2017 Missions Trip: Portland, Maine

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We’re going to Portland, Maine with Experience Mission from July 30th through August 5th.

Did you know that Portland, Maine has become one of the key cities in America for immigrants and refugees who are seeking safety from their homelands? Experience Mission is a Christian ministry that leads teams to provide practical care while putting the dignity of the person being served as the primary ministry.

Sometimes in our service, we place the “project” about the person. One of the aspects of Experience Mission that I have come to appreciate is their emphasis on highlighting dignity towards those they serve. In this way, whether we are serving at a homeless shelter, putting on a children’s program, or helping teach English to immigrant children, the central drive is to demonstrate the love of Christ to the person. You can learn more about Experience Mission at their websiteExperience Mission at their website.

The Essential Information

  • The Mission: Loving our neighbor by ministering to the homeless and to those who have immigrated to the USA in Portland. We will be partnering with year-round ministries like The Root Cellar, caring for the people of Portland.
  • Dates: Sun. 7/30 through Sat. 8/5.
  • Cost: $750
  • Who: Current EBC High School students.
  • Travel Plans: Two Minivans (Google says it takes 2:34 to drive from Norfolk to Portland)
  • Housing Arrangements: Sleeping in a church about 20 mins outside of Portland (guys and girls on different floors). Daily showers will be available at an off-site location.

How Do I Sign Up?

  • Fill out the EBC Application and submit it to Pastor Mike by Feb 5th
  • $100 deposit to EBC by Sunday Feb 5th.

Other Forms You’ll Need:

 

EBC Missions Project 2016

What are we doing?
We will be serving widows or families locally. We are still working on identifying families/projects that will be worked on, but they may include: landscaping, painting, or simpler repair jobs. Throughout the week, it is our desire to see students pushed beyond their comfort zone as they are encouraged to take turns leading in different aspects of our projects.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
James 1:27

Why are we staying local?
By serving locally we will be taking care of widows in our church family and demonstrating the love of Christ to our home community. If we are not willing to serve where we are, then why should we go farther away to serve? In fact, if you’ll only “serve” when you’re somewhere new, then you probably aren’t serving at all… you’re just working for the opportunity to go somewhere cool.

Who can participate?
Anyone who was in the high school youth group this year who completes the application form and has an interview with Pastor Mike about their interest in the missions project.

Where will we sleep?
You will sleep at home each night, but return to EBC by 7:00am each morning for devos before heading to our work site.

When do I need to sign up?
Sign up by June 12th (submit enclosed 2016 Summer Missions Team Application & Release Forms & the $150 application fee)

How much will it cost?
Cost will be $400.00 per student. This will cover the cost of team meals and supplies to fulfill our work projects. The $150 application fee will be included, leaving $250/student to be fundraised prior to the missions projects in August.

Do I need to do the whole week, or can I only do one or two days?
It would be best for you to make a commitment for the whole week since we are trying to train and equip you to grow in servant-leadership. We’re doing more than getting stuff done… we’re trying to help you identify your leadership gifts and give you experiences that will stretch you. If there’s one day you cannot attend then we can work that out, but it would be best to have you there for more days than you’d miss.

For more information, please read the Info/Application Packet or contact Pastor Mike. 

Pawley’s Island: Wednesday

It’s been a full week… and it’s only Wednesday! Personally, I came into this trip with high expectations, and I’m thrilled to say they’ve been exceeded already. Students are serving and students are leading. They’re pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and taking risks without us adults needing to tell them to do so. Parents, every single one of you has many reasons to be proud of your teen!

IMG_5102Lessons From James
Over this week we have been studying the book of James, which was written to the Jewish believers who were scattered throughout the Roman world. Since they were foreigners living outside of Israel, they faced many challenges and trials. Instead of giving into discouragement, James encourages them to give thanks, “…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4, NIV). The trials we endure make us more like Christ, and that’s something to be thankful for!

Because of this, we should not fear challenges or failure or risks. Instead, we live with an attitude of faith, seeking to become more and more like Jesus. We refuse to show prejudice or discrimination (James 2:1-13), and instead we look for ways to add good works to our faith. Faith is the root, good works are the fruit… because faith without action isn’t really faith at all, it’s just a bunch of good ideas.

I have been incredibly blessed by seeing our students taking hold of this biblical pattern of life and putting it into action throughout each day. The devotional provided by LeaderTreks has used multiple Bible Study methods which students will be able to use when they get back home. Again, I can’t say enough about how effectively the LeaderTreks staff has grounded our ministry in Scripture and the Gospel… I’m blown away.

We’re Getting A Lot Done… But There’s Still More To D0!
So far this week, we have assembled a bunk bed, painted 1 1/2 bunk beds, learned how to repair holes in drywall and put in the needed patches, sanded and painted a large storage shelf, and we’ve begun work on repairing the decks outside the family’s trailer. We’ve also completed two days of our VBS program at Teach My People, which has been completely prepared and led by our students (adults are serving in support roles, according to roles assigned by students).

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Our to-do list for tomorrow looks like this:

  1. Replace stairs to front porch
  2. Finish balusters on back porch #1
  3. Replace balusters on back porch #2
  4. Complete securing bed slats on bunk bed #1
  5. Complete painting bunk bed #2
  6. Start securing bed slats on bunk bed #2
  7. Move and secure storage shelf (secured so it doesn’t tip, as it will be used as a divider in the living room to create a more separate bedroom area for the kids)
  8. Emphasize the Bible Memory verses during VBS and review them in each station.
  9. Create a new skit to emphasize our week’s theme during the program introduction.
  10. Create “Verses To-Go” cards with a key verse and the references for the three memory verses for the kids to take home.

I think we’ll be busy!

Leadership Lessons
There have been many leadership lessons this week. That shouldn’t be a surprise when you’re working with a ministry named LeaderTreks… but I am constantly impressed with how prepared our students were for the leadership opportunities. That’s not my doing, so please don’t misunderstand this… God has been at work in these students leading up to this week, He has been stretching them and growing them throughout this week, and I am confident He will continue to use them when we return home!

One of my struggles this week has simply been the challenge of regularly stepping back. As a leader, I’m so used to filling the leadership needs myself that I need to be intentional about stepping back in order to create space for students to step up. On the work site we split into multiple teams, with different students assigned as the team leader each day who oversees the project and assigns roles to team members. Students are also responsible for cooking, cleaning, and loading up materials required for each day.

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Every Christian is a Leader
Leadership looks different for different types of people. Some students take the bull by the horns and are comfortable stepping in front of others and talking. Others prefer leading in the background through simple quiet words of encouragement, inspiring others to make the wise and godly decision. Leadership has many forms, but it always involves some sort of risk, because your leadership can be rejected… and when that happens it feels like you are being rejected. But leadership is worth the risk, because every Christian is called to live in such a way that we are making disciples. Wherever you are, whomever is around you – may your faith root you in God’s Word while you bear fruit through good works.

Pawley’s Island: Monday

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Even though our team left EBC on Saturday morning for this summer’s missions trip, this is really “day one.” We arrived last night in Pawley’s Island, SC around 6:00.

Keys, Anyone?
The exciting part of yesterday came at a rest stop in N. Carolina when we discovered the keys securely locked in one of our vehicles. Thankfully the AAA locksmith came in only thirty minutes and we were back in the road much quicker than expected. We made the best use of our time by playing some team games together and breaking into our VBS mini-teams to discuss and pray about the VBS program we’re putting on this week.

Team Time: “Let’s Go Have Some Successful Failures!”
During our Team Time last night our site leader, Tarynn, introduced the idea of “Successful Failures.” This is the idea that failures provide great opportunities to learn and grow. Often times, our fear of failure keeps us from attempting new things. Instead, if we embrace the idea of successful failures, we won’t let fear of failure keep us from trying something new… we’ll do our best while learning from what didn’t go as expected!

Invitation: Read James With Us!
This week’s devotional book was written by LeaderTreks in order to help students dig into God’s Word while processing their ministry during the week. We are reading through the book of James this week… would you join us in studying and praying through James this week.

IMG_5040Today’s Work Project
This week we will be working at a woman’s house who is working towards adopting two of her nephews and her niece. Although her two children are in college and in high school, she’s taking in these three young family members in order to keep them out of foster care. The Department of Child Services has instructed her that she needs to improve the sleeping conditions for the kids and make a number of safety improvements to her trailer before September, or else she will not be granted the adoption. These are reasonable improvements, but she lacks the resources to make them… which is where Teach My People and LeaderTreks teams like ours come in!

Last week’s team was able to build some furniture which our team will complete, providing bunk beds for the kids and a large shelving unit which will add some much-needed separation to convert the living room into another bedroom. Our team will be finishing the construction of furniture, patching holes in walls, and securing the railings on the outside decks. These projects will allow Ms. G. to be approved for the adoption and keep her family together. I’m so excited that our team has this opportunity to help Ms. G. take care of her family like this!

Teach My People
Teach My People is a wonderful Christian organization who provides a Christ-centered after-school program for children in Pawley’s Island. Their mission statement reads, “To teach children and youth in the Waccamaw school district to overcome academic, economic and social challenges and impact families through the delivery of Christ centered programs and services that promote spiritual, educational, and emotional growth.” I’m really amazed by the impact they are making in their community. Where families have lived in poverty for generations, TMP provides services for children from first grade through high school graduation… this year’s upcoming graduating class has 11 people who are hoping to attend college! I cannot wait to learn more about this amazing organization and get to know the kids when VBS starts up tomorrow.

How To Pray For Us

  1. Teachability: We want to learn everything God has in store for us to learn this week. Through our successes and our failures, there is always something to learn about who God is, who we are, and who God wants us to become.
  2. Leadership: Leadership = Influence. We all want to have influence on the people around us. Pray that each of us would grow in our understanding of how God wired each of us to influence others for Christ.
  3. Safety: On the roads, working on site, running a VBS… safety is a good thing.
  4. Unity: We are all growing as leaders, but we also are growing as team members… that means we need each other!

CSM Boston: Friday

Serving at BRM

This morning started off at Boston Rescue Mission again. While some were cooking, organizing the cabinets of cans, others were testing their knife skills chopping squash, or doing dishes. We had a busy morning sorting through all the food donations, discarding food that had gone rotten, and getting the meal prepared.

The meal that we served was for the employees and residents of Boston Rescue Mission. Those who are in BRM’s program are men and women who have been released from prison or are recovering addicts (you need to be “clean” for a certain period of time before being admitted to their program). BRM provides a case worker to each resident who helps them spiritually, emotionally, and mentally so they can get back on their feet. Many of the residents we spoke with have families they hope to reconnect with and have some real job skills to put into action. For many, their biggest challenges include finding an employer who will take a risk on someone with a criminal record and re-earning the trust of family members.

Pray for these men and women who have a steep hill to climb. Pray that they were remain clean, make good choices consistently, and that they would find their hope and strength through Jesus Christ.

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After eating lunch at Boston Rescue Mission, we hopped on the T and headed to Community Servings. This is a fantastic organization which provides five frozen meals each week for low-income families with a family member who is critically ill. These meals are all cooked fresh on site, then frozen and hand-packaged within a day or two before delivery. Each family member receives one meal per day, and they have kids meals too! What a great and tangible way to help families who are struggling with an uncertain future. They deliver 8200 lunches/dinners to nearly 875 people each week from communities ranging from Brockton to Boston to Worcester and anywhere in-between.

IMG_3308Our team of students and leaders worked hard all week and represented Emmanuel very very well. We all learned a ton about homelessness and preventing gang-involvement by providing strong support networks.

Among the chief lessons we learned, some included:

  • How few people fit the stereotype of “homeless.” Many of the homeless men and women we met were educated, had jobs for a long time until being laid off, or had so much medical debt that they couldn’t meet their financial commitments.
  • The number one cause of homelessness: Lack of support-network. Most of us have someone to help us we need someone to pick us up. When a person has no one to fall back on, they often tall into the street.
  • Come Back! This was the message the boys at the Eagle’s Nest Landing Center sent us. They want us to come back, and we want to! It’s great to go and serve for a week… but how will we continue serving the other 51 weeks of the year?
  • “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). All three are important. Loving mercy is like rescuing someone from drowning in the river, while doing justly is going up the river and stopping the person from pushing other into it. As Christians, we are called to both mercy and justice ministry for the sake of glorifying the God we humbly serve.

 

CSM Boston: Thursday

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We spent the day with the boys from Eagle’s Nest Landing Center and had SO much fun with them! We started off at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (where ENLC is based out of) and some of the team played chess with the boys while others colored or did word searches. Just before lunch we headed to a local park where we played in the playground with the younger boys, threw the frisbee and and played ball with the older ones. After a few cracks of thunder we figured it was time to head out (apparently it hailed back home, only 45 minutes away… but we didn’t get any of that in the city).

IMG_3269We eventually headed over to the Ray & Joan Kroc Center. This was built by the Salvation Army through the donation of Ray & Joan Kroc (the founders of McDonalds). The Kroc Center has an indoor water park, a gymnasium, educational programs, and a theater/chapel where the Salvation Army holds worship services.

 

We all agreed that we felt a little funny going to a water park on our missions trip, but as soon as we all got in the water the boys really started interacting with us even more than they had before. Whether it was waiting in line for the water slide, playing water volleyball or basketball, floating together in the lazy river, or playing with the littler boys in their section… we really had a blast with the boys.

After we were done swimming together Mr. Duncan took us to the chapel where we all talked together. When I shared with the group that we would love to come back and see them again since we’re so close some of the boys got visibly moved. One of them (who’s usually a jokester) spoke up and said, “That’s really sweet!” and had a huge smile on his face. These are kids who are used to teams coming in for a week and then they never see them again. But since EBC is so close to Boston we have the great opportunity to follow up with these boys and this great ministry. They don’t usually get many volunteers during the school year, and even during the summer CSM is the only group that consistently sends volunteers. What a great opportunity to show these boys that we genuinely care for them and want to invest in them!

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CSM Boston: Wednesday

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This morning we experienced “The Story,” where we spent time collecting stories from the homeless around the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church (pictured). During our “Immersion” the other day there was another objective (to feed ourselves and someone in need on $2 for each team member). Today we were simply there to hear people’s stories and to take the position of a servant to learn from these men and women who are often treated as less-than-fully-human.

Here are just a few of the stories we heard (in part, if I gave these people’s full stories this post would be so long few would finish reading):

  • Zavian is a man from Florida who moved to Maine after an accident led to his unemployment. He openly admitted that he’s made mistakes along the way, but a series of layoffs has led to him finding his way to Boston (it’s much better to be on the streets in Boston during the winter than in Maine!). While talking to him we were all impressed by how he talked so articulately and openly. He doesn’t drink alcohol and doesn’t do drugs, so he doesn’t like going to the shelters that are available, since so many who go there aren’t “clean” and they aren’t always the safest place to go if you only have a few worldly possessions. Even though his parents “have plenty of money” he hasn’t told them he’s homeless because his father disowned him years ago and he doesn’t want to worry his mother. He desperately wants to work, but can’t apply for a job without his ID which was lost two years ago. He’s been in process of applying for a new ID with his social worker, but his paper-copy has expired and the plastic ID still hasn’t arrived. When asked how we could pray for him, he asked that he would be able to apply for a new ID soon and that it would come quickly so he could try to find a new job.
  • Dr. Nat received his doctorate in New Delhi and completed post-doctoral studies in Oklahoma City. He had a big disagreement with his colleague about how white blood cells work, so he quit under the thought that he’d easily be able to find new work. Our CSM guide is a science student at Vanderbilt University and pulled up a number of articles Dr. Nat wrote on a highly regarded website about medical research. Now he’s been on the streets for 4 years, still trying to persuade people that his theory about white blood cells is correct, and unable to find employment. Dr. Nat was with a man named Andrew who has helped him make his way on the streets. This really hit home to the group because Dr. Nat destroys so many stereotypes.
  • Jose is from Puerto Rico and warned the group to stay off drugs. He said he should’ve listened to his mama, because the rest of his siblings did and they’re all living in big houses and drive expensive cars. He seemed just like a normal guy who really cared about our team members. Jose was sitting with his friend Cody, who gave our team a glimpse into the life of the homeless. He told them about how so many people just ignore you even exist, saying “Once you become homeless you lose your humanity.” To make his point, he got up and said “excuse me” to a passerby and they completely ignored him. Cody said, “I’m houseless but homefull” because he has everything he needs.
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Dr. Nat’s sign about his scientific research on Leukocytes (White Blood Cells).

Among all the other factors which contribute to homelessness, the greatest cause is lack of a support network. Regardless of the other networks, if you do not have anyone to catch you and to help pick you back up then homelessness is a far greater possibility.

After debriefing over the stories we heard, our team had the rest of the day off to spend in Boston. We hunted down some traditional pastries in Chinatown (interesting!), waded in the Frog Pond (sulking that the fountain wasn’t on), watched a number of street performers along Quincy Market (see the below video I uploaded to YouTube), enjoyed dinner in Faneuil Hall and dessert in the North End. We definitely walked a lot, but we had a great day together pretending to be tourists and unwinding together.

Our team has worked very hard this week. Breakfast is usually at 7:00, Devotionals at 7:30, and we leave the housing site by 8:30am and we don’t return until 7:30pm. Having the afternoon and evening to laugh together, soak our feet in the Frog Pond, and eat was a great re-energizer to keep us going for the rest of the week. Continued prayers for us are appreciated… but especially be praying for those whose stories are summarized above.