Over fall break, a group of Goshen College students journeyed to New Orleans to assist the College Mennonite Church with construction on a house.

The students spent Oct. 13-17 placing flooring in the house, which will also double as a church for the community. The house was being built for a pastor’s sister and family—the pastor preaches at the church that would share the living space.

Eleven students attended this trip: Hannah Yoder, a first-year; Brianna Brubaker, a senior; Tasha Friesen, a senior; Leah Amstutz, a junior; Annie Agutu, a first-year; Etienne Davis, a first-year; Yari Coronado, a first-year; Deeksha Pagar, a first-year; Roberto Ortiz, a first-year; Madeline Yoder, a senior; and Barbara Hernandez-Walton, a sophomore.

The project emerged from the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Both the church and home were destroyed by the massive storm. Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) became connected with the family who has ownership over the house, and eventually gave the project to College Mennonite Church.

Gwen Gustafson-Zook, pastor at College Mennonite and Goshen College, headed up this service trip.

“Somehow this connection was made between College Mennonite Church and the other church, and [College Mennonite] decided that they would do the house and make sure there was adequate space in the front of the house so the church could meet there,” she said.

The house was required to be finished by October so that the family could move in without complications from their current living situation. Eventually, College Mennonite Church realized that there were not enough people to finish the job in this time frame and Gustafson-Zook devised a service trip that would be available for college students over the fall break.

Yoder, when asked what she found most valuable from the trip, said, “It was looking really up in the air that the woman and her family would be able to move in by the end of the month, but because of all the flooring we got done, it’s looking very possible right now.”

Gustafson-Zook said, “It was actually a need, and I had the good fortune of being in a place where I could link the need that was growing out of the MDS project in New Orleans with students who were very interested in being involved in a service project but also doing something interesting and hands-on during fall break.”