St. Peter’s mission trip: ‘Operation Pineapple’ on the beach

6AM Sunrise Moon at Topsail Beach this morning.
6AM Sunrise Moon at Topsail Beach this morning.

Editor’s note: The youth group from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown is reporting from its mission trip in Topsail, N.C. Chaperone Alan Chorun is compiling the commentary.

We have been working on the two houses for a few days now. On both of the houses we have built a new set of stairs, landscaped, scrubbed the houses down and built a porch in the back of one of the houses.

For the first time I had used a circular saw and at first I wasn’t that scared. Then when I had the saw in my hand I was almost about to freak out. I thought I was going to cut my hand off. When I started to use the saw I was really scared but then it seemed to be really easy.

I helped Alan, Pablo, Ally and Anthony build all of the stairs and by the end it looked really good. We also had a huge water fight and Anthony and Josh kept pouring water all over Ally using the buckets. After that they pretty much got everyone wet. Deuces. Bye.


Yesterday, the homeowner’s granddaughter and niece stopped by the work site and while I was taking a break from working I had some time to get to know them.

At first, the main reason I talked to them was because I had nothing else to do and they were adorable. However, as I spoke to them more I started to realize exactly why we were working on these houses.

When we first started talking, both the girls were shy and would only talk when I asked them a question. It seemed like an endless circle of  “What’s your favorite color?” and “What do you like to do?”

But as the conversation went on, I saw them open up and they started telling me stories about themselves. Soon they were singing Justin Bieber to us and teaching us a dance routine. After that, I had more of a drive to finish working because, in my mind, it was all for them and their families.


So far this week has been great, especially compared to previous years; as you know, we have beds and a beach right across from the camp site (Jesus’ Clubhouse, as Dee and Melissa call it) which is awesome.

Our days have been filled with working on our site in this scorching heat and humidity but somehow we’ve managed to stay cool through our daily water fights.

The homeowners and children around our two houses are sweet and friendly which makes us realize why we’re here. I’m so grateful to have this experience for the third year to help and be around these people.

Our curfew is 10:30, however, we usually don’t get back from Chapel until about 10 or so since it begins at 8:30-9:00.

Instead of going straight to bed last night, our male leaders, Hail, Stumpy, and Alan planned for us to sneak out of our site to go onto the beach. Since all the Team Effort leaders were guarding around the complex and beach entrance, we had to find a way around that to get onto the beach.

Around 11:30, we were given the signal (codeword “Pineapple”) and we sprinted onto the beach. Of course, since it was late, as we were running I fell flat on my face into the sand which did not make me a happy camper.

As we were on the beach we played a few games and just laughed and enjoyed ourselves; it was wonderful to be around my peers having a good time joking about how we broke the rules. I’m really enjoying myself here and we’re all having a great time with each other.

Of course we’re all exhausted, but we manage to pull through together and get our jobs done. We motivate and encourage each other and everything is a team effort (hehe I guess that’s why that’s their name) which makes the week easier and more fun. Now it’s time to work! Off I go to scrub the second house!


So. We arrive back at the house after our grand adventure sneaking off to the beach and we are all ready to just fall asleep. It has been a long day and we all pile into bed, about to turn out the lights when of course Sophie decides at that moment, at 12:00, it would be a good time start cleaning.

Since she was all amped up on candy, sugar and caffeine, this naturally was not a good combination. As we all rested in bed with eyes half closed, Sophie began running around the room, acting like a maid and cleaning the room, like the Energizer bunny.

Folding clothes, picking up garbage and putting coca cola cans in everyone’s faces, were just a few of the many acts Sophie performed. Needless to say, when we woke up the next morning, the room was spotless and everything down to the red Solo cups were aligned perfectly.

But it was a nice little surprise considering some of us were getting up at 5:30 in the morning to watch the sunrise on the beach. I’m surprised myself that I got up and was able to stumble onto the beach. Unfortunately it wound up being a huge dud because the clouds were covering the entire horizon and there was no sun to be seen except for some pink through the clouds.

I was disappointed, more because I had only slept five hours that night between the late night escape and the early sunrise, and I still had six hours of work left ahead of me.

But I’m here now at the work site, and strangely despite my lack of sleep, I’m energized to begin work, scrubbing or building a deck (I’m not exactly sure yet but I hope scrubbing) because it’s exciting to see everyone pull together and muster up the energy to do something good for these people. It’s interesting to see that when something becomes really important, you find the strength that you never knew you had.

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  1. Hahahahah ohhhhh Sophie.. I’m glad the male leaders sneaked you guys to the beach. I would have been ALLL ON THAT haha

  2. Rachel,

    I am so happy to read how you took the time to engage with the family. So many would not. Proud of all of you!!!


  3. Nat,

    You made me laugh – I am sooooo happy you have beds and no flying cockroaches!! Are you watching Saw?

    Great work you are doing there. So proud of all of you!