A Letter from the Kentucky Builders

Building season is underway in Jamaica! 

Throughout each year, about ten teams made up of trained builders travel to Jacob’s Ladder and Jerusalem to volunteer their time and skillset to the MSC Family. Year after year, many building mission volunteers return to Jamaica to not only visit the residents but also to continue the growth of our operations through various projects, like building cottages, replacing roofs, and more. 

This year, the teams are undertaking their tallest project yet: building a second story on a girls’ dormitory at Jerusalem. Week by week, their progress on the project is astounding!

Chris Rose, a volunteer from the Northern Kentucky Dressman team, wrote us this update and reflection on his experience…

Last month, Jim Dressman led a team of 17 building mission volunteers down to Jacob’s Ladder where we settled into the dormitory that would be our home for the next week. On Sunday, after celebrating an inspirational Mass with the residents and Fr. Garvin, we headed off to Jerusalem in Spanish Town, Jamaica.

We picked up the project started the previous week by Kyle Whalen’s Kentucky building team. The main project was building the second floor of an existing girls’ dormitory. Along with that, we also needed to replace the roof of an adjacent dorm and adoration chapel and help build a new guard house at the entrance to the facility. Our work was cut out for us . . . but we had a large team and a couple of great “foremen” in Val Henson and Gary Merz to lead the effort.

The builders are proud of this “before, during, and after” journey for the girls’ dormitory.

Our days started early, with 6:30 a.m. Mass led by Msgr. Dan Vogelpohl. Following a quick breakfast, we were off on the hour-long bus ride to our work site in Jerusalem. The bus ride was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed for great fellowship among the team and time for the Rosary and reflection.

On the building site, each day we made strong progress. Initially, we prepped for construction and fixed a major issue to level the second floor of the building. That led to us building the studded walls on the second floor, enclosing the building with plywood and cutting out the windows, building the rafters for the second floor, removing the decaying roof of the adjacent building, building the new rafters, and completing the core construction of the guard house.

The guard house underwent a transformation during the week.

The evenings were filled with opportunities to visit and build friendships with
the residents of Jacob’s Ladder. This was really the best, and most rewarding part of
the week. Each day we had the chance to simply walk the grounds or sit outside and connect with the amazing people that live there. This time each day was a reminder of the joy each person can bring to someone and the power of the simple things in life . . . like a simple conversation, showing pictures of your family, or a bright smile by someone happy to see you.

A couple of highlights include a Bingo Night with the residents and the talent show, where the residents highlighted their singing and dancing creativity. Of special note was the song performed by the caregivers – they really brought the house down – and the performance of “My God is Awesome” by one of the residents.

The builders fit in time with the residents; Nathaniel and Cedric were happy to see their mission volunteer friends from Kentucky!

The work and the week went by very quickly. Under the guidance of our “foremen,” we actually got more done than initially expected at the start of the week. When we left, the dorm was ready for the metal roof to go on and interior work to begin by the next team.