Spring 2015 New Jersey Workcamp
All are safe but tired after 2 days hanging drywall in Manahawkin NJ. We arrived Sunday eve and after orientation that night and Monday morning we started by work in time to meet the Lowes truck and carry 100 10′ long sheets of drywall to the first and second floors of a home raised 10′ in the air.The home is a new structure, replacing the totally damaged home of a retired fireman, whom we will hopefully get to meet. We have made great progress in hanging the drywall and have been joined in the effort by 4 Mennonite young men who are on a 6 month mission trip for Sandy recovery. Such sacrificial giving!!
Hospitality here at the Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church is superb, with a nourishing meal Sunday night and friendly and willing help with all our other needs. Our Webster Pres youth and their advisers made a hugely favorable impression on the folks here. Compliments have been lavish. Our women have provided us (and our Detroit friends here) wonderful meals the past 2 nights.
We praise our Webster Pres members who have helped make our mission trip financially and prayerfully possible. we are indeed blessed.
Fall 2014 NJ/Sandy Mission Trip
By asking about my own recovery work, do you mean how am I recovering from the trip? I have slept many hours extra since arriving home on Saturday and think that I am finally almost caught up. Hanging drywall for 5 straight days was rather demanding physically for this old guy I guess.
The trip was very smooth and great in all respects. Our team of 9 bonded well, fellowshipped well, worked well, etc. Pt Pleasant Pres was a very welcoming church with good facilities. And A Future with Hope of Monmouth County was a great group to work for (they were very organized and had very knowledgeable folks in leadership positions). So we were able to overlook the fact that they are United Methodists!!
We hung drywall in 90+ percent of the house and did several other miscellaneous jobs as well. The highlight of the week for most of us was meeting the homeowner on Thursday. She was in tears most of the time while walking around in her house and thanked God for sending us to help her. She has lived in a hotel/motel room for almost two years now and her daughter told me that her mother gets depressed quite often. So I believe that our presence and our work gave her a significant lift both emotionally and spiritually.
Today we met Diane Patterson and her daughter Cassandra, the owner of the home we are repairing. It was an emotional meeting, as Diane was overcome with gratitude for the progress made. Her expressions made it clear that hope had been restored that she might soon be able to return home. This was the highlight of our week. It is meaningful that we are working, via PDA, for the Methodist group: A Future With Hope, an outstanding agency in all regards. Tens of thousands in NJ like Diane await the assistance of agencies like PDA and AFWH. They need your help.
Tomorrow is our last day and we have made significant progress, but we will not finish Diane’s home. Others will come after us and eventually it will be completed, hopefully soon.
Thanks, Dick McNeary Webster, NY
This will be a short report as we have had a busy and tiring first day. We have been treated kindly by the folks here at the Pt. Pleasant Presbyterian church, where we are staying for the week and have made friends with our new workmates from Detroit.
We have been through orientations and started hanging sheetrock in a home in Neptune, a few miles up the coast from Pt. Pleasant. The owner is a single mom of 3 and has encountered difficulties getting her home restored in a timely manner. We hope to help remedy that. Before today there were almost all bare studs in the house interior. We hope to meet the owner soon.
Everyone is willingly! helping Tina with kitchen duties. Tonight the ladies of the church treated us to a delicious dinner and tomorrow our Detroit friends will cook.
Oh, did I say we had an uneventful trip down to NJ and arrived safely.
The team is made up with members from our Webster, Christ Clarion, Chili, and Lakeside congregations!
Mosaic of Peace: April 28 – May 10, 2014
Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference in Israel/Palestine
I had to check the calendar just now as I have lost all track of date and time. We are spent – physically and emotionally – and yet every experience is deeply meaningful. Not to be missed. Today we visited a refugee camp then got up close to the separation wall. Images follow here. They are worth more than a thousand words.
Too tired for many words. Today we were steeped, in words and in experiences, to the life of the Palestinians. Desmond Tutu was quoted- “We do not want our chains comfortable. We want them removed.” We visited Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs, driving through a settlement, witnessing security which is ever present. Here are two images. A night’s rest now beckons.
This morning, we worshiped at the Christmas Lutheran Church pastored by Mitri Raheb, noted activist on behalf of Palestinian Christians. Kate Taber, new mission co-worker to Israel/Palestine was commissioned during worship and by the time the packed sanctuary shared communion by intinction, singing Doña Nobis Pacem (must be the theme song), I was in tears. No surprise. After lunch and some shopping in the market (Sally is a big hit with the shopkeepers!), we headed to Herod’s Hill and Shepherd’s Field. This is the highest point in Bethlehem and offers breathtaking panoramic views, if you’re willing to climb to the top. Did I happen to mention the near 100 degree temps? Yeah…and there was no way I was going to miss it. The second is my favorite pic of the day, taken in a cave while on top of the mountain. The last is me on a “pedestal”, the only one I’ll ever be on! It was a full day of sights and speakers, all of which have found a place in my heart that I look forward to sharing with you.
We’re having some internet challenges as we depart Jerusalem and enter the West Bank and the city of Beit Lahm (Bethlehem). First, we visited the Silwan Valley, the new home of the City of David Park and heard from some local Palestinian citizens. Susan Photo 11
After a stop at the Tantur Ecumenical Center (with some amazing views), we made our way through the security checkpoint and our first view of the wall. Susan Photo 12
The large group attempted to see the grotto at the Church of the Nativity but once again, there was not enough time to stand in the queue. Sally and I wandered around in the 30 minutes we had available. We snuck into the sanctuary and lent our voices to a choir singing Doña Nobis Pacem (Sally cried) when a tour guide approached us and snuck us to the front of the line to view the manger (or more likely, what the manger may have looked like in the place the manger could have been.) Susan Photo 13
Following speakers and a fine meal (this is vegetarian paradise!), we witnessed a powerful performance of “Out of Place” by the Diyar Dance Theatre.
And because the day was not already overflowing with blessings, Doug Dicks (former mission co-worker in I/P) took Sally and I to his favorite local shopkeeper where we made it VERY profitable for him to stay open until 11pm. Souvenirs! (and a special Jerusalem cross for granddaughter, Hannah 🙂 Susan Photo 14
“Here, every stone speaks.”
These words, spoken to us today by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theopholus, came alive for me. We met two heads of churches (the Latin Patriarch too) and missed a third (Lutheran) as we were running late (again….still!) After the official visits and lunch at the Notre Dame hotel, we visited the Holy Sepulchre Church and walked a portion of the Via Delarosa to the Western (Wailing) Wall. I have to admit, it was all rather overwhelming. Most significantly, it was mobbed with people. MOBBED. Again, we were herded too quickly through very small, physically challenging spaces trying hard to absorb their significance and that, oh my gosh, I’m really here and then, whoosh we have to move on to the next. It’s all starting to become a bit of a blur and we haven’t even left Jerusalem and oh by the way, jet lag is a real thing.
Which planted another thing His Beautitude shared deep into my overwhelmed brain: “Holiness is not exclusive. The land itself is not holy. Only what took place here is holy.”
Happy Labor Day!
Today is a holiday in Israel, with schools and some government agencies taking a day of rest. And what a beauty of a day it was! We were on the go from the start. I have a lot of respect for our leadership as they attempt to get this group of 100+ from here to there, and profound admiration for our bus drivers who manage to shepherd us through the narrow, overcrowded streets of Jerusalem without a scratch – on us or the buses. But I did have to close my eyes and hold my breath in a few spots!
(BTW, Sally Altobello is an epic failure as a traveling companion. I’ve already lost my one and only Brita water bottle! She wasn’t keeping track.)
Today we were tourists, albeit educated ones. For details regarding the speakers, please see the Mosaic blog. We began with a stunning view at the Mount of Olives followed by a visit to the Garden of Gethsemane. Due to the afore-mentioned herding and traffic issues, we had only 1-1/2 hours at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum. It felt almost disrespectful the way we had to cruise through it. But the Wall of Names and the Children’s Memorial…I get teary thinking about it again. Housed in a separate space from the history museum, a disorienting darkness is filled with a million points of light, representing the murdered Jewish children, while their names are poignantly read. Unforgettable. The whole day.
We have all arrived, safe and sound! The first batch arrived in Jerusalem about 1pm (Wilma and I included); the last about 8pm (with very weary travelers, Sally and Joyce). Our bodies are adjusting (blood shot eyes!) and we anticipate a full day tomorrow. But after a delicious meal at our hotel, Sally and I just had to go for a stroll. See pics below.
Our closing prayer for the day: God of crowds and quiet mountain tops, we give you thanks for your abundant blessings. For your traveling mercies, for those we love, for the days ahead, we give you thanks. As we embark on the paths of this holy land, gather us together as your mosaic of peace. Amen!
Wilma Brucker and I are sitting at the Newark airport, waiting for the “secured gate hold area” to open. This is the second round of security, the first being a breeze. Didn’t even have to take off our shoes! We’ve had a whirlwind of an orientation so far including several compelling speakers, and we haven’t even left the states yet. We began by talking about assumptions, the ones we bring with us, known and unknown, on this peacemaking conference. A big one already blown apart for me is the ability to blog our activities. We are encouraged to be extraordinarily mindful of how we communicate while we are away. In fact, the leadership’s preference – for everyone’s safety – is not to. The Mosaic blog on the PCUSA website will be updated daily with all the details we can share. Friends, I will check in with you when I can, and will store up all of our experiences in my head and heart. I will look forward to sharing them with you when we see each other again face to face. Shalom!
Responding to a Call for Peace and Wholeness in a Land called “Holy”
Friends, it is finally here! After a weekend of mission engagement (Triple Play Mission Day on Saturday, and SNAP Food Stamp Challenge conversations at Downtown’s Adult Forum and Penfield’s Spring Luncheon on Sunday), the bags will be packed and take off will occur Monday, April 28th at 2:09pm.
For a look at our itinerary, click here: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/peacemaking/mosaic-peace-schedule/
I will post on the PGV website as often as I can so check back to follow the adventures!
There will also be a conference blog available at: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/peacemaking/mosaic-peace-blog/
As always, I covet your prayers and support. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you and our congregations soon. Be sure to invite me – I welcome the opportunity!
Peace by with you, Susan
Pt. Pleasant Beach – We’re Home! (written by Karen Simpson)
I was grateful when the opportunity became available to go on the Presbytery’s mission trip. Our goal was to assist NJ residents who had suffered loss caused from Hurricane Sandy. Understandably, as a first-time volunteer, I was nervous about how it would all come together and what to expect. What I soon discovered was that it would be one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I give thanks to God for allowing me to be a part of it!
At first, the houses and residents did not seem that bad on the surface. Much time had passed and some of the work was already completed. However, when we spoke with the residents in person, we came to understood just what their ordeal was all about. Apparently, they were abruptly woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of car alarms going off. When they got out of bed to investigate, they found 4-5 feet of water inside of their homes. One can only imagine the fear they must have experienced at that point.
When we worked on their houses, we got to see the actual mold and rotted wood first hand. The houses closer to the shoreline were even worse. Even though renovations were already in process, there was just too much damage. It will take a long time for them to recover from this devastation. My heart goes out to each and every one who was affected by this horrible storm.
I was amazed at the talent and patience from this mission team of 20 people. Many of these people were strangers and many were acquaintances. Some of us were friends. I can honestly say that by the time this trip was through, we were all friends. In fact, we are now a family. We were pieces of a puzzle that fit together to make the picture brighter and better. We all worked together like a fine-oiled machine to make up the body of Christ.
Pt. Pleasant Beach – Friday, Work Day #5 (written by Sharon Breeze)
I looked for a Bible passage that might sum up this past week’s experience for me at Pt. Pleasant, NJ. and found the following in the daily devotional, The Upper Room: To God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 3:20-21. God truly was at work within each of us this past week, helping us accomplish many tasks and reach out to others to bring “Hope out of Chaos.”
The 20-member PGV team worked hard, shared lots of laughter (and a few tears), ate heartily, and slept soundly. My own personal experience has been very rewarding. The team that I worked with helped a homeowner, Daniel, restore his mobile home after a large tree had fallen on the home and caused considerable damage. I worked with very patient people who taught me skills that I hope to use on future mission trips.
Other teams from different churches had been working on Daniel’s home prior to our visit. Our jobs included finishing the roof, rebuilding a destroyed deck, and putting up several inside walls. All was accomplished, as well as a few outside chores. Daniel, who had been quite reclusive and not too interactive with previous work groups, gradually became more friendly and interactive with our team as the week went on. He was an avid gardener and enjoyed sharing his expertise and knowledge about flowers and plants. Today (Friday) our last day at Daniel’s brought many hugs and thanks as the team finished up. I felt, with the Lord’s help guiding us this week, we truly made a difference in Daniels life. He, in turn, was able to “pay it forward” by sharing some of the wood from the fallen tree with a neighbor in the mobile home park who was in need.
Tonight our group gathered to share communion and also share what touched each of us in a special way this week. We all agreed that working together as a team in Christ’s name makes a difference to all whose lives we touched and to each of us. A bond is built among members that is a lasting one. We ended our stay in Pt. Pleasant this evening by sharing a wonderful dinner at The Shrimp Box restaurant located on the water.
God worked within us and as a team we brought Him glory.
Pt. Pleasant Beach – Thursday, Work Day #4 (written by Kay Van Nostrand)
News flash! We have almost come to the end of our stay in Pt. Pleasant. As we were doing our devotions this evening, we all agreed this has been a super week. We have made great progress with several projects. My group removed cedar shingles from a garage and tomorrow will have the garage resided. Another group removed and replaced 25 sections of a fence. Another rebuilt an 8 x 16 foot deck, completed work on a roof of a mobile home which had a tree fall on it and did drywall work plus interior painting. Today Sue and Carl assessed a plumbing project for the next group of volunteers.
Tonight we joined the folks at St. Mary’s By the Sea Episcopal Church for supper. This little church opened their doors for meals the week after the storm and hope to continue well into the future. Susan Hartley and I ate with a lady who had much damage to her home but has been able to have it repaired. Susan just informed me she was told 60% of the members of the Pt. Pleasant Presbyterian church had some type of damage to their homes. Many of the homes appear to be undamaged when driving past them but if you could look inside you would find them gutted waiting for repairs and their families. Life has changed for these people but everywhere you see hope and determination for the future.
P.S. (from Sue Tedesco): Local caterer, Joe Leone, donates food every week for the St. Mary’s church free community dinner and has been doing so ever since Superstorm Sandy. Eggplant meatballs, stuffed bread, salad, peppers, braciole, etc. Awesome authentic Italian food!
Pt. Pleasant Beach – Wednesday, Work Day #3 (written by Karen Kingsbury)
I knew that God had laid out this week’s path for me because when I got in the car on Sunday morning to meet the group to start our journey, I flipped on the radio and it was on WARM101.3, a station I don’t really listen to a lot, and the song “I Can Only Imagine” which is one of my favorite Christian songs, was playing. I blasted it all the way to my destination with tears in my eyes. “Surrounded by your glory”, “Will I dance for you Jesus?” “Or be still”. The words were just speaking to me. I was also going to undertake the cooking duties for this week which always excites me but at the same time adds a layer of responsibility. So I decided that I was going to open my heart, be calm, pack my flexibility and wait to see what could happen. Well, so much! The best thing was to be able to interact with a home owner, which did not happen for my work group in New Orleans. Vicki, and her caretaker sister, Phyllis, could not have been nicer and in more of need of home repair after experiencing the flooding of Sandy. Vicki, who has a debilitating disease, loves the company and had lunch with us today – after buying it for us from their favorite local Italian deli. She wants us to come back in the worst way again this week so our group is going to move her furniture into a Pod, leaving the floor free to be tiled which will most likely be a project for another group. The other rewarding opportunity is the time of community that the volunteer group spends together after dinner beginning with devotions and then sharing their experiences from the day (see today’s pictures). I will be taking many memories and new friendships home with me. Thanks be to God!
Pt. Pleasant Beach – Tuesday, Work Day #2 (written by Flo Mecca-Copp)
The work teams have been together for two days now. These teams consist of 5-6 people who were randomly put together with a driver. These people are not, in most cases, the random group who rode down together. Never the less, there is plenty of bonding going on! Our group – “Charlie’s Angels”- is five women and one man, Charlie (of course). Each morning we choose a job or 2 from the work sheets and head out. When we get to the site, we introduce ourselves to the home owner, check out the situation and decide where to begin. There is no project manager or foreman so we are on our own. I am amazed how efficient we are even though we don’t have on-site PDA leadership or direction. At the end of Tuesday, Charlie’s Angels is a well-oiled machine! (check out the new fence below)
Late afternoon, Rev. Carl Wilton from Pt. Pleasant Presbyterian led a tour of the area south of here where we were able to see the more widespread destruction of the area. Through technology, we had a conference call to all 4 vans while Rev Carl narrated what we were seeing. It was hard to believe the buildings, both large and small, that were completely destroyed. Sand piles in the middle of communities and vacant lot after vacant lot where homes once stood. Thank you for helping us to understand why we’re here this week, Rev Carl !
P.S. An inside look at our abode.
Pt. Pleasant Beach – Monday, Work Day #1 (written by Dave Morgan)
The 20 team members (unfortunately without fearless leader Susan Orr) arrived Sunday evening at Pt. Pleasant Beach Presbyterian Church to the aromas of a great church prepared meal. Dinner was followed by devotions and orientation to the program and possible work opportunities.
Monday morning got off to an early start with preparations for the day’s work and 3 teams headed off to various areas. Our team spent the day at the home of a gentleman thought to be fairly reclusive whose house needed roof repairs, deck replacement, insulation work and drywall replacement . Being assured all materials and tools were onsite, we arrived to find neither. A few phone calls and travels to Home Depot and Loews, we were ready for business. Home owner Daniel was pleased with our arrival and the roofers got to work while some of the ladies were in conversation with Daniel. Within minutes Daniel was touring the ladies about the property, his flowers and other plantings, and the neighborhood. While the roof work was completed and other repairs well started, the high point of the day was Daniel opening up to the group which was quite contrary to what we were led to believe would be the case. We look forward to continuing the good work experience with Daniel tomorrow!
Pt. Peasant Beach – Travel Day Sunday, Sept 29 – written by Susan Orr
Every time I orient a volunteer mission team for their experience, we discuss the “personal packing list”. Always pack your flexibility!!! I emphasize this time and again. It’s the first thing a volunteer should pack into a suitcase. It doesn’t take up a whole lot of space but inevitably, it will be the most important thing you will bring along for the experience. Because, as we know, things rarely go according to plan.
So as I tossed and turned last night – coughing, sneezing, and blowing my nose – I realized firsthand the truth of these words. Months of planning, preparation and multiple to-do lists did not include “stay healthy”. I’ve declared time and again, “I never get sick!” But I did, and I decided it was best to keep my germ-y self home rather than take an entire team down this icky, sick path. I passed the “moderator-ial” baton to Mission & Advocacy chair, Kay Van Nostrand, and declared her the new fearless leader.
We picked up the vans at 9am at Enterprise (Linn, Bob, Allison and Carl are the drivers), met the rest of the team at Twelve Corners church, loaded up and I waved good-bye to them at 10:06am. They made good time, arriving by 5:30, even enjoying a lunch stop at the Binghamton Cracker Barrel along the way. The team was warmly greeted and fed spaghetti & meatballs by the Pt. Pleasant Presbyterian church. After orientations to the church, Frank Jones (work site supervisor) described the jobs that were on the docket for the week. Folks settled in for a good night’s sleep (that was the hope!) in preparation for an early Monday morning start.
In our prayer circle before departure, I shared these words from Dianne Brown, member at Pittsford First and experienced PDA volunteer: We returned home this afternoon (Sat.) from my husband’s 60th high school class reunion which was held in Pt. Pleasant Beach. Since we have a team from First Pres. Pittsford going there in November, I stopped at the church on Friday. They gave me a tour of the facility which I think will be very comfortable for everyone and everyone was so pleasant and enthusiastic for the program. We were in the area for 4 days and there is still much to be done a year after the devastation.
As the PDA shirt declares – out of chaos, hope!
Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ……here we come!!
September 24, 2013
Hello everyone! My name is Gerry Carmichael and I’m a member of the Batavia First Presbyterian Church. This is my first-ever mission trip, and I was asked to describe my desire to attend a mission trip of this kind.
I grew up on a farm in Alexander, NY and our parents instilled in my five brothers and me the value of hard work, responsibility, and giving back. And “Do unto others….” was a big part of that education!
I am hoping that the folks in Pt. Pleasant Beach will give us some real challenges and that our little band of Presbyterians from WNY will really do some good. I am hoping that we are not going to pick up trash on the beach (although there is not any location that I love any more than the beach except maybe the mountains of Colorado) and if that is part of our mission, I’m sure it would be interesting finding all sorts of “treasures”.
This cleanup will more important to me because last October when Superstorm Sandy hit, it hit home. My daughter-in-law from Fort Collins, CO was running in the NYC Marathon – what an accomplishment for the young woman from the Front Range at 5285 ft! We all were in the cab on the way to Manhattan when we received the news that Mayor Bloomberg had canceled the race after much indecision. It was a most interesting four days in the Big Apple listening in on every foreign language you could imagine – most complaining about the cancelation and annoyance at the Mayor. On Sunday morning many, many of the runners did several laps around Central Park in bright sunshine wearing their international jerseys from so many countries! Finally on Monday, we took the subway as far as we could to lower Manhattan and then were able to walk all the way to battered Battery Park. We heard personally from cabbies, waiters, and hotel workers about their struggles with the destruction – no gas for the cabs, not getting home for 3 or 4 days, not able to get to work for 3 or 4 days, but more importantly losing homes and possessions! Many, many personal tragedies but they were all were amazingly upbeat!
And so, I want to REALLY do something to help some of these people – giving back! And maybe our next mission could be to assist some of the friends of my kids in CO with that cleanup from the floods!
Please hold in prayer your PGV sisters and brothers as they depart for NJ on 9/29:
Back row: Allison Gilday (Gates/Laurelton); Carl DelleFave (Laurelton); Karen Kingsbury (Laurelton); Roger Willis (Chili); Jean Bartholomew (Chili); Rev. Susan Hartley (Scottsville); Front Row: Charlie Plummer (Laurelton); Sue Tedesco (South); Louise Haskins (Caledonia First); Sharon Breeze (Chili); Kay VanNostrand (Lyndonville); and Susan Orr, Presbyter for Mission & Education. Not Pictured: Bob Hicks (Laurelton); Linn Hoover (Laurelton); Dave Hale (Brockport); Dave Morgan (John Calvin); Gerry Carmichael (Batavia); Flo Mecca-Copp (Lakeside); Ned Kavanagh (Lakeside); Karen Simpson (Laurelton); Gladys Smith (People’s Ministry in Christ)
Jamaica, NY Mission Trip
July 7-14, 2013
Day 1 (July 8) The team of six from Presbytery arrived safely at First Presbyterian of Jamaica on Sunday after an 8 hour trip. During the trip we got acquainted and began to bond as a team. We were warmly welcomed by hostess, Dora Sawh. We are the 35th team since they started hosting teams in February in partnership with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). This Presbyterian congregation is the oldest in the USA – 351 years! After being served a good supper, we had devotions based on the parable of the mustard seed and how it might apply to our mission trip. Then we moved our cots to a relatively cool room to sleep.
Today Monday, we got a very thorough orientation for our work at the World Cares office in the Far Rockaway section of Queens where we are working. PDA teams like ours have worked on more than 500 homes in this area with the focus being tear out and clean up. We made a brief trip to the beach and boardwalk while waiting for our homeowner to return home. We had a little “adventure” there! (note the picture)
We then met a delightful lady homeowner named Santa and spent the rest of the day working in her basement tearing out the ceiling, removing vinyl tile flooring and remediating mold. Santa worked and sweated side by side with us which impressed us greatly. She also invited us inside her house to eat lunch. We finished the work at her house today and will serve another owner tomorrow.
So all is well so far!
Brad Adams (Webster)
Other team members: John Bacon (Penfield), Alan Durbin (Webster), Cheryl Farnham (Penfield), Al Santos (Penfield), Summer Sattora (South)
The second work-day for our small but very determined group from the Presbytery of Genesee Valley tested our resiliency and capacity to adapt to unusual environmental conditions and our ability to find some fun. (More on that later)
Our job-assignment was to travel to Coney Island and help a Muslim family that had requested assistance with persistent post Hurricane Sandy mildew problems in a large crawl space under the first floor of their 2-story home. To accomplish the task we had to be hermetically dressed in our now familiar neck-to-toe TIVEK-suits, hard hats, respirators and hard-rubber gloves. We divided our group of six blessed-souls into Two Teams, in order to allow for one Team to surface to the Street level and replenish water and fresh-air. And while one Team was underground, the surface Team had time to interact with the homeowners and neighbors. All members of the group participated equally. (No weak links in this group!) We accomplished the assigned task better than we expected.
Our rewards were noticed immediately: as we prepared to depart, the homeowner thanked each one of us. At one point, he placed his right hand over his heart and bent his head down slightly, small tears dripping from his eyes.
The other reward came when we realized that we had missed lunch-time. And we were working in a Coney Island neighborhood! Of course, we could not miss a visit to Famous Nathan Hot-dog….
With our energies recovered, a long walk in the Coney Island famous Boardwalk was the next obvious thing to do.
A lot of hard work, indeed!
Our spirits remain high as we look towards new challenges tomorrow, with God’s blessings. Cheryl Farnham (Penfield)
Our small group continues to serve the victims of Sandy and Our Lord in many ways! Today our assignment took us to Brooklyn where we once again suited up in our protective gear to remove mold from the basement of a minister’s home. Upon our arrival, we learned that his basement and street had been under twelve feet of water. Some of the men in the group were excited to finally get the opportunity to use power tools! One of our jobs was to remove damaged and moldy studs from a basement bathroom to get it ready for its rebuild. While they enjoyed that part of the assignment, the rest of us removed mold from “healthy” studs. We also had the opportunity to interact with neighbors about who we are, that there are those out there who are willing to help them, and most importantly listen. We are a very efficient and cohesive team – they anticipated this to be a two day assignment and we finished it today!
In addition to our mold removal, the team had the opportunity to walk along the Rockaway Beach and examine the strength of twenty foot storm surge – we were amazed how it just bent the concrete support beams of the boardwalk. The team agreed that we all enjoyed our day walking along the beach. It was calming and gave us time to reflect on how we are spreading God’s light to those affected by post-storm darkness.
We ended our day with serving alongside members of First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica as they served their community a delicious barbecue. Our host church serves their community this barbecue every year free of charge. It was a meaningful experience for us all as we interacted with various church members and those in their community. Their barbecue has to be a highlight for their community – they served approximately 400 dinners with dancing and ice cream!
We continue our work tomorrow and feel very blessed by your blog comments, thoughts, and prayers.
God Bless, Cheryl
Today was the day we decided to take a half day of work so we could head in to Manhattan and do some sight-seeing. So we headed off to the World Cares office prepared for some light work or perhaps canvassing. We ended up doing a bit of both.
When we got to the office, we ran in to a gentleman named Ed. He told us that he was from New Jersey near Philadelphia and drove in once a week to volunteer. He was on his way to a house to help move a giant tree that was leaning on a fence, and he jokingly asked if we wanted to help. Of course a couple of our guys thought it was Christmas Day at this (DEMOLITION!). We were able to send John and Alan with Ed while the rest of us went canvassing.
The way one canvases for World Cares is to go door to door and ask home owners if they still had any mold or mildew damage. In the course of our morning, we found ourselves doing mental health therapy and listening as people told us their stories. It’s easy to forget that the spirit needs to be rebuilt as well after a disaster and today was a good day to see and be reminded that it’s not always physical work that we’re sent here to do.
After lunch with our new friend Ed, we headed “home” and then it was off to the city! We took in a lot of sights but I think it’s safe to say the best for us was going to the 9/11 Memorial. Looking out at the pools where the towers once were and seeing those names surrounding it stirs something inside you.
So another day is done. We’re not sure what tomorrow will bring, but we are sure we’ll all sleep well tonight!
Our last day of work found us returning to Breezy Point to work on a cottage located not far from business Alan Durbin had helped in his capacity with the Red Cross immediately following hurricane Sandy. Our task was to clean up construction debris around the home and in the crawl space beneath it and, if time allowed, treat the floor joists for mold. We succeeded with the cleanup, but time did not slow us to spray and scrub any mold. This will be done next week by others. Our initial problem was disposing of the many bags of scrap material and longer pieces of wood.
To our surprise a contractor installing a new septic tank across the way from our house offered the services of the bucket on his tractor to move the material to a dumpster. Just before leaving the worksite we toured the home which is nearly complete. Clearly, our work today will delight at least one neighbor we met in the morning and will prove to be a big help to the elderly owner and, of course, pave the way for the next volunteers who will treat the crawl space for mold.
This week has been a joy for all of us! Perhaps the best way to summarize my feelings is to quote from a piece called “Unwrapping Our Dreams” found in Rachel Whaley Doll’s book “The Exquisite Ordinary”: “Oh, what magic we possess! When we get over ourselves enough to reach out and share the gifts we hold, the pieces of other people’s dreams–we leave room for someone to help us realize our own dreams. Nothing lost, only joy to be gained.”
There’s No Place Like Home…
We made it safely home on Saturday after an inspiring trip for all of us.
We had a nice quiet breakfast at the church, finished our packing, and then…. walked out the door without setting the security code and the nice quiet quickly vanished with very loud speakers all over the property telling all “intruders” to leave at once. Fortunately after 5 minutes, a lady staying in the church knew how to turn it off and quiet once more returned.
We also had nice quiet traffic out of Jamaica until we reached the George Washington Bridge where we had the opportunity to experience a NY city traffic jam as many people were leaving the city. This only caused us about a half hour delay.
One of the blessings for us this week was to have the dedicated driving of John Bacon and the navigation and driving of Al Santos. Four of us got to ride in the back and see the sights or catch up on sleep during the 45 min commute to and from work. Thanks so much John and Al for working overtime to get us safely to and from the daily work and to and from home.
We are most grateful to Dora and Dora too, the 2 most welcoming hosts that there can be. They cooked our meals, made sure we had what we needed to be comfortable, got us started on the right foot on our job, and were delightful conversation companions. We also got to participate in the local church activities, a picnic for the whole community and a Tuesday night prayer service. Thank you Jamaica Village First Presbyterian Church!
We had devotions in the car on the way back using the book “What unites Presbyterians” by Kirkpatrick and Hopper. We discussed the chapter on The Church and It’s Mission. One of the conclusions is that today we are being called to focus more on local mission as outlined in Matthew 25.
We all felt that this trip allowed us to meet and minister to many people who needed help. We also met neighbors who were partly recovered and eager to help us help their neighbors. The Jamaica Village First Presbyterian Church and the World Cares organization helped take care of us and provide us with meaningful work. Thanks to Genesee Valley Presbytery and the PDA for providing this wonderful opportunity for us to try in our small way to plant some mustard seeds.
Blessings, Alan Durbin (for the Jamaica work summer work team)