Each mission trip is different and every year I come home, well exhausted, but also with a deep feeling of hope and vitality. Our youth and young adults are amazing, talented, thoughtful, concerned hardworking individuals and that makes me hopeful.
A few logistical details of our trip – we had 10 youth and 5 adults. 7 participants were newbies. As in years past, we partnered with Habitat for Humanity and with New Reach. We also volunteered to do projects at our host church, the First Congregational Church of North Haven. Our long partnership with New Reach means that we know the staff and they know us. We return to sites where we have been working for years and we can see the improvements as we do landscaping and painting and maintenance that simply needs doing. The good folks at New Reach are working hard to address the issue of decent, safe affordable housing in New Haven. They run emergency shelter housing, transitional housing and affordable rental units. And the New Reach staff do it with a deep sense of respect for the folks they serve. We work hard to help the helpers to keep those facilities appealing, clean, up to date.
Habitat for Humanity works with families to build or in the case this year, rehab, homes for ownership. Habitat for Humanity is built on the belief that everyone deserves a simple, decent place to live. The Habitat staff are committed to working with families transitioning into being home owners. Our older youth with a few adults volunteer with Habitat.
The North Haven UCC church welcomes us each year. They open their building as we take over the entire first floor – sleeping in church school rooms, cooking in the church kitchen, eating and playing games in the fellowship hall, hiding throughout the building for sardines and sometimes . . . overflowing toilets. We are welcomed and make the church our home for a week.
You provide food and prayers and support. You provide money and time. You church folks here in Hartland, Vt make it possible for this trip to happen. You have a share in what we do each year. Thank you.
As for me, each mission trip has its own character. This year, I am struck by the willingness to do what needs doing. The week, as you know, was hot, but more than that it was humid. Rainy, wet, hot and humid. Perfect working conditions – right?? But these youth and adults, kept right on working. The biggest obstacle for us was the weather and it didn’t stop us one bit.
No matter what we were asked to do, these folks did it. Without complaint or whining or procrastination. Dig a ditch, by hand, across the front lawn of the church – sure we can do that. Paint a hallway or two or three, with no ventilation in tremendous heat – sure we do that. Cut down a bush, pull out a tree, move furniture, demolish a stump, pull up patio pavers – sure we can do that. Put up rafters, toenail a board – we can do that (well, we can learn to do that). Work on the roof all day, two stories high, in the sun – sure we can do that. And we – the folks sitting here in their mission trip t shirts did it with smiles on their faces, laughing, singing, bantering in the heat, in the rain with sweat pouring down their faces.
They were willing to do what needed to be done because they care a whole awful lot about each other and about making this world better. They do and they did.
And for that I am deeply grateful and humbled. Amen.