Today I Saw God

Worth the While: Jeremiah Project

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Editor's Note: Last week 16 middle school students and fiveleaders traveled to Romney, West Virginia to participate in theJeremiah Project. The following is a blog post from one of the students on the trip, Charlie Miller.

It was my first year on a mission trip as well as my first year at Jeremiah Project (JP), and I wasn't sure what to expect. But as soon as I got there I was glad because the minute I entered everyone was so friendly and cheerful, including the staff. Oh, and JP has amazing food.

They divided us into teams for the work projects we were to do each day. The team I was placed in had only one other person from our church (our leader, Scott), but our team actually got along great!

One of our homeowners was Mrs. Hose. She told us that she had died twice and that dying was peaceful. She said that now she wasn't afraid to die and go back to God.

While we were working, she brought us some Cokes. When we were finished with the steps and she came out to check our work, the look of joy on her face made building those steps worth the while.

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Feeling the Love at Jeremiah Project

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Editor's Note: Last week 16 middle school students and fiveleaders traveled to Romney, West Virginia to participate in theJeremiah Project. The following is a blog post from one of the students on the trip, Sydney Schneider.

During the mission trip there were plenty of sermons, but one sermon really stood out and helped me grow in faith with God. The key word in worship that day was "love," and the verse was 1 Peter 1:22.

The verse states, "Since you have purified your souls by obedience to the truth, so that you have a genuine love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from a pure heart." Summarized, this verse says to love others with all your heart.

Throughout worship, we got to acknowledge all the people in our life who have impacted us. We learned that by loving others with our whole heart, we can have a big impact on them.

I really felt a connection with God when we were told to write the names of everyone who has impacted us on a little black piece of paper cut into the silhouette of a face. As I was writing all the names of friends and family while reflecting upon all that was said in worship, I realized just how much love is in my life. I could feel the presence of God with me. Thanks to the Jeremiah Project, my faith and trust in God has grown tremendously.

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At the Worksite

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Editor's Note: This week 16 middle school students and fiveleaders traveled to Romney, West Virginia to participate in the Jeremiah Project. The following are updates from two of the students on the trip.

I went to the Jeremiah Project this year. I want to share what it was like on the worksite. You have to wear jeans at the site, and it is very hot. You have to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

On the first day you get put on a work team. Your team creates a name for the week. After breakfast, you put in your lunch order and a team member packs a cooler. Then you head out to your site.

Some of the jobs include painting, carpentry or cleaning. One of the hardest jobs is silver sealing. Everything gets sticky and it's very annoying. It was a lot of fun. I loved JP.

Submitted by Wyatt Byrd.

Was there something memorable that a resident said to you on the trip?

Never give up no matter how much work it takes.

What did God show you or say to you on this trip?

God truly does work in mysterious ways.

What was fun or exciting about your service?

Getting to work with people, getting to know them and making new friends.

Submitted by Lindsay Byrd.

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Toronto Student Mission Trip

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Editor's Note: This week 25 high school students and fiveleaders traveled to Toronto,Canada to do inner-city mission work. The following are updates from two of the students on the trip.

We were off to the church. Our luggage was squished into the back of our Toyota Highlander. It would be unloaded and then reloaded into the bus that would take us to Toronto. We checked in, said farewells to parents, completed the usual pre-mission trip duties and then we prayed.

While we were standing in a big circle, hands linked with total strangers who I would travel with, I felt God's presence there, ready to help us through the upcoming week of volunteering. The prayer ended, but God's presence lingered, staying with us as we occupied the bus and drove away.

Stops were made, long McDonald's lines were endured, questionable gas stop purchases were made and an absurd amount of soda was drank, but we made it to Canada. It's a really pretty place.

I'm looking forward to the rest of our time in this beautiful country. And I know everyone here will strive to help others and become better and stronger children of God in the process.

Submitted by Jessie Taylor.

Even though my group worked to improve the living space for many homeless women today, I saw God elsewhere.

After our cleaning and organizing, we sang karaoke with the women. I saw God as the women's faces lit up with joy and excitement about our singing. I saw God in everyone who sang and how enthusiastic they all were.

God brought joy to the women in the shelter and our group today in an unexpected way.

Submitted by Craig Benson.

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When God Reminds You Why You are Serving on a Mission Trip at a Kitchen Table

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Note from the editor: In October 2016, a team of nine people traveled to Tappahannock and Montross, Virginia on a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) Tornado Recovery Mission Trip. This post comes from one of the volunteers, J. Scott Nicholls.

When disaster hits, even though it may take a long time, buildings, homes and businesses that were damaged or destroyed by nature can ultimately be rebuilt. Personal belongings can be replaced, though keepsakes cannot. It is hard to see the devastating impact these events have on the "individuals," both physical and psychological. United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) trips serve to repair property damage, but first and foremost, they work to heal hearts serving as the hands and feet of Jesus.

On February 24, 2016, a tornado outbreak hit Virginia. These tornados killed several people and destroyed many towns and homes in places like Tappahannock and Montross, Virginia. A Floris UMC UMVIM Team served that area Thursday October 6-Monday, October 10.

We were hosted by Upper Essex Baptist Church located in Caret, Virginia, north of Tappahannock.

We were assigned three sites/homes during our time in Tappahannock. The first was Lynne's home. While no tornado directly hit the house, the huge pressure drop blew the side out of her home causing structural and water damage. By the time we arrived, it was in the final stages of being made ready for Lynne. Our team needed to install ceiling fans and frame/drywall some additional space in the kitchen to allow room for a pantry and countertop. We completed the work, and Lynne has moved back into her home.

The next two sites were in Montross. One was Diane's, who lived in a trailer a couple hundred yards down from Ms. Hilda (her mom). Diane's trailer was moved eight feet off its resting space, and her front and rear stairs were destroyed. Since February, she'd had to use a stepladder to exit the rear of the trailer and temporary stairs to enter the front.

Though the tornado did not directly hit her home, it came close. A mere 100 yards away was the concrete pad of what used to be a home, now gone. Our work was to build Diane a new 6-by-8-foot front deck and stairs and a 5-by-5-foot rear deck and stairs. These decks were vital for getting in and out of her home safely. When we finished the front deck/stairs and she and her grandson could walk out their front door, the glow in her face was noticeable.

I was fortunate to lead a team of three new volunteers to work on her mom's home, which sat just up the hill. Ms. Hilda was 88 years old when the tornados struck. She had raised 11 children in that home. It was nearly destroyed in the tornado, which took out a corner of the house and ripped away siding, roofing and other building materials. Ms. Hilda was trying to move to an interior room when the tornado hit, but the door blew in, trapping her under debris. She was bleeding severely. Fortunately, another grandson arrived and pulled her from the rubble, and she survived. She was lucky that her son owns a construction business; family and friends repaired most of her home.

Our work was a single room with a collapsed ceiling and floor damage. It needed a handrail installed from the main level to the upstairs. Over the course of four days, our team removed the carpet, padding, tack strips and half of the ceiling. We installed insulation, new drywall and two coats of drywall compound to prepare the room for being habitable again. We also removed and replaced a damaged section of the flooring.

Like her daughter, Ms. Hilda insisted that we sit at her kitchen table and eat our prepared lunches (local churches supplied our lunches and dinners each day). She also wanted to provide us with warm soup, but the only soup she had was bean soup from a can. Let me tell you, that was the best soup this soul has ever had because of who served it and how lovingly it was offered.

During lunch, we usually tried to eat fast and get back to work. But one day, Ms. Hilda came to the table and said, "I want you to look at this photo album when you all are done eating." For a bit, our goal was to listen and be there for her. Naturally my mind went into work mode, and I thought, "Well this will take time out of our limited schedule to get the work done" But when we finished eating, she showed us the before and after pictures of her home and pictures of the rebuilding process, including some of her in her cast, healing from the physical injuries she suffered when pinned under debris. So for a bit, our goal became to listen and be there for her. I was reminded by God why I was there and that the work we were doing was so much less important than letting Ms. Hilda talk through her ordeal. This was her way of rebuilding "inside" herself.

We finished our work and were ready to depart. Ms. Hilda hugged us. As I was leaving to go down the hill to work with the team on her daughter's stairs and deck, she held my hand. She did not want to let go. This is etched in my mind. I well up with tears when I think about the feeling of her hand in mine and remember hearing her thank us. Though we did help her move toward closure by finishing up the final room that needed repairing, we also were blessed by her being a part of our lives.

If you have not been on a mission trip, listen for the Holy Spirit. When you are called, you will not regret serving. I know this trip was just as moving for me as my first, some 12 trips ago. And if you see any of the missioners listed below, please take time to ask them about their experience. I am sure they will each tell you that they would gladly go on another trip and share their experiences with you.

UMVIM teams have more fun! Ask us: Steve Dripps, Scott Nicholls, Navin Alexander, Rhonda Glasmann, Divya Tucker, Remel Tucker, Jill Morganwalp, Susan Wells and Tim Wells.

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