Monthly Archives: July 2009

Seeing God in Maine

Mission trip.  These two simple words can invoke visions of traveling to a far off, poverty stricken land that you might see on TV.  Places where one may never have the ability or resources to go.  What we have come to find this week is that a mission trip can lead you to destinations not so far from home, where the need is great and where we as Christians can make a real difference.  When you find yourself doing God’s work, it isn’t really work at all.  I have never seen groups of people work so hard without so much as a complaint about the task at hand, as hard as it may be to accomplish.

This week began for me with a knock on a door.  I could never have imagined that the woman answering my knock would feel as close to me as she does on this day.  Thelma is 77 years old, and a recent breast cancer survivor.  She has lost a Son in law and her husband to cancer over the last several years.  Our task was to demolish the deck on the back of her house, and build a more solid and safe replacement.  The demo was no sweat…minus a few bug bites, and was completed in an afternoon.  By the end of the first day, a stack of pressure treated lumber was piled in Thelma’s yard, ready to be assembled into her new porch.  Over the next few days, our mission became more and more clear…not just to build a new deck, but to build a new relationship.  We worked thru sun and bugs and two days of solid rain, but no one cared about the weather, or the bugs.  When you’re on a mission trip, you’re on a mission.  As the week progressed, our task became as much about interacting with Thelma as it was about building the deck.  In fact…the deck almost seemed to build itself.  I joked that the projects I have done at home never seem to go off without a hitch.  I can’t tell you how many times we needed a certain length of lumber, and that exact size just happened to be laying around.  That never happens at home!  I could see God working thru everything we did this week, in every person here, and in every activity.  Every gift that God has bestowed on these people was utilized this week, whether it was documenting our experience, cooking, using artistic abilities, or praising God thru music.  God had equipped each one of us with gifts perfectly suited for the tasks we had to complete… and few of them involved building or operating a saw. 

Each evening our group would gather for a daily devotion, including a time of music and praise.   It was during these times when I most felt God moving among us.  One night in particular, in the sanctuary of the church we were painting, amid the piles of paint trays and ladders, we praised God thru song.  The presence of the Holy Spirit was so strong that I was moved to tears.   These are the moments that can’t be duplicated, and it seemed to me that I was feeling that presence more and more as the week moved forward.  Each day brought a new experience, and with each experience, a deeper appreciation for just how much God was working thru all of us. 

As we prepare to leave this place, and spend our last evening feasting at the home of one of the families we helped that week, I am reminded again just how blessed we all are.  This has been a week of awakenings, a week of discovery, not only about each other, but about ourselves.  Each one of us has heard God’s call at some point during the week.  On Thursday night, Andrew Dougherty blessed us all by leading a devotion about the Joy of doing God’s work.   He reminded us that the everyday happiness that we experience thru material things will wither and die, but the joy we receive from doing God’s holy work will last to eternity.  May we remember as we leave this place to continue to seek new opportunities to do our Lord’s work in this world. 

“Lord, thank you for showing yourself to us in so many ways this week.  Thru laughter and tears…talents and gifts.  We love you.  Amen”

Blessings,

Miles Dissinger

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Maine Event: Our Last Day

Hello from Kingfield! It’s seems strange that Friday has arrived so quickly. Although we are all tired from busy days of work and joyous nights of fellowship, I’m sure everyone would agree the week has gone by too quickly.

Today we finished up most of our projects. Out at site 3 we completed the wheelchair access ramp (a nice long one with a 90 degree turn), a small ramp inside the house, new front steps, and replacing some porch screen. Our “hosts” at that site are James and Grace. Grace is currently using a wheelchair to get around. James is a very skilled carpenter who is hampered by multiple disc problems in his back. He still is waiting for us every day and ready to help us out either by sharing his knowledge, grabbing a drill or hammer to work on something, or just getting us out of the rain for some coffee and rest. Everyday we’ve all been able to find tasks to work on that we have enjoyed and been rewarded by. Tonight we are all going to their home for a BBQ. AWESOME!

I was supposed to write this yesterday, but we took a field trip to check out some sites. We went to a beautiful waterfall and were able to hike up to the top. Some of us even got in the water(only shin deep for me; COLD). It was a long day of work and site-seeing, which we were all tired from at the end, but we still managed to gather together at the end of the day and praise God and share with one another. It’s been a great week of outstanding friendship and joy. Hopefully I have been able to share as much love as I have received.

Peace,
George Blakeney

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Maine Event: Hola from Kingfield Maine

I say HOLA  because last night we celebrated Doug’s birthday with a Mexican fiesta and cupcakes.  There was so much food, but even better, so much joy and laughter.  We get a little silly at night.  Exhaustion from doing the King’s work in Kingfield.

I wish I could be this happy when I am getting paid to work.  That must be the difference between the Lord’s work and working for a living.  So much joy in the Lord’s work.

The sounds I expected to hear are not what I have been hearing.  I thought that I would hear more nature sounds, birds, moose, babbling brooks.  The sounds I have been hearing are human and full of love. 

I wake in the morning to the sounds of guitar and soft voices, as Miles and Ross collaborate on writing new songs, and someone makes the coffee.  I listen for the sound of the bathroom door opening, so that I can quick get in there before someone else does.  (Two bathrooms for nineteen people…not as bad as I thought, we have learned to work in shifts.) 

During the day, I hear the voices of the Lord’s disciples as they work together cooking a meal, or painting a sanctuary, or making plans for what comes next. 

In the evening the church basement is full of the sounds of laughter and stories about the progress we have made on the different jobs.  After dinner are the sounds of the kitchen being cleaned up and dishes being washed.  From the sanctuary upstairs drift the sounds of the worship team as they practice the music for devotion, which follows shortly after dinner.  The sounds of the devotional music, scripture, prayers and the sharing of where we have seen God in our day brings tears to some of our eyes.

Our late night sounds are those of the competitive Train Game players ( Miles is starting a 12 step group for them, as it appears to be addictive.)  The house sounds of the shower going non-stop as the bathroom door keeps opening and closing.  And as I lie in bed I listen to Patricia speaking excitingly about the dogs, and cats, and kids that are over on the work site where they are building a handicap ramp.  From the other room comes the sounds of people trying to talk quietly, but ending up giggling and laughing loudly.

The sounds I hear are the sounds of love, the sounds of joy and the sounds of family.

God Bless.

I love you all, Sue

P.S. George draws some interesting and humorous pictures in his journal representing the different aspects of our workday.  He may have a future as a cartoonist.

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Maine Event- Work Day Two and Three

It’s raining. I (Amy) am sitting in the church basement, with music flowing from the sanctuary upstairs where team members are putting the finishing touches on the painting work. Tori and Mikki are painting a mural to go at the front of the chancel. Such giftedness among us. 

The evening devotions continue to be a time of enormous blessing, encouragement and joy. The music that Ross, Miles, Shane, and Patti have been sharing has been inspiring. The sharing and reflecting upon scripture and God moments has been flowing. Sue Thompson led us yesterday in reflecting upon Luke 10: 1-28. The emphasis was on Jesus’ words in v.23-24 to the seventy who returned from the mission field:  Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desire to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

I know for my husband Ray and I, we have been seeing some amazing things. On Monday, my father called to say that he had rear ended someone with our van while taking the kids. Everyone is fine. On Tuesday, my sister called to say that my mom was in the hospital after an especially strong seizure (she has a seizure disorder). She is home now after an MRI and some narcotics. The team has surrounded us with prayer, support, and encouragement. We have reflected upon how doing the Lord’s work can result in the enemy working hard to try to distract us. A verse from our first scripture of the week has been flowing through my mind: Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong(2Cor.12:10) I feel like we are gaining a deeper understanding of Paul’s teaching.

Ross and Miles have been inspired to write songs. They have been up every day 5a.m. to compose. Ross wakes up from needing a pen to write down lyrics. We are gently roused from sleep each morning by the sound of guitar cords drifting up the stairs. I can’t wait to hear the fruit of their labor; hopefully in the sanctuary we have been working on and sharing devotions in.

We continue to be grateful for the ways this team has come together so well. Everyone’s gifts are being well used. Our relationship with one another is beautiful. I can feel God knitting us together.

The pastor of this church says she wishes we could have seen the sanctuary before the previous team began the work. They spent a day and a half just spackling and sanding over the holes. She also said the congregation of 30 is feeling very energized by the work being done here. I know it has been energizing us.

We read in the paper today that a neighboring UMC is being decommissioned (closed). This particular church basement of Kingfield UMC is the home of a Montessori school during the school year. This is one of two churches in town, within a stones throw of one another. It strikes me that without this small church, this community would be without significant blessings. Not only is the site of the Montessori school, it is the site of a feeding ministry, as well as the birth place of the Economic Ministry we are working in, serving multiple counties in this rural, poor region.

The folks on staff at the economic ministry here say that the past five years have not been good ones from an economic perspective. Several factories have closed, including a toothpick factory and other lumber related jobs. These were the kind of jobs that paid a living wage and offered benefits. Folks who used to donate to the Economic Ministry are now coming in need of its services.

The team is coming down the home stretch of site #2 led by Rick Squier. They are completing the deck for Thelma. She has been watching their progress with joy, moving fromwindow to window in her home to watch. When Miles up looked yesterday, he startled and amused to see her standing in the bathroom window watching.

The third site is working well toward the ramp for Grace. Rleationships with all of the folks at all three sites (the most important thing) are going well.

And we have been laughing. Every day, every meal, is filled with the kind of laughter that makes me breathless. God is so good.

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Maine Event- Work Day One

I just walked through the entry way to the church six times to get set up to write this.
Kingford Maine is a quaint little town with the kind of cell reception that has us searching for just the right spot to stand in. My spot is on a gravel driveway, sitting in a folding chair, typing on Barb’s laptop, which is plugged to the inside wall socket via an extansion cord that snakes past Tori and Ray.

We have been joking that several members of the team must be setting some kind of record for most number of sanctuaries painted in one year. Many of the folks who painted at Trinity (one of our home church sites) are applying all that they learned to paint Kingford UMC today. Its been amazing to see what kind of progress a dozen people can make in less then one day.

The host ministry- the United Methodist Economic Ministry- is impressive. Nothing fancy- just a well run organziation.

Site number two has Rick, Ross, Miles, and Gina at the moment. They are working on ripping out a deck and building a new one.

Site three will begin work tomorrow. The family there has a disabled wife/grandmother. She and her husband are raising five grandchildren. We will be installing an access ramp to the house, building a small ramp for a step indoors, and doing other small repairs.

We have been praying for our host families, and have started connecting with them. When we prepared for this trip, we reflected upon the importance of serving with a spirit of love and respect. I can see that Spirit working among us.

On a random note, the gnats love ME (Amy). Everyone warned us about the black flies…so far  I have gnats to report. They don’t bite, and they love me especially. (Must be all the chocolate I eat?)

Our devotional times have been a blessing. Saturday night, at our overnight stop in Manchester Christian, we had a wonderful time together. Our host, Mark, is a gifted guitar player. He joined Ross on guitar, with Miles and Patti singing. We reflected upon 2Cor. 12:1019, especially verse 9. My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. God works strongest when we are weakest. Good reminder for us as we enter a new space spiritually and physically this week.

After our formal time together was done, the music continued. We sat around for a while longer simply singing along with the “band” and enjoying the presence of God and one another.

Sunday morning worship at Manchester Christian was wonderful. Lots of inspiring ideasa for us to bring home to worship.

Last night, our devotions were in the sanctuary we are now painting. We had read Romasn 12:1-13 together in the morning before worship. So on Sunday night, as we shared how we had seen God that day and how the Scripture spoke to us, two people in particular touched my heart. The first one shared how she sat in the fellowship hall that evening, out of ideas for how she could help with dinner preparations. So she opened to the Scripture, which includes verses on spiritual gifts. What a joy to see God us in a diversity of ways. The second person was struck by verse 13 and showing hospitality to strangers. Just before leaving home, God gave her a chance to so, and she felt affirmed by the Spirit this night.

Clouds are rolling in as I finish this. I am heading inside! Blessed be.

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The Maine Event: July 4-11, 2009

At 8:00 a.m. on Saturday July 4, we will be gathering at our local family diner, Jack and Helens. Nineteen members of our church family will begin the journey to Salem Twp. Maine, where will do home repair ministry for the week for the United Methodist Economic Ministry.
Their web site is http://www.gbgm-umc.org/umem/index.html

The team members of the Chesapeake City UMC are George and Patti Blakeney, Miles and Tori Dissinger, Andrew Dougherty, Shane Hess, Kathy Jones, Patricia Meehan, Jesse and Barb Riggin, Doug and Mikki Senn, Trish Shores, Sue Thompson, Ross and Gina Troy, Ray and Amy Yarnall. Our web site is chesapeakecityumc.com

We will be staying overnight at a church in Manchester, NH. A member of our church family has family members who attend this church. They have graciously agreed to host us overnight, and we look forward to worshipping with them Sunday morning. Their web site is manchesterchristian.com

We will learn of the specific projects God has for us when we arrive on Sunday evening at the site where we will be staying. Please pray that God will use us well to serve and to witness to God’s amazing love revealed in Jesus Christ.

A clergy friend, Karin Tunnel, sent this prayer to send us off:
Amazing and Strengthening Creator, we humbly but boldly solicit your protection on our sisters and brothers as they seek to offer their hands, their feet, their minds, their voices and their hearts in your service during their adventure journey to Maine. Bless both them and those they assist, that in this shared experience of mission each of them –both those who serve and those who are served–may encounter the Living Christ. Return them to our midst with stories of bold faith, unexpected blessing and humbled hearts. In our Abundant Savior’s name. Amen.

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