Tuesday, June 24, 2014

One final blog for Joplin 2014 Mission Trip

As a team leader (only in the planning sense of the word), I can say this was a great team.  I spent a full week in Minot, ND with LeLoie, Lynn and Warren, dry walling. And I spent a weekend with Pastor Cindy, in Des Moines on a mission trip, painting at Bidwell Riverside.  So I knew we had the makings of a great mission trip team.   Add in Mike, Carol, Linda, Donna, Kent and Cathy, and it was just an amazing group.   Imagine a 6 hour road trip, 6 days and nights together and no one fought.  Bet you can't say that about too many road trips you've had with 7 others.

I think we all grew in a)our dry wall skills, b)our faith and c)our friendship. I can't wait to do it again sometime and I seriously hope that others will join in.

I laughed until I cried a couple of times.  And despite the work, I genuinely had a good time.

Jo T

And in conclusion


The mission trippers are home!  It was quite a week.  I want to tell you about what we learned and did--but I also want to tell you a few secrets about mission trips.

So here's what we learned.

We learned a lot about tornados and their aftermath.  The stories we heard were heartbreaking.  The storm came up quickly and caught people off guard. Many literally ran for their lives.  The destruction was massive.  161 lives were lost.  Hundreds and hundreds of home were lost.

We learned about resilience.  We worked with a non-profit group called Rebuild Joplin.  And that is just what they are doing.  They have committed themselves to restoring homes.  It was great to be a part of their vision.  The non-profit will be shutting down in November.  Why?  Because they have completed their mission.

We learned about the dreams of young people.  We met three young women in their twenties.  They all work for Rebuild Joplin and they have all decided that serving others will be their life's work.  One is preparing to be a social worker and--get this!---she wants to teach foster kids the construction skills she learned through Rebuild Joplin.  She wants to continue restoring lives--but she wants to restore the lives of teens in foster care.    We were totally inspired by these young women.

We learned about mudding and sanding drywall and we have all decided to keep our day jobs.

We learned about the apostle Paul as we read the book of Philippians each morning and evening.

Now for the secrets!  Have you ever been on a mission trip?  You may think mission tripping is not for you--but here's my conviction:  everyone can go on a mission trip.  It is an amazing experience and a great way to grow in faith.

Secret #1:  you laugh a lot on a mission trip.  The first night we stayed in the church we set off the motion detectors and their alarms.  Two women from our bunch went to try to turn them off--only to run into two police officers who came to check out the alarm.  We must look pretty harmless--there were no arrests.  We laughed our way through the week telling stories, dribbling dry wall mud on our heads, eating ice cream.  A week of laughter heals the soul.

Secret #2:  Friendships grow on mission trips--and who doesn’t need more friends?  One woman who went with us was a friend of Jo's.  By the end of the week--she was a friend to all of us.

Secret #3:  Lots of opportunities for good food.  We visited a street fair the last night we were there. Ever had something called a "cheap date"?  (Not that kind of cheap date--this is a food.)  It is a date wrapped in bacon.

Secret #4:  It is something like a slumber party--the evenings are spent telling stories (more laughter).

Secret #5:  Spending a week in service is like a Soul-Spa--you come home refreshed in spirit.

So we are home and holding dreams of the next mission trip.

Hope you will come along.

Pastor Cindy

 Cheap Date

The crew being silly after we were all done

Friday, our final day

Byers Avenue UMC. Our accommodations for the week. Air mattresses! Nice showers. They just gave us a key and trusted us.  So did the cops that showed up the first night when the alarm was set off at midnight

Very nice thank you card from RebuildJoplin.org for our love offering and volunteering.

We decided that for Friday we would work just a couple hours and then hit the road for Iowa.   We were disappointed to learn that our site supervisor Jessica was sick and at urgent care. Just wasn’t the same without her.  But she left us in the capable hands of Kate.  

Because of the humidity, some of the previous day’s mudding wasn’t dry. And we were short on some sanding supplies, so alas we were still not able to apply the texture to the walls. But Warren and crew were able to mostly complete the porch (they were one board short).  I would guess that Kate finished up the dry wall before she went home for the day.  When trying to decide work/not work for Friday, we were told that 8 people for 2 hours was 16 hours of volunteering and greatly appreciated.

A quick lunch and on the road back to Iowa and real life and NO sanding.  

It may be hard to imagine that a week of doing a dirty hot job can be so rewarding and so much fun.  Yes fun.  Some quirky times.   Mike and his hodge podge music that we could all pretty much sing along to, and we did, regardless of our talent.  Chasing the ice cream truck until it stopped.  Reconnecting with some old friends.  Laughing at bed time (ok, maybe not everyone thought that was fun!). And LeLoie got her annual swinging in. Right before she was told that they weren’t sure the branch was strong enough. At least she didn’t shoot out of the swing into the woods. 

Jo T

Day 4 - catching up

By the time Thursday rolled around, we were pretty pooped and didn't get anything to the blog. So, I'll post some pictures of Thursday.

Thursday was a day pretty much like the days before, mud, sand.  But, in looking back to the pictures from Day 1, you can really see a change.   A lady came by to measure for kitchen cabinets and that sort of made it seem more real. And then I thought, crap, where are those going to hang, we certainly didn't need great dry wall work behind cabinets. By then I was sort of assessing where to apply effort and behind the water heater wasn't exciting either.

Warren and Cindy decided to chill and rest at the church at night.  The rest of us decided to see what Third Thursday was all about. This is an art and music festival that draws around 5,000 people.  We ate our way through the streets, I had a cheap date. I am not positive I would have bought the little thing for $1, had it not had a catchy title.  It was a bacon wrapped date, filled with cheese.  Proof I will eat anything, but it was yummy.   Later on we found deep fat fried Oreos, guess these aren't just an Iowa State Fair treasure and at $1 each, that was a steal!

Kate and Jessica (our 20 something site supervisors) both met us there.  I thought that was pretty cool, that they liked us enough to hang out with us old people.  

On the way back to the church (our hotel), we drove by the Butterfly People Wall. Throughout our stay in Joplin, we heard amazing stories of lives saved by 'Butterfly People' during the tornado. Believed to be angles.  They have a beautiful wall painted as a tribute. there is talk that there is a book being written.

Jo T
LeLoie giving quilts made at Linn Grove to RebuildJoplin.org

LeLoie, Stephani and Courtney

Lynn and Jo's room.  Pretty much done

Kate, site supervisor, AmeriCorp

James, Warren and LeLoie working on the porch stairs

Pastor Cindy and Mike's working gear

LeLoie presented Linn Grove stained glass crosses to Jessica, Kate, Marvin and Marty. Marvin and Marty are retired and volunteer most of the year in Bolivia. They have built big things, like schools and hospitals

Warren working on the porch boards

 RebuildJoplin.org booth at Third Thursday

 Drywall mask

Didn't quite understand the painting of mattresses (and they were nice mattresses) but the kids were having fun.

 Live mannequins in the downtown Joplin store front

 Kate waiting on the crew to finish shopping in the art/jewlery store

 Linda photo bombing Lynn and LeLoie

Ordering deep fat fried Oreos and Twinkies

 The painted butterfly people wall

 Jessica's note to Lynn and Jo!!!! Much appreciated by Day 4