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EMMANUEL LUTHERAN CHURCH MISSION TRIP 2015

Day 1 - Monday

Greetings!!

We arrived safe and sound at 7:15 after 11 hours of travel. The Lord blessed us with cloud cover until about noon which was good because we didn’t have any AC in the van and it got a bit warm (as in sweat dripping down). Thanks to Megan for driving most of the way. Oswego is a quaint little town in the middle of nowhere. We were welcomed with a delicious taco bar, followed by evening worship and communion. Work assignments were handed out and we all settled down for a well-deserved sleep. The cool we lacked during the day was made up for at night. Tonight we sleep with socks and sweats.

Day 2 - Tuesday

Humility was the theme today

We woke up to a "rain delay" so we had to halt the progress.  After a short delay the skies cleared and we headed out. When the teams arrived at their sites some of the needed materials had not made it there yet. One of the teams on the way to their site had a flat tire.  Another team had trouble with equipment, measurements were off left and right causing extra work. Things that should've been easy were hard.

However as we know everything happens for a reason and it is all in God's timing. We were able to create friendships during down time and spend a little more time getting to know the people that God has led us to help.  By the end of the day work was progressing and everyone had put in a long hard day. We quit work around 4-4:30 but then had to go from site to site and pick up other teams. It was after 5 when the last of the groups arrived at the church. The host church only had 1 shower in a closet so we had to take turns for a quick rinse off. The woman of the church had prepared a wonderful Turkey dinner complete with pies for dessert. Boy were we spoiled!! It was Nikki and Noah’s birthday so we sang them a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. After dinner we piled back into the bus for a trip to the rodeo which was in town.  Luckily some of the group from Emmanuel went in the van because on the way to the rodeo the spark plug in the van blew out of the block. What a racket. We were only 5 blocks from the church so we drove it back and walked to the rodeo (only about 6 blocks from the church).  Timing is everything, we could have broken down on the road somewhere but God let it occur when nothing was interfered with. The kids had a great time.  Pastor Rocco decided to take a short cut across the parking lot and got the bus stuck in a ditch. The sherriff had to get one of the tractors to pull it out. Thank God for John Deere. The van was brought to a local repair shop to be fixed.

We made it back to church around 10:45 and then had evening devotions at 11. Some from our group volunteered to be helpers for the week; Nancy was our song bird leading singing at devotions, Noah was our water boy filling all the team’s jugs with water in the mornings, Megan was our rooster waking everyone each morning, Dee and pastor were the girls and boys lights out patrol. Dee is my sister and anyone that knows her knows this was not a good job for her because she is a night owl so the lights were very late in the girls section. After devotions the team leads had a meeting that went to about 1 in the morning to review our plans for the next day. We hit the cots exhausted knowing we had to be up at 6:30 the next morning. All slept soundly. Some very soundly (snoring in full swing). What a great day!! Praise the Lord.

Day 3 - Wednesday

Today we woke early, had a quick breakfast, gathered tools, had a quick devotion and headed back out to work. The temperatures in Kansas are in the mid-nineties with heat indexes well above 100. We were all a little drained the 1st work day but put in a long hot day. Some were at the same site as the previous day while others had completed their tasks and moved on to new sites. We almost lost Nancy, as she came close to electrocuting herself on a live wire. The families we did work for were all so appreciative. One of the home owners cooked hot lunches and made cookies and brownies for their group every day. Unfortunately I was not on that team. Again we worked until late and didn’t arrive back at the church until after 5. We were going to a farm party that night and were expected there at 6 so Pastor Rocco announced on the bus that we would not have time for showers. We were to go in and change and get right back on the bus. I was filthy and gross so I used the hose to take a quick rinse off at the church. We quickly headed off to the farm. The farm was a 330 acres organic farm, one of the largest organic farms in the country. They had cows and pigs and chickens and crops. The family did all their own butchering and processing. For dinner we had chicken that was butchered that day and homemade jalapeno and cheddar brats. There were all kinds of side dishes and delicious fresh peaches for dessert as well as cupcakes made by one of the parishioners who owns a bake shop. Dinner was followed by swimming in the farm pond (kind of skuzzy) and fishing. The Minnesota clan fared well in the fishing area. Nancy caught one which pastor had to remove from the hook. Most of the boys caught 4 or 5. After swimming we had a concert by one of the country western bands from the area and the night was capped off with fireworks. Many of the people from the church came to the event and we had time to visit and share the love of Christ with them. We returned late again to the church and had devotions at 11 again followed by a team leader meeting. Another late night. God blessed us with great fellowship and long lasting friendships were developing.

Day 4 – Thursday

We convinced Pastor Rocco to allow us to sleep in a little later (7:30) with the promise that we would get ready quicker in the morning. We did sleep in but we didn’t get ready quite as quick as we promised. Devotions that morning were held in the way of singing on the bus. By the end of the day Thursday most of the houses we had been working on were complete. Anthony and Noah made their TV debut on the local news. The dinner plans for that night was spaghetti and meat sauce with salad and garlic bread. Followed by homemade brownies. The food was delicious and most of us had seconds. The group headed to the home of one of the parishioners who lived on a beautiful lake. I did not go with the group because Meg, Bonnie, Kayla and I decided to go and visit Eudora at the hospital. Eudora was the homeowner of the first house Kayla and I had worked on Tuesday. On Wednesday she was having a hip replacement. She was very nervous about the operation and very thankful for having our group of kids as a distraction the day before surgery. We all prayed for her before we left. When we got to the hospital we were given her room number but when we got to her room she wasn’t there. We found out she had been released that afternoon and we had missed her. Our prayers were answered, she had a successful surgery and was already home. Praise God!! The group at the lake reported that the water unlike the farm pond was very clear and beautiful. The kids had fun doing chicken fights, throwing children, and wrestling.  They also went for boat rides and enjoyed fellowship together. We all arrived back fairly late and had evening devotions again at 11. Then a quick meeting and off to bed. We received news that our van would be ready on Friday and the good news is that they also fixed the AC. We looked forward to a cool ride home. Life was good.

Day 5 – Friday

This was our final work day. Team 1 had a little more work to finish up on the wheel chair ramp they had been working on all week. They finished before days end and their home owner who has Parkinson’s disease can now safely leave her house. She was so grateful. A few of us (Meg, Chris, Jake, and Dillain) went back to James Wilson’s house to install a lift assist for his storm cellar door. James was 88 years old and could no longer lift the door to his safety when tornados hit. We installed a pulley system that made opening and closing the door much easier. We also rigged up a drainage system for his air conditioner that had leaked onto the porch making it slippery for him to walk. The remainder of the groups went to a trailer where the homeowner had a back door with no porch or stairs so her little children would often fall out. The group worked hard and installed a metal porch and ramp. By the end of the day all of the planned work was complete.  For dinner that night we were supposed to have a cook out in the park but it was over 100 degrees so plans were changed and we had pizza at the church in AC. After the pizza party we got on the bus and went to the town pool. We had it reserved just for us from 6 – 8:30. The cool water felt great on aching bodies. We played horse (basketball) in which Pastor Terry proudly declared he was a “ho” too, after he missed his second shot. Pastor Terry also came down the water slide only to find out that adults were not allowed on the slide. He said it was really fun though. The time went quickly and our pool time was over. We headed back to church and actually had time to play some cards and dice and enjoy our new friendships.

Day 5 – Friday

This was our final work day. Team 1 had a little more work to finish up on the wheel chair ramp they had been working on all week. They finished before days end and their home owner who has Parkinson’s disease can now safely leave her house. She was so grateful. A few of us (Meg, Chris, Jake, and Dillain) went back to James Wilson’s house to install a lift assist for his storm cellar door. James was 88 years old and could no longer lift the door to his safety when tornados hit. We installed a pulley system that made opening and closing the door much easier. We also rigged up a drainage system for his air conditioner that had leaked onto the porch making it slippery for him to walk. The remainder of the groups went to a trailer where the homeowner had a back door with no porch or stairs so her little children would often fall out. The group worked hard and installed a metal porch and ramp. By the end of the day all of the planned work was complete.  For dinner that night we were supposed to have a cook out in the park but it was over 100 degrees so plans were changed and we had pizza at the church in AC. After the pizza party we got on the bus and went to the town pool. We had it reserved just for us from 6 – 8:30. The cool water felt great on aching bodies. We played horse (basketball) in which Pastor Terry proudly declared he was a “ho” too, after he missed his second shot. Pastor Terry also came down the water slide only to find out that adults were not allowed on the slide. He said it was really fun though. The time went quickly and our pool time was over. We headed back to church and actually had time to play some cards and dice and enjoy our new friendships.

Day 6 – Sat

We slept in a little later had devotions and headed to Oklahoma for canoeing. We had our van back and luckily we decided to follow the bus with our van. About a ½ hour out our van broke down again. We thought we might have run out of gas but it ended up it was the alternator. We quickly called Pastor Rocco on the bus and they came back for us. As God would have it we were only about ½ mile from Arty and Lucille’s house (parishioners from church). We put a chain from the bus to the van and towed it to their home. They came out and welcomed us with cold pop. A few of from our group (Jake and Dillain and Meg) and Jared and Jack from Iowa were heroes and volunteered to stay back and fix the van. They went to NAPA and bought a new alternator. NAPA closes at 12 and they got there at 11:45. God was looking over us. Jared supervised and the boys changed out the alternator. By the end of the day they had the van fixed and as a reward went out to lunch and ice cream. We were truly blessed that the breakdown occurred where and when it did. It could have stranded us on a highway but instead we were in the hands of friends. The remainder of the group had a nice day relaxing on the river. When we got back to the entry point we had a nice picnic lunch. Kayla made us Minnesotans proud. She held her own against Cameron in a towel flinging contest and definitely he was the worst for the war. After we returned from the canoeing we headed to the town park where we had a catfish fry and a concert by 2 local girls who played folk and bluegrass music. They had beautiful harmonies. Some of us walked back and stopped for ice cream along the way. We closed that night with evening devotions. Some went to bed a little earlier. Others stayed up late and played cards to the wee hours.

It was hard to believe our week was almost over. We had completed work on 17 homes, there were 37 out of state visitors who served as the hands and feet of Jesus as well as probably another 40 or more locals who helped in one capacity or another. What a blessing. Memories were made that will last a lifetime.

Day 7 – Sun

Our final day in Kansas. We packed up in the morning and loaded the van. Church was a joint service held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Parson’s (about 20 miles away). After church we had a potluck lunch with all the church-goers and then held Kangaroo Court. Kangaroo Court is where Pastor Rocco serves as judge and offenses that have been collected throughout the week are read and either fined or a reward is issued. It is for goofy things or extra nice things that people were caught doing throughout the week. For example Pastor Terry was fined for using the waterslide that was for kids only. The fine money was collected by the bailiff and will go to a seminary friend of Pastor Rocco and his family who are leaving for Peru to begin a new missionary there.  It was great fun rehashing the funny stories from the week. After many sad goodbyes we loaded the van and headed home. We made it home at 12:30 AM without incidence. Thank you Lord. Thank you also to all of you who helped make this trip a reality. Without your continued support we never would have been able to go.

Parsons Sun Newspaper – Friday, July 24, 2015

“Church Volunteers Work On Homes”

Youths and adults paired together Thursday to work toward completing construction of a wheelchair ramp on the front of Zandra M.’s house at 2731 Wilson.

The crew, one of several, was made up of members of Lutheran churches from Oswego and Parsons who teamed up with churches from St. Paul, Minnesota, New Jersey and western Iowa to sponsor a servant Week in Southeast Kansas.

The crews are spending this week painting, cleaning up brush, performing small home repairs, putting in windows and building a wheelchair ramp for those in need.

“There are many people in these communities that need help.  This event allows us to put the pieces together to help them.  We are using the gifts of time, volunteers and facilities to his glory.” said     Rocco M., pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Oswego.

The volunteers arrived Monday and are sleeping at the church.  They are working Tuesday through Friday on homes in Parsons, McCune and Oswego.

“As Lutherans we serve the Lord by loving and serving those around us,” Pastor M. said.  “We serve our neighbors out of gratitude for all that Christ has given for us.”

The local churches sponsored a similar event last year and were amazed at the response they got.

To help cover the costs of their breakfasts and lunches, each individual pays $200 to participate in the volunteer experience.  Local church members cook evening meals for the volunteers.

“It’s open to any age, so we end up with a lot of families, kids with their parents, that come spend their vacation working alongside one another for other people,” Pastor M. said.  The philosophy behind it is Jesus loved us and is the one who baptized us and redeemed us on the cross, and serving others is serving him.  Caring for others is caring for God and they see it in a week-long setting.”

Pastor M. said that he and his wife, Janine, probably write about five grants a month, year-round, in order to raise enough funds to cover their projects.

About 37 Lutherans from out of state teamed with around 12 to 13 local Lutherans to perform the work this week on 15 homes that were chosen from among the applicants, Mrs. M. said.

“I look at the work and figure if it is something I could do, then they could do it,” Pastor M. said.  “Then we choose by need and availability of supplies on our end.” 

Zandra M. sat in her living room, listening to crew outside sawing and hammering.  “I think it’s wonderful of them,” she said.  “I can’t see them.  But my daughter looked out the window and said, “They’re troopers out there working.”  It’s wonderful they are willing to give their time and work in the heat.  I appreciate them….We could probably scrape together the money to buy materials, but we’d never get it done if we were going to have to do the work.

Cameron K., 15, of Oswego was one of the volunteers.  He said this is his second year, and he plans on there being more in the future.  “I’m just glad to be able to help the communities out and share with them about God’s grace because we got to be here and do this for them,” K. said.

 

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