In February 2014 I traveled to Kauai, Hawaii for a Habitat for Humanity mission trip. I attended this trip alone, without prior building experience, and without meeting or knowing anyone on my 14-person team. These factors contributed to increased anxiety the weeks leading up to my trip but I kept myself excited because I knew I wanted to help families in need, and I was also fairly certain that all the people who generously donated towards my trip would never forgive me if I didn’t follow through with building a house in their honor.
Going into this I had no idea what to expect. I was told we’d be working on the construction of a house(s) but nothing specific as far if I’d be on a roof hammering, inside painting, hanging doors, or installing toilets and bathtubs was shared with me. I had no idea the hours we’d be working, how many days we’d spend working or if I’d have any time to myself to go for a run. I figured that not knowing would be part of the adventure so I kept an open mind.
Once in Kauai I finally got to meet my teammates; the 13 people I was about to spend ten solid days with. We went through an orientation class together and then, believe it or not, spent our first full day sight-seeing and exploring the island. Day two started at an early 6:00am, our first official work day. The job for the day was digging 21 foundation holes (2 x 2ft x 1ft), which proved to be a little rough on the back and shoulders.
To briefly outline our schedule, we had six work days and each one was vastly different from the days before it. We dug holes, built two tool sheds, painted walls and ceilings, hung doors, sanded, built stairs, and worked on a site where they were prepping a house to be cut in half and transferred to the opposite side of the island. I learned so much. And although everything listed sounds laborious and not the least bit exciting, I had a great time every single day.
It wasn’t all work either. We had two days off that were packed with activities and sites to visit. We did an 8-mile bike ride along the south coast, traveled to Hanalei Bay on the north coast, went to a Luau, learned the hula, took a boat tour of the Napali Coast and visited the Waimea Canyon. If I had to describe the trip in one sentence, I’d say it was ten full days of total sensory overload.
The ten days I spent volunteering in Kauai were ten of the most unforgettable days of my life. It’s an experience I’ll always cherish and look back upon with immense fondness. I highly recommend Habitat for Humanity to anyone who’s considering doing a volunteer trip through them.