The End of the Road

Thursday March 26th 2015

Group picture outside the church
Group picture outside the church

As our mission trip comes to an end, we continue to make memories on the bus ride home. We had a sleep in this morning – we got to sleep until 7:30! We packed up our stuff and ate breakfast one last time with the Next Step Crew. It was such a blessing to be able to meet and mingle with them. It provided us with a unique opportunity to converse with fellow Christians who are in the same pursuit as we are in our Culver bubble. They brought an abundance of experiences and stories that enabled us to learn and mature in our individual walks with Christ.

The Next Step Crew
The Next Step Crew
A few selfies before getting on the bus
A few selfies before getting on the bus
Bus shot- actually from a work day, but same idea.
Bus shot- actually from a work day, but same idea.

Once we said our final goodbyes and took some group pictures, we loaded the bus for the LONG ride home. Most of us slept until our first stop at Chick-fil-a in Alabama. We continued the ride with games and laughter-filled conversations. We arrived in Tennessee to stop for the night. We went to Fire House Subs for dinner and got some cute pictures with fire hats. We are staying at a local church for tonight and passing the time watching March Madness and playing Frisbee and Lacrosse in the gym.

Dinner at the Fire House
Dinner at the Fire House

Overall, this experience has definitely been eye opening. We were all given a unique opportunity to grow in our faith, no matter where we are on that journey. It was humbling to hear the stories of others and learn how to serve others for God’s glory. The lessons we were taught not only stretched our thinking but also helped us further our understanding of Christianity, its importance, and its purpose in our lives. The love that was expressed throughout the week was truly unexplainable and irreplaceable. Not only did we grow closer to God, we grew together as a family. I hope and pray that the experiences we shared this week will go beyond this trip. I plan to continue the relationships I formed when we return to the Culver community. The games, music, jokes, work and play were all valuable factors in our trip and I am thankful for the opportunity to have been apart of Team Mississippi 2015. The memories will not be forgotten, and the experiences will have a lasting impact on our lives.

And we’re out,

Tori Styers

& Team Mississippi 2015

Memories to last a lifetime

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We Nailed It!

Wednesday March 25, 2015

Today was full of fulfillment! Each group finished the project they had been working on throughout the week. Crews four and five finished their sidewalk and began putting up posts for a fence. They truly laid down the path to success!

Cleaning up and digging for posts
Cleaning up and digging for posts

Crew 6 completed shingling the roof despite the blazing heat. Mistakes were made (a few shingles may or may not have gone in a little crooked, rookie mistake), but through teamwork and determination we were able to find the silver lining in our mistake and pull together to correct it.

Alexa shingles away
Alexa shingles away
Break time
Break time
Hammer time
Hammer time
Ridge cap- Don't fall off...
Ridge cap- Don’t fall off…

Afterwards, we were able to surprise Mr. And Mrs. DuVal when Mr. Dozier took us to a genuine Mississippi barbeque. Words were taken from the heart about all that they have done for each of us.

Prayers for dinner
Prayers for dinner
Mississippi Barbeque=delicious
Mississippi Barbeque=delicious

Once we returned, the previous week’s lessons of shattering all of our fears in order to clear the path to Jesus culminated as the Holy Spirit touched us while we sang songs of praise. We learned how to walk on water when it comes to our trust in The Lord. The Next Step leaders who taught us so very much in our faith joined us for one last time in fellowship. At this point the relationships that have been established will last forever, with both each other and the Next Step staff. For this is not just a spiritual high, it is another door opened for us on our journey to our Heavenly Father.

Ready for the last worship service
Ready for the last worship service
Group shot with Lathan, our Next Step Emcee
Group shot with Lathan, our Next Step Emcee

Till Next Time,

Alexa Donsbach

& Team Mississippi

Work Hard, Worship Hard

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

3rd Workday

This morning, we woke up to a beautiful rendition of Background by Lecrae. Soon after, we all hurried to get ready, pack our lunches, and get every thing outside to the bus by 8:15. Once we loaded the bus we were off to our work sites.

Tools for the worksites
Tools for the worksites

Crew 6 worked all day in the 73-degree heat on a roof, tearing off the shingles, patching holes, and re-shingling the side they had cleared the day before. They were blessed for the second time with a homemade lunch, this time it was spaghetti.

 

Crew 6 on the roof
Crew 6 on the roof
Crew 6 has lunch and takes a break from the sun
Crew 6 has lunch and takes a break from the sun
Some people work, some people rest
Some people work, some people rest
Keep the shingles coming.
Keep the shingles coming.

Crews 4 and 5 spent the day at the Vidalia Community center painting the interior walls, picking up trash, and in under 4 hours paving a sidewalk. They too were blessed by the love of the woman they were working with through homemade chili.

Crew 4 and 5 mix more cement!
Crew 4 and 5 mix more cement!
Crews 4 and 5 enjoy their lunch
Crews 4 and 5 enjoy their lunch
Sidewalk complete
Sidewalk complete

Around 4 o’clock we arrived back at the church, only to find out that the doors were locked. As we anxiously awaited Miss Sharon’s arrival, we played a game of “Bunny Bunny” which Rachel and Gabby won. When Miss Sharon arrived she made us a delicious taco bar for dinner. After dinner we went to worship in the church, which I am happy to say was pretty life changing for many of us. Over all we had a pretty full day, and there is still one more :)

TACOS!
TACOS!
Worship
Worship
After worship we just kind or kept going
After worship we just kind or kept going

I am so excited I had this opportunity, it has truly change my life. Lots of love and many blessings!

 

Till next time,

XOXO,

Morgan Leslie

& Team Mississippi

Cementing Relationships

Monday, March 23, 2015

Today began early as all Monday mornings do, and still our minds and spirits were left on the beautiful beach yesterday. However, as Mr. Dozier shared his morning devotional with us, we realized God’s gift of prayer as well as the gift of serving. With a cool breeze in the air, we were pumped as we arrived at our work sites.

Removing shingles
Removing shingles
The Roof Crew
The Roof Crew

Crew 6 spent the day working on roofing. Crew 4 (my team) and Crew 5 worked together on another work site. We not only finished painting on the main areas, but also paved one of the sidewalks with manual-mixed concrete. It was the first time I experienced, or rather witnessed for most of the time, how to mix concrete manually and pour the fresh silver “oatmeal” into the sidewalk. It was backbreaking work that was done by only a few of people. Everyone however contributed in their own way: lifting and pouring bags of concrete, adding water with a full-blast hose, taking turns mixing the concrete, smoothing out the pavement, cheering and playing appreciated background music…

Prepping to pour cement
Prepping to pour cement
Mix Mats help with the cement
Mix Mats help with the cement
The boys try the old school wheelbarrow technique
The boys try the old school wheelbarrow technique
Time to smooth out the wrinkles
Time to smooth out the wrinkles
Group shot!
Group shot!

As we served throughout the day, we also felt and tasted the hospitality and kindness of the local people. Dawn, a middle-aged lady who lived in one of the trailer houses, cooked us delicious lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and apple crepe for desert. I learned that Crew 6 on the other work site also received hospitality of deliciousness (what’s the food? ask Mr. Lawrence). At the end of the day, our clothes were covered by paint, dirt and dust. Our bodies were wearied but filled with joy and thanksgiving by the day’s accomplishments.

Lunch was excellent!
Lunch was excellent!

After the worship, where we talked about the humility Jesus had by washing the disciple’s feet and the importance that we should also be willing to let others wash our feet from the Bible, we actually experienced this incredible feeling of being served after serving others. We all washed each other’s feet and prayed for one another. During this time, there was an unutterable sensation of joy and peace. I could never forget tonight’s memory. I understand that the real purpose of this mission trip is to serve and the purpose of serving is to see each other in Christ. With love, we pray for guidance of our hearts; with love, we washed the feet that will keep on walking this journey of serving and following of the Way.

At worship, sharing "yeah God!" moments from the day
At worship, sharing “yeah God!” moments from the day
Foot washing and prayer
Foot washing and prayer

Till next time,

Ran Tao

&  Team Mississippi

Sabbath in the Sand

March 22, 2015

Today was our “Sabbath in the Sand”, by which I mean we had a day off and went to the beach. We started our day with myriad pancakes, sausages, and donuts then went to the Youth Sunday School at Crane Creek Baptist Church led by Father Mike. After a sermon about how our purposes in life are to use our actions to glorify God instead of ourselves we attended service at the church as well. During the service we witnessed a baptism of a new Baptist who said she would join the Crane Creek ministry.

Waiting for pancakes
Waiting for pancakes
Mr Duvall gets the first one
Mr Duvall gets the first one
The group hears the call and the line forms
The group hears the call and the line forms

During the morning a stray dog, which we have named Perkison, happily jumped and followed us around; this includes the post Youth Group Prayer circle when Perkison took Mrs. Duval’s flip-flop. After, going back inside to pack our lunches we departed for the beach in Gulf Port, Mississippi and enjoyed our day off. Upon returning to home base we had a delicious jambalaya prepared by the lovely Miss Sharon (who we all swear is a professional chef) along with green beans, salad, and bread roles.

Group shot
Group shot
Lax on the beach
Lax on the beach
Favorite beach pastime, napping!
Favorite beach pastime, napping!
Alexa got to be a mermaid!
Alexa got to be a mermaid!
Enjoying our time together
Enjoying our time together

We ended our day with another nightly devotional with the topic being God’s love for us. We also saw God’s love for his creatures when Perkison had a local child, named Noah, come back for him with his father saying he would take good care of Perkison. Something tells me Noah has an ark in his backyard where all the strays go to play; either way that story had a happy ending. As we look back on our day of rest we are better for it; renewed and revived for the work of the next day to be upon us. Good Night and God Bless!

Till next time,

Cory Andrzejewski

& Team Mississippi

The Adventure Has Begun…

Date: March 21, 2015

Temperature (at 9:21 PM): 72 degrees with a storm rolling in (WEATHER HOLD)

Though today was long, we were all thankful for the warmth in the air. The day started bright and early with a rousing rendition of Taylor Swift’s Shake it off. After breakfast we all got on the bus and headed off to our worksites. Groups four and five spent the day painting a community center, digging the home of a future sidewalk, cleaning trash out of a field, and venturing into the world to find a bathroom.

Tori, Lathan, and Phil, work with the community kids on the center.
Tori, Lathan, and Phil, work with the community kids on the center.
On Site with Mr Duvall
On Site with Mr Duvall

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In the trenches
In the trenches

My group, group six, spent the day installing a new laminate wood floor into the home of a local family. We were immediately, and literally, struck by the mounted deer heads decorating the living room. We promptly named them, Jerry, Bill, and Jake.

Jake
Jake

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The day continued as we surveyed the before scene:

Crew 6 Before Shot
Crew 6 Before Shot

Getting to work was exciting. Lots of music, jokes, singing, dancing, sweating, sawing, and hammering. There was also some bug squishing, a visit from Gus (the mouse), and a beautiful new floor!

Measure twice, cut once
Measure twice, cut once
Laminate floor is no match for Rachel
Laminate floor is no match for Rachel
Working hard
Working hard
Breaking it in with a dance
Breaking it in with a dance
enjoying the new floor
Enjoying the new floor

When we returned to the church most of the team was exhausted and red as lobsters, but those of us who are graced with unlimited youthful energy (now that we’re out of school that is) played an intense game of Ultimate Frisbee. After a delicious southern dinner of red beans and rice we went on to worship. There we watched the first installment of Shattered, a film series that uses magic tricks to teach us about illusions in life, and how we don’t always see what God does in a our lives. Following the video we sang some songs and had a short sermon about the presence of God in everything we do. To close up our service we all had time in the church to reflect alone, with others, or to just pray. Now, as the clock races towards lights out, Euchre, brownies, and footnotes entertain the crowd.

 

Till next time,

Kirsten LoPrete &

Team Mississippi

We Made it Mississippi!

Apologies for the late entry, we had technical difficulties here in Mississippi, but happy to report that we are up and running!

Better late than never, yesterday’s post by Sarah George!

Friday, March 20, 2015:

We’ve finally arrived! After almost 15 hours on a bus (albeit a very nice bus) we are docked in MISSISSIPPI. It is a balmy 80 degrees and we broke in our new lodgings playing Ultimate Frisbee, Four Square, Lacrosse, and Basketball. Today also marks the first day I’ve ever used a “shower trailer”; the experience was heightened when our very own Kirsten Loprete (Pronounced Low-Pret-Ay) knocked out the lights. She also had an unfortunate mishap with an exploding bottle of sunscreen (a significant amount of her clothes are now liberally scented with “Up an Up”) Let’s hope the giant Mississippi mosquitos don’t like her new fragrance…

 

Ultimate Frisbee!
Ultimate Frisbee!
Happy to be off the bus!

Speaking of bugs, Mr. Duval just got bitten by a jumbo grasshopper. He was tended to by Crew 6’s “Team Doctor” Kirsten Loprete: Band-Aid extraordinaire, and is recovering with a jumbo freezy pop. Tomorrow, work officially begins and Team 4 (my team/ the best team) will be painting the renovated community center and mixing concrete…by hand. This will surely prove to be an interesting feat as the-girl-who’s arm-shakes-when-holding-a-milk-jug (AKA me) endeavors to stir cement.

Showered and ready for worship

Until next time,

Team Mississippi