“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them…When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites do, they have received their reward in full…But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” -Matthew 6:1-4
This week the EM staff and team from Fleming Island, Florida are learning about what it means to be humble as we serve together. This morning during team devotions, I stumbled across one of my favorite portions in Matthew. Chapter six talks about how we can keep our hearts in check as we serve people around us. Although I try to keep pure motivations when I’m serving, too often I focus on myself. It’s a strangely easy trap to get caught in during mission trips, a time when we are supposed to be focused on others.
Sometimes when I’m serving I think about how uncomfortable I am, or how tired I am. Even worse, I think about how my actions are making me look—Are others impressed by my efforts? Do they think I’m spiritual enough? Will people remember my name at the end of the week? Will I get credit for doing the little things? And when I start asking these selfish questions I have to remind myself, serving isn’t supposed to be about me.
The verse in Matthew 6:1-4 snapped me back into place this morning. As a servant, I must be humble. In fact, I shouldn’t even let my left hand know what my right hand is doing! Going on a mission trip or serving on a mission team is not about me.
Today I’ve made an intentional step toward humility. When I’m doing things merely to make myself look good, when I’m serving others so that I get a warm feeling inside—I stop. Because the truth about serving is, I should be invisible. When I step out of the spotlight, others can see God’s work more clearly.
Heather D. Moline
Note: Experience Mission is sending our many more great trips to Atlanta and many more great communities throughout the summer of 2011 and are now posting trips for 2011! Check out our website for more information at www.experiencemission.org.
We’ve had two teams come and go, and saying good-bye has been difficult both times. Thinking about all of the different people we’ve met so far (not even half way through, mind you) astounds me. I think about “Mike the Pilot” from Texas, and his good-natured approach to life; I think about Cheryl from Nebraska, who is ever the optimist and a hard worker, who asked for nothing and gave everything she had. I think I’ve probably met some of the funniest people in the United States as they’ve come in through the Experience Mission trips. It makes me sad to think that I probably won’t see them again, but I’m joyful that they got to do so much for the Portland community while they were here.
This last week, the Nebraska/New Jersey group (lovingly dubbed ‘Nebrersey’) got to work with the Wayside Soup Kitchen, a brand new connection we made the week before. They learned the “ways of the warehouse” from Matt (a great guy who’s expecting a baby soon… baby names anyone?) and we helped grow food to be used in Wayside’s kitchen, a new venture being pioneered by Jake, a volunteer coordinator at the soup kitchen. Betty, the sweetest elderly lady you’ll ever meet, donated the garden where the food is being grown and she was extremely thankful for the teams to come in and give a boost to the project. She said “thank you” by giving us lemonade and muffins! We spent the morning on Monday building trellises and planting beans, hopefully growing a crop to feed lots of hungry patrons at the soup kitchen.
We continued our work with the Portland Housing Authority, trying to make the low-income housing a better place to live. We also returned to Preble Street’s food kitchen and made breakfast with Sean, who is working in the area as a Jesuit Volunteer. The kids missed the group from Texas a lot, especially Rondo, but they quickly grew to love the Nebrersey team. I don’t know if the teams can really realize it, but the relationships they’ve built with the kids here have really made a difference. Lives have been changed for the better, and they continue to be changed by lasting impressions made during the one-week tenures of the groups.
This week has been the EM Team’s week off! We needed it, and we’ve been utilizing it by seeing the sights, being lazy, and getting a -little- bit of work done on the side! We went to Portland Headlight, Peak’s Island, and a ton of other amazing places. We’re praying to be refreshed for the next four weeks of teams, and that we won’t become weary (of each other!) before our time is done here. Thank God for all the things he has done thus far, and thank God for all of the things he will do for Portland, Maine.
by: Chuck Zimmerman
For more information about Experience Mission visit us on our website at www.ExperienceMission.org
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” -Romans 12:9-10
Week one of work in Atlanta has officially begun. Throughout the week the large group from Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas has been running kid camps, digging trenches, and navigating the highways of south Atlanta with one goal—to build real relationships.
The students of Memorial Drive’s youth group are no strangers to hard work. Many of the students have served on mission trips both domestically and internationally, so the team came ready for a week of physically demanding work. Although they have tackled several tough, meaningful projects—painting and digging an irrigation trench at the Initiative for Affordable Housing’s newest worksite, most of their Atlanta projects have been an exercise in developing relationships.
Trevor, a summer intern at Memorial Drive, spent Monday morning playing Bingo and chatting with an elderly man at Hapeville Care Home. Although the conversation seemed difficult and forced at first, Trevor was persistent—he wanted to be a real friend to the wheelchair bound man with a fading memory. He succeeded.
One of the adult leaders, Mary, said that she was impacted by the kids at the Kroc Day Camp because of the way they responded to a Bible lesson. The kids seemed genuinely interested in the skit and story that the team presented—grasping pieces of truth from the simple Bible message. When the afternoon ended, the team was sent off with a round of hugs from the campers. Another success.
Despite the successes of the team, they admit that doing relational ministry is difficult because you don’t always get to see the results. In fact, sometimes it might feel like you’re failing. Unlike a building or painting project, you don’t always get to see the difference you’ve made in the life of another person. You might walk away from a kids’ camp or a nursing home wondering if you made a lasting impact. But one thing the EM staff and Memorial Drive team has learned this week is that building relationships is rewarding work. At the end of the day, loving people and reflecting Christ into their lives is what matters most.
Heather D. Moline
Note: Experience Mission is sending out many more great trips to Atlanta and many more great communities throughout the summer of 2011! Check out our website for more information at www.experiencemission.org.
It’s crazy to think we’ve only been in Portland for eight days. We spent the first week doing a crazy amount of preparation for our first team, who came from San Antonio, TX. They’re a great group of people, eager to jump in and help as much as possible. Mary, one of the team leaders, loves dancing and singing with the kids, teaching them new songs, and getting the ‘tough guys’ to join in as well. Callen, one of the guys, comes up with hilarious songs each day to teach the kids Bible verses. Everyone is offering a little piece of something bigger and greater than themselves, giving the kids here a memorable experience. As summer staff, Christine, Michelle, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group, and I have no problem telling them that to their faces. On Monday, we went to the homeless ministry on Preble Street and we volunteered our time to cook breakfast for hundreds of homeless patrons. We made great friends, initiated relationships, and made a stinkin’ good breakfast, if I do say so myself. The work projects we’ve started this week include: General maintenance in the Root Cellar (the non-profit we are working with), working with the Portland Housing Authority (painting low-income housing for the poor as a beautification project), and eventually we’ll be working with the elderly, helping them around their homes when they can no longer help themselves.
The staff at the Root Cellar has been great; the amount of food they’ve been trying to force-feed us has left us feeling extremely blessed. We were shown around the kitchen by Peggy, assisted in work project planning by Becky, and told the best ways to work with the kids by Clark. Cori Lyons, a former EM Staff Member, came to help us prep last week, and her experience was invaluable. Without all of these people around us, well… let’s just say we’re glad we’ve had them along for this crazy ride so far.
Looking forward the rest of the week and the crazy songs that Callen, Oscar, Jeff, and I can come up with, we pray that God lets us be as effective as we can be.
For more information about Experience Mission visit us on our website at www.ExperienceMission.org
You can also follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LiveYourMission or become our fan on Facebook.
We’re here in Portland, Maine for our second day of preparation… and we’re already beat. We were given the grand tour of the Root Cellar, a great non-profit organization that emphasizes community development in a Christ-centered way. We’ve also been ‘hoofing’ it around the streets of Portland, getting familiar with our missions field. A couple of things we’ve learned: Brick sidewalks are sweet, seafood gets steadily more awesome the closer you are to the ocean, it can actually hail in sixty five degree weather, and this community is a thriving and changing place. We’re excited to be working with the different populations in the area, ranging from Iraqis to Sudanese to Rwandan immigrants, all of them very unique, bringing something versatile and endearing to the community.
The shops in the area reflect the true ‘melting pot’ culture, and walking the streets is always a joy. We’re also working with a church in the area; it’s smack dab in the middle of all the shops and busyness, and it’s a quaint nod to churches of Portland antiquity while still remaining purposeful and relevant to the surrounding area. It’s been great listening to Stuart and Keith, the caretakers of the church, tell us about how people in the community have provided things for the church as they’ve needed them, and how appreciative and amazed they are at how God provides. It’s always fantastic seeing real, genuine Christians striving to make a difference in their given communities, and it gives me hope that we can really mesh and involve ourselves deeply to perpetuate lasting change while we’re here.
My prayer for the teams this summer is that, while they are part of just a week long short-term missions trip, they could really show this community a little piece of the kingdom of heaven. I pray that as individuals, we will do good deeds selflessly, pointing in the direction of Christ as our inspiration for our actions. Every relationship we build, no matter how short-lived, will have a lasting change if we build them in the mindset of one who follows Christ.
Our team (Michelle, Christine, and I) is very excited to be the conduit for a glorious exchange of love and energy in this community, and we anxiously await the arrival of our first team. All of this to say… Hello, Portland. Get ready.
Experience Mission is offering Summer 2011 mission trips to Portland and other locations in the U.S. and abroad. Visit www.experiencemission.org or call 360-732-0986 for more information.
Christian Missions: This week, the epidemic that had the world holding its breath affected Pearlington in a most unusual way. With the Swine Flu virus sweeping across Costa Rica, First United Methodist Church out of LaGrange, Georgia changed their travel plans at the last minute, leaving behind the Caribbean Islands for hurricane relief work in the heart of the South. They met up with a YoungLife group out of Illinois and Main Street United Methodist from North Carolina at Pearlington to help finish up the last projects of the summer.
Since it was the second to last week of the summer, the Experience Mission staff was thrilled to have the extra help. Even though work has flown by each week, there were still several key jobs to be finished before both the Bennett’s and Nick could move into their respective houses. Because of this, one of the most exciting parts of this week was the amount of quality work that got completed throughout the city. From cranking out electrical projects to demolishing houses, teams tore through any and all tasks they were given. The Bennett’s saw their massive porch cover finished, kitchen tiles and electrical installed and Nick’s crew finished roofing, siding and decking. All the while, other smaller groups finished up incredibly crucial jobs at the O’Neal’s, the Crepeau’s, the Ackers, the Vince’s and the Vincent’s.
However, it wasn’t the work ethic that stood out on these youth mission trip teams, but their willingness to do anything and everything to help those in need. These teams left a fantastic impression on every family that they worked with this week. The community adored the servant’s hearts that they worked with, and many went out of their way to thank the volunteers over and over again. The week was a huge success, and Team Pearlington is praying for one final great week to wrap up all of their projects and end the year with a bang. And if God needs to use Swine Flu again to make that happen, then we are all for it.
*This summer wraps up 3 years of rebuilding in Pearlington, MS. The town is 85% rebuilt! Stay tuned for our new Hurricane relief locations, and check out other locations that we serve in, at New Orleans mission trips.
So I have been in Washington serving as an Experience Mission Logistics Coordinator since the middle of May, and I have yet to write a blog. Go me. I don’t know why I don’t write more… it’s not like there is a ton to do around here. Apparently, I just find it too cumbersome. Nonetheless, I feel the need to start writing some blogs… so here is the first one, and I promise… there will be more!
This internship consists of living in the middle of nowhere in southwest Washington. While I know this might sound glum and boring, surprisingly it is anything but that. Cara McKenzie (the other intern this summer) and I have been on many adventures around town and we tend to be able to keep ourselves busy despite the lack of activities that are available in Chimacum and the surrounding area. Just to give you an idea of how out of the way we live; it is a good 40 minutes to the nearest Wal-Mart. The only thing this area really has to offer is extreme hippies, old people, and everything organic. Who would have thought that I could go though such culture shock in my own country? Not me, but believe it or not, it happened. This culture is far what I am used to in my Midwestern state of Indiana. And so is the scenery. This, however, I am not complaining about. In fact, the scenery is by far the greatest thing about being out here. Ok, maybe not by far because my job is pretty sweet and I love everything that I am learning, but the mountains make my time here only that much better.
This summer has definitely been a stage in my life that I am doing a lot of learning and growing. I never would have realized this, and I rarely thought about it, but the amount of work, time, and energy that goes into running a mission trip is mind blowing. But Experience Mission does it, year after year, and I have to say I am rather impressed. I was completely unsure of what to expect when I agreed to come out here, but I knew it would be an experience I would never forget, and I was right. I have enjoyed every minute of working alongside the staff of Experience Mission (which, surprisingly, is about a whole 5 people!) We have had many good times in the office and we have quite a few inside jokes that have kept us laughing all summer. This has truly been an experience of a lifetime and I will treasure my time working with the staff of Experience Mission, the summer interns that are serving in various locations domestically and abroad, and the teams that make this mission organization possible.
Pray for God to continue to move and work in my life as a finish out my last month and a half in Washington. I know it is going to be an incredible journey, because it already has been.
Also, stay tuned for more updates on my experiences here as well as a blog from Cara and I about what exactly being a Logistical Coordinator for Experience Mission looks like.
Note: Check out all the exciting things that are going on with Experience Mission on our website www.ExperienceMission.org
Also, check us out on Facebook (become a fan!) as well as www.twitter.com/LiveYourMission
Urban Mission Trips: We have been in Portland getting ready, and now the first youth mission trip team is coming in tomorrow! We are excited, we have been meeting lots of great people with great stories, and now we get to share them with everyone that comes in.
The people at the church and The Root Cellar have been absolutely fantastic. They have been making sure that we are set up, and they are perhaps more excited than we are for the mission trips to start and the community to be surprised by God’s love and hard work.
We hope that we will be in everyone’s prayers as this first mission trip could be a little rough around the edges. Luckily, the work has been pouring in, and jobs have been lined up. Kid’s Club has an activity set up for everyday, and the flyers have been printed, posted, and hopefully read by kids around town.
Pray for a ton of kids to come out to our events and for smooth sailing! God has a plan, and we are very excited to see what He has in store for us this week. Also, pray for flexibility and patience for the leaders.
Experience Mission Portland Staff
Note: Want to experience an EM mission trip yourself? Summer 2010 trips are going to be posted soon, so keep watching for your opportunity to go to Portland and other locations in the U.S. and abroad. Visit our website at www.ExperienceMission.org for more information.
Summer Mission Trips: Team Pearlington has truly been tasting Southern culture during Prep Week. During this week we have been prepping a home for inspection so that the first of our summer mission trips team is able to legally work on the house. It has been a ton of work! We have learned so much construction and worked ten hour days. The house is being built for the Bennett Family. The hospitality of Stacey, Eddie, and their thirteen year old daughter, Miranda, has truly stolen the hearts of the EM summer Staff. They constantly come to the work site to chat and offer help or a cold drink. We have truly gotten to know them and now consider them friends.
The Bennetts have lived in Pearlington their entire lives and survived Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, their home did not survive. Stacey, Eddie, and Miranda evacuated from their home and took refuge at NASA for about a week. After the storm the Bennetts realized that they had lost everything. The Bennetts lived in a FEMA trailer for a period of time, but the mold negatively affected Stacey and Miranda’s allergies and asthma. They currently live in a trailer that is too small and also affects Stacey’s allergies. Another local community partner, Glen, feels very strongly that this family is well deserving of this home. They do a lot for others in the community and truly have servant hearts. On Friday night, the Bennett family took us to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. What a great meal! Afterwards, we went to Miranda’s softball game with Stacey and Eddie. We had a great time watching the game and talking. It was a much needed break from all the construction. Team Pearlington is already amazed at how much we have been served and blessed in the short time we have been here.
We look forward to see our relationships with the Bennetts continue to grow as God reveals his plans for us in Pearlington this summer.
Note: Experience Mission will begin the third year working in Pearlington to help families rebuild their homes and lives after the devastation of hurricane Katrina. Summer volunteers from youth mission trips and adult mission trips will provide over 500 energetic workers. If you’d like to join a mission trip with EM for 2010, visit us at our website www.experiencemission.org