Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Habitat for Humanity Build #14: St Peter, Minnesota

Doug and I arrived in south central Minnesota in early August for another Habitat for Humanity build.  As we worked in St. Peter, Minnesota with other Care-a-Vanners, local volunteers, and future homeowners, we realized that ... 

It takes a Village ... to build a Home!

This local affiliate, we would learn, had recently gone through some changes in personnel. While site supervisor Mike was new to the job, volunteers Terry and Carol along with several local volunteers, have been working for almost a year to get this home ready for its new owners. While the progress may seem slow to some, we heard stories and met with some members of the "village" who helped to build this house from the ground up.

This cute little house looks out toward the school where it had its beginnings. Fifteen seniors from the St Peter High School's "Building Trades" class constructed it from the ground up. From framing to sheet rocking to installing windows and doors, the youth learned and did it all. The local Habitat for Humanity provided the materials, and the students were guided by their instructors and local "experts". They began construction last September, and by this past June, the house was ready to be carefully moved a mile down the road.

Photo credit: Habitat for Humanity South Central Minnesota

I wish I could have experienced the excitement as the main level of the house was carefully placed on top of the concrete basement. 

When we arrived, Doug talked with Mike and Terry, the site supervisors, to see how our group of five Care-a-Vanners could become a part of the "village" of builders. I sensed that a paint brush was in my future ...

... while Doug worked on constructing the stairs that would connect the two floors.

An important part of our "village" were the local volunteers who were lead by Mike, Terry, and Carol. "Retired" has a whole new meaning around here. This will be the seventh house that Terry and Carol have help build since they quit their "day jobs".

Our "village" included Matt, a local high school student who learned a little about framing the basement from one of my favorite teachers.

And he joined the "village" of Care-a-Vanners upstairs as we all learned how to lay the vinyl flooring.

Our "village" expanded to include a number of future homeowners who provided smiles as well as delicious lunches. This one featured amazing Somalian cuisine.

The "village" also included the Habitat staff who welcomed us to Mankato and shared with us their enthusiasm to provide decent and affordable housing in their community.

Yes, it takes a "Village" of ...

skillful ...

enthusiastic ...

... happy

... talented,

... welcoming,

... and just plain cute individuals

... To make the dream of a home a reality for so many deserving families.

So grateful that we can be a part of such a wonderful Care-a-Vanner "village"!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Starting Van Life ... With A Little Help From Our Friends

Since we picked up our new 2019 Hymer Aktiv 2.0, summer has been speeding by. We made a fun but quick dash up to Minnesota in order to see family and friends, celebrate graduations, and fulfill my work requirements as a supplemental nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. With this quick "pack up and go", we didn't have much time to figure out the logistics of our new, more nimble lifestyle.

So as we got closer to the Minnesota border on Memorial Day weekend, I realized that I had more questions than answers ...
  • Where would we park Baby Minne Beest?
  • How will we take care of basic needs like a showering, doing the laundry, and cooking??
  • How are we going to live in such a small space???

Yes, I am good at letting questions get the best of me sometimes.

As He has done many times in the past, God once again calmed my fears ... first through the smile and new sense of joy that shines on the face of my husband. Doug has been over-the-top in love with Baby Minne Beest since he drove her off the lot. She is easy to maneuver, fits into (almost) any normal size parking space, and promises us a lifestyle of less planning ahead and more exploring.

Overlook at Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area, Lodi, Wisconsin

The second "gift" of reassurance came via a text message from a dear friend a few days before we arrived in Rochester. She did not just invite us to stop by for a visit, but she and her husband opened ...

... their driveway,

... their kitchen,

... their garden,

... and their home to us!
(Only one catch ... you need to be NDSU Bison Fans :-)

Go Bisons!

We met our welcome crew consisting of ...





... and Zoey.

Doug quickly became Zoey's favorite friend since he took her for afternoon walks while all the other humans were at work. Even the deer passing through their yard in the evening seemed to like to hang out a while with the new visitors.

During our time in Rochester, my days were filled with getting back up to speed at the hospital, taking a few classes, and catching up with friends. After busy days, it was sure nice to come back "home" and take in the beauty of the flowers in Mary Beth's garden ...

... and spend time laughing and reminiscing while cooking up a feast or debating the "art" of downsizing.

Doug and I have learned a lot in the past few weeks about living in the smaller space of our new "home". As we start to figure out this new and different RVenture style, I look forward to sharing our experiences. But, to start out, I want to share our first valuable lesson that we have learned about van life ...

...that we are grateful to be able to get by with a little help from our friends!

Thank you to all of our dear family and friends who, through your kindness, have welcomed us "home".

From our first "campsite" in Tami's Panama City driveway,
to a reunion with cousins in Wisconsin,
to a silly tribute to a special graduate,
to numerous gatherings of friends,
we are blessed with friends
who help us smile brighter,
wander longer,
ponder deeper,
and pause for that perfect picture.
They plan future travels with us,
and make us feel part of the group.
They wine and dine us,
and just let us hang out in their back yard.
Friends are the people ...
who always welcome us back.
Cheers to you, dear friends!