Thursday, August 15, 2013

mission trip day 4

greetings from the final day of our work at the jersey shore!  on this gorgeous day in atlantic city, we worked on a different property, doing some demolition work on a rotten deck, and removing the garage floor (and the mess underneath it) from what used to be a garage, also ruined by the storm.  more on that in a moment.  first, let me tell you about our team. 

all through this week, i have been so incredibly impressed by (and proud of) our team for the hard work they were doing each day at the work site.  even though there were only 8 of us, and even though our know-how and experience were (extremely) limited, each person did whatever they could to help out, showed a willingness to learn new skills, and did everything (well, almost) with a spirit of love and patience.  i was amazed at their flexibility, their endurance, and their joy through it all! 

that being said, we did have a bit of a health situation, starting tuesday night, when Eric started dealing with some significant backpain.  it was bad enough by wednesday morning that he needed to be taken to urgent care by his wife while the rest of us went to work on demo.  about an hour later i got a call from Eric on my cell phone in which he said that he was going to be taken in for emergency surgery in two hours.  i bought it hook, line, and sinker.  i instantly went into panic mode until i heard him laughing on the other end of the line.  once i calmed down, i promised to punch him hard enough that he would need surgery when i saw him again!  he got a hearty laugh out of the whole thing, and i was glad his back was feeling at least a little better. 

meanwhile, back at the worksite, we got started on the rotten deck, tearing it apart in no time.  everyone got a whack with the sledgehammer, making light work of that deck, and throwing the wood in a dumpster which was painted with the word "transformation":  a fitting word for our work, both the transformation on the houses, and the transformation in our own hearts and relationships with one another and with God. 

when eric got back from urgent care, and after a nap, he proceeded to work on building some stairs for the back door, since there was no longer any deck. 

the rest of us started tearing up concrete and moving stones and fill, as you can see below. 

so our site leader brought us a jack hammer, showed us how to use it, and set us free to tear up all the concrete.  and boy did we.  the catawissa avenue demolition crew had a blast using the jackhammer and learning a new skill. 

after a delicious dinner made by the delightful miss margaret (below), a liberian woman, we had a debriefing session in which we learned more about the terrible effects of superstorm sandy, and the importance of helping out and sharing hope with those who have lost it.  we talked about where we saw God during the week, and we shared in the sacrament of communion.  it was a great time of worship and fellowship, and a wonderful ending to our week. 

we really did feel our own hope renewed, as we saw how we were able to offer hope just by being there, by hammering a few nails and smiling at the people we met.  everywhere we went people told us "thank you" for being there, for going out of our way to help out our neighbors.  the local gym in pleasantville let us use their showers every day, since we were there to help.  passersby in cars would offer a friendly wave or thumbs up to show their appreciation.  even miss margaret wanted to show her appreciation by cooking us a meal and then singing "how great thou art" in her native liberian tongue.  in the end, while we were hoping to be a blessing to those whose lives have been so terribly affected by superstorm sandy, we found ourselves the recipients of blessing upon blessing.  i am so grateful to those seven members of catawissa avenue united methodist church who went with me, demonstrating a beautiful version of servanthood and love.  thank you.  when we love each other like that, it is much easier to believe in a future with hope. 

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