January Mission Trip Blog

Day 7: What a Week

It is hard to believe that the week’s work is now done.  At the beginning of our trip, we arrived to a house that had been completely gutted and only its frame was left.  Now, all the insulation and a bit over half of the house has been filled in with dry wall.  It was a challenging week as pieces wouldn’t fit perfectly, some days were very hot, and most of us had never done this before.  Through it all, we were a big step in getting Alex back into his place that has sat there for 13 long months.

Alex’s current place:

Quick story.  All week we kept seeing a giant alligator across the street from where we are staying.  Upon further inspection we discovered that it is a bbq place.  Since it is our last day here, we had to try it.  Turns out it is run by one woman who makes everything herself.  We ordered their, and I quote, “World Famous Butt Fries” which were delicious. It hit the spot after our shorter day of work.

We left around lunch time because our host church invited us to a chili dinner and concert and we needed time to cleanup and plan this Sunday’s service.  The cleanup didn’t take as long as expected so we had time for a quick walk on the beach.

We had a fun night connecting with people community.  The experience here has been phenomenal.  

Thank you to everyone who helped support this trip! Your prayers, donations, and energy have been so amazing.  The work continues, but our eyes have opened to new ways that we can love those around us.


Day 6: Almost There

Well, today we were a couple members down as sickness and an injury held them back from the work force (nothing too serious, but didn’t want to push it).  We made sure they were ok (shout out Heather Davies!) and set out for the day.  All are feeling the effects of a weeks worth of work.  Yet, the realization that we were heading towards the end of our time helped push us onward.  

It was a hardworking morning, because by lunch time we were all very hungry.  We road to our favorite park and ate a wonderful lunch under the beautiful Florida sun.  Our lunch devotional had added meaning when we pondered Psalm 3 next to a fighter jet.

Today, we were joined by another new group at our work site.  High school students from Georgia came to help out.  Our team leader Josh decided to pair a student with each of our work groups as we tackled the days work together.  

(Josh is the guy crouching) 

At the end of the day, we had a great devotional where we shared times when God helped us through seemingly impossible things.  Our dinner was out on the town.  Surprisingly, many places were closed on a Tuesday night so we drove around until we found a place called Phat Crab.  After a great meal, loads of laughter, and some delicious dessert, the crew made their way back home and quickly hit the hay. 

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Oh… and we got a picture with Alex today (the house we are working on)


Day 5: Work Work Work

Morning came and went in a breeze as we rushed out the door back to our work site.  We arrived to a friendly face, Josh, who put us right to work.  Our theme for the week was “Looking Closer,” taking a look at those here in Panama City, the Bible, and our own lives.  Yet, with all the dry wall we have been doing, maybe we should change it to “Laying Drywall.” 

At our work site we were joined by a lovely group of college friends who reunited to help others.  Their team name was Badger builders, because they all used to go to Spring Hill College.  Together, we tackled the dry wall and made some great progress!

It is taco night on the mission trip, something we have all been looking forward to this week!  Our dinner crew went all out and provided a wonderful feast for our tired bodies.  

The week has been flying by and its hard to believe there are just two more work days!  It is nice to work on the same house all week and be able to see the impact we are having on the place.  At the beginning of our work today, Josh gave a special thanks to Gayle for inspiring us all to come down and help.  It shows how God works through individuals to muster enthusiasm and spur us into action.  All we have to do is listen to those nudges and its amazing what we can do together. 

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We hope you are enjoying the year of the Bible, as it has been a meaningful process for us thus far.  The Noah parallels have been especially impactful this trip.

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Were you wondering who our last crew member is????

It’s Pastor Emily!!!    


Day 4: Sabbath

Our morning was spent worshiping with our host church at their 10:15 service.  It was a lovely time of praising God together.  They were very welcoming and the mission work they do was inspiring.

We loaded up the cars and headed to Mexico beach! As we made our way there, we saw the devastation begin to pile up as we got closer to the center of the storm.  Along the road their were vast barren landscapes with shrubs where forests used to be. 

Al and Carol (Gayle’s family) gave us a wonderful tour of Mexico Beach.  We heard story after story of devastation, but also story after story of hope.  It was powerful to hear how this community was fighting to rebuild in the wake of such an awful storm.  Dozens of houses were completely demolished or floated away.  The water rose to about 20 ft, leaving homes that somehow stood with mold.  

Before    

After 

It is hard to fathom this kind of catastrophe.  Little things that are a given for us is a struggle here.  For example, the banks in town were completely wiped out, so the only ATM is this little mobile truck.

Or the fact that there are still no grocery stores or sit down restaurants in the city.  Just some food trucks:

The joy that Al and Carol find through this event is truly inspiring.  They are a blessing to their community and continue to battle for its future.  They are beacons of faith, hope, and love. 

After the tour, we stayed for a lovely feast.  We watched the sun set over the gorgeous gulf and shared joyous stories over dinner.  It was a hoot.  

  

We sadly had to say goodbye to John, as he is staying in Mexico Beach to help out there.  He was with us for but a few days, but he was a crucial member to the team.  So, we send him off with the heartiest of farewells.  Gone, but never forgotten…

Tonight we eagerly await the arrival of the last member of our mission crew.  Who could it be? Guess you’ll have to find out tomorrow… 


Day 3: Back at it Again

We arrived early in the morning to Alex’s home and got right to work. The insulation was completed and we continued the drywall process.  A couple hours later, we had finished up all the materials we had on site, so we awaited a drywall delivery at a local park.  

Sure enough, the drywall made it and we got back to work.  This time, everyone went in on the drywall.  It’s a much harder process than we thought as we finished up one room and got most of the ceiling done on the second.   In the blink of an eye, it was time to go. We were told a college group is coming in tomorrow to work on it and we will pick up where they leave off on Monday. 

Before:        

Yesterday: 

Now:              

We made it back to our quarters in time for a nap before a lovely baked ziti dinner.  Seeing as it is Saturday night in Florida, and we don’t have to wake up until 9 tomorrow, you will likely find us out on the town until the morning light.  That is if our tired bodies can stay awake long enough.  Tomorrow is an exciting day of morning worship and a field trip to Mexico beach to see Gayle’s family and the spot where the eye of the hurricane hit. 

Thank you for all your prayers and well wishes!

 


Day 2: Work is Hard.  Work is Good.

We met our mission project coordinator Miranda early in the morning.  She works for SBP, a non-profit disaster relief organization.  They specialize in coordinating volunteers to help people rebuild.  She shared how Lynn Haven was hit hard by the storm and many were still without a home 15 months after hurricane Michael. 

The person we are helping rebuild today and tomorrow is a retired Veteran named Alex who was shot in the back during a robbery.  He came outside to chat with us a bit and was very grateful for our help.  

  

Two workers from AmeriCorps, Josh and Parker, led us through laying insulation and drywall.  After a long days work, we finished one room with drywall and the entire house’s walls with insulation.  We venture back tomorrow to complete the ceiling insulation and continue the difficult drywall process!  

After a lovely gumbo dinner cooked by Gayle, David, and John, we had a great discussion about Matthew 3 and the meaning of baptism.  We shared our experience of what baptism meant coming from different traditions growing up.  It lead to a great conversation about John the Baptist, Baptism, and the Bible. 

P.S. You may be surprised to hear that our project managers said we were one of the fastest groups they have ever had.  Turns out, we are pretty good at this.  Let’s see if we can keep up that pace tomorrow!


Day 1: We (Mostly) Made It 

8 of our 10 mission team members have made it safely to Florida! (Don’t worry, the others are safely on their way)  Gulf Beach Presbyterian Church has spoiled us with an amazing facility.  It is equipped with not one… but two showers.  We have settled into our bunks and enjoyed some home made fudge from Lenny who volunteers at the church.

A special thanks to Janet Dunlop who has planned all of our meals! Feeding 10 hungry workers is not an easy task.  We are following the Ed Tennent model of home cooking on this journey.  Team 1 has prepped the morning breakfast. Prayers are appreciated! 

       

We had a great start to Year of the Bible together.  Our theme for the week is looking closer, taking a moment to pause and see what is happening around us.  This has many meanings for us, as we look at the area we are serving, the Bible more deeply, and our own lives.  Hope y’all are following along at home! Check out our devotional guide below to follow along with us. 

Afterwards, we tried a local burrito restaurant that knocked our socks off.  Many great conversations later, we have made it back to our humble abode.  To my surprise, it is now 8:15 pm and many are turning in to rest up for tomorrow.  It is a shocking contrast to the late late nights with the youth this summer in Fayetteville.  

That is all for today! Tune in tomorrow to hear about our first work day. 


Pre-Trip Post

The mission team is ready to head to Panama City, Florida to help with Hurricane Remedial work! Tune in here for daily updates on our journey! 

We will be following along in the Year of the Bible on our trip.  You can find the guide we are following here if you want to join us: January Trip Devotional Booklet.  Please hold our team in prayer as we set our sights on serving those who need help rebuilding.

1. Gina D’Angelo
2. Nelia Scioli
3. Brandon Rippeon
4. Janet Dunlop
5. Gayle Goff
6. John Sohl
7. Chris McAuliffe
8. Emily D’Andrea
9. David Boyd
10. Penny Boyd