls and put up trusses. The sun came out at about 10:30 a.m. - it was beautiful day. We worked until 4:40 p.m., and as we were loading the bus, a local rapper stopped by and performed for us.
For dessert that night we had dirt pudding - a fitting treat. Later we gave our roses and thorns, a Habitat tradition where we each name a good thing that happened today and a thing that did not go so well. Praise and worship followed, after which Nathan Kocheiser gave a devotion about being relational with God and letting Him be a part of our lives.
Tuesday, February 26Making Progress
The morning was cold and cloudy when we arrived at the worksite a little before 8 a.m. We resumed our tasks from the day before, with progress starting to show: the siding group finished two sides of the house, the painting crew added a second coat and another group put plywood on the roof of a second home. Afterwards, that group started shingling the second roof. We worked until 5 p.m. and ate dinner at the local Baptist Hospital. Back at the youth house, we did our daily chores, said our roses and thorns, and Justin Stone gave us the devotion for the night based on the Nickelback song, "If Everyone Cared."
Wednesday, February 27Working Together
When we arrived at the worksite today, we learned that our pile of wood had been stolen by someone looking to say warm during the chilly night. Despite the cold, we were making headway on the houses, with the shingling finished on the first house and in process on the second. Eventually the sun came out, and we were lucky to have Two Sisters Kitchen provide us a lunch of chicken, beans, collard greens and vanilla wafers in pudding. We finished working around 3:30 p.m. and then spent the evening at a local mall. We had ice cream sundaes, a sweet treat that was followed by Grace Lunsford's telling us to "get off the bitter bus" by changing our attitudes and looking for positive aspects in life.
Thursday, February 28Crawdads
Again, it was a cold morning, so there was a fire pit set up for warmth. As the day went on, however, the temperature climbed to a little over 60 degrees. We completed various tasks today, from siding and varnishing, to touch-up painting, shingling, and building a shed. The afternoon was a little slower, but it allowed people to really enjoy each other's company and have great conversations. We left the worksite about 4:30 p.m. to head to the hospital for dinner.
After dinner, Dr. Jeffery Allison, professor of pharmacy practice and Habitat advisor, bought crawdads so we could enjoy real Southern food. We played a "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" game with fill-in-the-blank skits about caulking, a three-headed singer having the worst Habitat day ever, and Habitat party host with four guests. Next, a volunteer was blindfolded while another person helped him eat crawdads. After all the crawdad shenanigans, we actually tried them. Ashley Wolf and Katie Park delivered the night's devotion about staying positive on the worksite.
Friday, February 29Fruits of our Labor
Today was sunny and a great day, as well. We finished miscellaneous tasks like varnishing and sanding cabinets and putting up birdhouses. After lunch, we did our final cleanup and attended a ceremony recognizing the workers and new homeowners.
Trip leader Jay Gindlesberger gave the final devotion, in which he encouraged us to enjoy the friendships we had made and to understand the difference between happiness (temporary) and joy (long-term). We concluded with a final round of roses and thorns, a senior farewell and a hug line, where we all said nice things to one another and shared congratulatory hugs.
Saturday, March 1Strange Encounters
With our work in Jackson complete, we departed around 5 a.m. for Ada. Although a relatively sleepy drive home, when we stopped for lunch in Tennessee, a local university asked us to be part of a music video emulating Swedish pop band Ace of Base. We returned to the sleepy Ohio Northern campus around 10 p.m., exhausted but with the satisfaction of knowing we spent our spring break making a difference in Jackson - one house at a time.