The Mission Trip Community, by Barb Dowd

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This is an entry from a member of our congregation after a week of mission in Indiana. Thanks for sharing your story, Barb! Most of all thank you for sharing your faith!

On February 3, 2013, 43 people from 9 churches and the Presbytery of North Central Iowa gathered in Brownstown, Indiana. It is a very small rural town, but is the address for PYOCA, the Presbyterian Church camp, where we stayed for the Mission Trip. It was a beautiful place to stay even in the midst of winter and brought back my younger years at church camp at Okoboji.
But it was also a great place to meet new people on our trip, reacquaint with others who had been on trips before, and to worship together dedicating our week to helping others. Everyone contributed to the routine chores of cooking and housecleaning which gave us the time then to travel to work sites and help the devastated people of Henryville, Indiana who are still recovering 11 months after the tornadoes and large hail. The survivors’ stories were amazing to hear such as: one large extended family who gathered in one of their homes prior to the tornado and felt the house go up and come down 3 times before the tornado passed by. Most of them lost all their belongings and their homes that day on South Williams Knob Road.
The physical work we did that week was challenging for many of us as we were doing labor that we had never done before. It was very important work to the homeowners to help to get their lives back to a normal state, but more important than anything else was the listening to their stories. We hope and pray that telling their stories over and over to different people helps them to recover from the disaster’s effects. Some of them shared their faith in God with us and saw his hand in their survival and recovery. Neighbors who never knew each other have become friends and even closer, like a family to each other. Their gratitude and love for those who have helped them was evident to me.
We were privileged to have several pastors and commissioned lay pastors in our group. Worship time in the morning and evening was a blessing. In that week, I believe we had a sacred community. It was also a time for sharing our stories. As Rev. David Feltman, Pastor to the Presbytery, expressed to us in our worship time, when we go home to our local churches is what we do as members of our congregation in our church and out in our communities as important as the work we did that week? We, the members of God’s family, need to utilize our time and talents like we did on this trip at home–working together in community toward one goal of spreading the unconditional love of God. That is what matters to Jesus. I am feeling renewed and able to appreciate the messages of Lent; and looking forward to what a mission trip might bring next year.

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