Blog Updates sent via Email

It is now possible to receive blog updates via email. Once a day, you will receive an single convenient email with all the updates from the previous 24 hours. No updates, no email. No spam, no ads, all blog and only blog.

To subscribe to this service, click the following link, enter the email address you want to use and you will get a confirmation email sent there. Confirm the email and you will be subscribed. There is an unsubscribe link included in every email.

Subscribe to Macalester-Plymouth Youth Mission News by Email

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December Programs

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I can hardly believe it, but the next two Sundays are the last two youth programs of the calendar year. I have so loved getting to know the youth this fall. They are each amazing in their own ways and great together as a group.

Sunday, December 6 there will be scone sales (we need more bakers and sellers) in the morning followed by all youth gathering at 12noon to help set up the Social Hall for the Carol Sing. Pizza lunch will be provided. The Senior High youth will be voting on the Mission Trip location during this time as well.

Sunday, December 13 all youth are invited to Roger Barr's reading of his new Christmas story at 4pm in the Social Hall. Afterwards, we will have a Christmas potluck party starting at 5pm including a special surprise involving cookies. Please RSVP to me if you are coming.

See below for more details about these programs and let me know if you have any questions.

Peace,

Adam










Monday, November 30, 2015

Scone Bake this coming Sunday

Youth -

The following people are signed up to help with the scone bake this Sunday (12/6). Remember that all youth are helping to set up for the Around the Table Carol Sing after church as well.
Baking: 8:30 - 10:30 Miranda, Sophia, Rosalie, Stephanie - and we could use one more.
Selling: 10:00 - 12:00 Sam G, and we could use one more to help here too.

Thanks,
            Norm T.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Upcoming Program Dates

Here are the dates for the upcoming programs through December.

NOVEMBER
   1  FELLOWSHIP AT MPUC            5PM-7PM
                                   
   8  FELLOWSHIP AT MPUC            5PM-7PM
                          
   15 FELLOWSHIP AT MPUC            5PM-7PM
                          
   22  FELLOWSHIP AT MPUC            5PM-7PM
                                   
   29  NO PROGRAM--THANKSGIVING WEEKEND

DECEMBER
   6 ROUND THE TABLE CAROL SING
          Setup 12 to 2:30pm, lunch provided
        
   13 YOUTH CHRISTMAS PARTY    5PM-7PM
            Bring a snack to share, Please RSVP to Adam


DECEMBER 20, 27 and January 3, NO PROGRAM—CHRISTMAS BREAK


Friday, October 23, 2015

October 25

We are back to our regular program schedule this Sunday, October 25.  We will meet from 5pm to 7pm at the church and start with dinner.  I will be emailing you a schedule for the rest of November and December soon.  See you Sunday!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

No Program Oct 18--Resumes Oct. 25

Thank you to everyone who participated in the amazing Youth Sunday last week! Great singing, acting, reading, reflecting, and leading!

There will be no Youth Fellowship program this Sunday, October 18 because of MEA/Convention weekend.  There will be a regular program on Sunday, October 25, 5pm to 7pm at MPUC.

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Scones Bakes - Past and Future

Youth,

Thanks to those volunteers who helped with the scone bake and sales last Sunday. The congregation was impressed - we received a number of donations even after the scones were sold out.  It was a little hectic with everything going on, but it was a very nice start to the year.

Our next scone bake is November 8th. 
The bakers who signed up are: Sam G., Stephanie H., Emma M., Sofia P. and Rosalie K. No one signed up to sell, so we are still in need of 2-3 people to sell from 10:00 to noon. 

Please let me know via email if you can sell.

Also I would really like to find a youth to take over this scheduling task starting in December.

Thanks,
        Norm T.
        normt@computer.org
 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Youth Sunday--Oct. 11

I hope everyone is looking forward to Youth Sunday this week!  There is a lot going on!

Scone bakers arrive at 8:30am (you should have gotten an email if you signed up)

All youth are invited to participate in the service even if you missed Youth Fellowship last Sunday.  There are roles like being ushers that anyone can do.

Everyone involved as worship leaders are to be in the Sanctuary at 10:00am to go over the service.  This includes all of the youth sharing their reflections on the Mission Trip.  It is also important for everyone involved in the scripture skit to be there then to run through it.

There will be no youth group Sunday night.

Also, be sure to take a moment to thank Sarah Goodall this Sunday who is leaving as our Youth Coordinator.  Sarah worked with the youth program for 2 years and leaves so she can attend a catholic church with her husband and daughter.  This Sunday, Oct. 11 will be her last day with us.

See you Sunday!

 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

October Schedule

We had a fun photo scavenger hunt last Sunday that had the youth running around the neighborhood taking photos of things like "something sticky," "something dry that is usually wet," and "something you all have in common."  Below is the schedule of youth fellowship programs for October.  Please not the special information about the Youth Sunday on Oct. 11.

OCTOBER SCHEDULE

Oct. 4   FELLOWSHIP AT MPUC             5PM-7PM
              Dinner followed by program

Oct. 11    YOUTH SUNDAY                          9:30AM-12PM                9:30am Congregational Form on Future Mission Trip Ideas                10:15am  Worship rehearsal in Sanctuary for all youth                10:45am  Worship led by youth  

Oct. 18  NO PROGRAM MEA/Convention WEEKEND

Oct. 25   FELLOWSHIP AT MPUC             5PM-7PM               Dinner followed by program

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Retreat and This Sunday, September 27

Thank you again to everyone who helped make last weekend's retreat a success.  Koinonia was beautiful and I was inspired by all of the good energy in the group.  A special thanks to all of the parents who drove the youth to and from the retr.  Here are a couple of pictures from the retreat.  Can you guess the activity we were doing?  A personal highlight for me was being indoctrinated into Christians and Romans.  Since neither group won, I have yet to taste the thrill of victory, but got a sense of the possibilities for the game. A special thanks to all of the parents who drove the youth to and from the retreat and to Craig Bower and Deborah Schmedemann who lent us their minivan.

There will be a Youth Fellowship gathering this Sunday, September 27 from 5pm to 7pm at MPUC.  There will be dinner and an activity.   We will also follow up on some of the retreat work we did getting ready for the Youth Sunday, October 11.  That will be the Sunday that the youth who went on the Mission Trip will share their reflections and all of the youth (6th-12th grade) will be helping with the service.

Speaking of the Mission Trip.  There is a committee forming to work on selecting the site for the 2016 trip.  If you are interested in being on the committee, please let me know.

See you Sunday!

Adam

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Youth Programs Begin Again

We had a great turnout for the first youth fellowship program last Sunday.  Twenty-two youth attended along with adults Sarah Goodall, Dale Thompson and Lauren Dickinson.  Thank you especially to the cooking team who prepared a wonderful BBQ meal: Karen V., Anne B., Kathy K. and Norm.

This weekend, September 18-20 is the Fall Youth Retreat.  Hopefully, everyone who plans on attending has let me know (we could probably squeeze 1 or 2 more in if you call me asap).  Forms for the retreat as well as a schedule of upcoming fall programs can be found on the church's website by clicking here.  As we go through the fall, please feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments about the program and check back here for updates (which I now know how to do!).

Thank you,

Adam

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Youth Mission Trip Survey



2015 Mission Trip Participants -

Although a little late, could you please fill out this survey on the summer's mission trip, including seniors and adults. The first 8 questions are specific to planning next year's trip. The last 2 questions are about the youth mission trip in general. (Very similar to last year's questions.)


Thanks,
      Norm T.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Great Article about the youth in New Jersey

Check out this article written by some of Ocean County LTRG folks for their local paper.

Causeway Gazette

Norm T.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wow... what a great trip

This year when I told my friends and family members that I was going to New Jersey for Superstorm Sandy relief I would always get the questions, "Why New Jersey?" and "Doesn't New Jersey have enough money?" I would have to reply something like, "That's a good question," or "I don't know the answer."

I think that sometimes people forget about places that are "economically sound", or just not thought of as poor. One thing that I found out from the people of NJ is that, "you never know what is going to happen until it has already happened." Most of the people that were affected in NJ were not able to get insurance covarge because floods were not part of their insurance plans; this meant that a lot of people would need to pay out of pocket for the damage done to their house.

While in NJ I got to see how thankful people were for us being there to help. This especially became clear to me while I was working on the site one day; I was on top of the deck pulling some boards up when some kids passed by on bicycles yelled, "great job," this simply filled me with joy.

Now to answer the question before (Why New Jersey?) I would have to say that sometimes, even if it might seem that people don't "need" help, it doesn't mean that they don't want help.

I want to give a special thank you to Tom Ewald since over the years he has been a big mentor of mine. I am honored to have now gone on two mission trips with Tom and now, same as a lot of people, I am sad to see him leave after all of the years...

I hope next year will be as good as the last

Love,
      Sam G.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mission Trip wrap-up

We have about an hour left on the bus and I figure I should write a blog post. I didn't get to it earlier this week, which I think speaks to the greatness of this mission trip. Every night I was enjoying myself with this wonderful group of people, and I didn't want to take time away from that to blog. I'm going to give everyone reading a quick rundown of the mission trip as it stands here on the final Sunday.

Who- Our group this year consisted of 19 youth and 7 adults, 26 overall. Smaller than last year, but still a great group. Two adults in my family accompanied me on this trip, (to keep me in line because Tom can't handle me) John Schepers and my mom Anne Bushnell. This worked out fine. I wasn't in their work group, and I think people generally liked them. I was on team Astronauts (formerly team turquoise) (sometimes known as team disastronauts). I loved my work group, we were a hilarious and hard working group of kids, mentored by Lee Schafer, Julie Schultz Brown, and Nicole Chaisson. We worked on the house of a woman named Mary and her husband, whose name I can't remember. She was great, and had a wonderful Jersey accent that I can only try to impersonate. We were taught and supervised by Travis, a slightly Menonite contractor who seemed to be able to do everything right the first time. All of the people I was with and that I encountered on the trip were amazing and supportive.

What- If I told you everything I did this would go on forever so I will try to keep it brief. At the house i tried basically every job we had to do: sanding, spackling, cutting and hanging drywall, priming and painting rooms, and flooring. I became known as the "corner guy" because of my ability to spackle corners. Simon, Ryan, and I were a killer team when it came to flooring. Though the first day we tried  flooring was frustrating (we jammed 4 different nail guns), we took the second day in stride, almost finishing a room with no visible mistakes. Our whole work group also fell in love with 92.7 WOBM, Ocean County's best variety station. Back at the church I played many different games, participated in discussions and talked with the boys late at night. We took a couple of trips outside of the church. Once we went to the beach and played a game of ultimate frisbee (my favorite thing), and another time we went to a little park and played a long and spirited game of 500, with frisbees of course. On Wednesday we went to a baseball game, which was a lot of fun, and was the first time I've ever been featured on the scoreboard screen. On the way to New Jersey we stopped at the 9/11 memorial, which was incredibly powerful and a valuable experience for someone who was a very little kid when it happened. Tons of things happened, and I forgot to mention half of them.

Where- We stayed at Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church in Point Pleasant Beach, and my group worked in Little Egg Harbor, in the southern part of New Jersey. On the way we stopped at the 9/11 memorial in New York City.

When- The week of June 13th to the 21st

Why- This one is a little tougher. We talked a little bit about who we were serving, but I wish there had been more. This is something I personally struggled with. The people we were serving weren't poor. The house that my team worked on sat right on a canal that opened to the ocean, with its own dock. It was confusing to be working on a house in a nicer location than my own. I overheard the next door neighbor explaining to an adult that houses in that area can go for four or five hundred thousand dollars. I thought to myself "There are people in far more need than these." I realized much later in the week that that wasn't the point. On Thursday we ate dinner at a church just down the block from the one we were staying at. After we had finished our meal one of the women serving dinner came to our table and thanked us for being there and working. Tears started flowing from her eyes as she told the story of her 77 year-old mother who was stuck in three feet of water. "You have no idea, you have no idea what it's like to be in a natural disaster until you're in one," she told us. That's when I realized that it's not necessarily the physical work that you do, but sometimes it is the support that you show, and the hope that you bring people that is more important. For us, I think it was both. At the house we were working on, volunteer groups had become few and far between. Progress was slow, and Mary really wanted to move back into her home. I feel that it was important that we were there to work on Mary's house, but also to give her hope. To show her that we had not forgotten her, that people are still here to help. Although some people need help more than others, everyone deserves hope. And that is what mission trips are about.

See you soon, Ben Bushnell

Estimated Arrival Time

Hi folks:

In case you aren't able to access the Twitter feed, we are estimated to arrive at 10:30am this morning. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Farewell

The past three years I have spent preping for and participating in mission trips has been an integral part to my life and as cheesy as this sounds, they have changed my life. Every year I have learned a new lesson; from New Oreleans 2013 I learned that you don't know what you have until you've lost it, from New Orleans 2014 I learned that no matter what kind of help you provide to those in need, it is important and appreciated--even if it is weeding a garden--and from New Jersey 2015 I have learned what a mission trip is in a comlpetely new perspective. 

Starting in August of 2014, Avery and I started planning and organizing the mission trip that is now coming to an end. As a leader this year I have come to appreciate the mission trip as not only a way to serve those in need and learn how to apply what I have learned to my life, but also as a way to build a community. Fundraising endlessly throughout the year from scone bakes to the silent auction, distributing and collecting the many forms and the inumerable email chains that bombarded everyone's inboxes all year define the efforts taken by the youth to make this trip happen. A years worth of preparation for one short, but amazing, week seems disproportionate. However from this trip I have helped in the process of rebuliding someone's home, whatever "home" may mean. I  have come to understand this week what "home" means to me, and while a safe place to go at the end of the day is the first thing that comes to mind, I believe it has much more meaning. Home is when you are with the ones you love, when you are doing what you love and most importantly when you feel loved. We spent an entire year preparing for this trip to come and help families we have never met which not only brings us as a group closer togehter, but also provides a sense of support and compasion to those in need. This year as a youth leader I have a new appreciation for the work we have done here in New Jersey because I understand the process of getting to the point of providing aid and I have noticed how this process builds a community not inly within our youth group and church, but also as a nation. The gratitude we received for driving 20 hours on a bus to help these people we have never met represents how strangers from New Jersey can become compassionate toward we Minnesotans.

Home is such a comforting aspect to life, and while it means different things to different people, when it becomes absent from one's life, communities become closer together to aid those in need. What I found intriguing and also somewhat disappointing is that it takes a horrific event like Katrina or Sandy to bring us together as a nation. When I would tell people where we were going for our mission trip, for either Katrina relief or Sandy relief, the question would always arise: "they still need help?". It  wasn't until I went on these mission trips that I understood how much help is still needed years after the event, and how much of an impact these events have had on peoples' lives. I suppose it comes full circle for me; these disasters will never be forgotten by those involved and going on these trips has had such a large impact on my life I am sure the memories and lessons I have accumulated will continually ipact my future.

Being on the east coast this year was surely a change of pace ( in many ways) from the two previous years in New Orleans. Thee most prominent difference I noticed was the socioeconomic states of New Orleans compared to Ocean County, New Jersey. Whille those affected by Sandy still need aid, it was very obvious that there was less economic struggle. One of the most powerful mometns of any mission trip I have been on was when we visited the murder wall in New Orleans. Hundreds of names were listed as victims of street violence; children, fathers, sisters, grandmothers. It became clear to me how integral the economy is to the well-being of a community, and how the divide in economic stabilty correlates directly with race. Seeing the murder wall and understanding the suffering and lack of comfort a community can experience made me feel guilty. I have grown up in a supportive and caring family with the main worry every day being when and what is for dinner. It put a new perspective on hardship and helped me to appreciate the small and seemingly insignificant problems I face everyday. 

I ride these last few hours on the bus, on my last mission trip with MPUC thinking how important these three weeks of my life have been. I have learned so many life lesseons and expereinced many unforgetable events. I have made some of the best friends and met some of the most intriuging individuals. There is no way to truely say farewell to the MPUC mission trips, and to all the wonderful people I have come to know. On these trips I feel at home and I am beyond grateful to have been a part of such a spectacular experience. 

Farewell and much love,
Erica Cradddock


Friday, June 19, 2015

From "selfie" to "us-ie"

II have limited time and typing on a phone is difficult, but I want to post a series of pictures from our day yesterday to represent the family we've created on this trip to Point Pleasant.  We may have signed up for this journey as individuals, but out connections, conversations, and effort have strengthened this circle.  It's amazing to watch/experience the growth of a community - and I'm so glad to be on this journey for a second year!

We have been working in two different groups this week - Team Astronauts and Team Ice-T.  I have been learning how to Tweet (yes, I'm tech-challenged as a rule) so that I can keep people at home updated on our daily work and experience.  I've been told that Wednesday is typically a day for breakdowns - it's the middle of the week, people are tired, emotions are high - but I wanted to grab the positivity, creativity (and silliness) of the culturally omnipresent "selfie" to show how we have really become "us."  I hereby share our "usies" from 6/17, first taken in the van at the end of the day for Team Astronaut, followed by some group fun with A Future With Hope at the Lakewood Blueclaws game.  Enjoy!


















Thursday, June 18, 2015

"What good are you?"

This morning, Tom posed the questions of "What good are you?" and "What do you bring to New Jersey?", both in the context of the mission trip and in general. I admit that I was a little intimidated by these questions, because it is hard to vocalize what role you think you play in any group and it is hard to express what you think are your best qualities. As I thought about it throughout the day, I realized that for me, it was not necessarily what skills and qualities I brought to New Jersey, but rather the qualities I bring back home. I have learned about what skills I can bring to a worksite, which include my passionate fixation on certain projects (which includes a bathroom that we have coined 'the disaster room' because of its many many problems), but I now have a deeper appreciation of how these skills will transfer into my life back at home and into the future. I came to New Jersey with basic construction skills, and am not leaving with much more. What I am leaving with is a deeper yearning to improve these skills and a stronger understanding of how my personal qualities help me be successful in group settings and individually. 

- Avery

General Thoughts on Girls, Stereotypes, and Construction

General Thoughts on Girls, Stereotypes and Construction, or Why Girls Usually Don't Get Into Construction, and Why They Do Here

Before I came on the mission trip, I was pretty worried about the construction aspect of the trip.  This was not because I was unwilling to learn new skills, but because psychologically, girls are not set up to do well at these types of tasks.

There are a number of reasons why girls might not jump for joy at the thought of spending a week at a construction site.  The first that comes to mind has to do with stereotypes.  Studies have shown that a consistently stereotyped group will perform poorly even if they have the skills to do well, simply because they know that this stereotype exists.  At a construction site, girls who know that they are stereotyped against are likely to perform badly, just to conform to the stereotype that is so firmly ingrained into them.  Another issue is perfectionism.  Perfectionists, girls and guys alike, are often uninterested in trying new challenging tasks, because they view it as setting themselves up for failure.  As a recovering perfectionist, I'm not especially interested in trying something new, for fear that I'll mess up, look like a fool, and bring the group down.

Even though the research and my knowledge of myself looks bleak, my team's group dynamics have been working against all of these reasons why I, and others like me, shouldn't be here.  At our work site, many have expressed signs of a growth mindset, believing they can improve their own abilities, even after messing up, with practice and advice.  As for the stereotype threat, a challenging job is just likely to be offered to a girl as a guy, and the positive atmosphere leaves little room for self-doubt.  Overall, my work team's attitude and drive to get the job done while improving our own skills and view of ourselves exceeded my expectations.  I have no doubt that our enormous potential for postitive change will not go wasted.

-Grace KL
June 18th, 2015- 9:17 PM

     Two days ago the question was "What is home?" It took me a couple days to figure out my answer but in the end I have realized that home isn't a permanent, structural building or a place that you stay; home is where you feel like nothing really matters except for being comfortable and happy with the surroundings and people you are with. -Sophia Parker





Reflection on Day 4

Today we were asked to contemplate what we had brought to New Jersey with us and what our worth was and it made me think pretty hard about what I have done on this trip. On the trip here I hadn't entered a work mindset, you could say my mind was blank, and when the first day of work came it was definitely a wake up call; it helped me discover what I really could contribute to the group and I have decided that my ability is to do everything that I am capable of with as much determination as possible, whether it be demolishing a wall with a sledge hammer, or nailing a board into place. I have had set backs on the trip, cutting my foot on a ladder, slamming my thumb with a hammer, and hitting my knee with a crowbar, but I have noticed a similar energy in my teammates, and its evident in the work they do and their willingness to assist. If there is one thing I take out of this trip its that, even if I can't contribute a lot to a cause, I am going to give my all, because that is what I can bring to the table. -Liam

"We get more than we give"

I heard myself say this today when we were thanked by yet another person for "sacrificing yourselves and your time to come help our community."

"We get more than we give," I replied.

Was that true? Or was I just responding with a common platitude, though one I don't remember using before.

Well, what have we given? Yes, our time. We've all taken this full week away from jobs, families and -- in some cases, multiple grad parties -- to help rebuild homes destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. "Sandy" is referenced so often with one moniker that I sometimes expect her to walk into the room some night.

Two-and-half years after her actual arrival on the Atlantic coast, her presence is still very deeply felt. The senior couple who is benefiting from my team's house-rebuild lost everything and have been living in a subsidized apartment until they get their home back. They may or may not have fallen victim to insurance fraud. Or perhaps they didn't have insurance because their home was paid off and flood insurance was not required. Or they were bilked by a fraudulent contractor. In any case, their home went under 3+ feet of water after they wisely evacuated -- and they don't have a home, appliances or furniture.

When we leave, Mary and Jim will be that much closer to having their home back. (And my rotator cuff will be that much closer to getting back into shape after endless sanding of dried mud on drywall.) We have been part of giving them that through our time and our elbow grease.

But we have been given much more.

I must first include community. While it has been rightly pointed out that "community living" is not always easy, it also provides an extraordinary sense of security. Having slept overnight on a bus with these people, and negotiated showers built into a church school stage (I'm not kidding), and shared prayers and personal stories as we've woven down the Garden State Parkway, I know that these people have my back. I will miss them next week.

I then think of gaining a deep sense of purpose. When Mary declared delight in seeing more walls and fewer 2x4's, many of us felt a palpable sense of accomplishment. We have made a contribution to joy in another person's soul.

My confidence has grown yet again for what our youth today represent for our future. What wonderful children we have in our congregation! They are curious, intelligent in many ways, compassionate, empathetic, patient, loving and creative. Our future is in wonderful hands.

I've been reminded that it is good to ask for help. When Mary offered to buy us lunch, we declined saying we were well-fed by the church. "But I want to show my gratitude!" said Mary. "I know you don't want to take any help. I know that. I used to be that way, too." She had already learned that we are all stronger when we work together. I am reminded of that again now, too.

Have to run now. We're having our evening reflection to discuss the question of the day: what do we bring to this experience? I look forward to what our beautiful youth have to say.







Blog Post from Simon

Hey everyone it's Simon!

I forgot to blog last year, and although I won't necessarily be there for Mission Trip Sunday, I thought it would be nice to get my thoughts and experiences down. Since Monday, I've been working with a crew at a house in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey. The owners are in their seventies and had lived in their house for a long time prior to the storm. Since then, their house has been raised on stilts (many comparisons to Baba Yaga have been made), where we are repairing it now. Since we started, the name of the game has been mudding, sanding, painting, and flooring. I painted three separate rooms multiple times. Our works days have been long (~8 hours), but it seems as though each day goes by more quickly than you would think. On Monday and Tuesday (as well as tomorrow) we visited Stewart's 50's themed ice cream shop, and it was amazing. Monday I had Salted Caramel Pretzel, and Tuesday I had Cookie Dough. Yesterday we had the opportunity to attend a minor league baseball game. I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but it was really fun. We got on the big screen multiple times. I bought popcorn, but it was way saltier than I wanted, or expected. Probably to get their customers to buy more drinks. Many of the baseball players had weird names, such as Phildrick, it was fun to pretend like we knew them. Although our sleeping arrangements aren't as good as they were in New Orleans (but who expected them to be), they are notably better than they were in Joplin. There are three rooms, one for girls, guys, and adults. It's strange because even though both the girls and adults rooms are freezing, ours is very hot. One night, we woke up the group by trying to bring an industrial sized fan into our room. This week I've been reading a book my history teacher gave to me called River of Doubt. It details Teddy Roosevelt's journey into the Amazon rainforest. It's a good book, and also confirms my thoughts about his personality (which that he was cool, impulsive, and at times a not so nice man). Did you know that by the time of his death, Kermit Roosevelt, Teddy's son, knew Urdu, Hindustani, Romany, English, French, German, Spanish, Greek and Portuguese? Today, Ben, Ryan and I were working on flooring a room and the nail-gun jammed up on us three times. It was frustrating to say the least. It's been difficult being disconnected from the outside world. Generally, when another politician enters the 2016 race, I retweet CNN, but I was unable to do that for either Jeb Bush or Donald Trump. Also, I don't get to listen to all of the music I want to. Though I did make a mixtape which has been called "perfect; really good; A+". Luckily, before I left I binged the entire third season of Orange is the New Black so I don't have to wait in suspense. On Sunday, we visited the 9/11 memorial and museum in New York City. I found the memorial to be very profound. I did enjoy the museum, but it didn't strike an emotional chord with me as it did with others. It has been fun being with all my friends here, though as it can be, communal living is hard, and it is very easy to grow irritable with others. On Tuesday we visited the ocean, I was hesitant at first, but eventually I got in the water. I had forgotten how much fun it was to ride up and down with the waves. I'm so thankful that I've gotten to be a part of these mission trips the last four years, and I'll surely miss them in the years to come.

Thanks for reading,
Simon Brown

Oh also sorry this blog post is very disjointed, but I wrote what came to mind.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thank you

Youthies -
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the card and cake. My friends are really impressed (hopefully more by the card than my picture.)  It has been a blessing to me to be able to work with all of you this past year. Erica and Avery (and all of you) have made it a joy!  I hope you get as much out of the experience as possible. Enjoy the work, meeting the people you are helping and mostly working and living together as a group dedicated to doing good work.
To see you getting everything you can out of this trip, reading your posts, hearing your individual stories makes it all worthwhile.  Lee and I often discuss the trips and continue to agree that it can be one of the most thought provoking experiences for everyone involved (including us.)

Norm

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Reflections of Home -- All of Us

Because we seem to always be working to help people recover their home, by working to rehab the house, we today discussed what we all thought when we think of "home."  Here are some thoughts:

Home is where I want to return at the end of a long days work. Its a place where I feel safe to be myself and relax. - Dan

Home is where you feel more comfortable being vulnerable and your authentic self.  It can be a place, but is most often with people. -Grace KL

Home is a place where you're able to express emotions in a way where they are understood and appreciated, where sincerity is cherished, and laughter is abundant. -Paul

Home is when I can allow myself to be free of worldly constrictions and be content, and it is not tethered to  a specific location but rather this feeling.-Liam

For me, I know I have found home when I step onto my driveway, walk through my backyard and finally reach my backdoor because I know I can relax when I get inside. -Ryan

Home isn't where you spend the most time. Home is where you create the most memories. It's where you're able to act towards and relate to others in ways which are personal and truthful to yourself. -Simon

To me home is a place where I can go to feel safe and included no matter what state of mind I am in or how I am acting-Alec 

Home is the place where you can zone out and just think and not let anything else confront or bother you. -Devin

Home is where I am with the people I love; it is where I am doing the things I love and most importantly when I feel loved. -Erica

Home is wrapped in the arms of someone who loves you unconditionally. -Grace

Home is where it's ok to be yourself, and not be judged at all. -Abram

Home is wherever you find yourself wishing to be when you're somewhere else. - Avery

Home is where I feel the most secure and the most at ease -Ben B.




Monday, June 15, 2015

Hello all, Allison here.

Since I forgot to write a blog post last year, I figured I probably should this year...

8:45 pm, Point Pleasant NJ.
We just finished our first all-group discussion. We had a lot to talk about.
As you probably know, we had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 memorial in NYC yesterday, and I think it was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life.
I only vaguely remember the actual event; I was four, still in daycare. I remember my mom (Hey Mom, how's it going? Yes, I've been getting to bed early enough. :) picking me up early from school. Once in the car, I questioned the reason behind it. She answered simply: "People died today, Allison." Back then, I didn't really understand what she meant; as a four year old, it can be difficult to grasp what "death" is. What it means, how it affects people. It wasn't until years later when I was finally introduced to the reality of the event that occurred on that day: four planes hijacked and aimed toward symbols of American power, the attacks carried out in the name of God. One plane hit the Pentagon, one crashed in a field before it could hit the capitol building in DC, and two struck and destroyed the World Trade Center towers in NYC. The horrors were incomparable, and they were especially apparent to me after visiting the memorial.
At the memorial there were names. They represented everyone lost in the attacks, from flight attendants on the hijacked flights to firemen crushed as they climbed to help those in the burning buildings. And there were a lot of names. Hundreds. Even thousands.
In the museum there were pieces of paper, burned on the outside. One a handwritten to-do list that had been blown from a desk and landed in the rubble hundreds of feet below. There were also pieces of the planes. A piece of siding with a window. A part of an engine. And dusty, ripped, seat-belts. Each a piece of reality, everyday life. Two things that I, as a student and a traveler, have become familiar with. Pieces of someone else's reality that had been blown to pieces.
I think this was what was most difficult for me; grasping how something so familiar and normal could become so horrible. How a normal day at work in a office so familiar could become a graveyard in seconds. A graveyard for so many.
To open the discussion this evening, Tom posed an interesting question: How do we find God in something like this?
Immediately, something like this seems impossible. How can there be a god when horrors like this occur? Surely the families and friends of those lost were asking the same question.  When one begins to grasp what "death" is, how can it be fair?
During the discussion, an idea was introduced. "God is the watchmaker, but the watch runs by itself."After seeing the exhibit and memorial yesterday and participating in the thorough discussion, I have come to a conclusion: God is in the awakening. He is not here to prevent or catalyze events. He watches. When the time comes, he is here to teach us lessons; to help us grow. While it was terrible, think of what our nation has learned from 9/11. The importance of security. That maybe, just maybe, we are not invincible. But most importantly, that we are not alone. One nation, under God. Families, friends, even strangers of contrasting religious and cultural backgrounds brought together by loss. Those who lost their lives now widely honored, even celebrated.
Today, I have come to realize something. While it was long (apologies :), I hoped this blog would show that. Yesterday, I walked through the 9/11 memorial searching desperately for some piece of reality to grasp. A piece of support. An understanding. In the end, I suppose it was not a coincidence that I looked up.
This week, as I continue my mission work, I hope to carry forward this ideal. This group has come to help those of completely different backgrounds to rebuild and regrow. We are bringing a community previously devastated by super-storm Sandy back together. We are showing those in Point Pleasant NJ that they are not alone...all in the name of God.

News of the Day from Ocean County, NJ

Hey,

All is well here in New Jersey.

We are working well south of where we are staying. This pleasant little church is in Pt. Pleasant Beach, and our work is nearly an hour south of here at the very end of Ocean County. We are using new, fabulous Ford vans to commute, donated for the week by a local Ford dealer.

One team is working on outdoor stuff related to the deck and stairs. It's in Tuckerton. The other team, renamed the Astronauts, is working nearby at Little Egg Harbor.

On a map it looks fancy, like the neighborhoods of affluent folks in Naples, but it is just middle class.

Both homes are owned by elderly folks flooded out by Superstorm Sandy. Neither had flood insurance, as it didn't occur to anyone that it is needed. A storm like that was just not something that happens here; the ocean had never flooded over the barrier islands and up over the beach before. They had paid off their mortgages and the houses they owned were by far most of their assets. It's not an exaggeration to say they lost nearly everything. The rebuilding puts the houses up on stilts, like they are in the Carolinas or Florida.

We can't seem to get many of the youth fired up about blogging, as they are now playing games. Hopefully there will be more news and some reflections tomorrow. We have been tweeting like mad, lots of pictures, so check that out.   @MPUCYouth.

It's a terrific group, and we are off to a very good start. Thanks for your support.

Lee

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Morning in PA, All is well.

After the usual terrible night trying to sleep on the bus, we are in Lewiston, Pennsylvania getting Refueled.We are two hours out to New York City, and will next be looking for a breakfast spot.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Emergency Contact Numbers for Mission Trip

Hi Folks:

Here are the emergency contact numbers for the mission trip. The adults will have their cell phones with them wherever we go.

Tom Ewald:  612-716-3150
John Schepers: 612-730-7829
Nicole Chaisson:  612-810-6275
John Craddock: 651-387-2441
Lee Schafer:  612-812-0242
Anne Bushnell: 651-353-3554
Julie Schultz Brown: 651-295-7468

Peace,

Tom

Monday, June 8, 2015

Join the Fun on Twitter

Just a reminder that the MPUC Youth Mission Trip can be followed on Twitter. It is a "non-public" account, so only those approved by the administrator will see the twitter messages.

Go to Twitter.   Find  @MPUCYouth    The image is a drawing of a bunch of youth, one boy wearing a bowtie.  Click "Follow."

That's it.  It'll be the best way to follow the trip.  Of course, along with the Blog.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Important Mission Trip Reminder

Hey All:

Remember that the mission trip commissioning is during the 10am service this coming Sunday. All hands on deck!!!

Also, if you have outstanding forms, bring those.

Peace,

Tom

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Packing List for New Jersey

  • Good Quality Work Shoes, ankle support with Tough Toes.  Imagine having a big brick fall on your toes, that will be your guide
  • Work gloves (not garden gloves)
  • Heavy full length pants for work sites, 2 pair
  •  Long sleeve work shirt
  • Nice-ish casual outfit
  • Jacket
  • Swimwear
  • Towel
  • Shower shoes (if you have them)
  • Sunglasses
  • Flashlight
  • Hat for sun protection (not just style)
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Personal stuff: toothbrush, etc.
  • Sleeping bag or Bedding (Must be extra long sheets)
  • Pillow
  • Water Bottle (32 oz Nalgene or equivalent)
  • Games
  • One mix CD –  music selected to reflect our destination and the work we are doing
  • Movie on DVD

Twitter Instructions: So cool it'll be like 2010

In addition to the Blog, which will be regularly updated, we will provide updates throughout the week on Twitter.

It is a social media "microblog" site that is basically a blast text message, with the ability to attach pictures. People "follow" Twitter contributors, sort of like subscribing. Twitter is far easier to use on the road in a bus than it is to start a blog post, so communications from the road will likely be more frequent on Twitter.

To follow the MPUC Youth and you are already on Twitter, just follow @MPUCYouth.

If you are on Twitter, just follow @MPUCYouth.

If you are not, it is a free application just available over the web. Sign up, get an account, and then ignore Twitter's recommendation on who to follow and just follow @MPUCYouth. You can do a quick search and it will pop up. The image is a caricature of the Glee cast.

This is a So-Called Private Account, and the Administrator (Lee S.) will have to approve you before you can start getting Tweets. This will be open to the church members, but not the Whole Public.

It should be fun, but it is certainly not obligatory and the blog will be updated regularly.