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Spring Break 2011

Hey People! Sorry for the silence, but life’s been crazy here at Camp Victor.  Here’s a taste of what’s been going on:
Friday, March 18th: Left Luther at 7pm

Saturday, March 19th: Arrived at the Camp Feliciana Retreat Center in Norwood, Louisiana.  (We finished the day with a campfire complete with chants, songs, & SMORES!)

Sunday, March 20th: Left Camp Feliciana around 1pm, watched DISNEY’S The Princess & the Frog on the way, and arrived at New Orleans, LA around 3pm. Spent the rest of the day enjoying the French Quarter (Beignets anyone??)

Monday, March 21st: Spent the morning in New Orleans, left for Ocean Springs, MS around 1:30pm. Spent the afternoon on the beach and getting orientated at Camp Victor.

Tuesday, March 22nd: First day on the job sites! We are working directly with Habitat For Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast this year. There are 50 people representing Luther on four separate new construction sites. Three of the sites are literally either right next to each other or across the street from each other. The fourth site is located 4 or 5 blocks away. The two sites right next to each other (the “building” houses) have the framework up– we are planning on putting the trusses for the roof up this week.  The other two sites are at the painting stage (the “painting” houses).

Wednesday, March 23rd: Second day on the job sites! The corner “building” house was covered with wrap so that siding, etc. could be added later. Site Manager Bob’s “building” house underwent inspection today so that it could be wrapped too. We are hoping that the trusses can start going up tomorrow.

The “painting” house next to the “building” houses now has two coats of interior paint. All the remains for painting is touching-up the corners with paintbrushes. This group also finished building/installing railings AND built/put up the frames work for a small shed.

The “painting” house further away from the others finished painting the exterior and took down scaffolding. Interior painting starts tomorrow (hopefully).

After a hard day of work, the group headed over to The Shed, a local BBQ place!


I PROMISE more updates will follow, PLEASE KEEP CHECKING!


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Hello from Ocean Springs!

What a week it has been. We have spent the week at the Collins’ Residence on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Their house was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina 5 years ago and the couple has been restoring it since. The couple has faced many challenges in the rebuilding process, Mr. Collins has opted to take on the project himself. The week has been full of hard work including dry-walling, landscaping and an assortment of other jobs involving lots of labor. We encountered moments of excitement and progress in our work but also faced discouragement. Today, though, on our last day of work, we truly felt as though we made a positive impact on the Collins family and their residence.

At the beginning of the week, a few of us were assigned to begin dry-walling a room that had no walls, this room was to eventually be the Collins’ master bedroom. Despite the lack of walls, the Collins often chose to sleep in this room as it was more comfortable than the small FEMA trailer they had been living in for an extended period. After Mr. Collins taught the crew Dry-walling 101, we got to work. At first the work was slow, but overtime we became more efficient and our skills developed. We were often unsure of our work but Mr. Collins continued to guide and encourage us.

This morning as we arrived at the site for our final day of work, Mrs. Collins cheerfully greeted us as she had every other morning. This morning though, she gratefully thanked us for the wonderful evening she had – it was the first time she was able to lean against a flat wall while working on her laptop before bed. She told us the slanted walls in the FEMA trailer were quite an uncomfortable working environment and she was so thankful for the walls we had put in. With so much work to be done at the Collins’ residence, we often felt that our tasks were menial compared to the larger picture. However, her compliments provided assurance that our work had really made a difference.

Though we worked hard throughout the week we definitely had fun as well. We saw alligators, dolphins, crabs and lizards! Additionally we spent time throughout the week getting to know Mr. and Mrs. Collins. They told of their experience after Hurricane Katrina but we also learned about their travels across the world and heard many other interesting stories. Today Mr. Collins grilled shrimp and sausage for us all, the two shared their talents of dance by teaching us Greek and Bulgarian dances and we also polka danced to Mr. Collins’ bagpipes.

We were all truly blessed to spend a week with the Collins family. We look forward to keeping in contact with them and to seeing progress on their house. Beyond construction of the house we are very thankful for the relationships we built this week with this amazing couple and with each other. Mr. and Mrs. Collins will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

It’s hard to believe the week is coming to an end and that we will have to wave good-bye back to the coast. We’re off to dinner and the beach for one last hurrah. We can’t wait to share our stories and experiences with our family and friends.


Anna, Mario & Nick

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Hello All,

I can hardly believe that it is already Thursday and that tomorrow we are done. It has been such a wonderful week! Camp Victor and Ocean Springs are both wonderful places, and I have greatly enjoyed our time here. But working with the Collin’s family has also been an amazing experience.

I have worked at Steve and CoCo’s house all week, doing odd jobs including putting up ply wood, dry walling, and moving dirt. They live right on the water, so we have been able to have lunch on the dock a few days. As soon as we pulled up to the house the first day, I was amazed by the house and wondered why they really needed our help. Steve has done most of the work on the house, and it is just gorgeous.  But the more time that I spend with Steve and CoCo at their house, I realize why they needed us there.

They have had many contractors take their money, and not be able to finish the work. Thus, they have been left with an unfinished house, sometimes for over a year. So Steve started to work on the house himself, while CoCo is gone during the week teaching and taking classes to become a mental health therapist. So Steve often gets lonely working alone, and many of the jobs needed to get done is too large for him.

Steve and CoCo need us at their house to lift up their spirits, and give them hope that they will get back into their house. They need our positive spirit to keep them going. Every morning when we get out of the van, Steve and Coco are standing there waiting to greet us and get smiles on their faces. And after a lunch on the dock on Tuesday of us asking about his crab trap, at lunch on Wednesday he excitedly pulled up the trap that he had put in the water that morning to see what had been caught. And he got as excited as we did when we discovered a crab in the trap.

This week has made me realize that although people still need their houses rebuilt, they also need their spirits rebuilt and to gain a sense of hope that they will be able to live again.

-Sarah Stadie

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Dale’s Tale

Five of us went to the very old, very large Cathedral St Louis for mass in New Orleans on Sunday. The gospel was the story of the woman accused of adultery by the Pharisees who asked Jesus to agree with the Law of Moses that she should be stoned. It caused one to think of the Law of Moses cast in stone in the form of the Ten Commandments.

Isaiah insisted that in the NEW covenant, God would write the commandments on people’s hearts, not on a tablet of stone.

My joy in accompanying you all to this place and watching you these days is to see that what God has written on your hearts is the word “servant.”

-Dale Nimrod

Dale and his group with homeowner Jesse.

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So, what has Luther Habitat been up to the past few days?? Well… let’s put it this way- we’ve got a big fish story and we weren’t even fishing at the time. (We were playing sand volleyball in the dark.)

We have 58 people in our Luther group, of that 58:

*10 are repairing a roof with the LATCH team

*6  are repairing another roof

* 12 are sheetrocking and cementing

*12 have been caring for a group of about 400 neglected cats and dogs that were recovered last week

*6 are renovating

*7 sheetrocking and fixing up a kitchen

And a group of 6 spent a day away from their normal sites to repaint the Ocean Springs seawall.

Stay tuned there will *fingers crossed* HOPEFULLY be first hand accounts posted here today/tomorrow!!

The super-huge fish we found while playing sand volleyball in the dark!

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Baby We’re Back!

Yup! It’s that time of year again and Luther Habitat has returned (after a 20 hour bus ride) to Camp Victor in Ocean Springs, Mississippi to spend a week doing various types of hurricane relief work. Even though Hurricane Katrina hit almost 5 years ago, there is still a lot of repair work to be done. The LATCH team has also returned this year, which means that we will be collaborating with them to repair a roof or two. We will find out our other jobs tomorrow morning.

Be sure to keep an eye on the blog over the next week for stories from various volunteers about their experiences both here at camp and on the job site!

P.S. Please pray for warmer weather- the expected high for tomorrow is in the 50s!

Jody was our trusted busdriver for the second half of the odessy from Decorah to Ocean Springs.Our bus-driver Jody waits for the last passenger to come aboard before continuing on to Mississippi.

Evidence of the 20 hour bus ride.

The CV entrance- a familair but welcome sight.

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A crew of 13 Luther students and a professor who assisted in the construction of Bill Kolbush’s home in Escatawpa, Mississippi, were fortunate enough to have a news crew from the local Biloxi ABC affiliate come to share their story on the 6:00 news.  This crew also worked with LATCH, which stands for Lutherans Acting To Correct Housing and was founded in 1989 in response to Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina.  Since 1989, they have now completed construction of 145 roofs around the country in response to numerous natural disasters.  The week they shared with Luther marked their 145th roof completed in 20 years, and everyone in our group would attest that the skills they taught us were far more valuable than we ever could have imagined.  Like one of our post-trip reflection leaves said “I also am certain that you’re never too old to volunteer.  My group roofing leaders were in their 60s and led the charge.”

The video of the news piece on WLOX-ABC Biloxi can be found here. Patrice Clark did the reporting.  She is also featured in WLOX’s documentary about South Mississippi’s experience with Hurricane Katrina, Katrina: South Mississippi’s Story. You can order your own copy of this great DVD here.


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