News from trip Church Rebuilding (Hayneville, Alabama)

Punching Out

While the ride over to the church this morning was a sleepy one, by staying longer today than the rest of the week (close to 8 pm) we still had a large amount of action and progress on the site. Tangibly, the front hallway, fellowship hall, and men’s rest room have been tiled, the ceiling of the outdoor deck has been completed, and many smaller more detailed tasks check off.  The Church is noticeably closer to completion, stepping back from our work at the end of the day let us take in the changes we had made. With everyone now knowing what job they were best at we stayed in our set groups today to reach a finishing point in each area of the church before we left. Of the many hard things about it being our last day, one was forcing ourselves to push harder with our work when we wanted to enjoy our last hours with each other and the congregation.

When the consensus had been reached that it was time to put away our tools for good, we gathered outside of the front of the church for some final photos and thank yous. Pastor McCall thanked us on behalf of the congregation for our week of hard work, wondering if we could stay for just a few more days. Our loyal contractors, who helped us throughout this entire process reiterated how happy they had been to spend their free time with a Harvard group again, and we all thanked everyone we could for the opportunity for this project. This was followed with many hugs, laughs, and rounds of “let’s do this again sometime.”

The Hayneville Church of Christ has definite room for improvement before they dedicate the new building, but without a doubt we have helped them get that much closer. Our week was full of sweat, effort, commitment, and will. We not only helped build this Church but have built ourselves a collective story and bond for when we return to Harvard. Alabama will only get farther from us on the road tomorrow, but its place in our memory will remain static. Time for these country roads to take us home.

The group at lunch on Friday

Laura Hinton and Brittany Turner

At week's end

Road Signs

Signing off and mya,

Marcel Moran

Jess Frisina

Andrew Dane

Emmett Kistler

Kat Calle

Will Quinn

Joe Gaspard

Laila Parada-Worby

Brittany Turner

Kennedy Opala

Brittany Turner

Trevor Bakker

Camile Owens

Catherine Ntube

Sam Enumah

Rachel Goldberg

Hannah Choi

Rebecca Cohen

Laura Hinton

Maya Pena

Michelle Sirios

George Thampy

Nworah Ayogu

Tim McCarthy

Fully Operational

Driving back to Montgomery for the night makes it hard to believe we only have one day left on the worksite. We certainly have accomplished a lot so far but it’s going to be hard to stop working. Even as we began to clean up today people were rushing to lay one last tile and stain one last door. Our weather this week has been up and down so far, but today we finally got the sunshine and warmth from springs we remember. The breeze combined with the tiling team working in the fellowship hall convinced us to have lunch outside all together. Joining us today for lunch were not only members of a nearby congregation who had brought us lunch, but also the former pastor of the Church, Robert Atkins.

Following lunch we stayed at the tables and listened to pastors McCall and Atkins tell the history of the formation of the church and the construction of the original building. While the story became more somber when they covered the arson and the immediate aftermath of the fire in 2008, it ended with the optimism that soon this project will be finished. We are glad to work towards that goal. Instead of going straight back to our House we took the drive this evening up to Phenix City, AL, the site of the church we worked on last year. Greeting us at a now nearly completed Church (barely recognizable to those of us who only knew it as concrete and 2×4′s) were members of the congregation that we had come to love last March. We could see our work come to fruition, and make us only imagine what the Hayneville church will look like one year from now.

Thankfully, our day did not end there either. After stopping at the Phenix City Church we drove across the Georgia border to Columbus, and had a fantastic home cooked dinner at Sam Enumah’s house, a trip participant for the third straight year, and a senior in Dunster House. The warmth of the Enumah house was whole-heartedly enjoyed, and made for a sleepy ride home. We’ve got only one more day.

Lots of work and little time, mya

Marcel Moran

Coming Together

Hump day certainly lived up to its name with a full dose of work and challenges on the site. We have come very far since we first arrived at the Hayneville Church of Christ, but each step of our construction so far has brought us to further advanced tasks. Although we have already laid tile down the middle of a hallway today required fitting pieces around the corners, and while we have painted almost the entire surface of the siding Wednesday meant that we had to make sure each area flowed visually into the next. Our jobs are still physically taxing (as many students continued to do heavy lifting all over the building) but we are also being faced with highly technical jobs that cannot be glossed over. We desire that each aspect of our work be correct, not just finished.

As our workload is growing, so too is our bond with the congregation and community we are serving. Today for lunch, members from another church from the town of Hayneville brought us a veritable feast of home cooked items including baked beans and spicy chili, all washed down with gallons of sweet tea. More important than the sweets that these neighbors brought was their smiles and stories; we really feel that we are gaining a feel of the entire area. Tonight back at our home base for the week we gathered together as a team and reflected on what we have done so far and how we want to finish this trip. We voiced concerns we had on the site and as a group, and most importantly shared moments we had experienced so far that were already etched in our memories. We’ve got two days left of work and each other and we plan to make the most of it.

Keep on keeping on, mya

Marcel Moran

Light and Shadow

(Hayneville, AL - March 16, 2010) - Kennedy Mukuna, '12 joins Harvard students from the Phillips Brooks House Association's Alternative Spring Break program to help rebuild the Hayneville Church of Christ in Hayneville, Alabama. Staff Photo Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office

(Hayneville, AL - March 16, 2010) - Joseph Gaspard, '12 cuts floor tiles while Harvard students from the Phillips Brooks House Association's Alternative Spring Break program help rebuild the Hayneville Church of Christ in Hayneville, Alabama. Staff Photo Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office

(Hayneville, AL - March 16, 2010) - From left, Joseph Piekos, a volunteer construction worker from St. Isidore's Parish in Bloomingdale, Illinois and Pastor Martin McCall Sr. work with Harvard students from the Phillips Brooks House Association's Alternative Spring Break program. The students are helping to rebuild the Hayneville Church of Christ in Hayneville, Alabama, which burned down in 2008. Staff Photo Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office

(Hayneville, AL - March 16, 2010) - Marco McCall, 16 years old, who is the son of Pastor Martin McCall Sr. (not pictured), works with George Thampy, '10 and other Harvard students from the Phillips Brooks House Association's Alternative Spring Break program. The students are helping to rebuild the Hayneville Church of Christ in Hayneville, Alabama, which burned down in 2008. Staff Photo Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office

Picking Up Speed

It was only a matter of time before we all hit our stride on the worksite and today signaled that change. From one ceiling piece on Monday to over 12, and from a few blocks of tile to a hallway and a half, our group put in a long, constructive day. Although we originally created specific work groups to stick with on different parts of the site this week today many students showed their flexibility by moving from project to project when needed, and starting whole new projects. While the work on the siding of the rear end of the Church is almost finished, today another group began work on the front exterior, including building the scaffolding and starting to paint the front entrance. The bulk of the staining has also been completed and our collective hopes for how much we can finish this week is growing.

Outside of our work list today was a great day of fellowship; our entire group, including not just students but contractors, congregation members swapped stories, sang 90’s songs (mainly Destiny’s Child) and laughed. As normally happens on these trips we begin to become more attached to the site and left this time at 6:40 rather than 5. We’ll see how long we can make these days. Let’s hope the daylight cooperates.

Skies the limit, mya

Marcel Moran

Rebecca Cohen and Rachel Goldberg survey the worksite.

Katherine Calle, Jess Frisina, and Camille Owens mix cement outside the Church.

Jess Frisina, Catherine Calle, and Camille Owens mix cement outside the Church.

Raise the Roof

(Hayneville, AL - March 16, 2010) - Pastor Martin McCall Sr. works with Harvard students from the Phillips Brooks House Association's Alternative Spring Break program who are helping him rebuild the Hayneville Church of Christ in Hayneville, Alabama. The church burned down in 2008. Staff Photo Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office

(Hayneville, AL - March 16, 2010) - From left, Nworah Ayogu, '10, and Timothy McCarthy, Lecturer on History and Literature join Harvard students from the Phillips Brooks House Association's Alternative Spring Break program to help rebuild the Hayneville Church of Christ in Hayneville, Alabama. Staff Photo Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office

(Hayneville, AL - March 16, 2010) - From left, Marcel Moran, '11, George Thampy, '10, Nworah Ayogu, '10, Rachael Goldberg, '12 and Kennedy Mukuna, '12 join Harvard students from the Phillips Brooks House Association's Alternative Spring Break program to help rebuild the Hayneville Church of Christ in Hayneville, Alabama. Staff Photo Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office

(Hayneville, AL - March 16, 2010) - From left, Hanna Choi '12 and Laila Parada-Worby, '12 join Harvard students from the Phillips Brooks House Association's Alternative Spring Break program to help rebuild the Hayneville Church of Christ in Hayneville, Alabama. Staff Photo Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office

Feet Wetting

Emmett Kistler, Rebecca Cohen, and Kennedy Opala work together on the Church Exterior

Andrew Dane '10 of Dunster House works atop the scaffolding outside of the Church

Students working on the roof of the Hayneville Church

George Thampy ’10 of Mather House gets to work with the power saw.

Jessica Frisina and Katherine Calle work together with a smaller helper to get the job done.

It’s better to lay one brick right than two bricks wrong. Because the Hayneville Church of God is close to completion the tasks we worked on today and for the rest of the week will be detail dependent. After happy reunions of returning students with the contractors we worked with last year we broke up into our working groups and spread around the building. Some groups started in the hallway with tiling, others on the siding of the exterior, and everyone with a fresh sense of energy. Although there were some setbacks with first tries some water, snack breaks, and laughter helped us remember that this entire week is a learning process.

While the construction of the church has come very far, there is still a lot of work to be done, and our goal right now is to get it as close to a finished and serviceable church when we leave the site on Friday. Many of our goals are also less quantitative: getting to know the congregation and getting to know each other, things we want to build on each day as well. When five thirty came around there were many tangible marks, the tiling in the main lobby has been started, the trim of the indoor windows has been placed and stained, and the many doors of the churches have been cleaned and prepped for placement. More importantly maybe, everyone (all students and Professor Tim) participated, we learned the names and new dances moves of some of the children and teens in the congregation, and were treated to another fantastic dinner by our resident student chefs. Time to curl up on the couch for a group movie, but also get to bed early enough so we’re ready to go tomorrow.

Under way, mya

Marcel Moran

On the Eve of Construction

As our first full day in Alabama comes to a close its amazing to think that our trip is just getting started. New faces two days ago now look a lot more like old friends, and the cattle, Waffle Houses, and sloping fields seem natural. We drove down to Hayneville today for our first look at our work site, and first time together with the Church Congregation. After attending their Sunday Services introducing ourselves (with the freshmen with us being called “beginniners”) we were given a tour of the construction site by Pastor McCall.

Although the roof and walls are already standing, there is a lot of work to be done. As we set our goals tonight as a group our plan wil involve putting down ceramic tiling, building scaffolds and finishing some of the ceilings, and painting the more finished rooms. Back at our house for the afternoon both groups of nappers and joggers formed, and even a little bit of homework (and theses!) were attended too. As opposed to the rest of the week, this is some of the little open time we will have all together, a perfect opportunity to make less more. More so than logisitical planning tonight we also had the opportunity to voice our personal goals for the week, slowing down our routine before the hammering and blue prints do. This group of 23 people is starting to feel a lot more like a team, and we think that’ll continue. It’s now time to get to work, the building starts tomorrow at 8. We’re ready.

Feeling at home far away from it, mya

Marcel Moran

Home Sweet Home

Slowly but surely the miles added up on day 2 and we entered a rainy Atlanta for lunch and reflection. Part of our trip each year involves an attempt to understand the history of the civil rights movement and the roots of the problems we still face today. We visited the Martin Luther King Center and Museum and walked by his very own Ebeneezer Baptist. Looking over his Nobel Prize medal and writings in his journal it was amazing for us to think that this man would be only little over 80 if he were alive today.

Before we settled back into our vans for the last leg of our 1,200 mile trip we had a much-needed sit down lunch at one of our favorite Bar-be-cue places from over the years. There will be no problems getting used to the Southern food this week.

Although we had been pelted with rain the entire way down our final few hours brought us only sunlight, and a little after 5 we pulled into Joshua House, a rec center of a local Montgomery Church that we have been lent for the week. Tonight we’re having our first real meal all together (spaghetti and meatballs anyone?) and excited to meet the congregation tomorrow. The week is young and looking promising, almost time to hit the work site. Almost.

Safe and Sound, mya

Marcel Moran

On Our Way

And we’re off! While our suitcases took up a little more room than we expected, we left Cambridge while most of the student body was still asleep and settled into our mobile homes for the next day and a half. A light rain greeted us as we drove through New York, but good music, New Jersey fried food, and GPS helped us make quick work of the first leg of our trip. Waiting for us in D.C. was Laila’s warm home and family, with a chance to get to know everyone over good (and spicy!) food. Everyone’s starting to get each other names down, and the ride to South Carolina tonight will give us time to get into some deeper conversations. It’s a big country all right, but we’ve got the right group to cover it with. Hayneville or bust!

On our way, mya

Marcel Moran