Our Friday began with what I can only hope becomes a new tradition for Mission at Grace. With Mother Leslie in our midst, we had Eucharist – complete with Communion. In eleven years, this is the first time a Mission crew has been joined by Grace clergy, and what better time and place to celebrate the Lord and His works than before working in His name.
Following Eucharist, it was business as usual – loading up the cars and coolers with Missioners and sandwiches and heading out to our sites. For our final day, the drywall and flooring crews returned to their site for the week to finish up as much as they could, while the tertiary crew departed for sites in Tuckerton to complete some painting and other miscellaneous tasks.
At the end of the day, with a week of incredibly difficult challenges under our belt, we bid our sites a final farewell, wrapping up all of the flooring, drywalling, sanding, cutting, painting, and insulating. Scrap wood was rounded up, tools cleaned off and put back into the cars, floors were swept, and Mission was complete – save for the drive home, of course.
Our evening was filled with reflection, lasagna, and fellowship. Tracy Enger, otherwise known to Missioners as “Momma Tracy,” was unable to join us on Mission this year, and in her honor, we kept with her tradition of serving lasagna for one meal during the week. Thanks to Cindy McIntyre-Kelly for sending them up with Mother Leslie!
After dinner, we continued with another time-honored Mission tradition – the awards! For the uninitiated, the final Compline of the Mission week is where we celebrate the accomplishments and funny experiences from the week by way of gag-gifts. Some of the awards included a toy saw for Jared, who spent the week manning the mitre saw, or a tape measure for Grace, who may have missed an inch or two along the way. Compline also included Love Letters, another rather fun activity in which names are drawn from a hat, and Missioners write a reflective (humorous) letter to each other. This has always been a hilarious, though wonderfully introspective, activity.
Following Compline, we all played games – ping-pong, table hockey being quite popular – and enjoyed each others’ company until one by one we all passed out.
Having now woken up and had breakfast, final cleanup is underway before departing for Alexandria. Bathrooms are being wiped clean, trash taken out, bags of clothes being packed, and memories being fondly recollected.
With hopes for safe travels,
Despite the humidity and heat, our crews valiantly forged onward, with the welcome additions of Handy Andy, Mother Leslie, Peregrine and Jonny, major progress was made on all fronts. Thankfully, the weather played out in our favor – the storms forecasted for the afternoon moved back out to sea.
The painting crew completed the exterior painting of their house, which led Lucy, Peregrine, Helen, Merrin, and Miguel under the house to paint the overhead drywall. Handy Andy assisted with the painting of the soffits. Despite a few flecks of paint in an eyeball here and there, and a bit of a sunburn, too, the crew finished up unscathed and moved on to another site. Their final site’s work was purely final cleaning up – removing construction debris from around the house as the A Future With Hope folks prepare to install the appliances and turn the house over to the homeowners. The expected turnover timeframe is two weeks.
After much trial and error, and many triangular pieces, the flooring crew completed the upstairs hallway. Tomorrow they plan to move into the two main bedrooms. On the first floor, MUCH progress was made by moving into the kitchen, its nook, and the presumed dining room. They expect to be done with the entirety of the kitchen tomorrow, involving much grinding, cutting, and patience.
While the flooring crew was busy in the house, the drywall crew lurked beneath, toiling away at some pretty difficult cuts. Despite some seriously good music, only four large boards were able to be placed, due to live electrical and plumbing hazards. That being said, the group following us will have an awesome canvas to lay the second layer of sheetrock, bringing the house up to code.
Following what was a very long day, Lighthouse Alliance provided us with a delicious dinner of Penne alla Vodka, with Chicken Cacciatore, and we had a great reflection session with Bernadette, the volunteer coordinator at Lighthouse.
Our night concluded with Go Karts and Mini Golf at Eagleswood Amusement Park, which has become a tradition for New Jersey missions. Everyone had a wonderful time – even our speed demon priest!
Sean, Brendan, Shannon, Jared, Isabella, and Nick
Mid-week, Missioners have continued forging on, seeing much progress at the various work sites. The flooring crew made significant progress inside the house at the main site, making their way down the hall despite major flaws in the house. The drywall team made major progress under the house, placing nine full sheets on the ceiling, and moving a couple skids of new drywall under the house in case of inclement weather. Both teams are struggling to work around the fact that many of the beams, and therefore walls, are ever-so-slightly crooked. The tertiary crew continued to paint, finishing up a second coat on the asbestos tile/siding of their house, then put a coat of primer on the underside of the house they were putting the insulation in.
As always, we put in an effort to enjoy ourselves, too. Lunch was filled with many loud show tunes, from Mary Poppins, West Side Story, Wicked, and more. The evening was spent enjoying the company of our latest arrivals – Mother Leslie, Handy Andy, Jony, and Peregrine all made their way up from home to join us. With our new additions in tow, we ventured off for a night of bowling hilarity, followed by Jefreeze ice cream.
Having returned home extremely late, we all fell out for bed fairly quickly, inspiring last night’s blog post to be moved to this morning.
Kelly, Paige, Savannah, Grace, and Nick
With many eager hands to do the many tasks at hand, our group was split in three to tackle the challenges handed to us.
To keep things simple, the flooring crew continued to floor, and the drywall team continued to drywall at the original site. Despite having to rip out a few slight errors, the teams kept their heads level, sometimes using them as tools, too. A third crew was formed when Travis spun us a tale of a crawlspace without any insulation. For those playing along at home, we have a few missioners who became professionals in installing insulation last year. They were dispatched to a new site roughly a half-hour north from the original site, while the remaining crews continued working into a rhythm of struggles.
The Mission paradigm for Grace has included many tales of erroneous instructions, or at least, erroneous interpretations of our instructions. But we love this. As one Missioner said this evening, “Mission is all about learning to fail together, because we work through our failures to learn.”
So today, some groups nailed boards to boards, others did their best not inhale a torrent of sheetrock dust, and others crawled around a minefield of fiberglass and subflooring. Tomorrow will be quite similar, with flooring and drywall hanging continuing, though the insulation team performed so efficiently, they’ll be moving to a third site to dutifully do some exterior painting.
This evening’s activities were brief, but meaningful. Compline was held at the Tuckerton Green Street Beach, and everyone was able to reflect on Mission, and everything they’re grateful for. Responses ranged from appreciation of family and friends to gratefulness for newfound perspectives and experiences.
Lastly, we look forward to the arrival of Handy Andy, Jonny, Peregrine, and Mother Leslie – the first of our Priests to attend a Mission Trip! Sadly, tomorrow night will be Lynn’s last night with us, as she has other Holy callings to tend to back home.
Miguel, Merrin, Brendan, Helen, and Nick
Amidst a chorus of smoke alarms, today was a fantastic start to the week. Our adventure began with a meeting with Travis from A Future with Hope. Fun fact: Travis is the only site coordinator to have worked with us twice in a row in the eleven-year Mission history. Following our meeting, we were immediately shipped off to our new worksite, where flooring, drywall, and other finishing touches were to be completed. The groups were divided up, the equipment and flooring unloaded, and the day began!
One group was assigned cleaning the grounds – various other groups before us left debris in the wake of all the work they completed, so we were tasked with collecting the scrap wood, broken concrete pieces, and excess siding.
One group was assigned hanging drywall boards in the overhead space of the soon-to-be carport under the house. Their work includes measuring and cutting the boards, lifting them using the jack, and screwing them into the joists. Let it be known that once this task is completed, it will have to be done again, as outdoor drywall installations have to be double-hung.
The final group was tasked with completing the flooring throughout the house. As the house is in its final leg of construction, some of the upstairs flooring was completed by previous groups. It was gleefully discovered that they left us the harder sections to complete. So the group began work with the floor nailer, cutting discs, and mitre saw, with only the occasional interruption from the smoke detectors due to the sawdust in the air.
After a work-weary day, we packed up all our tools, with and made off for Lighthouse. Some went to 7-11 for free slurpees, some went to Costco for dinner supplies, and some stopped involuntarily due to traffic.
With Compline under our belts, as well as a lovely taco dinner, we’re off to play some games and head to bed.
Lucy, Eli, Michael, Katherine, and Nick
The epic Mission saga continues! This eleventh year of Mission, Grace has sent 21 missioners back to the Lighthouse Alliance Community Church of Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey for another week of fun, learning, serving, and spiritual growth. We arrived safely in the mid-afternoon and proceeded to get ourselves settled in, created a framework for our week, did some grocery shopping, had a delicious pizza dinner, and enjoyed a rousing getting-to-know-you compline. With a meeting with A Future With Hope on the agenda for tomorrow morning, we’re off to bed.
On board first flight home. Luggage may be with us and may not.