Thursday, March 6, 2014

Amazing Grace!

Amazing Grace strikes again!

Wednesdays can be tricky. It's normally the day that the mission team takes
a half day off and does sight seeing or just hangs out. At Henryville UMC
Wednesday takes on a mission of there own. More on that in a bit.

The team slept in a little later today for some reason. I guess working
outside cutting and hauling brush along with some major plumbing issues can
take a toll on someone who doesn't do that often. The air mattress is still
an air mattress though. Around 7:30 most were out of bed and getting
something to eat. There was some breakfast casserole left but not for long.

After eating we headed out back to Bill and Kathy's. Today's task were to
set the block steps and to put a cold seal paint on the trailer roof. The
air temperature was around 45 this morning so the painting of the trailer
was not going to happen. It was decided that Rich would keep a crew of 3 to
start work on fixing a better landing and steps for Bill & Kathy to use as
their front porch and steps. The rest of us loaded back up and returned to
the church to meet Jerry (who works with CASA) to load the lumber to be
taken to the next job.


Once Jerry arrived we quickly loaded the lumber and some supplies and headed
for the job. Now this site is in Albertville, AL which is about 10 miles
south of Guntersville. We follow Jerry and pull into a nice looking
neighborhood. We meet Carla (the home owner) and she begins talking with us
while calling her dogs. The dogs we had been warned about liked to bark and
are not very friendly. Fortunately for us one of our team members, Cindy,
seems to have a very calming affect on them. After a short chat we were able
to get the lumber unloaded and covered up. We then took a tour around the
property. We quickly saw rotting boards on the back of the house as well as
where there was no fascia or soffit boards to keep animals out and the heat
in. After talking some more with Carla and meeting her husband Jack we
formed a circle offering a prayer for the family, the team and dry weather.
We said our good-bys and headed back to church.

The lumber team got back to church first. Some grab showers while others
eat. It has gotten warm now (around 60 degrees) and most of us make our
sandwiches and head out to a picnic area behind the church. The block crew
rolls in shortly and starts the same process. They though are not quite
finished so some of them eat and then head back to Bill & Kathy to level the

Now on Wednesdays Henryville UMC has an after school program. This is open
to neighborhood kids and church member kids. The first to arrive are the
middle schoolers, mostly boys. Then the grade school kids. All get a snack
then some play time before homework. The kids had been told that there were
going to be some college kids here this time. We were told that some of
these kids even remembered us from before. The team members quickly got into
the swing of things (literally) with all of the kids. Some played
basketball, some knocked around a volleyball or Frisbee, some went outside
and climbed on the monkey bars while others got on the swings. Lots of fun
and laughter was being had by all. Shortly it was homework time. Now one of
the team members (Morgan) was quickly adopted by a little girl who I was
told has Autism. That little girl was Morgan's buddy almost all night. She
even shared that some of the kids at school were not nice to her. Morgan
(along with all of the team members) did a great job with the kids. They
showed them attention, affection and patience with everything they did.

Normally on Wednesdays they have a meal then they break up into small groups
or youth group meetings. But tonight being Ash Wednesday there was a church
service. Several team members had been asked to participate in the service.
Rich, Marisa, Ford, Marissa, Cindy and I had a part to play. Rich was asked
to bless the communion, Marissa and Cindy would put on the mark of the cross
using ashes while Marisa and Ford would be serving communion. I was asked to
lead the Lenten confession. The Lenten Homily was based on Romans 12:1.
Pastor Marvin started off on a story about a farmer who had given a
percentage of his corn crop to the land owner and had very little left. On
his way home he encounter the King of the land who asked for all that he
had. The farmer ending up giving the king a little in turn the king gave the
farmer a large gold nugget. When the king had left the farmer wondered what
would have happened had he given it all to the king like the king had asked.
In Romans 12:1 it states that we are told to give ourselves to God as a
living sacrifice as this is truly the way to worship Him. Pastor Marvin
pointed out that in this season of Lent what will we give to God and what
will be our reward? Will we give a little or will we give it all? Very
powerful words to hear for myself. It was a moving experience to receive the
sign of the cross from a fellow team member and then to be served the bread
and cup from another. I have to be honest that I had tears in my eyes as I
approached them. Afterwards the team mingled with the congregation. Once
again we were told how wonderful it was that we were here and how grateful
everyone was for the work that we were doing.

Another mission of this church is that it partnerships with other churches
in a ministry called "Room in the Inn". It is a homeless ministry where
homeless individuals stay the night then are taken back downtown to their
jobs or where ever the next day. They alternate staying at different
churches and tonight just happened to be the night for here. Before the
service some of us sat and ate with several of the individuals. There were
men, women and children. After the service the team and the residents began
talking and we offered to share our snacks with them. We also shared with
them a dessert that someone here had made for tonight. It was good
fellowship. One of the team members shared with me that she hadn't had a
heart for homeless ministry but she is beginning to feel a pull toward that

Someone told me that when we leave here and go home we can hold our heads
high for the work we have done and the way that the team has carried itself
and it's message of serving the least of these. We are tired and sore but we
are grateful for all that we have. We have been blessed by so many. We have
two days left here. To the parents of the students that are on this team you
should be very proud of your child. I know that I am.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

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