Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Building for the Children of God

Today, a group of eight spent the day at Faith Landing, a Habitat for Humanity site. This was my first expereince with Habitat for Humanity and it could not have gone better. We spent the day in the sun nailing boards and straps for the foundation of the houses. I have never done such hard labor like this before. Everyone was sweating, tired, dirty, but most importantly, every single person at the site had a huge smile. We met the Supervisor named Michael who was so caring and you could tell with one look at him how much he cared about this job and service that he was doing. There were many elderly volunteers who were so kind and welcoming to us. Their bodies may have been old but their spirit is what enables them to do such hard work. Everyone on the site was so motivating and happy that it made us so excited to be there. A woman who worked for the company explained how families get into these homes. They are very afforable homes with heat and central air, stirdy to withstand the weather, and spatitious for a big family to enjoy together. Hearing about how excited some of these families were to move in made our work that much better because we couldn't help but to do everything in our power to do as much as possible.
For me, today was a much brighter day than the first. The first day we learned about the cases of slavery, poverty, and took a tour to physically see what the farmworkers low wages caused the community and housing to look like. It left me wondering at the end of the day how else can I help besides being an ally to the CIW and farmworkers? That I'm just a single person sincerely wanting to help these people but feeling like there is just too much to do and that I wouldn't be a big enough impact. Working at Habitat for Humanity today answered that question by teaching me that the little things make the biggest impacts. Yes we only had a small part in building all of these houses but in the bigger picture, we were a vital part in promoting change and happiness for many families in need. The newspaper Habitat for Humanity puts out has a picture of a small family in front of the foundation of a house which will soon be theirs and their smiles could illuminate a room. Knowing we were a small contribution to those smiles made it beyond worth while. Also, just interacting with the people of Immokalee made me realize how positive and hopeful these people are. I've never seen a sense of community like Immokalee has. It's incredible how even the non-English speaking residents can communicate through smiles and kind gestures like even just going out of their way to teach us how to nail the boards or showing us how to clean up. There are barriers between us and the people of Immokalee yes, however, those barriers seem to get smaller by the day. It's not them with barriers but it's us. They are so welcoming to us into their hometown and it's almost unbelievable how happy they are despite their situations. I think the biggest lesson I learned today was how all of us students, Immokalee residents, and people from all over the world are so similar regardless of what we look like, how we talk, or any stereotypes that may exist. We are all children of God and helping one another and just being open to learning about one another is an incredible expereince. Relgiously, I feel closer to God here in Immokalee. It's like every way you turn it feels like the light of God and Jesus is just radiating through these people. We are all peers in the end and these people of Immokalee are starting to feel like a family to us. There's never a person who looks at us like we should leave or that we are out of place. Every corner you turn there is a smile waiting for you that just makes everything so worth it. Knowing the financial situations these families have makes me realize how much priveledge I have had in my life that I have never been more greatful for. The thing I hope for most is that I go home from this trip taking the spirit of Immokalee with me and sharing it to people in Pittsburgh. It feels like a community of God here and I will forever take the experience of building homes for the most precious children of God with me forever. Today definitely empowered me to want to do more and make small changes in this city for years to come so that hopefully one day all of our small impacts together make a big enough one to be heard by people around the world. 

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