Daily Journal & Photos

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Day 8 – Saturday, June 27, 2015:
High today – 91°

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Today the group is finishing up a few jobs before the house dedication.  Then the group will depart for the return home.  They will lead us in worship on Sunday, June 28th.










Day 7 – Friday, June 26, 2015:
High today – 101°

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The group worked well into the night to get the house ready for the Saturday dedication, so there was no time to write a journal.  The photos tell the story!










DAY 6 – Thursday, June 25, 2015:
High today – 98°

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On Thursday, the SMP-goer who was writing this journal awoke on their deflated mattress in a sweat, realizing their previous stories were a delusion of dragons, duchesses, and castle building.

Thursday was a day of restlessness and detailed work as we approached the end of the week. The group was divided in three and, for the first time this week, travelled to different Habitat sites. Some people were sent to a house to do flooring; others, to perform odd jobs on a nearly-finished home. The people who remained at Haley’s house tackled the rest of the siding tasks, including some complicated cuts and one very difficult octagonal vent that had to be fastened to the house. However, by mid-afternoon, these tasks were almost entirely complete, and the house began to look like a home. This was furthered by the placement of sod around the house. While some people watered the grass, others (including Haley!) planted in the front garden area. Imagine the joy Haley felt as she planted her own flowers in front of her very first permanent home! Around lunch time an amazing thing happened.

The Ross’s, Lewinsville members who moved to Charleston, South Carolina, paid us a visit on the work site. They brought with them not only love and kind words as they watched us work but also fresh watermelon and baked goods. Their lovely gifts gave us strength and uplifted our spirits as we continued on with our work day.

In addition, another special guest visited us at Haley’s house. In January of 2014, Lewinsville’s Winter Mission Project visited Hartsville to work on a house for a woman named Latressa. Latressa knew that we were back in town and came to pay us a visit. Latressa is an inspiring person. She has worked off all of her Habitat hours (the program requires homeowners to do some work), but she still helps with building Habitat houses in the area. If, by building a home for one person, we can inspire another to continue to help other people have a home, we are truly sharing God’s love and doing God’s work.

As the day came to a close, restlessness set in as people searched for jobs to do. Professional dry-wallers had been working on the interior of the house all day, and work could not continue inside the house until the dry wall had dried. As people returned to Haley’s house from their respective work sites, they had to be patient. Thursday can be a tough day because, after being in close quarters with 50 people for a week, patience can run thin. However, the day finished out strong, and we retired to the church for the evening. Perhaps one of the most meaningful parts of this day was the devotional. Jed Metge led devotions and had us discuss little moments during our day that turned out to be some of the most inspiring moments of the trip. People shared theological conversations they had held with others, acts of kindness others performed, and small ways that they have connected with God on this trip. At the end of devotions, we each received a slip of paper and wrote to God the one or two things we needed to get through the rest of the week. For some, it was patience. For others, it was a loving hand from other SMP-goers. But for all of us, it was strength and understanding of why we are here and why it is so important that we continue to come on Habitat – not only to give someone a home, but also for the little moments during this critical week that turn into some of the most important moments in our lives.

–Maia Foster, the Blue Team

DAY 5 – Wednesday, June 24, 2015:
High today – 99°

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On the 4th day of the mission the God squad had to move quickly. The majority of the knights were up on the roof of the castle putting up shingles before the invisible dragon could breath its fiery breath on the castle and make the black. Easily heated shingles burn the valiant Knights of the god squad. To get the shingles up as fast as possible the Knights yelled “cacaw cacaw,” a secret code between the Knights to receive more shingles. Knights not on the roof of the castle were putting up the siding that will make the castle the most beautiful home the townspeople will ever see for the amazing duchess Haley and her heirs to the throne.

The Knights were thanked for their outstanding castle building by Lord Mel of Hartsville. After the Knights stopped to eat lunch they entertained themselves with a game which required kicking hammers, making it close to the danger level of jousting, because not even the invisible fire breathing dragon could get their spirits down. After lunch the bravest of the Knights ventured on to the roof and withstood the blistering heat from the dragon’s breath.

The roof was completed due to the incredible skills of the Knights and their next task was putting in insulation. Insulation is very important for the duchess and her heirs because they must be protected by the invisible fire breathing dragons partner in crime, the abominable snowman who could freeze our precious duchess and the rest of the royal family without the help of the insulated walls. The Knights arms were covered by tough armor which protected them from fiber glass making it easy to install. It was a successful day for the God squad getting them closer to completing their quest!

DAY FOUR – Tuesday, June 23, 2015:
High today – 97°

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As the dragon slumbered in the wee hours of the morning, our heroes braved all dangers as they ventured once more to continue their mission and construct a castle. As the knights secured the plywood on the roof, rats on the rafters aided them, giving them their tools. The knights then began the process of sealing the roof to protect the Duchess from all dangers, securing tar paper and bringing shingles up to the roof in preparation for the final steps.

A siding wizard from the house of Trout flew in from The North and passed her knowledge on to her apprentices, who then applied her advice in fortifying the esteemed abode. A multitude of woodcutters worked diligently to follow the wizard’s instructions precisely. After the orders poured in, the woodcutters were forced to form a guild for their own health and wellbeing. The castle grounds were swarming throughout the afternoon as local tradesmen arrived in their horse-powered wagons to install machinery with great semblance to witchcraft, which they called “electricity,” “plumbing,” and “HVAC.” Their mission was to expel the fiery dragon’s forces and to keep the duchess and her heirs warm in the winter.

The advisor to the Duchess Haley arrived to inspect the premises and verify that all was in proper order for his esteemed mistress. Nerves were calmed as he declared the castle safe for the noble family.

At the close of day, the dragon managed a temporary victory as he chased three of our knights off the roof with fear of an imminent storm and his overpowering fiery breath. He grumbled with content, sounding uncannily like thunder. Despite their small setback, the knights returned home, high in spirits, for an annual celebration of the birth of the newly knighted Olivia, complete with a feast and silly festivities.

–The Purple Team

DAY THREE – Monday, June 22, 2015:
High today – 100°


The dragon was still waking when our brave Knights arrived upon the battleground, giving them a much needed advantage in completing the initial phase for their exterior castle walls. Next up for our valiant God Squad was raising trusses upon the roof to ensure that the lovely Duchess Haley would be protected from the firey breath of


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the unwavering elemental beasts. When the first truss was lifted atop the castle walls, the dragon awoke and breathed heavily on the God Squad, but they did not retreat.  They kept fighting, for they knew the rewards of their valiant efforts.  Windows were installed along the exterior by a smaller number of our heroes as the others continued at great heights along the roof and porch.

Though the fire-breathing dragon singed a few of their faces and arms, the God Squad never let up. A long day of hard work means a lifetime of comfort for the Duchess Haley and her children.  It is with that hope that our warriors will continue to charge on as this epic tale continues…

— Yellow team (Anne, Jane, Luke H., Kendall, Matthew, & JJ

DAY TWO – Sunday, June 21:
High today – 98°

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First Work Day –AKA—Half church half work….

Once upon a time, there was a church in McLean,VA and another church in Charlottesville, VA and they were called on a mission. The quest: to build one castle in one week. 50 people, limited power tools, and an invisible dragon, keeping the knights of Lewinsville and St. Mark in constant heat with his fiery breath, only vanquishable by shade, hail and rain.

On the first night at their home base, after becoming acquainted with each other, the “God Squad” created their game plan to complete their quest. It would not be easy, but they were not intimidated and they believed it could be done. Their plan lasted seven days, a full week, and they refused to be stopped by the fiery invisible dragon breath. The next morning, it all began with a commission, half of the band from First Presbyterian and the other half from St. Luke’s Lutheran, which happened to be the God Squad’s home base.

With this blessing and mindset, they set out for work.

The God Squad embarked with hopeful hearts with their anti-invisible dragon spray/ rub-on in an attempt at protection from the fiery invisible dragon. Upon arriving at the site, the God Squad split into their tribes of workers, each assigned with a different task. Most knights tackled the task of framing out walls for the “castle.” Some gave their skills to the interior walls while other knights poured their immense energies into the exterior walls. A small, specialized unit of knights focused their powers on preparing the trusses for the pinnacle level of the castle. Mid-quest on this day, kind “townspeople” brought generous gifts of popsicles and Gatorade, which helped in the battle against the heat of the dragon.

The God Squad received special reinforcements in the form of the castle owner, Haley, and her heirs to the royal throne (some call them “children”). Duchess – and soon-to-be-castle owner – Haley was thrilled by the work of the northern knights.

Despite the scalding breath of the invisible dragon, the knights persevered and soon raised walls, as if by magic, from the piles of wood strewn about the castle grounds. As the walls rose, a new subset of knights began the important work of installing sheets of plywood around the exterior walls to protect their castle, and connecting the interior rooms together.  As the day came to an end, the invisible dragon returned to his lair, and the God Squad returned to home base to shower, worship, and prepare for the quest’s continuation…  to be continued…

— Pink Team (Siobhan, Forrest, Johnny, Olivia, Ian, and Michelle)

DAY ONE – Saturday, June 20:

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The day began with the Lewinsville group meeting at the church and figuring out who was riding in each van. We also indulged on a delicious breakfast provided by Men’s Square.  We then made it out on to the open road and drove the next seven hours to South Carolina. We finally arrived at Schumer’s BBQ for dinner and met the Charlottesville group. We ate a delicious barbeque dinner, and some amazing banana pudding. After filling our stomachs, we arrived at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and unpacked before having fellowship and meeting with our groups. Then around 11:30 the lights were out and everyone was asleep.

— Coral Team


  • Pink:  Siobhan Grayson, Michelle Levin, Forrest Gottke, Ian McConnell, Maddy Witchey, Olivia Kloster, Jonathan Kliewer*
  • Green:  Linda Bender, Doug Smith, Scott Conley, Tug Hunter, Joseph Grant, Natalie Marbury*
  • Purple:  Lindsay Trout, Paul Orlando, Sandra Wisco*, Luke Robbins*, Clare McConnell, Madison Deyo, Riley Timmer
  • Orange:  Steven Trout, Katie Vodra, Mary Frase, Alice Neldon, Jack Robbins*, Brenden Mabus, Katie Gamble
  • Coral:  Kate Satterstrom, Evan Ayars, Patricia Marbury*, Richard Neldon, Teddy Baker, Tatum Deyo
  • Blue:  Elizabeth Steel, Tom Lerario, Jed Metge, Maia Foster, Nathan Kliewer*, Sarah Cottros, Madison Kloster
  • Yellow:  Jane Neldon, Anne Carter*, Luke Hupp, Jane Richards, Matthew Kliewer*, Kendall Deese, JJ Foster

*From St. Mark Church, Charlottesville