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“This Might Be a Dumb Question, But is Mississippi Down?”

Sunday, Feb. 27: Today we woke up to the glorious sound of California Swag’s “Teach Me How to Dougie.” As we were getting our things together, Jess found a letter on the kitchen counter from Youth Room Director Kyle Beecher. The note informed us that there was an extra room with five extra couches we had been unaware of. Ironically enough, five people had been forced to sleep on the hard tile floor. In an attempt to get to know each other better, David created a system of pulling names out of a hat to create a buddy system. Although it didn’t work out quite as we planned, a few people still...

Wide Eyed and Bushy Tailed

Saturday, Feb. 26, 4 a.m.: This morning we departed from Notre Dame College for Nashville, Tenn., and then Huntsville, Ala. One of our team leaders, David, failed to fulfill his promise from the night before to bring doughnuts for the group. But he quickly redeemed himself by pulling into the closest Dunkin Doughnuts drive thru and buying two dozen glazed doughnuts, which the group proceeded to scarf down within minutes. On our way out of South Euclid, the second van got stuck behind two snow plows, which put us behind for a little while. At the beginning of the trip everyone was excited and...

Shabbat Shalom

This morning, after wishing my fellow NDC travelers shabbat shalom, we entered the Old City of Jerusalem at about 9:30 a.m. through the Jaffa Gate. How thrilling to enter the gates of the holy city so often referenced in the Bible! The city gates are connected by the walls that surround Jerusalem. We walked the tops of those walls mindful of the fact that Roman soldiers, crusaders, or Israeli resistance fighters had kept night watch on those walls. The strong winds created a bit of a challenge for us. This was truly a pilgrimage. The ancient walls of the Old City. In seven and a half hours,...

Model City

We began our day at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, which was the first Jewish community built outside of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. A Jewish philanthropist named Sir Moses Montefiore built this development in the 1850s. On our way to our next site, our tour guide David pointed out The Great Synagogue of Jerusalem right before we drove through the political center of Jerusalem, which he called “Jerusalem D.C.” With this creative convergence of words, it was easy for an American to understand exactly what types of buildings one would find in this part of the city. We saw buildings that...

NDC Lands in Holy Land

In spite of the fact that many of us have not slept for nearly 28 hours, we arrived in Israel and are having a great time. Our flight from Newark to Jerusalem was a tad bumpy and long, but thankfully uneventful. We drove straight from Ben Gurion Airport to a scenic overlook of the Old City of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, and then walked down a path alongside the Garden of Gesthemane. The view of the Old City walls was misty and near mystical. Mark Levand is wearing a "Keffiyeh," a traditional Arab headdress. We then drove to Kibbutz Ramat Rachel for lunch on our way to Bethlehem, which...

Does Anyone Have Hammering Skills?

Today was marked by frigid temperatures, and all of our work time was spent embracing it. We started out by taking off siding and remembering how to use a hammer. As the day progressed, our hammering skills did not while we put up sheeting all over the two-story Victorian we've been working on this week. The day proved to be a true test of perseverance and determination. One group member even suffered minor bruising when a board dropped on her. But at the end of the day we were triumphant, as we maintained our positive attitude and dedication to the task at hand despite the various challenges...

It’s Only the Beginning

Some people say waking up is the hardest part of the day. Now we know why. Today we got a glimpse of the Jacksonville sunrise as we dragged ourselves out of our sleeping bags at 6:30 a.m. After eating a rushed breakfast, we managed to arrive at HabiJax on time – to everyone’s surprise. Another day of demolition began with a bang, literally as hammers were pounding so loud our ears were ringing. However, to our dismay demolition ended mid-day because we Notre Dame students have a knack for getting the job done quickly. The supervisors were completely thrilled that we worked so quickly, getting...

Demolition Derby

Today was our first day on the job. We woke up at the crack of dawn and struggled to get out the door. We ventured to downtown Jacksonville and our first stop was at HabiJax, which is short for Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville. There we learned a lot about Habitat for Humanity as well as HabiJax. For example, did you know that every 21 minutes a new family receives the keys to their Habitat for Humanity home? The reason Habitat is so special is that it allows families in need to purchase homes with loans at zero interest. Our group then toured the HabiJax warehouse where all the materials...

Outrunning the Rain at Coco Beach

After two days of driving to Florida and before we put on our hard hats on Tuesday morning, Monday was our one day off this week. Unfortunately, the weather in Jacksonville was rainy and cold – not what we were looking for. So, in an attempt to find the sun and a warm beach, we headed south. Our first stop was Daytona Beach. But the rain had followed us. Wanting to outrun the drizzle and find the sun, we contemplated heading to Miami, which was five hours way. We called an audible and made an executive decision to stop the madness. We had enough driving for three days. So, instead of driving...

Pit Stop in Andy Griffith's Hometown

We're off to Florida! Fourteen of us left snowy Cleveland in two Notre Dame College vans early Saturday morning in search of the warmer Southern climate. After seven hours of driving, we arrived at our pit stop, the Baptist church of Mount Airy, N.C., which generously offered to host us for the night, to blustering gales and temperatures reminiscent of Cleveland. We kept warm by shooting hoops, playing cards and getting to know one another. Mount Airy is the hometown of actor Andy Griffith and said to be the inspiration for Mayberry, the fictional community that was the setting for the "The...

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