Caroline van Zeijts, Columbia High School Class of 2015, wrote this about her spring break trip with Morrow Church youth.
While it wasn’t the more exotic of the two service trips my church sponsored during spring break, I spent my Spring Break in Atlantic City. Though it was only two hours away, it felt like a whole new world. The house which we were working on was the local Methodist church's parsonage. The Pastor had just moved in and all of his boxes were on the ground level when his house was flooded. The crew from my church and I demolished a chimney, cleaned up the trash-covered yard, painted studs, and rebuilt and repainted a fence.
As important as these walls and fences we built up were, the ones taken down people people were the reason this trip was so worthwhile. Every day, a different family provided us with dinner, lunch or a reason to just stop working for a minute and sit down to talk. We laughed together, sang together, and prayed together. I saw how reciprocative love and happiness is when you open yourself up to it. Though the dramatic differences between Maplewood and this challenged neighborhood in Atlantic City were eye opening, I was more surprised by how easy it was to make friends so quickly. It was also eye-opening to listen to the stories of people’s experiences with Hurricane Sandy, and the long-term effects the storm has had on their lives. This experience showed me how much easier it is to build relationships than it is to build a house, as long as you open yourself up to the experience.
The best part of the week for me was when we had been searching and searching for extra money to replace the old and still-moist carpet with hardwood floor. Deciding we could come up with this money somehow, out crew began to pull up the carpet, only to find beautiful hardwood flooring already underneath. Though this was great, it was the homeowners reaction that imprinted on my mind, his eyes filling with tears and a smile growing on his face, looking up as he said, “God sure is amazing.”