Patience is a virtue!

I am hoping to get my online life updated ASAP to fill in my family and friends. I have this sinking feeling that so many of the people I've left behind in my normal life are beginning to forget me as I have been terrible with keeping up communications and regularly letting people know where I'm at and what I'm doing.

Currently living in Bridgeport, CT, our team is building houses with Habitat for Humanity. So far I've learned how to put up wooden siding

From Project 4: Bridgeport, CT

and work on framing and studs inside the houses.

From Project 4: Bridgeport, CT

The work is meaningful, physically challenging and a great new experience. I'm learning many new skills! Today we continued preparing one of the housing sites for our upcoming blitz build, a 2 week event! Habitat for Humanity in Bridgeport has run into issues acquiring land and funds to build single-family dwellings (traditional homes) and are now doing more rehabilitation work. Next week, General Electric will be supporting their efforts with roughly 80-100 volunteers per day giving their time and effort to work on the Williams Street condominiums, a 12 unit restoration project on a very old building! Visit HfH's website, linked above, for more information on the awesome work we are all doing.

Just to fill you in, when families apply for habitat housing they go through a rigorous selection process based on available and reliable income (ability to pay mortage), immediate need (currently living in sub-par housing), and other categories I'm not quite remembering like family size. The beauty of the 12 unit condos are that some smaller families that couldn't afford or fit the typical habitat house can now obtain the housing they need.

For the longest time I've dreamed of doing restoration work on old houses and am ecstatic to be learning. Building the new houses are great too, especially when we get to work with the families whose future homes we are at.

We also spend one day a week with the Aspetuck land trust removing invasive species from wooded trail areas. Japanese Barberry, a weed that spreads aggressively & is covered with very nasty thorns, is the bane of our existence. Our job is to get in there, and pull them out, roots and all. Some of the plants are as tall as me and we use shovels to dig them up. I get a good work out and share fun conversations with my teammates. And of course, we get creative.

From Project 4: Bridgeport, CT

The video quality suffered greatly when I uploaded them to my online account, but these should give you an idea of what we were doing.

First, find a sturdy vine that reaches high, high, high into the tree tops. With your sharp shovel, slice it at the base where it enters the ground and make yourself a Tarzan vine/rope/swing. Have your teammates hold the vine while you grab on and swing your legs up.

From Project 4: Bridgeport, CT

Keep shimmying on up until your at least 8-10 feet from the end of the vine. The higher the better, the higher the thrill.

From Project 4: Bridgeport, CT

Hold on tight. Seriously. Then swing!

From Project 4: Bridgeport, CT

It was so much fun! We took a good 20 minute break and our entire team took turns swinging through the trees like a monkey. On my first attempt I didn't wear my work gloves and lost my grip at the highest point after gaining momentum in my swing, and with no time to look down I fell what felt to be a very long distance. I'm sure it wasn't more than 10 feet (there is a downward slope on the other side of the tree), and I fell with a loud thud. People sounded concerned but I was high with adrenaline and tumbled down the hill a bit, laughing hysterically and trying to avoid the thorny bushes. It was awesome! My next try was a bit more successful.

After work today I spent a good 30 minutes digging infected thorns from my fingers, arms, thighs, and even my belly.

In the Bridgeport section of my Picasa page you can find updated pictures from this project a couple more low quality videos. I also put up photos from the disaster relief in wisconsin-- expect a blog soon!



  1. Wow mandy. That sounds like so much fun! I am so excited to see you soon. I just cant keep it to myself. haha. I love you tons!


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