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.