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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Do what you can with what you have....

Today, Father's Day, it looks like only a few members of the group (out of 35) made it to church. It was a hazy humid day in Minnesota and with the weather maybe it was a day to sleep in. It was also a day of rest from what was really a very hard week, for all involved. 

It was a hard week because there was a cobbled together feel to a lot of the assignments and some of them felt to some of us like a real stretch for a Christian mission -- never mind that we left behind grateful people everywhere we went this week. The tasks themselves were hard at times, like digging and loading 15-20 yards of dirt and sand and muck out of a creek and carrying up and out -- in plastic gallon pails. Try it sometime.

The week was also hard because we were in town, and our normal lives resumed every day at 4, from work and social and family obligations to meeting commitments made to soccer team mates for some of the youth. 

Looking back, though, I think it may have been one of the most rewarding mission experiences of the recent past. It reflected a commitment made -- and kept -- by teens living in community with each other. Yeah, there was an outbreak of crabbiness one day, but considering the week it was a mild case and was easily put behind us. 

I remember reading once about Teddy Roosevelt when he was a soldier in Cuba, upon hearing request for reinforcement. His quick response was "Do what you can with what you have where you are." So that is what we did. Just what we could, with the tools and skills we held in our hands, and where we lived. That was it, but it was enough to make this trip feel blessed by God and consistent with the aims we had for this trip when the planning got going way back in October. I am proud of all involved and grateful for the opportunity to be part of it. 

-- Lee, on Father's Day

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gabby Williams-Mission Trip 09

Hey all!

So, this has been one of the messiest, unorganized, go with the flow, emotional trips so far.  Yet, it is all of that, that makes this such a fun and self growing experience.  Today, and well most of the week, we've been dealing with environmental issues.  What seems like trivial work to us is in fact some of the most important things we can do to make our community better.  What we've been doing this week is putting our small contribution into a bigger purpose and goal.  

I'm so impressed with how all of the leaders put this work together in such a short amount of time.  I'm even more impressed with how we all, youth AND adults, stuck with our commitment through every twist and turn.

Thanks to everyone who contributed money and references for us to contact to put this trip together.  I think everyone can agree it's been a bit of a wild ride, but looking back on the week it was well worth sticking through it, and carrying out this spontaneous mission trip.

Gabby Williams :)

P.S  in reference to a race that had taken place........Kelly, I SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO  WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And don't even try to lie and say you won.

Quick Update

We have been busy!!  And my entire body is feeling it!

On Wednesday our group stayed together and went to the Hallie Q. Brown Center in St. Paul ( where we did weeding all day long.
  It was a long day, but by 2:30pm when we gave in to the youth requests for Dairy Queen, the results of our labor was visible and really rewarding.  Not only did we remove weeds from the front, back and side of the building, but we also transplanted some of the plants from the back to give the front a bit more life.  
But the best part was interacting with the people wh
o work at Hallie Q. Brown - it was clear that the simple act of weeding their garden was a big help to them.  (Especially because they want the building beautiful for their 80-yea
r celebration happening this July!)

Thursday was our "Hard Labor Day."  We worked with St. Paul Parks and Rec in Swede Hollow Park on the East Side.  After learning a bit about the history of the park we hiked down the ravine to the "water feature" of the park, a small stream filled with 20 years of sediment build-up.  So we put on gloves, took up shovels and buckets and set to work ridding the stream bed of sediment.
  Our youth are hard workers and soon after starting the stream had already started flowing again and we had to quickly re-dam the top of the stream 
to allow for work to continue down-stream.  Around noon we broke for lunch and the dam just broke; we rushed to get out of the way of the water rushing down the hill to screams of, "here it comes!"  Rose Lundy and I were just getting up the last patch of grass and dirt from a huge patch we'd been working on for over an hour and just moments before the water got to us we lifted the grass up and off the stream bed and dumped it into a bucket to be hauled up the hill to our dumpster. 
 By the end of the day we were all covered in dirt and exhausted but when we looked up stream from where we were working and could see the clear path we had made, all the work was worth it!

Today our group split a bit; one group is working at church to finish the painting we started Monday while the bulk of the group is at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden learning about invasive plants and helping to weed out those plants from the prairie garden there.

It's hard to imagine the week is almost over, but it's been great.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Neighborhood House

Yesterday we went to the Neighborhood House to help clean and organize stuff. We had to wait a while in the beginning until someone came and told us what was needed to be done. During this time Maddie taught everyone a game called Russian Foot Tag, which was really fun! Eventually we were put to work. We split up into two groups. One group went with Norm and organized food in the food pantry. My group went with Lee and cleaned windows. We cleaned every single window in the building until it shined. We took a break at lunchtime and had lunch at a Mexican restaurant (I can't remember the name). After lunch we went back to the Neighborhood House and picked up trash all around the lot. I had a lot of fun and I think everyone else did too.

Kelly Tiedemann

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hey All!

On Monday, we split into 5 different work groups. I was in the group that cleaned ALL of the red chairs in the church. Now we are talking about cleaning about 150 plus chairs! This was one of 4 jobs that the Youth have been assigned to complete over the week. The whole process took about 3 hours and we are VERY glad that we are done with them! I think that the hardest part of the cleaning was the hauling of the chairs in and out of the church. In addition to the shampoo cleaning, Matt had the pleasure of trying to scrub out the stains that did not come out when we were done with the shampoo wash. I can honestly say that the cleaning of the chairs was not my project that I wanted to do, but I learned something from this project. I learned just because we were not in South Dakota does not mean that there is no mission/service work here in St. Paul. I never knew how much worked needed to be completed in our own church and I am glad that our Sr. High Youth and the adults were able to complete projects that might have otherwise never been completed! Going into the week, I was upset about not going to SD but I came into the week with a "The trip is not what could have been in SD but what it is going to be here in St.Paul" mind set. And so far the week has been great!

Clara D.

Got Painters?

So as it turns out, the "trip" part of the mission trip was canceled. But the "mission" part lives on! Although we didn't get to go to South Dakota, I get to work at the church. I have made it a goal to walk my dog and bike to church every morning and have so far succeeded. It is not a fun bike ride, I must say, but it puts the "trip" part back in the mission trip. It is uphill a lot of the time. I am extremely out of shape so the ride is very exhausting.

I was a bit skeptical at first, having to wake up at seven every morning to make an 8:00 call time but have so far enjoyed my time with my fellow youth. Being able to eat Bruggers each morning is a great start to my day...and very delicious.

I have enjoyed all the work that has been given to me. I have been painting most of the time. Painting and scraping outdoors on the garage near the church. I wanted to try and tan at the same time as painting so I didn't put on sunscreen. I will most likely soon regret that decision. While painting the garage, I have gotten in a few paint fights (small ones, I swear!) and have gotten paint on my leg. I have gone swimming and taken two showers since then and it still hasn't come off. I will need to work on that. I am also getting the hang of scraping and am starting to feel like a pro.

My body is tired and I am honestly not very excited to bike and work all week long. But I have a lot of fun with my friends, old and new. I know what we are doing is helping out people even though I didn't see that before. I didn't feel I was really making a difference by painting a beat up garage but I am starting to see the light.

Luckily, our group had intentional fun time yesterday as well. We got to head to the lake and swim. On our way there, the group in the car I was in saw a sight that made my day. We saw a little old lady with a walker start to cross the road when it turned green. It was a wonderful sight because by the time the light had turned red, she wasn't even halfway across the street. It was not a short light. She ended up making it all the way across. This sight made me happy.

At the beach, I mostly lay in the sand while others tried to absorb my body heat. But a few times, I ran in the water and had a fabulous time although it was chilly willy.

Once it was over, I stopped at Jamba Juice before biking home and I held on to the container so tightly that it exploded and now my bike is sticky. It was still a delicious drink. When I got home after biking, I wanted to crash so bad but ended up playing basketball with neighbor boys. I slept well that night.

The end.
Claire Romey

Community Garden

The youth working on the MPUC community garden did hard physical work Monday. We cut out hard sod, dug holes, added compost to improve the soil and planted 40 plants: tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, onions, beans and marigolds (which deter pests). Combined with already planted squash, beans, and corn will hopefully yield produce for the neighborhood food shelf later this summer. We also brought the church's compost pile back to life. The group making lunch added watermelon rinds, and we added soil from the sod we removed for the garden.Non-meat, non-fat kitchen waste will be added from our meals all week.
(From Roberta Olson)


If you are interested in viewing video footage from this week's local mission trip, please visit our church video website at (go to the features tab and we're right at the top!).

Sunday, June 14, 2009


All throughout our time leading up tho this trip, we talked about flexibility. We knew this was going to be one of the most fluid trips we have been on; two days before the trip there was a lot we didn't know, and wouldn't find out until we were on the reservation. But by Friday night, we knew one thing. We would not be going on a traditional mission trip. Multiple members of our group came down with suspected cases of the H1N1 virus (swine flu). It was determined, through many hard hours of deliberation, that we could not travel to the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. We could not do that to ourselves or the people we had been commissioned to help.

Disappointment, anger, and sadness were widespread feelings, but also the knowledge that we did the right thing. And the knowledge that these circumstances were out of our control. So we then had the task of deciding what was going to happen to this week, and our mission trip in general.

This week we will be working 8-4 every day around the Twin Cities, treating our week as much like what we wanted it to be as possible, while at the same time trying to minimize the effects of the flu. I am hopeful that this will go well. I would much rather be in South Dakota, but at this point we must play the hand we were dealt. This blog will be updated still throughout the week even though the trip isn't going how we planned.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Preparing for another year (not me) :-(

It's June and the youth are about to embark on another mission trip. For the first year in 3, I will not be along. I have not spent the last few weeks trying to get the last paperwork together, figuring out what to pack, worrying about what work we will do and how well the kids will work together. I have missed it.

It's June and the youth are about to embark on another mission trip. It is a different mission - but the same goals. To serve god by helping those we can in whatever way we can. Build, repair, construct, not only buildings, but people and relationships. One of our big concerns going to New Orleans was whether we would meet the people we were helping. That is NOT a concern this year, I believe you will be working along side them and with them. Your work will be them. I will miss it.

It's June and the youth are about to embark on another mission trip. I wish them all the best, may they learn, grow and experience as much as possible and come home as different people, willing to share what they have learned with others. I look forward to hearing about their mission.

Norm T.