Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Thanks for all the comments about my long run pacing.  I guess everyone fixates on some part of their training and worries if they're doing it right.  I'll just keep doing what I've been doing.  Plus I have a half marathon fitness testing race that should help me determine if my goal race pace is realistic or not.

I've been back for more than 10 days.  The statute of limitations for making excuses for not posting is up.  I don't think this is going to get that long, but I was sort of afraid it would, which has been my excuse for not posting up to this point.

So here goes...

Two Saturdays ago (July 11), 50 some kids and 12 leaders piled into 9 rented minivans and/or SUVs.  I drove a black Chrysler Town and Country.  We took two days to get to our site (kind of near Gulfport, MS), stopping the first night at a church in Memphis.

Sunday afternoon we had orientation and learned what group we would be in and what project we would work on.  Fortunately for my pale, pale skin I was placed in a group that was going to work on flooring inside a house.  Half of my group was from my church and half was from a church from Austin, MN.

The first thing I will say is that the organization that put together our trip, Next Step Ministries, seemed to have great rapport with the community we were serving.  This was the second (I think) summer NSM was working in this community, and every interaction I saw between the staff and residents was very positive.  It seemed to me that the residents felt like someone was finally helping them five years after Katrina came through and that the NSM staff was interested in engaging with residents to solve problems- not just showing up to "do some stuff for the residents".  Obviously I was only there for a week, but I got a very good vibe from the staff/resident interactions.

Our accommodations were what you would expect if you've ever been on a service trip.  We slept on the floor, we showered in a trailer, we ate whatever was on sale at Costco.  Those weren't my favorite parts, but it does give the whole experience a "summer camp" type feel.

My group really worked hard to finish our project.  We re-floored two bedrooms, a utility room, a bathroom, and a hallway in a house that hadn't been cleaned in... well... let's say they gave up when that whole Monica Lewenskiy thing went down.  The couple was elderly, and I'm sure they did the best they could, but it was pretty gross.

Important life lesson: Never put carpet in a bathroom.  That's all (mold, pee smell) I will say about that.

But we floored:

We sawed

We moved a lot of stored junk

Including this guy, which was cool, but not what we wanted to find stashed behind a full bookcase!

And interacted with the residents and their family (including pets)

Friday was supposed to be a beach day, but we got rained out.  Pretty sad because some of the kids had never seen the ocean before.  I think the MN group actually went back to the beach for a little while on Saturday because it was sunny.

As for us, Saturday we packed up and made the hard drive back to Madison.  It took 17 hours, which I think is pretty darn good for a 9-vehicle caravan of high-schoolers.

So it wasn't your typical vacation, but as with all the other trips I've done, I had a good time, and I'd definitely do another one.