June 3, 2014

by Janis Greenbaum

mission trip houseToday has been filled with many joys, lots of hard work and feelings of accomplishment among our missioners.

We began our first work day in the Wellington Heights neighborhood of Cedar Rapids. We met Caleb, Bob and Nate, our Habitat coordinators for the week. They told us about their summer project called “A Brush with Kindness.” The 2-year project is funded by a grant for community redevelopment, and includes mainly exterior painting. Bob, who has lived in Cedar Rapids all his life, told me most of the houses in the area are single-family homes and were built between 1897 and 1915 (early to late Victorian period). Caleb said they hope to complete 15 to 20 homes by the end of the summer. The Habitat crew repeatedly expressed their gratitude for our involvement.

Our group continued a painting job on a 3-story house. It was a beautiful morning, but we had to get used to the incredible number of gnats that seemed to swarm us at every turn! Emmy, Andrew, Skip and Mike were our brave painters, climbing ladders and 3-story scaffolding to get some pretty difficult spots covered. The rest of us stayed closer to the ground, painting and repainting the lower levels.

mission trip parkThere was a lovely city park directly across the street from the work site, so we took our packed lunches to the playground and enjoyed a little fun time in the middle of the day, playing on the swings and running through the waters of a splash pad.

After lunch, our group split into two — with those 18 and spending the afternoon at a new home building site and those under 18 working at the local Habitat ReStore. The group at the new home site helped nail and tape foam boards in the basement walls and then lay the 1st floor sub-flooring. mission trip - buildIt was a hot afternoon below the surface, but we made remarkable progress! (…with the help of other volunteers on the scene.) The group at the ReStore sorted and marked paint, hung really heavy carpets, moved stereo systems and learned a lot about the value of working together. Joe, the ReStore volunteer manager, told the group they did the equivalent of about two weeks worth of work in their three hours today!

After all that hard work, the showers felt fabulous! (The boys went to a local recreation facility;  the girls got the two showers at our host church.) Dinner at Red Robin came next (yum), followed by either a trip to Stone Cold Creamery or to the local HyVee grocery store for a few needed supplies (for those of us too full from our burgers to eat ice cream!).

We wrapped up our evening with a re-cap of our day — the missioners shared good, bad, funny and poignant moments. We enjoyed night prayer in the chapel of Christ Church, leaving quiet time at the end for everyone to reflect on our day and give thanks for our many blessings.

To watch a slide show from the day’s events, click on the arrow below.

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