This spring break, I had the opportunity to spend a week participating in a Habitat for Humanity trip to Beaumont, Texas.
Our group of 15 made the most of our experience down in Southeastern Texas, trying as many local delicacies as we could: crawfish boil, fried catfish, gallons of sweet tea, seafood gumbo, and of course Sonic and Krispy Kreme. The 15 of us developed a strong bond, creating inside jokes and laughing on end for the entirety of our 21-hour drive back to Moorhead. We installed trim on houses, built sheds, made sawhorses, installed roofs, and got a bit of sunburn in the process. I was thrilled to spend another spring break doing service out in the community and was fortunate enough to do it with these fine Cobbers.
This was my fourth trip through Habitat – I’ve been to Pensacola, Fla., Charleston, S.C., and Santa Fe, N.M. Each trip has been vastly different, but three things have been present no matter the location: creating life-lasting memories, being humbled by the work in the community, and finding ways that this work can be brought back to our lives at Concordia.
CREATING LIFE-LONG MEMORIES: CHECK
There’s something about participating in community service that brings people together. Barriers of hesitation and feelings of awkwardness get torn down when you have to work side-by-side. It didn’t take long for our group to build a sense of community and start having fun. We held baby alligators and heard stories of people being chased by gators around the park. We worked our way through 70 pounds of crawfish and learned the proper way to eat seafood. We stayed up way too late playing Lightning and eating ice cream. The work we did during the day played directly into the fun we had at night and we all developed memories that will last a lifetime.
EMBODYING A SENSE OF HUMILITY: CHECK
While building a house in Texas over spring break sounds like a lot of fun (and it was), the most important experience I had over our week of service was recognizing the privilege I had and how I could use that privilege to help those around me. We worked side-by-side with the community members in Beaumont to better their lives beyond just the week we were volunteering. The work we did propelled the site forward so the next group of college kids could come in and continue building homes for people in need. Our site manager, Patrick, taught us how to work together, but also showed us the need in communities around the country. I was humbled to have this experience and to see my fellow Cobbers embody similar feelings made the trip so worth it.
BRINGING IT ALL BACK: CHECK
The skills we learned on the worksite transcend just building a house (even though Chip and Joanna Gaines would be very proud of the work we did). We learned how to problem-solve when the materials weren’t the right size. We developed the notion of measure twice, cut once and to always check our work before saying “we’re done.” We learned how to build a sense of community between 15 strangers and to make the most of every experience. These skills will be prevalent in our lives back in Moorhead, serving the community and teaching those around us how to help influence the affairs of the world. Our group learned much more than how to build a house, and I’m excited to see how this experience guides our lives throughout the rest of our time at Concordia.
While my time in Beaumont was different than any of the other spring break trips I’ve had the opportunity to take, I was reminded of the impact Habitat for Humanity has had on me. These trips are life-changing, and I would highly encourage any Cobber to take part. It’s much more than building a house and I’m so lucky to have spent a week doing it.
Matt Dymoke '14 is the assistant director of The Concordia Annual Fund.