Mission Trip Report - Gulf Coast, MS, , 7/19/2008 to 7/25/2008 Adventures in Missions

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Gulf Coast, MS,
Youth Group

Trip Dates:  7/19/2008 to 7/25/2008
Age Group:  Jr. and Sr. high school students
Status: Completed
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   Reports for Gulf Coast, MS Trip
Trip Updates 3

7/24/2008  By: Danny Beasley, Project Leader

Miranda Lonski St. Matthew’s UMC 7-23-08

Today my team went to the nursing home. Which was a little uncomfortable for me because I sometimes I have a problem talking to older people. But once we got there I felt a sense of calmness and peace. At first I was unsure what to do, then me and my friend started talking to an elderly lady. After talking with her for a little bit I found another lady who asked me to play cards with her. I could really tell that she was glad that I decided to play and even more glad when I asked her if she could teach me the card game she was playing. Then me and my friend decided we would go find this lady that some of the other girls had been talking about. She was a very nice lady and her name was Joan H. It turns out this lady loves God and roosters! She was very kind and very talkative. She told us a lot about her family and about the crafts she makes for the visitors that come in. Joan gave us each a cross made out of ribbon, a little purse, a magnetic cross, and an ornament. I was
very excited about my ornament because it had snowmen on it and I know how much my mom loves snowmen. After we were done in the nursing home and went to the park to have VBS. It was tough today because I had to tell the story and I can sometimes have a problem talking in front of a big group who I don’t know. Everything ended up working out really well and the kids had a great time. It was a definite day that God showed up and it was such a blessing for all of us.

Rebecca Hiebert St. Matthew’s UMC 7-23-08

Today the St. Matt’s group had four options of activity/mission sites to go to: Painting a play house, staying on the field and playing with a few of the kids, hanging blinds at a house, or visiting a lady, Zina, at her house. I wanted to go paint the playhouse, but I wasn’t sure if it was God calling me to go or not, I just had this strong urge to go. When Luan asked where we were called to go I asked if I could go paint the playhouse. She told me that she thought we had enough people working on it so I told her I’d go where she needed me. Once we got to the house we were painting at, Luan asked who all was going and only Kaeli and Bob stood up. So I stood up and told her I’d definitely go. Once we got there I realized the little boy that lived with his grandma had a shorter arm. I began to talk to the boy and he was very open and outgoing. We started painting the playhouse and realized that there were huge black clouds hanging over us. All three of us began praying that the storm would pass just until the paint had dried, and God was faithful. The painting took a little longer than expected because we had a five year old assisting us and we had to go over the whole house correcting spots he had splattered. But after a while it turned out really well and we finished the painting job pretty quickly. Brenda, the lady that let us paint the playhouse, was very open and let us share our testimonies and shared hers with us. We formed a really good relationship and she was upset that she couldn’t share more about the hurricane. Before we left, Brenda told us how thankful she was that we helped her out with the playhouse and admitted that she could have done the work alone, but really she just wanted a little company. Kaeli, Bob and I were so blessed by Brenda and all her stories that going to VBS was only that much better. We actually got about twenty little boys today at VBS [no girls], and a few of them were very open and asking a lot of questions about God and why bad things might happen. VBS is turning out to be such a huge blessing to me and everyone involved. We did end up getting a little bit of rain during VBS but thankfully had a large pavilion to sit under and listen to music and use coloring pages. Chase has been really good about trusting the crazy little kids and handing them his guitar to play on, even if they haven’t had any lessons before. Many of us are worried for him when they are hitting on it, but he just smiles and shows them how to hold it. I can see Christ in so many people here and we are being blessed in more ways than we could have ever imagined. Sometimes, I just wonder how God could get any better in the days to come.

Aaron Nagel Mars Alliance 7/23/08

Today started out slow. No one wanted to get out of bed, since we had been having some “deep conversations” the night before, but it would turn into the day that I will most likely cherish as the greatest day for me during the trip. The day continued with breakfast and worship, but it wasn’t until we split into our teams that things took off. The night before I was bummed because I would not be doing construction, which is what I had my mind set on when I came down here. However, God saw to it that I become stronger in my prayer life. I stayed behind with my group and prayed for the first half of the day. This changed my entire attitude. My usual demeanor is to help others and keep myself from actually showing anything about myself, but today was a big breakthrough with asking others to pray for me and the problems I am going through. In the end, I felt bad because the other people in my group left to do construction and didn’t stay to pray. After VBS, which went as good as it could go with four kids, we ate dinner and headed to a set of apartment buildings to play with the children and share a few watermelons. I started out shooting hoops, but it turned into me carrying kids on my back for two hours. It was very tiring, but I was having too much fun to care. Those kids laughing and smiling and playing Star Wars with glow sticks was a great time. It felt like a family reunion to me, just with more younger cousins. I wanted to go back the next day but we only got one shot. I hope those kids have a great life, and grow to know Jesus as their savior. If just one of them feels the spirit in them, I could die and feel that I impacted this world that exalts the Lord to the highest.

Peter Bartuska Treasure Coast Presbyterian Church July 23, 2008

I could say that the day was great and I think that I will. The day was great! God has been so good to us throughout this week and today on the most difficult day physically He delivered in a big way.

We started the day planning on painting stairs at Shiloh Baptist Church which is right across the street from the park where we are hosting our Vacation Bible School. We ended the day having painted the steps at Shiloh, painted trim at Roland’s house, painted trim at a trailer, cleaned a park of glass and foul language on the slides, loving on a homeless handyman, loving on 30+ kids at VBS and having a great time at the beach where we got to love on a man and his son who were trying to figure out how to get along with each other. Don’t you think that’s a great day? Oh, I forgot. We started the day worshipping God together with our two other partner churches and getting to celebrate how good God is in His Word through the story of Jehoshophat!

I need to say this as the Pastor of these great kids. They are truly blessing the community where they are working and there is no doubt that they are making a difference in the lives of the people that they are reaching. Let me give you one quick glimpse. ALL the kids loved on this father and son. Dad had been drinking at some point for sure and the son has a cochlear implant that helps him hear but his hearing is still limited. They invited him in to play while Dad was encouraged by our awesome adult leaders. At the end of our time at the beach three of OUR kids prayed for this Dad and son that they would know Jesus and be comforted by Him. Totally awesome. We were on a public beach…just down the street from a casino on the coast.

One additional note to include about our adult leaders. Terry has a heart that is so huge and his example to the kids and all of us “seasoned” leaders has been fantastic. Cindy DiNenna a.k.a LUNCH QUEEN has served tirelessly and with amazing skill and a servants heart! Not only has Cindy served in our kitchen but watching her love on our girls today during a particularly difficult time with one of the little boys was awesome. Picture looking out of the fenced park and seeing Cindy with her arms around four of our girls and one of our young men praying for one of the little boys and then guess what…GOD ANSWERED THE PRAYER! How cool is that? Emily McClellan has served as our CRAFT QUEEN and done it with such amazing grace that all the various kids that have come have been loved on in crafts. Hard to do but Emily has handled it great! Rachel Mitchell has served our kids with great encouraging words, prayers and that loving embrace as our kids have wrestled with a variety of difficult home situations. All in all an amazing bunch and truly a blessing to be loving God and loving others together.

One ABSOLUTELY FINAL THOUGHT…the race to determine the fastest person on the beach was won by … PIRATE PASTOR PETER! Woohoo!
Note - this last statement could not be independently verified by the project leader. : )

Trip Updates 2

7/23/2008  By: Danny Beasley, Project Leader

Faith Eisenberg St. Matthew UMC 07/22/08

Today God really showed His power. Yesterday while walking around, we met a lady named Theresa. She told us about the tree we were sitting under- how it had been replanted after the storm and how she had shook Bill Clinton’s hand under that tree. She really showed me how we should accept people, because she invited us freely. After we left we were talking, and three in our group felt like we should plant flowers. Today we asked for permission to plant them, weeded around the tree, and planted the flowers. She was really happy that her special tree looked more special. It made me happy to do something that made her happy.
As we were praying that morning God laid one lady on my heart. She had been a bit curt the days before, but today she invited us into her home. All four of us that went shared our testimonies with her. After that we prayed for her. I felt so much joy because I knew I had fulfilled God’s will.
After the visit to that lady’s house we did VBS. Although we didn’t have a particularly large group of kids they listened to the story and really paid attention. I had a blast with those kids! We did face painting, bubbles, a craft (we made fish), sang songs, and told them the story. We really just played with the kids and showed them His love. They all said they will be coming back tomorrow!
God has worked today in awesome ways! I really can’t wait to see what God has planned for the coming days.

Maddy McClellan Treasure Coast Presbyterian Church 07/22/08

Today The Uprising was very busy and blessed. My team, consisting of Katie Smith, Andrew DiNenna, Savannah Brooks, Clay Albright, Rachael Mitchell, and Pastor Peter, prayed for our youth group as well as the other two groups here. I’d never prayed silently for over an hour before so I didn’t really want to. By praying, I was missing out on serving the people of the neighborhood with my friends. I opened my silent prayer by asking God to keep me focused and lift my spirits to be in the mood to pray. It was amazing to experience constant prayer; I was focused almost the whole time and loved praying for the people of the community, my youth group friends, unconfessed sins, the other groups, and all the leaders of the teams. The other teams in our youth group painted a woman’s porch railings for her which they seemed to enjoy; they’re clothes (and bodies) are covered in white paint. After we finished praying, Pastor Peter thought it would be moving for us to drive up and down the coast a little bit to see the destruction that is still prevalent. Thus, our group got to see many lots covered with weeds that once held homes. Although that was saddening, we also saw beautiful new homes that have been reconstructed since hurricane Katrina. On our drive, we stopped at a gas station to get the whole group Gatorade, a real treat to come with lunch. We then stopped at a produce stand and bought two watermelons to enjoy as well.
After all of this, the fun part came. We held our second day of VBS! On day 1 we had 13 or 14 kids; today we had over 20! It was so touching to see the kids and how they were so happy despite all of the “storms” in their lives. Today we played kickball with them and painted their faces. They then wanted to paint our faces, which we allowed, and it was so much fun. I must say, with no surprise, that Katie Smith was the best face painter; she painted Spiderman, flowers, butterflies, and really neat designs. Andrew Bartuska was making a little boy laugh SO hard by swinging him on the swing really high and then running under him when he was at the peak-that was most definitely the sweetest thing I’ve seen all day. The little boy was just so genuinely happy and Andrew was, too. We’re having a really enjoyable time, and I can’t wait to see what God will do next through our youth group in this community!

Suzanne Nuttall Mars Alliance Church 7/22/08

Today we went to the Driftwood Nursing Center home and the girls and I talked to the ladies and painted their nails. The boys helped the older gentlemen to put puzzles together and talked to them. While we were there we met a woman by the name of JoAnn and she talked to us for a long time and gave us these crosses that she was making for the missionaries that came to the nursing home. She talked about how she handed out the crosses to the other residents that lived there during Katrina and would tie them on their beds and put them on their chairs. She also told us how they had stayed at the home when the hurricane hit and the hospital had saved them. We heard that from another elderly man that they evacuated so we don’t really know what happened.

Trip Updates 1

7/22/2008  By: Danny Beasley

Danny Beasley Project Leader 07/20/08

All three groups (Mars Alliance, Treasure Coast Presbyterian, St. Matthew UMC) arrived safely on Saturday evening. Everyone is doing well and settling into their home for the week.

Sean Reime St. Matthews UMC 07/21/08

We went to our site today and set up our equipment for VBS. One team went to a house and helped a lady clear her back yard of weeds and vines. Meanwhile, another team went out through the neighborhood to encourage kids to come to VBS and parents to allow their kids to come to VBS. About 3:30 about 10 kids showed up and some played basketball, some broke off and had their faces painted. A couple played guitar. After a while, we had a bible story about the blind man who was healed by Jesus. Jarrod Beasley also ministered to 3 African American kids, which was amazing to watch and learn from. There wasn’t a whole lot of physical labor. Most of it was spiritual ministering. The amazing thing was that most of the kids there were Christians. Luan Warren asked one kid if he knew Jesus and the kid replied “he’s my personal Lord and Savior.” That same kid also mentioned to me that he thought that we were the nicest people he has ever met. At around 4ish everyone started cleaning up and we went home.

Elizabeth Higley T.C.P.C 07/21/08

Today we went to our site and we worked on cleaning glass and trash all around the neighborhood. As we were walking we ran into a older woman and she invited us in to her house for watermelon, she was so thankful that we were cleaning the neighborhood!! When we headed back to the park we spent about 2 hours cleaning all the shattered beer glasses and any other trash, we made a lot of progress. About 1:00 the kids started to arrive for VBS(there were 13). We had separate groups, some groups were in control of sports, another in control of crafts and snacks and the last group did the bible story. We played a lot of sports like basketball, soccer, and we pushed the kids on the swings. I really think they enjoyed playing with us and having something to do. Then when kids started to leave we cleaned up the remains of trash we had collected earlier and headed home.

Emily Thomas Mars Alliance Church 07/21/08

Our vacation bible school site is in Waveland, which was the hardest hit area from Hurricane Katrina. Although there is not much in the area, their were four kids who came to have a fun day with us. One girl in particular really impacted me. After VBS, we were sitting around talking and eating a snack and I started talking to her. She was telling me her story about her experience as a foster child and how her life was changed by Hurricane Katrina. It amazed me that even after all she has gone through she was not angry or sad about it, she was at peace and just needed someone to talk to. She encouraged me to be more like her because I do not believe I could act like that in that situation. Although I did not talk to the other kids as much, as we were eating snow cones I really thought they had stories to tell. The one girl was a Christian and so happy even though her whole house was destroyed. It never will cease to amaze me how these kids act after all they have gone through and while I was ministering to them, they were also ministering me in ways they will never understand.

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