The Start of Something New

We arrived to St. Lucia with plenty of bug spray and sun screen on hand, and were ready to work. After settling into our rooms at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Castries City and catching up on some much needed rest, we were ready to get down to business. We came to St. Lucia to work under the larger umbrella of the Good News Project — a humanitarian non-profit organization based in Wausau, Wisconsin. Good News Project volunteers have been working side-by-side with native St. Lucians for over 30 years building houses for those in need.

Our first day included hauling boxes of windows, nails, and floor tiles from the main building down the hill to a storage container that was to be transferred to the building site. It was during this first task that we realized the extent of St. Lucia’s heat and humidity and how important it would be for us to stay hydrated.


Erick and Joseph fire line tiles into storage, while Laura supports them.
Peyton carries a metal pipe up to the backyard so we can place our lumber on.

To keep things simple and to be as efficient as possible, we used the spacious backyard of the main building as an area to cut and paint the lumber, rather than all trying to squeeze into the less roomy building site. To start the building process, we hauled lumber from the delivery truck to the backyard, and stacked it in neat, organized piles. From there, we split up into two groups: one group to start sawing the lumber, and the other group to begin painting. The group that was cutting had to meticulously and precisely measure and mark the boards to the necessary length and then slice off the unneeded sections with a power saw (after a safety lesson, of course). After much deliberation over which of the donated paint colors should be used for the house, a decision was finally made and the painters could begin their work. The interior of the house was to be painted a pale pink while the exterior was to be a brilliant bright red. Because this color combination reminded us of Valentine’s Day and love, we dubbed the house-to-be the “Love Shack”; a place, we hoped, would foster a loving and caring environment. Upon completion of most of the painting and cutting, the ready materials were loaded back into the lumber truck and hauled to the building site.


St. Omer, a Lucian volunteer, paints with Conrad. "Good to go."
Mason, Martha, and Joseph began to hammer the first few nails into the house.

“Let us build a house where love is found and all can safely live” may have been on our minds as we started our first building project. We are building a house for a young couple who have two young children, one of whom is blind. We put down our school books and picked up a hammer and paintbrushes to construct a home for this family in need.

Mason puts on the finishing touches to the foundation of the home.

The first challenge for us was actually getting to the worksite. Our trek started out by driving on roads that make San Francisco look flat. Once at the site, we had to hall the lumber down a steep road, that may have been paved at one point, and then up a muddy embankment to where the foundation had previously been set by Lucian Good News volunteers.

Nick and his son, Wyatt, look on as we begin to build their home.

Nick, the father who we are building the house for, came up to the site and helped us carry lumber and also got to choose where he wanted the doors and windows on his house. We started building the “Love Shack” by first constructing a stable, level floor. We all picked up a hammer and some nails and proceeded to “bang bang on the love shack”. After the floor was completed, half of the group went back to the Pastoral Center to continue painting while the other half stayed to put up two walls. The walls went up easily, except for a slight blip where we had to re-build one of the walls because we did not take into account that the walls had to fit together.



  • Joseph's Family

    October 30, 2014

    Looks like an awesome time and a lot of hard work. I’m sure your work there will not be forgotten. Can’t wait to see the finished product of all your efforts.

    love and Peace
    Joe and Khristy

  • Beth Holtz

    October 31, 2014

    Great job kiddos!!! Wow – build a house!!! That is awesome!! Glad to hear your staying hydrated!!! We love Peyton!!!! The rest of you sound pretty awesome too!! Grammy says hi to all! Love, Grammy, Beth, Matthew, Michael and Nicolas

  • Sue Olmsted

    November 2, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your journey in St. Lucia. Mason Hanus is my nephew. I am so proud of him and the entire St. Norbert team for helping this family in need. It takes patience, passion and team work. Looks like you have the right recipe. Keep up the good work!

  • Cherie Falk Philpott

    November 3, 2014

    Thank you so much for sharing this incredible journey with us! Pey… we love you sooooo much and think and pray for you all often! Can’t wait to see the Love Shack as it continues to its growth into a beautiful home for this amazing family! Love you Peyton! Auntie C and the gang:)

  • Roy & Betty

    November 3, 2014

    What a joy it is to see young men & women doing good works for others. Thank you for sharing your joy with us!!!!

  • Janet Pabian

    November 6, 2014

    How wonderful to be building a house for someone. So proud of everyone especially my nephew, Joseph Beck.

  • Roy & Betty Miller

    November 7, 2014

    Thank you for teaching these beautiful young that helping others is Gods way and it is such a joy to see them growing as they are going. Thank you for giving Peyton and all of the others the chance to see new people and ways of life.

  • carolyn Gambill

    November 17, 2014

    Love reading the blogs! So great to get a glimpse of all the incredible things you are all doing. What an ANAZING experience! Love the pics as well…. Really fun seeing it all in action. Thanks for all the wonderful updates and good work!


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