Blood Drive at Emmanuel Lutheran Church
Monday, December 4, 2017
1:00 – 7:00 PM
1-800-733-2767 or visit:
www.redcrossblood.org enter Thrivent Financial Elk River
BREAKFAST WITH ST. NICHOLAS
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16TH – 8:00-11:00
EMMANUEL LUTHERAN CHURCH
1506 MAIN ST., ELK RIVER
FREE-WILL DONATION FOR THE BREAKFAST.
PLEASE BRING A CAN-GOOD ITEM FOR CAER
AND YOU WILL HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN WITH ST. NICHOLAS.
ARTS & CRAFTS PROVIDED
ALL PROCEEDS WILL BENEFIT
EMMANUEL LUTHERAN YOUTH GROUP
MISSION TRIP IN 2018
2017 Mission Trip Day 1
Saturday, August 5th
We all arrived at church on time and as awake as we could be considering it was 3:30 AM. Our fearless leader Chris had even less sleep than most of us since she received a phone call at 1:30 AM. Most phone calls at that time of night are not welcome news. The call was from American Airlines informing her that Shannon's flight from Providence RI was cancelled due to weather. She had to find an alternative so Shannon could join the group. It worked out that Shannon drove to Boston and will be able to arrive in Nassau on Sunday before we head to Eleuthera. Our bags and 18 passengers from Elk River were loaded and we headed for the airport. A big thank you to Bob White and to John Gregersen for driving us to MSP at such an early hour. We were served by a VERY helpful American Airlines gate agent who checked all of us in and printed boarding passes one by one. Our first leg was a flight to Charlotte. Everybody was hungry as nothing much was open in Mpls at the early hour. There were many choices available so we all found something we liked. It was a quick turnaround and we boarded for the second leg, our flight to Nassau, our home for Saturday evening. Upon our arrival we completed Customs paperwork and waited in line to present passports and declare our accommodations. That was a lengthy process. After an hour and a half we were approved with freshly stamped passports and released to gather our luggage. We were joined by Chris' sister Denise from NJ who housed us on our way to the New Jersey Mission trip a few years ago. We were delayed when Anthony's bag was missing. A claim was filed and we cleared customs to meet our driver. It took a while to locate him due to the fact that it took so long to clear customs and collect baggage. We found each other and headed for our bus. Our driver was Jeff Brown, a Bahamian who attended college at Luther College and St Olaf. Jeff pointed out a few interesting sites on the way to Ebeneezer Methodist Church, our home for Saturday night. One spot was a house used in the James Bond movie "Thunderball". Apparently Sean Connery was a resident of Nassau and knew about that house.
At Ebeneezer we met Pastor Jerry, who is from Louisiana and was retired until one day he was asked to Shepherd Ebeneezer for a one year period. We met him and his wife Aleva along with another church member Omando. We dropped off our bags and headed off for dinner. Ebeneezer has it's own bus and it was driven by Desi, another church member. We decided to eat at the Burger Shack on Paradise Island, which is home to the Atlantis Resort. We stopped at a Fishing dock on our way to supper. Pastor Jerry wanted to show us how the fisherman prepare and serve conch (pronounced conk). Conch are those big shells that are bright pink on the inside. He ordered two conch salads for us to try. It was similar to salsa with tomatoes, onion, lime and lemon juice and of course conch meat which is shredded and served raw in the salad. All of us who tried it agreed that it was delicious. Ethan was able to hold a lobster which I must say was the biggest Lobster I had ever seen. The food at The Burger Shack was terrific and we walked off our dinner by strolling past some shops that led to the Atlantis resort. The boys also walked around the marina checking out all the multi-million dollar yachts. The shops were expensive and I believe only Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop got any of our money. In fact, Val was in line for a cone only to discover they only take credit cards and she only had cash. A kind sole behind her paid for her ice cream. We reassembled and headed back to Ebeneezer. We inflated air mattresses and prepared to get ready for bed. Weary from the days travel we turned off the lights. The day ended on a high note as Chris received a phone call that Anthony's luggage had been found!
Praise God for our safe travel and journey so far!
Mission Trip Day 2
It's Sunday morning in Nassau and we are waking up to a hot, humid day. Wayne, the custodian arrives at Epworth Hall where we spent the night. He brings out another five gallon bottle of water to replace the one we drank the day before. We were told it's OK to brush our teeth with tap water but to drink bottled water. We're trying to stay hydrated and drink lots of water. Wayne is a lifelong Bahamian and a big NFL football fan. His favorite team is the Kansas City Chiefs. Pastor Jerry's wife drove Chris and I to the grocery store so we could pick up some fruit, juice granola bars and donuts for breakfast. While at the store I starting to choose mangoes that were stacked in cases in a shopping cart. A woman looked my way and muttered "Nnn, Nnn Nnn". Pastors wife thought she was implying the mangoes weren't ripe. In reality they were hers. She had selected four cases and she was politely telling me that I was taking mangoes from her cart. I apologized and she smiled and said it was OK. The mangoes on the shelf were overripe and we had to examine several before we chose two of our own. I understand why the woman didn't want me to take hers. She must have taken quite a while to find that many good ones. Church service was at 11:00. The service was very musical. There was an organ, piano, flute, saxophone and lots and lots of singing. The theme for the day was "Taste and see". Young children and the college students that will be going back to school were given blessings. We said our goodbyes and loaded our bags to head to the airport, where we met Shannon and picked up Anthony's bag. We were hungry and most ate at Wendy's. I asked a airport employee if there was Bahamian food after we went through security. He asked what time our flight was and when I told him 3:45 he said "Come with me, I'll show you the best place". The name of the place was Juicy Chandelle's. Julian was his name and he walked out the front door and pointed to a red wooden building about the size of a garage across the parking lot. Pastor, George and I were the only people interested so we decided to try it. It was a very authentic experience. We commented on the fact that every customer other than us was an airport employee on break or off duty. We each ordered different items. George had the Cracked Conch, Pastor had Caribbean Jerk Chicken and I had Red Snapper. All meals came with beans and rice and plantains. We tried each other's food and all agreed it was excellent. Sitting there on homemade wooden stools with reggae music playing and enjoying that food was amazing. We checked bags and headed through security. The flight to Eleuthera was only about twenty minutes. We were met by Milton, the volunteer coordinator for Bahamas Methodist Habitat. With him were Sunny and Hannah whose are interns. Milton is a chef from Honduras that has been volunteering at BMH since January. Sunny and Hannah are college students volunteering for a month before heading back to college. The facility is set up with a male dorm, a female dorm and a common area where we eat and have group meetings. Another group from Virginia will be joining us. Their original flight was cancelled and they were delayed so we had a chance to go to the beach for a swim. Milton went through orientation and assigned chore groups. Dinner was Bahamian chicken, rice, potato salad and cake. It was delicious. After dinner and clean up we had free time. There is a roof terrace with amazing views and a beautiful breeze. We spent quite a bit of time up there enjoying the evening and a HUGE full moon. Breakfast is at 7:00 AM. Tomorrow the work begins.
Praise God for another fantastic day!
Mission Trip Day 3
It's a beautiful day as we awake on our first work day. There is a nice trade wind breeze up on the roof terrace as the sun rises. Breakfast is at 7:00; pancakes, bacon, coffee and juice. We are assigned our work sites and jobs. Some of the Virginia group are sent to one site working on a house. They were preparing rebar for a concrete floor. The rest of us were driven to a town named Lower Bogue to work on a building renovation that will be a library. We were a large group with all of us from Emmanuel and ten people from the Virginia group. Our jobs were many and varied. Some built forms for a cement stairway and filled it with cement. Others finished digging a septic tank, laid block and then cement was added to the bottom. Several batches of cement were mixed during the day. It was mixed on the street by hand using shovels then carried by five gallon bucket to were it was needed. Inside the building firring strips were installed and then drywall attached. The last project was to add a wheelchair ramp to the front porch. Forms were built, cement mixed, large rocks added for fill and then an assembly line passed buckets of cement to the front of the line to pour into the the form. The ramp will be finished on Tuesday. Alex, our site leader said we were done for the day so we changed into swimsuits and, got back on the bus and headed for Rainbow beach. It was a beautiful bay with aquamarine water and we swam, snorkeled and enjoyed the beach. After a very hot and humid day the water was refreshing. We boarded the bus after about an hour at the beach and headed back to Camp Symonette for showers and dinner. Pauline, our chef prepared Spaghetti and meatballs with homemade garlic bread. Several people took a walk to the ocean after dinner to "the store", which is a big deal in the small town of James Cistern. We saw Wade, who is our construction supervisor at his Conch stand making his famous tropical conch salads. We were still full from dinner but will be stopping Thursday afternoon after work to sample some. Back at the camp some built puzzles, played cards, visited up on the roof or read. I believe we will sleep well tonight.
Mission Trip Day 4
Most of us slept very well after a hard day's work yesterday. It's another beautiful morning up on the roof to enjoy some coffee and send this note. A few others make their way upstairs to start their day the same way. Breakfast was French toast, sausage, juice and coffee. We loaded the bus at 8:00 to head back to our work sites. At our site, the plans are to finish the wheelchair ramp, continue with firring strips and hanging drywall, build the block wall for the septic, make shelves and of course mix more concrete. We experienced "Island time" today as we used the remaining supplies on site however waited almost until lunch for lumber and drywall to be delivered. After it was unloaded we ate our lunches and then the work began in earnest with all our pent up energy. We accomplished quite a bit before quitting time. Navy Beach on the Atlantic side of the island was our stop on the way back to camp. A few of the Virginia boys played sand football using a small coconut for a ball. We witnessed a couple of pretty good spiral passes. Not bad for throwing a coconut. After a short ride to camp it was time for showers and to empty coolers. Josh climbed a coconut tree to gather three of them. They were opened and we drank coconut milk and ate the fresh coconut. Dinner was pork chops with onions, tuna casserole, fresh vegetables and cake. Chores were done and a few people went for a walk to get ice cream. We gathered up on the roof for devotions at 9:00. The topic was "Five Back To School Basics". It had five sections:
There was much discussion as each of us shared a response. We closed with a prayer. Some stayed upstairs looking at constellations with an app that is appropriately named "Stargazer" until a tropical rain shower chased us off the roof and inside at 10:45. We hope to be able to see the International Space Station on Friday night.
Praise God for yet another day of his grace!
Mission Trip Day 5
It's cloudy on Wednesday morning and more humid after the rain last night although not as warm. We assembled for breakfast at 7:00 as usual and we ate egg bake, biscuits, bacon, juice and coffee. After chores we boarded the bus to head for our sites. We continued the work on the septic, drywall, framing, building shelves and as usual making more cement. The power went out which apparently is a fairly common occurrence here in the summer. The locals said it was probably due to so many buildings on the island using air conditioners. Jon and I went to the hardware store with Wade, our construction supervisor to pick up some masonry screws. As we looked at some items we were amazed at how expensive they were. Wade said "Welcome to the Bahamas". We bought one pound of cut nails @ 5.75 per pound. We would have walked out with only six masonry screws for the same price. We returned as the group was walking up the street to pick up lunch. A local family made box lunches for all of us; roast chicken, rice and beans, vegetables and coleslaw. No cold sandwiches today. Work resumed after lunch and so did the rain. The septic crew were troopers and kept right on working through the rain. They were soaked. Those working inside were almost as wet except it was from sweating. It rained most of the way back to camp. It wasn't looking like a beach day, however the rain stopped and some chose to go to the beach before dinner. Others read, napped, showered or just relaxed. Pauline's dinner was curried chicken wings, white rice, vegetables and pineapple upside down cake. Chores were completed then a few of us gathered in the dining hall. An impromptu jam session morphed into a sing along with Jon and George on guitar. We headed up to the roof for devotions. Chris led and the theme was "Big Rocks". Her object lesson filled a container with sand, pebbles, gravel and rocks. Each of them represented activities in our lives. The big rocks are the important things such as faith and relationships with God and family. If we focus on those first, the rest falls into place. If we fill up our lives and focus first on what the sand represents, the far less important little things we have no time for the BIG things and those important BIG things will suffer. We sang "10,000 Reasons", each person shared one thing they were thankful for this day and we closed with prayer. Some stayed on the roof to watch as the full moon arose over the horizon. Tomorrow is our final workday and there is a lot to finish. The next group doesn't arrive until November so we really want to finish so the library can open after we leave.
Praise the Lord for all his benefits!
Mission Trip Day 6
It's Thursday morning, our last work day. It rained overnight so any items left on the line to dry are not so dry after all. The sky is cloudy so no sunrise will be seen this morning. Pauline and her kitchen staff are hard at work preparing scrambled eggs, sausage, grits and watermelon. We board the bus after doing our chores and head for the house and library. The septic tank crew is surprised to discover that the tank is about half full of rainwater from the storm. A bucket brigade was formed until Wade said a sump pump was coming. The pump never did arrive. The inside work on the tank was completed already so the water didn't interfere with their next phase of the project, building a frame for the lid. They were chipping rock to set 2 X 6 boards that would support the base of the lid. Then steel rebar was added and wired together that will strengthen the concrete when the lid is poured. Inside work was drywall, hanging ceiling boards, building shelves, finish trim and framing a door. The power went out again, however only for a little while. In his loud voice Wade said; "Not today, Not today"! After lunch we continued our work. There was a real sense of urgency as we all knew our work time was coming to a close. We were informed that on Friday another local resident of Lower Bogue was making us box lunches to take on our excursions. Every day another villager stops by to check on the progress of the library. It seems that it will be an integral part of the community. All the books and computers that will be used in the library are in the U.S. waiting to be shipped to Eleuthera. Megan discovered that the locals work on the library on Saturdays. We stopped at Rainbow Beach to swim on the way back to camp. The water was refreshing and it felt good to cool off. Wade, our construction supervisor operates a Conch stand on the weekends. He opened the stand for us on Thursday. Those who wanted to sample his two flavors, classic and tropical got off the bus. While waiting for the last two salads a couple with two children walked up. We started talking to them and they were from Italians on vacation in the Bahamas for a few days before heading to Disney World. We rode in the back of Wade's a pickup truck the few blocks to camp and arrived just in time for dinner. Pauline prepared hamburgers, ribs, mac and cheese and peach upside down cake. Milton, our volunteer coordinator reviewed the instructions for our excursion day. We held devotions together with the Virginia group. The topic was "Three questions that will free your mind and turn your life around". We sang a song from Matthew West titled "Hello My Name Is.." We closed with prayer. Then it was movie night, board games and visiting. It was another great day in the Bahamas.
Thank the Lord for everything!
Mission Trip Day 7
It's our excursion day and several activities are planned. The Virginia group is going to Harbour Island to do some sightseeing and shopping. Twelve of our group are going snorkeling and to the pink sand beaches of Harbour Island. Eight of us are going deep sea fishing. Pauline prepared another big breakfast of banana pancakes, bacon, omelettes, juice and coffee. We left camp and headed to the Glass Window Bridge to take photos. The bridge was once a natural stone bridge that separated the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean. Hurricanes eroded and washed away the stone and it is now a one lane concrete bridge. If you look to the west you see the aquamarine water of the Caribbean and then turn your head to the east you see the deep blue Atlantic. The contrast of these two bodies of water is striking. Only a small barrier of coral and rock separates them. We continued on to Lower Bogue to pick up lunches that were being prepared by a local woman as a 'thank you' for all of our work this week. They weren't quite ready so a decision was made that the bus would take those going fishing on to the Gates Docks to meet Captain Deek. This was the first time most of the group had been deep sea fishing so perhaps an empty stomach was better anyway. Deek was waiting for us when we arrived. The boat owners in the group were comparing our boats back home to Deek's. His boat was a 27' Contender with twin 250 HP Yamaha outboard engines. It had a center console with a large canopy and room to walk around the console. We headed out about five miles from shore and began to fish. We were fishing off the bottom in 200-225 feet of water. Jake caught the first fish, a Strawberry Grouper and Anthony followed up with another. Josh landed a Yellowtail Snapper as did Ellie and Ethan. Simon caught a five foot shark and a Mackerel. Jon hooked a big shark and fought it for five minutes before it stripped off at least fifty yard of line and snapped it. We caught several Blackjacks which we threw back. Captain Deek said that some have poison and nobody eats them. We were bitten off by sharks and mackerels at least a dozen times. Ellie had a fish on and was reeling it up. When she got it to the surface only the head was left. A shark had taken the rest on the way up off the bottom. All agreed it was fun and they would definitely do it again. Jake and Anthony spent a good portion of the trip looking in the water for their friend "Ralph".
On the other side of the group excursions, twelve of us took the ferry to Harbour Island with the Virginia group and from there loaded onto the snorkeling boat; equipped with flippers, goggles, and lots of sunscreen. Our first stop was at a little island not too far away from the harbor. After jokes made by the snorkeling crew involving sharks and giant stingrays, a few of our group members were a little nervous to jump into the water. However, after a little persuading even the most fearful jumped in and had a good time. We got the chance to see lots of colorful fish, stingrays, and several nurse sharks. At the second island we also got a chance to swim with a sea turtle named Gertrude and a one eyed turtle named Pirate. One of the snorkeling crew members fortunately had an underwater camera and took lots of snapshots of the group swimming with the coral, fish and the turtles. After several hours the group returned to shore (with not a single shark bite!) and from there ventured to the pink sand private beach to spend the rest of the beautiful afternoon swimming in the clear waters and laying in the sun. All in all we had a wonderful free day between both group excursions.
The bus returned all of us to camp for our farewell dinner. Pauline prepared fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob. She also cooked our fresh fish to share with the group. We must have been hungry. The food trays were empty except for a few pieces of chicken. Chores were completed. Departure instructions were given and devotions were at 9:00 up on the roof. The Virginia group joined us again. Our topic was the Eisenhower decision matrix and biblical decision making. Jon played guitar and Chris; one of the Virginia youth joined him on bongos as we sang "Thy Word" and closed with prayer. A few minutes after devotions were finished we saw the International Space Station pass by for a few brief seconds. Several stayed on the roof to stargaze. We saw quite a few shooting stars. It was a fantastic finish to a great week. Tomorrow is long travel day. We enjoyed the Bahamas and are ready to return home.
Praise God for a excellent week of service!