‘Why I’m here’: St. Peter’s youth group rebuilds grandma’s porch in N.C.


Editor’s note: The youth group from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown is hard at work in Topsail, N.C., on its annual mission trip. Here is commentary from the young volunteers, compiled by chaperone Alan Chorun.


Yesterday, Lester (Leslie), Mr. Meyer, R.J. and I built a deck behind Ms. Cary’s house. It was a lot of work, but the result was remarkable. Mr. Meyer, a.k.a. “Stumpy,” is a brilliant construction worker. He taught us a lot of helpful information for deck building purposes.

I don’t know if I will ever use this knowledge again in my life, but I’m glad I have it. We had to be precise in our measurements.

Our slogan for the day was  “measure twice, cut once,” but it was more like “measure thrice.” The deck looks great. All we have to do today is attach the stairs and the railings. I can’t wait to see the finished product. I hope Ms. Cary enjoys it.


I’ve been having a lot of fun on this mission trip. We’re staying at a place with four other youth groups and it’s been fun to get to know new people and hang out with them.

After we get our work done in the morning, the afternoon is more relaxed and we can hang out and talk with each other and the families we’re helping. I learned that the woman lives alone and has to take care of her kids and grandkids. There is too much for them to do alone.

At night the beach is relaxing and after work we go there also to cool off. Chapel services are unique. They’re very contemporary. Each service has a topic that the counselors preach about. The other night they talked about negative labels and I related to that issue because I’ve been called some of those labels.

On Tuesday we taught Tabitha (one of our counselors) how to dance the Dugie and Jerk. That night after a draining chapel service, I wanted some time to relax at the beach. At 10:33 the counselors told us not to go to the beach because it was three minutes past lights out.

We went back to our rooms unsatisfied, and so we made a plan to sneak out that night. At midnight about 15 of us snuck out and the feeling of walking on the beach that night was really satisfying. We played freeze tag with the chaperones and as we were coming back to the house, we saw the counselors but went into our rooms quickly before they saw us.


There should always be a moment on a mission trip where the worker is hit by the thought “this is why I am here.”

My realization came when the homeowner of the house I was working on (I’m rebuilding a porch for the house) came out with a picture of her mother.

“Ninety-four,” she told us, “94 years old and she loved that porch.”

The picture was of an old woman sitting in an old chair we found before on the porch. Sun made the picture glow, but the woman in the picture was smiling and she looked radiant when she did. The woman in the picture, which was the grandmother, had been telling her daughter that someone would come and fix the porch and the woman told us, “and here you are!”

It was touching and so I worked on the porch for the grandmother who had died just last year.

It was very entertaining to demolish a porch, I will admit. There was so much water damage that made the porch floor and roof dangerous to walk on. I almost got hurt once because what I was standing on gave in underneath me. Luckily I have pretty good balance (at least at that moment) and had a pole to hang onto. The experience was… interesting to say the least. But overall the working experience is great. I love it here.

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