Louisiana is like a second home to me. It is the place where my wife grew up, the place where I have family. It has been hard and difficult knowing that people are still holed up in their homes when their streets are rivers. Many are still being housed in shelters, with no idea when they will be able to return home. The damage unknown. One report calls this the worse destruction since Hurricane Sandy. The death toll is rising, and thousands of have been rescued.
It has been tough watching the news and updates on Facebook.
It wouldn’t be a mission week without a little rain . . . . or a rain storm. It 15 years of youth ministry, there has never been a youth mission week/camp/trip without rain. Today was that day for us. But, in what I think is a first, the project that we were scheduled to do with InterFaith Rebuilds today we finished on Tuesday, so today was already revamped.
After the youth worked so hard yesterday, we started at 9am instead of 8am.
For about three years members of the Ruth Circle at Peakland United Methodist have been delivering roses to residents of a local healthcare center. Today we did as our eighth project of the week. We drove out to Lynchburg Grows to get roses that they had set aside for us. For decades the site was one of the main producers of roses in this country. In the mid to late 80’s it shut down. Eventually it would reopen as Lynchburg Grows, which is a co-op of locally grown produce. They employ individuals with varying disabilities as well.
Today was probably the longest day we’ve had yet. This morning we returned to the Habitat for Humanity site on Harrison Street. Today, we broke into two working teams. One team worked on digging a ditch from the house (under the front porch) out to the street for the sewer line. The other group worked on prepping and water proofing the foundation.
To prep the foundation, we used broken pieces of concrete to smooth out the rough edges. Then, after blue tape was attached to the siding, so we did not get any of the white water proof stuff on the siding, we started putting the stuff on with thick brushes. It goes on like paint, but it is much thicker than paint. The youth worked hard to get two coats all the way around the foundation.
Today we worked with Lynchburg’s Habitat for Humanity. We planned to work a full day with them, but because of the extreme heat and the lack of shade, we ended the day after lunch. Habitat builds 4-5 homes a year. This build is their Apostle’s Build. Twelve churches in the community have been working on this house through work days and funding. A portion of the Lenten offering from Peakland went towards this Apostle’s Build.
One of the unique things about Habitat for Humanity, is that the homeowner-to-be is required to put in some many volunteer hours on their house. Marty works the night shift at the hospital and then during the mornings he comes and puts in hours on the building of the house for him and his family.
Ms. Brown is the mother of three who has been living in a family member’s home because home had dangerous levels of mold. One of her sons has autism. She gets by as best she can in the double wide trailer. One night from midnight to 2am, because it was the only time she had – while the kids were sleeping, she painted the front porch in a blue to match her shutters. When she got up in the morning, the blue was much more blue than she had hoped for.
We are doing something a little different this summer. As an alternative to a summer mission trip, some of the youth from Peakland got together one Sunday while I taught Confirmation class and planned what a mission week in Lynchburg would look like. They tasked me with receiving out to certain organizations.
The idea was we would work with different organizations and non-profits in the Lynchburg community to gain a broader sense of the needs in our community, as well as spread the love of Jesus Christ wide.
Kara is the Children’s Ministry Team leader at Peakland UMC, where we have been intentional about leading children to respond to the Gospel by serving others. One of the ways this is done is through Project Sundays every first Sunday during the Sunday school hour. Kara wrote for her blog about some of the projects that the children completed.
Here are Kara’s words:
On the first Sunday of each month, our preschoolers through second graders at church combine Sunday school classes to work on a mission project. I jokingly call it ‘Sweatshop Sunday’ because we usually form an assembly line to get a lot accomplished in a little time. The kids love that Sunday for various reasons…the creativity, the ACTIVE-ity, the charity, the variety. The notion was an off-shoot of our VBS program last summer, wherein we didn’t do as many cutesy crafts to take home, but we focused more on whole group crafts to benefit greater causes (local pediatric ward, animal shelter, soup kitchen). We wanted to carry the message of mission on past the week-long blast of VBS, so we started Project Sunday the first week of each month. After we share a lesson from the Bible that goes with our project, we explain who we are going to help and how. We say a prayer for the people receiving our gifts, and then, we get to work!
At the 2014 Virginia Annual Conference, the conference comprised of clergy and laity voted to support the United Methodist Church’s Imagine No Malaria initiative. The Virginia Conference set a goal to raise enough funds to save 100,000 lives in a year. Those in attendance at Annual Conference may remember Bishop Young Jin Cho leading everyone in the “Happy” dance. If you missed it, you can watch the celebration here.
Each congregation has been encouraged to raise awareness and funds for Imagine No Malaria. This past Sunday at Peakland United Methodist, the Mission Kids (students who are in third-fifth grades) met and discussed what malaria is. Malaria seems like something that we shouldn’t worry about. Malaria was eliminated in the United States in the 1950s. However, in other parts of the world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, malaria is a top killer, killing a person every 60 seconds.
by: Rev. Joanna Dietz
Rev. Joanna Dietz is an ordained deacon serving as the Minister of Music at St. George’s United Methodist. Here she shares about and reflects on a recent mission trip she took with church members to UMCOR’s Sager Brown.
We exited the plane, excited to be in mission. Our rental cars took us to a remote area of Louisiana, swallowed by swamps and bayous. The silence of this remote location after the cacophony sounds of our suburban life washed tranquility over our spirits – especially as we stepped out onto the gazebo over the Bayou Teche. We had safely made it to UMCOR’s (United Methodist Committee on Relief) Sager Brown Depot. This is a magical place. Here is where thousands of kits come to be checked and packed and sent out to foreign countries and places right down the street, giving hope to those whose hope has been buried in the rubble of war, poverty, natural disasters, and chaos.
People often wonder why we don’t experience miracles like in the days of Jesus.
Yet, it occurs to me that miracles happen through you and I. When we make room in our hearts for the baby boy who would be King, we allow the God of all creation to work through us. And we become the miracle.
Let me share an example. Continue reading