The Vandalia United Methodist Church encourages breaking out into the church community and serving, so during the week of June 17-22 VUMC took 8 youth and 5 adult leaders to White Oak, Tennessee. This mission’s trip gave these youth a chance to see where God can work in their lives as well as in the others that they are serving.
Two other church groups were in White Oak that week as well. Old Bethel UMC from Indianapolis and Woods Chapel UMC from Kansas City, MO. Each church group had picked a service project for the week and the goal was to complete it by the end of the mission trip. VUMC was tasked with the job of building a back deck for a local custodian and bus driver named Tim. Tim only lived about a half a mile from where all the churches were staying for the week, which made it an easy commute.
Throughout the week the youth were able to build the back deck, but also get to know the man they were providing the deck for. As said before, Tim is a custodian and bus driver for the local school district but in the summer time he is off of work. He has a son and a daughter as well. “My goal is to leave my kids with the best place to live once I’m gone,” Tim said of his home to the youth group. It was very obvious how much care Tim took of his home. Everything was always neat and tidy. Tim became a wonderful part of the group over the week. He stood outside everyday while the youth worked and always met them with a smile.
As well as building a deck for Tim, the youth group had down time in the evenings. This time was spent playing games, getting to know the other churches and evening devotions with pastor Michael. One evening was spent learning about prayer beads and then getting the opportunity to make individual prayer beads for all the youth and adults in the group. Once the beads were made, everyone was encouraged to take time to him or herself to pray and to spend quiet time with the Lord. Some even wanted to walk down to a local cemetery (SPOOKY). We will not name names of those who ventured to the cemetery, but needless to say the youth spent their spare time enjoying the company of fellow followers of Jesus.
However, there was one day in particular that was set aside for all youth groups to take time off and rest halfway through the week. The VUMC youth group decided to take a trip to Cumberland Falls and spend the afternoon hiking to a secluded waterfall and swimming in the river. This time is set aside to relax and get to know the other youth on the trip. The hike was not easy as pastor Michael called it, but all were able to make the trek and enjoy an afternoon in the sun. On the way back the youth group stopped for ice cream and a late lunch. This is where John learned that his blizzard had melted enough to fall out of his cup and become a part of his hamburger.
That evening was set-aside for a community dinner. One of the churches prepared a meal and all the youth groups were encouraged to invite the locals they were serving that week. The dinner was a huge success. There were many families that showed up for dinner and a bluegrass band entertained for the evening as well. Many of our youth helped serve dinner to the community too. It was a team effort all around.
On our last full day in White Oak, we were able to complete the back deck for Tim and present him with flowers for his deck and a signed picture. Miss Meg was able to create a picture and frame it once everyone had signed it. There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishing a service project and seeing the smile on Tim’s face as the youth group left that day.
Special Highlights of Trip: Althea found a huge snake and tried to pick it up. Michael said Mark’s name a record amount of times. Nathan got up at 5:30 a.m. to play soccer with Meredith most of the mornings. We all got very bit by flies.
(All jokes aside) The youth and leaders had a wonderful time.
We want to give a special thank you to all those who helped fund a part of this mission trip. As well as a special thank you to Liz and Bob Ball for the send off lunch and snacks for the road.