Mission Trips - Past, Present and Future

 

Summer 2014 Mission Trip Announced!

WHEN:  June 28th to July 4th, 2014 (includes travel time). 

WHERE: Raleigh, North Carolina with YouthWorks.

WHO: Students currently in 7th-12th grades.

WHAT: Work with children at the Boys & Girls Club, partner with organizations that serve the homeless population, serve with the Parks & Rec Department, or spend a morning serving at a local farm gathering extra produce for those in need. Plus daily devotionals, nightly activities to learn more about the local culture, and time for reflection and worship.

COST: $250 ($50 deposit due at sign up, the rest due by March 30, 2014.) Includes lodging, meals, materials, programs and staff for Sunday evening through Friday morning. Meals during travel not included. Scholarships available for families who need financial assistance.

COMMIT: $50 deposit per person. Contact Pastor Dave to sign up. 

WHY: To follow Jesus’ example and command to love God and love our neighbors. 

The first 12 youth to sign up are guaranteed a spot!

 

 

Woodridge UMC Traveled to Marseilles, IL on October 5th, 2013

"Flood-ravaged" gained a powerful new meaning for the workteam from Woodridge United Methodist Church, as it responded to the call to help rehabilitate homes in Marseilles IL on October 5, 2013. Six adults worked on a house already stripped to the  2X4 studs, installing fiberglass insulation and wallboard.

"On the outside, the house looked normal," Lead Pastor Jim Galbreath explained, "but inside it seemed more like a grove of young saplings or like a skeleton.  From the back of the house, you could see all the way to the front wall through the forest of 2X4s."

The homeowners, Scott and Sheila Vicich, explained the need for volunteers. "We were very thankful for the government's help.  We qualified for the maximum $30,000 grant because of the extent of the damage to our home.  But we discovered that would only pay for the materials we need, not the labor.  We appreciate so much the help that you, and all the others who come, are giving us."

The Marseilles community was stunned by the flooding last April.  Even though the town is on the Illinois River, this neighborhood had never flooded in such a serious way before. The massive flow was so strong that barges broke loose and damaged the local dam. Repairs there are still underway. Now a four foot wall of huge sandbags provides a flood barrier along the river bank.

The family is adapting the house during reconstruction to be more flood resistant.  Washer and dryer will be moved from the basement to the upper floor, as the main electrical breaker panel has been already.

Two other work teams were in town that day, helping with rehab, and there is opportunity for many more to lend a hand.  Local ecumenical contacts deploy volunteers to appropriate locations and help guide the work.  Plumbers and electricians are particularly needed, as well as people experienced in hanging drywall or taping and mudding.

Local contact to schedule work trips is Kent Terry at 815-434-4876.  His email is ak-terry@sbcglobal.net. Usual meeting place for work groups is the Marseilles United Methodist Church at 426 Church St. (815-795-5233). Rev. Carolyn Lukasick is the pastor. Marseilles lies just south of I-80 on Il Rt. 15.  Drive down the big hill to US 6 and turn left to Church St.

Cold weather is coming, and there is still much to do, but the Vichichs look forward with great hope to the day they can bring their three daughters and Sheila's sister back to live in their snug home.  With people following God's guidance to come and help, their "forest of 2X4's" can become welcoming walls painted in cheerful colors once again.

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2013 Standing Rock Mission Trip

On Friday, June 21st, 2013, 57people from Woodridge United Methodist Church loaded up trailers, trucks, cars, and vans for a week long mission trip to Standing Rock Reservation in McLaughlin, South Dakota. On Sunday, June 30th, we heard many mission trip participants during worship services tell the story of their trip and their amazing experiences. Below is the witness from Dana Cooper and Austin Gum, mission trip participants.

 

Plans for our 2014 Summer Standing Rock Mission Trip are underway! Stay tuned for updates. Anyone interested in helping or attending should contact Pastor Dave.

 

 

“God’s Gifts”

By Dana Cooper

As I look back on our trip to Standing Rock Reservation, and have had some time to process the experience, I am amazed most of all, not by what we did, but by what we received. God gave us many "gifts" on this trip.  Many of these gifts were given through our very own church body.

The gift of handy-work and creative talent. Thoughtfulness and the gift of a much needed hug. A perfect prayer whispered in my ear. The comfort of a doctor, and an enthusiastic teacher.  The gift of leaders, willing to endure stress and anxiety, for the benefit of all of us.  The gift of a good joke and a good laugh. The passion and energy of the youth.  The gift of a kind word. The Gift of seeing more clearly.  Someone willing to set a good example of much needed patience.  The gift of being uncomfortable and of lessons learned. The gift of new found friends.

I was also amazed by what I learned from Robert White Mountain and the Native American community- God's gift's to us through them.

The gift of slowing down. A deeper appreciation of the earth and the beauty of the land. The gift of spirit. Family togetherness and savoring the moment. The gift of their children's smiles. The gift of tradition. A soul touching song. The gift of calm and quietness. The gift of a never-ending sky.

As I read back through my Devo journal this morning, I answered some unanswered questions and added to some already answered questions. I realized the most meaningful part of this journal to me is the explanation of our relationship with God.

We believe: God loves us, so God pursues and restores us, so we do everything we can to live good lives for God. As opposed to: We do everything we can to live good lives for God, so God loves us, so God pursues and restores us.

God's grace is a gift- a gift freely given.  I just want to thank God for all the gifts he's given us in the past, on this awe-inspiring trip, and the continued gift of his grace and mercy.

I also want to thank the youth group for allowing us to experience this journey with them. I know that our church will give the gift of support in their efforts to continue helping Standing Rock.

 

 

Standing Rock and WUMC

Catching Robert White Mountain’s Vision of Peace and Prosperity for the Lakota People

By Austin Gum

Almost a year ago during church group time in McLaughlin South Dakota, we made a promise to Robert White Mountain and the people of Standing Rock that we would return in 2013. With our church’s dedication we did just that. Now Robert has heard a lot of promises from other church of groups about returning to Standing Rock, but he said that we were the only ones who kept our promise to come back and help strengthen the community. That speaks volumes about our church and the kind of people we are. We saw the many problems Standing Rock faces, and we said that we couldn’t let those problems continue. Something had to be done.

Now Robert is a very observant man. He sees the issues his people face, and looks on the outside to see how to solve the issues. The Standing Rock Reservation is like most Native American Reservations in the U.S. They have high suicide, alcoholism, and unemployment rates. The current unemployment rate on the Standing Rock Reservation is right around 85%. What feeds problems like that is how the kids, the youth on the reservation have very limited positive activities to participate in. Unfortunately if the youth don’t have anything to do, or look forward to doing in their life, then that is what leads to them drinking and doing drugs. Robert and other leaders of the tribe have a vision of centering the youth around their own culture to help solve some of these problems. Robert saw how this worked well with other tribes and he wants to try doing the same with Standing Rock.

Another obstacle the people of Standing Rock face is that still to this day the Indian Wars are not over. And the state and federal governments have not ended the war on Native Americans. For instance, all Lakota people living on the reservation are required to carry very descriptive identification cards so the feds and law enforcement can identify who they are. These cards are separate from their driver’s license. Robert also talked about these “Shoot on Sight” laws that were put into place in the late 19th century and are still in place under South and North Dakota state laws. These laws state that it is ok to shoot any Native American that is found outside of the reservation. Now grant it this is a very rare case nowadays, but it still is very disturbing that these laws have not been repealed.  Starting around the year 2008 the people of Standing Rock called on the Federal government for help to stop the rising crime rate. Operation Dakota Peace Keeper was put into place. Now the extra law enforcement from the government did reduce crime for a while, but they weren’t effective. They over enforced the laws, many Natives were getting falsely convicted. The problem with both the state and federal government  is that they just want to keep things under control, rather than solving the real issues like domestic abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse, and unemployment that all lead to the crime on the reservation. They aren't willing to put the money to permanently solve the issue and create mentor programs and help rebuild the community. It's like they want to cover the hole on the sinking ship with just a sheet of tape rather than filling the hole with the correct materials to plug the leak.

Well now my friends that is where we come into play. This church has been so inspired by the people of Standing Rock. There were many people that touched us on this journey, but I figured I would name a few, other than just Robert White Mountain. There was a familiar friend that we met last year during kids club named Rasheed. At only 11 years old he has been such a positive role model for younger kids by always laughing and having a good time at kids club.  Another guy Frankie only 16 years old, a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club watched over all those kids like they were his siblings. There was a lady Marie who we helped paint her house and she had a vision of turning her property into a trading post where the people could come in trade their goods. Tom, a volunteer vet, helped with the making of miniature flags that were made for veterans and their families. And an elderly lady, named Judy, rescued and cared for stray dogs on the reservation.

Along with the people of Standing Rock the organization of Youth Works has brought hope to this community. Summer is a season of hope for Standing Rock. There are no suicides in the summer, because the people are motivated by the outreach of church groups coming into McLaughlin from all over the country.

Now where do we go from here? We can’t stop at this point. We have continue to spread Robert’s vision in many ways through fundraising, grant work, writing letters to North and South Dakota senators, congressmen, and governors to end the Indian wars, by repealing those outdated “Shoot on Sight” laws. Robert also mentioned internship opportunities for college kids to help the community during the summer.  Robert will be coming out with a book soon; he is in the process of finishing it. When it comes out we need to purchase it and share with friends, get him here for a book signing. But the most basic and easiest way to spread Robert’s vision of a stronger Standing Rock is through word of mouth. Tell the story of the Lakota people to your friends and families. We cannot let their story be forgotten. We made a commitment and kept that promise, and were going to keep that promise. This is life commitment that we need to make and were one step closer to a more lively and prosperous Standing Rock. There is an old saying that, “if you’re not climbing the mountain, you’re falling down the mountain”. Standing Rock will not fall, because of people like Robert and the rest of us who have caught his vision. Let's keep this momentum going. It only gets better for Standing Rock from here on out. We will continue to make the return to Standing Rock. Now there is no way to say good bye in the Lakota language, instead I leave you with “see you later”, or in the words of the Lakota “Toksha Ake”.