Thursday, April 23, 2009

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. -- Aristotle

It is truly hard to write this final post. As I've compiled the pictures and deeds of our trip onto this blog, I could not help but reflect on how much all of us have grown as people. When I hit the "Publish Post" button a final time, in many ways it will be the close of the actual trip for me -- and I don't really want this experience to end.

The more I consider this, however, the more I wonder if this trip will ever end. We've been back at school for almost a week now, and every time I see one of you in the halls, we say hi, exchange smiles, and there is a new look about your face. Something has changed inside you all and this change shows.

As an English teacher, and a Shakespeare geek at that, I keep recalling Henry V's St. Crispin's Day speech: "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers." In our week together, we have become a band of brothers (and two sisters), and if you read the rest of this speech, I think you'll find quite a few similarities between what Henry V and his loyal compatriots thought and what we feel toward each other. We have our badges of honor, whether they were caused by splinters or fire ants. Our victories were over termites and rot, tiredness and rain. And we prevailed, together.

To the young men who accompanied us on this trip: Thank you for your honesty, your genuine good humor, your hard work, and most of all your open minds. You exemplified the charisms we talked about: Zeal, Humility, Trust, Simplicity, and, most of all, Compassion. You showed me the Mount Man inside each of you, and I am extremely grateful.

To the parents: Thank you for all of your support and for the loan of your children for a week. We could not have done this without you!

To Dan: I am so thankful you came on this trip. Beside your infinite construction knowledge, I found a good friend in the process. I'm not sure about that chess rematch, though. I may just retire undefeated! :)

To Anne: Your presence on this trip was amazing. Thanks for all the great music, teaching me a new card game, and, most importantly, all the time you spent taking spectacular pictures that made this blog possible!

To Sarah: Here I am at a loss for words. All the time and effort you put into this trip truly showed. You set into motion a chain of events that positively impacted twenty people. Nothing I can say will adequately put into words what you meant to this trip. I feel so lucky to be able to call you my friend. Thank you for this incredible journey; you are an inspiring woman.

Peace, David Dutrow

Monday, April 20, 2009

"are you the only stranger who does not know what has taken place these past few days?"

I want to thank everyone who has supported this mission trip in so many ways:

To Rob Peace, for saying "Let's do it" without a moments hesitation. For true support and the faith that this would happen because it is God's work.

To Brother James, who was quite patient with me as I had what must have seemed interminable questions.

To Pam Bezirdjian who sat with the chaperones to refresh our first aid knowledge and prepare us for a variety of situations. Thank goodness we ran across no coral snakes (although we might have put a dent in that bottle of calamine lotion).

To Sarah Peightel, the business office, and development, who patiently explained to me details of what I could and could not do. I promise to be better in the future!

To the faculty and staff of the Mount, who supported us with donations and with prayer. It meant a lot to us and the boys to know you were pulling for us!

To Lloyd, our wonderful bus driver who cheerfully hauled around muddy, tired boys.

To the parents: Thank you for trusting us to steal your sons over Easter. I felt a little like Bob Wallace in White Christmas asking to split up your families on a major holiday. Thank you for all of your support.

To Dave, Dan, and Anne: Thank you thank you thank you for coming on this little adventure. I felt blessed to be working with such amazing adults- and I feel as though we formed our own little band- what a pleasant surprise to return from this trip with dear friends.

And most important of all, to the boys, which I really should rephrase and say to the men of the Mount who gave up their spring break to help those in need: I am so proud of you all. It was a wonderful thing to witness your transformations. In the way that you handled yourselves on site, in the way you interacted with Ms. Viola, in how you looked out for each other, and most importantly in witnessing your humble, simple, compassionate, zealous, and trusting service. There are so many snapshots of you that I will have with me forever. I hope that you carry this trip with you too, and that you "pay it forward." And one last teacher moment: In your life I hope you remember the lessons from the Road to Emmaus and learn to look for God in the simple,. ordinary moments of everyday life.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sarah, Anne, Dave, and our Mount Men……….

I am so glad that I decided to join the students and staff on this mission trip. I am extremely proud of the students that took part in this adventure. Once again Mount Men show what they are made of. It was such a positive experience. I must admit I was a little apprehensive before we all arrived. I was concerned about what we would find once we were shown the projects needing repair and if we would be capable of meeting our goals. But once we arrived and settled in, there was no time for worrying.

When we left the school at 6:15 on Saturday morning I drove separately carrying tools in my truck. I did not see everyone until we arrived nine hours later. I was the first to arrive, ahead of everyone on the rental bus. Jeff, the Mission General Contractor, took me for a ride to view and plan the projects we would be working on. I had no idea we would be assigned 3 different projects. Jeff made it clear the Mission folks did not expect miracles. They just wanted help making home improvements to some of the local families and anything we accomplished would be a blessing in their eyes.

Now a week later we (16 students and 4 adults) are happy to report we completed what was asked of us. Divided into three groups we installed a new floor in an older home, new siding on a small newly constructed house and siding removal and replacement on a 30 year old mobile home. It’s amazing what we accomplished as a group.

As someone who has worked in construction and facilities related work for over 25 years I was never as impressed with past projects as I was on this Mission trip. I watched the students go from their first day asking questions about the proper way to use work tools, to confident hard working individuals by the end of the week. It was clear by signing up for this trip each of these young men took a chance in placing themselves in a different environment that called on them to remain flexible and supportive to the entire group. Each and every one of them showed an inner strength needed on a daily basis to deal with the daily challenges before them. Challenges such as working as a team player with others they may not have known that well, yet finding a way to work together quickly and efficiently to achieve their goal. They taught me a few things too. Especially how to properly use a fly swatter when defending one’s self.

Sarah, Anne, Dave – thank you for your coolness ! You made me feel so welcome and apart of the team leaders from the start. Sarah, you are so organized I want to be just like you when I grow up! Anne, you were such a great partner on our project. I leaned on you constantly, and you were there. Dave, when are we having that chess rematch? I really can play better than that last game.

And the Guys, what can I say? You listened and followed every safety direction I could give you. You worked harder than some grown men I have managed over the years. I am so proud of each and every one of you ! I thank you from the bottom of my heart for a fun and successful mission. You guys truly have a great understanding of the Xaverian charisms, Trust, Zeal, Humility and Compassion. Thank you for the hard work and support you provided to the Mission.

To the parents, thank you for allowing your son to go on this trip. You can be very proud of their individual accomplishments. I actually watched them turn from “Boys to Men” (as the MSJ expression goes) before my very eyes.

Mr. Dan Peddicord
MSJ Director of Facilities
MSJ Class of ‘72

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A note to the boys, David, Dan and Sarah,
As an outsider to the Mt Saint Joe community I was unsure of what to expect when taking off on this adventure with you. After a rainy start, a blur of a bus ride, a 45 minute Burger King break, and a walk to the little village I almost had all of your names right. By day two I was watching your interactions carefully and developing my first impressions. Then on day three when the work began I had the pleasure of working directly with Colin, John, Peter, Fernando, Ryan, Jason and Dan Peddicord. Our project for the week was to tear off and replace siding on a trailer belonging to Ms Sue, a woman so involved with helping others that she had no time to help herself. After a slow start due to lack of supplies our team came together worked hard from the time we stepped off the bus, until Mr Lloyd came to pick us up at the end of our day. Throughout the week our team gained new members in Tom, JP, Matt, Brian, Bennet, and David Dutrow. By day four you were all so confident in yourselves, and dedicated to your work that our final result was more than we could have asked for.
After spending nearly a full week with you all it has been my pleasure to get to know you as individuals and groups. I have watched you all grow together as a team and witness what you are capable of when you put your mind to it. I was constantly impressed by your energy, witty comments, musical knowledge, and growing confidence. I feel that we started this trip with a group of shy high school boys, and tomorrow we will be leaving Rural Mission with a capable band of brothers... sleepy and smelly maybe, but also capable, full of heart, hard working, hard playing, intelligent, humorous, and wonderful in so many ways.
Thank you for allowing me to share this experience with you. I hope you all take a little something with you when you return to life in Baltimore. You have made a first step in reaching out to those less fortunate and you should be proud. If you ever have doubt in your abilities please remember what I said tonight about Ms Sue. When she hugged me goodbye with tears in her eyes thanking me for what we had accomplished, she was reaching out to each of you for all of the early mornings, sweat, frustration, and accomplishments of the week. Thank you all again, I will remember this experience for a very long time.

All my best,
Anne Slingluff (a.k.a Ms Slingluff #2)

Day 4 by Ryan Lakis

Today was our last day at the Rural Mission trip. My group finished our project which was rebuilding the sides of a mobile home. We took down the side panels and built new ones back in their place. It took a lot of effort, but with all the teamwork and help from each other, we were able to accomplish our goal. Everyone was very proud of themselves and were happy to do something for someone less fortunate then ourselves. I felt proud and had a sense of confidence once I had finished my jobs. My jobs were to take down windows and place them back into the slots. Also, with the help of my friends, took down and built the side panels back into place. I also cut and sawed off the parts of the panels we needed to build back in place. After this trip, I will go home feeling great. I now have a better sense of accomplishment and confidence now that I know I have helped someone that is important to this world.

Day 4 JP Kuhlman

Today was the last day of the work camp. We finished all three of the projects that we were involved in. The flooring that only Bennet Wolfe, Matt Hiltz, and I took only two days to complete so we were moved to the project of repairing an old home. It was also a lot of work, but everyone was committed to doing a good job. One thing that I noticed was that everyone knew that the houses were not theres and that they would probably never encounter these houses again, so the though may have been that it doesn't matter how good of a job you do. However saw something different, everyone was so determined to get everything right and not to move on to the next thing until they were completed.

Now we are all on our way back home tomorrow early in the morning. We will be heading to Bush Gardens on the way! I look forward to coming back home, even though I had fun here I am glad that that it came to a very successful end.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Work Site 1 by Pete Doyle

Today all of us completed replacing the siding on Ms. Sue's house and started the process of painting it. I feel really bad for the way Ms. Sue used to live before we started fixing her home. Doing this project of rebuilding her house has helped me to realize how lucky I am to live where I do. This has helped me not take things for granted and to be more thankful for the things I have.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Work Site 1 -- Day 2 Pictures

Work Site Three -- Day Two by Bennett Wolfe

Today on our mission trip we split up into three groups and each went to a different work site. Today's job was the continuation of re-flooring a 91 year old woman's house. Her floor was caving in and the legs of the furniture legs were sinking into the wood. we had to peal up the vinyl and put new ply wood over the water damaged wood. it took us two days to finish our job. The woman and her son were really cool. It was really hard to understand to understand her because she spoke a mixture of English, African, and Creole. Today its was extra special because she turned 91. We had birthday cake with her and it was fun.

Work Site 2 -- Day 2 by Zack Jewby

Today during our rural mission trip, we continued working on the same location. We continued putting up siding on the house we have been working on these last couple days. Mr. Dutrow, Ms. Slingluff, Evan, and I did alot of work today. We were working in the back yard of the house that was turned into a swamp because of the very bad storm we had yesterday. The boards that we were using for the siding of the house were very long and flimsy, and when we finally got the siding up, we had to hold it in place with one arm and hammer it in with the other. It made me feel very good helping people that are in need as bad as they are. I feel like I am so fortunate to have what I have but sometimes i feel like I am not always grateful for what I am given. This trip has really made me change my thoughts and be grateful for what I have.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Work Site 1 by Fernando Melnychenko

My Dearest friends and family members,

Today when My group arrived at our work site of Ms. Sue's house we all had different ideas on what we all where planning on doing. First we all started with lacking tools and supplies for repairing the house. Second we all decided to instead of waiting for the tools and not doing anything and just sitting around and just looking around, we all decided to work together regardless of our lack of tools. Our main group out look was teamwork through out the whole project. We all worked until we got more supplies. Once we all got a boat load of hammers we all took down the back part of the house and replaced it with brand new walls that made Ms. Sue really happy when she saw what our group had accomplished. We were all very successful with taking out three fourth of the back of the house. After we had finished we had to wait for the bus to come pick us up and wow that took forever. The rain started to pour after awhile of waiting and our group was out in the open where we could all get wet. So what we did is built a sweet tarp tent with 2x4's and a huge blue tarp. Today is only the first day though so we still have much work to get done and relationships to grow stronger throughout brother hood. More information on our great progress will definitely be posted and stories will definitely be told by your sons.

Work Site 2 by Chas Hofmeister

Today, we arrived at 9:30 at our work site, only to realize we forgot our hammers. After a trip to the hardware store, we started real work putting siding up on a house that has been under construction for two years now. The siding was constructed of a drywall-like material that produced a lot of powder when you cut it. We measured the siding and drilled holes which we used to nail the siding to the side of the house. We had to make sure the siding was level before we nailed it to the side of the house. Once we had a piece of siding up, we then marked it an inch from the top so we knew where to overlap the next piece. We then used a level to keep the siding level. We were distracted a bit by the wildlife. Evan found a frog in the port-a-pot and he proceeded to play with it. There was also a dog named Diamond who was owned by Mrs. Mack, the owner of the house we were working on. The dog loved to chase cars, especially the one owned by the mailperson. Our work was interrupted by rain, and the bus was a little late because of how some of the roads were unclearly named. By the end of the day we were all hungry and tired; however, we reflected on our Xaverian charism of simplicity, especially in the lifestyles of the people we helped.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day One by Jason Brown

We first all woke up really early, about 7:00. I had taken a shower at 6 because it would help me wake up easier. We had a great breakfast with the most amazing tea ever! We also had little goodie bags, mine had silly string in it.Then we all got dressed up for Mass. The church we went to had a pretty good good service today, especially since it was Easter. Since it was Easter we didn't do any work. After we went to church I took a little nap. We had random silly string attacks which eventually woke me up. We then did a Easter bag hunt which was fun, except I could never find my bag till like 15 minutes later. We then did a group activity called the spider game, which uses trust, which was our virtue today. Then we went to Charleston which was my second time there. It wasn't so fun since no stores were open. It is more of a historic place. We played a little taps when we got back and then we had devotions, and we talked about the rules for the week. So far my experience here has been pretty fun.

Day #1 By JP Kuhlman

Well, today was Easter and due to this we did not do any work on the houses. We started the day off with a little easter bag hunt, after waking up super early. Inside the bags we found T-Shirts that Miss Slingluff kindly had made for us. These shirts have all of our names listed on them and describes briefly what we are doing here in SC. Another fun activity of the day I particularly enjoyed was the trust activity we did. The object was to get every person through the web between two trees that the teachers set up for us. I found that despite our differences we were able to work together quite smoothly. It was a lot of fun and I'm sure you can see how much fun it was through the pictures.

Xaverian Charism: TRUST

On Sunday afternoon, the boys worked on the first of the five Xaverian charisms: trust. In this exercise, the students had to help one another through a series of stringed zones. Each zone could be passed through only twice, forcing the young men to use their brains, teamwork, and a whole lot of brawn to accomplish their goal.

Click on the slideshow below to enlarge the pictures.

Slideshow Enlarging

Click on the slideshow pictures below to see enlarged versions!

Looks Like We Made It!!!

We had a long (but wonderfully uneventful) bus ride to SC Saturday. The biggest concern was an overloaded Burger King that we stopped near on the way down. The fundraising efforts of the students was felt immediately. The bus was comfortable, clean, and still had that new-bus smell. We spent a lot of time watching movies and sleeping, and our driver, Lloyd, was as professional as they come.

Saturday was spent getting our bearings in St. John's Island, unpacking, and walking to a nearby outdoor shopping mall. St. John's is a wonderful area. The weather has been perfect thus far, though we may run into some showers Monday and Tuesday.

Sunday has just begun, but we enjoyed Mass with an amazing singer. Several people at Mass commented on how nice-looking and well-behaved out boys were. Today the Easter Bunny has also made several appearance in many different forms. Well...we all know these guys do need more sugar, right???

I'll update this with as many new photos as I can. Follow our weather below, and Monday I'll have some pictures up with our work sites!