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Destination: Mississippi

by Donna M.

It was our second day on the Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity site in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and already the house that my Thrivent Financial for Lutherans colleagues and I were constructing was taking shape. What was simply a foundation when we arrived the day before now had a floor and walls.

As I walked through the “rooms” formed by studs—the three small bedrooms, living room ,and kitchen—I began to imagine a family living there. I could visualize a mom preparing supper in the kitchen and kids playing in the living room. That’s when it hit me: This isn’t just any house that we are helping to build. It’s a home.

I knew when I signed on for this Thrivent Builds Worldwide trip with about a dozen colleagues that I was in for a life-changing week. I didn’t have a clue what that really meant, but I knew I was clearly called to help. Thrivent is a fraternal benefit society—a not-for-profit organization that provides insurance to its members and operates for the benefit of its members and the public.

Thrivent Builds is one of several programs that enable Thrivent members to make a difference in their communities and around the world. In 2008, Thrivent committed $2.5 million to Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast to build up to 40 homes in the region. Our team was one of nearly 40 Thrivent teams from across the country to build in Mississippi last year.

Our Habitat for Humanity site supervisor was a great teacher, teaching us the skills needed. There are no prerequisites to working on a build site. All hands are welcome. The only thing really needed is a teachable heart.

In four days on the site, our team put in the floor trusses and floor, refurbished and assembled exterior walls, framed the exterior and interior walls, nailed on the sheathing, and put up two-thirds of the roof trusses. Every day began with prayer and inspiration, and ended with devotions. And every evening we enjoyed dinner and fellowship before getting a good night’s sleep in the “dorms” at Yankie Stadium, a local Salvation Army-owned facility.

While we didn’t meet the future owners, we did have the privilege of working alongside two other homeowners investing hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” into homes in the Gulf Coast region. Their personal stories offered us hope and inspiration. Our final day on site, we inscribed prayers and messages of hope on the wall studs for the home’s future owners. They won’t see our messages, but I hope they will feel the love that went into building their home.

Donna Mulder, editor of Thrivent magazine, has been a Thrivent member for 10 years and belongs to the North Winnebago County Thrivent chapter. You can read her complete story at Learn more at or check out for volunteer opportunities in your area. Type in Thrivent Builds in the search field.

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