Working With Habitat for Humanity

While the main purpose of our time in Kansas is to establish community within the Capuchin fraternity before beginning our Novitiate year, we were given a specific ministry for our time here. This ministry was something far different than what many of us experienced during Postulancy, and the actual purpose of the ministry was different as well.

We have spent our Mondays and Tuesdays working with Habitat for Humanity of Ellis County. However we've yet to actually start working outside on an actual house. Most of our time has been spent working on fund-raiser projects for Habitat to continue to build and offer houses to those who would otherwise go without.

Pictured here is me with my team of 6 other guys (another team consisted of the other 7 guys) as we (attempt) to build a playset-complete with swings, rope ladder, and a mini rock wall. The test of it all: only a few of us have carpentry skills.

The projects proved to be more intense than I'd planned. People were grating each other's nerves, I watched as leaders clashed with other leaders, and frustrations grew due to lack of tools, improper materials, too many people in the way, etc. What seemed like a simple project became a test of patience and a revealing of personalities.

I think the ability to live in community and examine our time gave us the ability to handle the stress of this ministry. Each week, three of us share our ministry experiences. This gives us an opportunity to praise each other, voice concerns, discuss challenges, and bring up recommendations about the site.

I have a few views about our "ministry," however I've decided not to write about them yet. I'd prefer to share them with my community before posting them. My views are not necessarily positive, as I see a huge difference between this and what I was doing in Milwaukee. I think the closest Scripture passage is where Jesus starts flipping tables of the money-changers to make a point. Stay tuned for that little bit of interest.

For the community here, I must admit that we have been greatly welcomed by Kansas. People have stopped to see us work in the mall in Hayes, Kansas (aptly named "The Mall") and have thanked us for our time. In spite of my views of this time, I must say that the people of Kansas have been most hospitable. We even made it into the local paper (front page!) here.

Next Monday we actually start working on the houses. Our first task will be to rip down the old siding and put in new siding on the house. Perhaps I will give my ministry reflection next week.

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2 Response to Working With Habitat for Humanity

Qualis Rex
July 1, 2009 at 3:33 AM

Br Vito, just to let you know, I have two relatives who volunteered at HFH in New Orleans after the hurricane; both had incredibly diverse experiences. The first was exactly like yours; lack of guidance, equipment, plans or any supervision. She ended up just putting "extra" nails in the joints "just in case". The second relative had a very congenial group of veterans (they had each been there several times) who made suggestions on what anyone who asked should do and then checked their work and gave encouragement. So, it really depends on the dynamics and the luck of the draw.

But hey...soon YOU'LL be a veteran : )

July 1, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Br. Christopher, who's also mentioned in the news article, has also articulated his experience of how things worked in New Orleands after Katrina hit. He talked about the dis-organization of many groups, especially after the initial shock of the event. Having seen that, and then the involvement and skill of people that would develop later on brought a unique dynamic to our understanding of this kind of work.

More of my concerns lie with the ministry in relation to our Capuchin formation, our charisms, and the nature of many of our ministry experiences prior to this event.

I'll talk about it more next week after I share with the entire group (since my brothers also read my blog) and it would be better to discuss in my community before going outside of it.