Monthly Archives: April 2010

It is finished!

Posted by Anne Pruett-Barnett Friday, April 23, 2010

It is finished: the first VIM (Volunteers in Mission) trip for adults of Grace Church that anyone can remember. Before driving to the site this morning, we reminded each other of what we hoped to accomplish today; finish the painting of the house; complete the trimming around windows and doors; and finish the deck.

As we drove to the site, the threat of rain was in the air; but we believed that it would not rain until the work had been completed. While it sprinkled some during our break for lunch, the rain held off until all we had said we would do was done. Thank you, God.

During our lunch break, as we ate from brown bags, we discussed issues of faith, openly sharing with each other our thoughts. Serena was in the mix adding her perspective, giving us a glimpse into her faith. After we had finished eating and conversing, I asked each team member to take a turn sitting in the middle of our circle so we could share something positive about him/her that we had discovered this week. As I listened to the sharing, I was touched deeply by the insights of the full team into each individual on the team. Since a large part of the VIM experience concerns the forging of relationships, I was delighted. We go home from Mississippi knowing nine other persons in our church family much better than we did before this mission trip. We go home from Mississippi knowing a great deal about the couple who will be living in the house we helped to build. Serena’s willingness to be an active part of the building of Joseph’s and her home was a real gift to us; a gift that we will continue to open in the days to come.

When we had done all we came to do, we packed up the vehicles and then walked the property, once more, taking pictures to help preserve the memories of our first mission trip together. Paul Miller, who was the project leader on site, and I had the privilege of shutting the door on the house for the last time. It was a moment I will cherish. Serena was not there because she had had to drive her husband Joseph to work.

As I finished taking the last pics, I had the sudden urge to pray over the house. I asked the team to gather so we could pray a blessing on the house. As everyone was coming to pray, I asked who was going to pray. No one offered. Just as I was going to appoint someone, Edwin Brown began singing. I started singing; but somewhere along the way I realized that Edwin’s song was the prayer of blessing and stopped. As I listened to the words of an oldie but goodie, tears came to my eyes. It was a God-moment in which our hearts were touched. Below is the meaningful prayer that Edwin sang:

“Bless this house, O Lord we pray; make it safe by night and day;
bless these walls so firm and stout, keeping want and trouble out:
bless the roof and chimneys tall, let thy peace lie over all;
bless this door, that it may prove ever open to joy and love.

Bless these windows shining bright, letting in God’s heav’nly light;
bless the hearth a’blazing there, with smoke ascending like a prayer;
bless the folk who dwell within, keep them pure and free from sin;
bless us all that we may be fit O Lord to dwell with thee;
bless us all that one day we may dwell O Lord with thee.”
Helen Taylor, words/Mary Brahe, music

This prayer song came to Edwin’s mind because it is a song that he has always wanted to sing after building a new house. God moves in mysterious ways, don’t you think?

After the prayer, we moved quietly to our vehicles and returned to Camp Hope to spend our last evening together with the other team who has shared this week with us, a team from Waynesboro, PA.

Tomorrow we return home to our regular lives. Sunday is coming when I can express my gratitude to Grace Church for supporting us in this life-altering adventure of kingdom building.

In the meantime, I’m grateful to Jan, Kim, Paul, Neil, Edwin, Carol, Maryke, Glen, and my friend Penny who gave up a week of her life to lead us in this adventure, for making this a mission trip to remember! It was a lesson in team work, nurturing relationships, belonging, participating in the building of God’s kingdom, and being the Church of Jesus Christ. It was a reminder that the best thing going in The United Methodist Church is UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) and UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission).

It is finished! I am coming home tired but filled with great joy for the gift of this team and the last six days together.

Once again, you can see the work accomplished by the team on Facebook by going to http://www.gracechurchum.org/, and clicking on the FB link.

Now off to bed in the Camp Hope dorm for the last time. Sweet dreams.

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“Let’s Build Something Together”

Posted by Anne Pruett-Barnett Thursday, April 22, 2010

I’ve been to Lowe’s three times today. Before breakfast, our team leader Penny drove me to pick up paint chips for the home the team is building. Homeowners Serena and Joseph had decided they wanted a baby blue exterior. My task was to choose colors in the blue family and bring them back to the couple. That trip was successful.

Once the homeowners had made their choice, it was time for another trip to Lowe’s to pick up the paint. Team member Maryke, homeowner Serena, and I made our way to the Lowe’s in Pascagoula which was slightly closer to the work site than the one we had been to earlier that morning. Forty-five minutes later we were in the store picking up 10 gallons of paint. As we made the trip, we were able to hear more of Serena’s story. This time we learned how she met her husband Joseph. How good it is to connect more intimately with the homeowners of the house which we are helping to build.

As we left Lowe’s, I commented that it was the last time on this trip that we would need to visit a Lowe’s store. For a woman who would rather do almost anything than go to Lowe’s, two times in one day is enough. That said, after dinner tonight, I found myself in the van with team members Penny, Paul, and Neil, on our way to, you guessed it, Lowe’s! Earlier in the afternoon, when we were packing up to leave the work site, one of the project staff had asked if we would pick up several things from Lowe’s for use on our site tomorrow. We did.

While we were in the store, one of the workers saw the green VIM shirts worn by Neil and Paul, wondered aloud that she didn’t know that we (translated VIM workers) were still here in Mississippi. She thought that the people in the green shirts had left the area. When we shared that we were here doing work, she expressed her gratitude. Before we left the store, we discovered that her own home had been damaged in Katrina and she needed help. Happy to share the good news of Camp Hope, I offered to call her with the phone number of the caseworker. She gladly gave me her cell number, eager for assistance, and then threw her arms around us and hugged us. Very touching.

The “motto” of Lowe’s is “Let’s build something together.” Isn’t that a delightful slogan? In the short time our team has been in Mississippi, we have worked with the Volunteers in Mission on site coordinator, Steve, a very skilled and wise builder, to build a house for Serena and Joseph. We have learned the art of team work; of pitching in where help is needed; of supporting and encouraging the homeowners and others on the team; of seeking the collective wisdom of the team; of building community and friendships even as we build a physical structure.

“Let’s build something together.” Today the team finished the siding on the house, got part of the way through building a deck or porch, and began painting the exterior of the house. When Neil and Paul put up the last piece of siding with help from Glen and Kim (pronounced in Mississippi as Kee-am), as Carol, Maryke, Serena, and I painted, as Penny, Jan, and Steve constructed the deck, as Edwin began to put the trim around the windows, I experienced the goodness of God in each part of the work project. It was a mountaintop moment.

“Let’s build something together.” As important as the work projects have been this week, one of the most exciting things we have done has happened at lunch. Each day, as we have sat together on the porch of the house, eating from our brown bags, each member of the team has shared his/her thoughts about a question of faith which I gave them earlier. Today’s conversation was exceptional and leads me to believe that we are building a community together at Grace where we can discuss the ideas and beliefs that we hold without fear.

“Let’s build something together.” As God’s people called Christians, we are called and commissioned to build God’s kingdom here on earth. I hope that is what we have done here in Mississippi this week.

Don’t forget to look at the new pics posted on FB so you can see some of what happened today on the work site. Pray for us tomorrow as we complete our part of building the house for Joseph and Serena.

Time to go to sleep. Sweet dreams.

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If You Grew Up Playing with Tinker Toys…

Posted by Anne Pruett-Barnett Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Today was a productive day on site for our work team. While Penny and Jan had the time consuming, perhaps even tedious, work, of painting the boards for the trimming on the house (How many boards did you paint?), with very little help from their friends, the rest of the crew worked to complete the siding on three sides of the house. Once that was done, the fun began.

If you grew up playing with Tinker Toys, and enjoyed constructing all sorts of things, you would appreciate the putting together of the scaffolding with no directions for guidance. I’m guessing that those team members involved had played with Tinker Toys, or a similar building toy, as children.

If you grew up playing with Tinker Toys, you would have understood the cheers of joy that were raised by the team as each piece of the scaffold fit properly into another bringing a sense of accomplishment.

If you grew up playing with Tinker Toys, you would have enjoyed the moment or two when the pieces didn’t quite fit together and the team had to work together, pushing and pulling, using great strength coupled with prayer. Weren’t there always Tinker Toys that didn’t quite fit together? when something was simply “off?”

If you grew up playing with Tinker Toys, you would have been thrilled at the moment when your design was completed (the scaffolding put together) and standing proudly for all the world to see. It was a true team work of art accomplished by give and take, by talking and working together. As Neil and Edwin stood on the finished scaffold, we knew it was stable and ready for use.

If you grew up playing with Tinker Toys, you know that there came a time when you used the design you had constructed for some purpose. Today the scaffolding provided the way to begin hanging the top siding on the rear of the house. After team members cut it and drilled holes in it, Neil and Paul climbed very high on the scaffolding and hung a piece or two of siding while the Senior Pastor of Grace Church prayed for their safety. I’ve discovered that “Tinker Toys” mission work increases one’s prayer life.

New pics have been posted on FB.

Our team spent a pleasant evening together simply enjoying each other’s company, eating dinner together, and getting better acqainted.

Tomorrow’s fast approaching. Wait! It’s already here. Since there’s an early morning Lowe’s call, I’m off to sleep.

Sweet dreams.

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If You Want to Understand Our United Methodist Connection…

Post by Anne Pruett-Barnett Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I have been a Methodist from birth. For 55 and a half years, I have belonged to a family in which Methodist was part of its name. Never have I been more delighted to be a part of this family of faith than the past two days since I’ve been at Camp Hope in Mississippi working on a Katrina Recovery home.

If you want to understand our United Methodist connection, come to Camp Hope. Right now I’m sitting in the hallway, between the dorm-style rooms for men and women, that has t-shirts in a variety of technicolor dreamcoat colors hanging on the walls. Many of the t-shirts represent VIM teams from United Methodist churches who have come here to assist in the disaster relief following Hurricane Katrina. The names of their team members are listed on the shirts. Volunteers in Mission: Oneda, Greg, John, Shelley, Eric, Sandy, David, Lola… I don’t know them personally; but what I do know is that they, like me, are a part of the Methodist family. We’re connected to a man who claimed the world for his parish. We’re connected to the Great Commission and Great Commandment. We’re empowered by God’s Spirit and sent out into the world. We’re connected to Christians everywhere who do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

If you want to understand our United Methodist connection, come to Camp Hope and be reminded of the work of UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, which is still here in Mississippi, using its resources donated by churches across the denomination, after most of the other relief groups have gone.

If you want to understand our United Methodist connection, come to Camp Hope located behind VanCleave UMC. VanCleave and the other UM church on the charge (so sorry that I can’t remember its name), which have about 150 persons attending between them, have 120 persons who are active in taking care of the mission teams which stay here. The members cook incredibly delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners five days a week for the teams; care for the bedding and towels; and a host of other things.

If you want to understand our United Methodist connection, come to Camp Hope and meet Dee, Jack, Steve, and the others on staff who are working daily to ensure that relief happens for those who are still waiting to have their homes rebuilt or remodeled and that each VIM team has a positive and fruitful experience.

If you want to understand our United Methodist connection, come to Camp Hope and see the t-shirts on the walls from churches from other denominations. Each team is welcomed and given the same downhome, Southern hospitality that United Methodist teams receive. Everyone gets the same melt in your mouth biscuits and sawmill gravy for breakfast!

If you want to understand our United Methodist connection, come to Camp Hope and listen as the two teams in for the week intermingle and take the time to get to know each other. In listening, understanding begins to take place.

Often we hear about the negatives that come with being a part of a denomination. I want you to hear the positive. The United Methodist connection is alive and well in the Katrina Recovery work in Mississippi. In fact, it is a vital part of it. When United Methodists are involved in living out our faith through works of compassion and justice, we can’t help but connect.

This week, I’m enjoying the fruits of the connection. While our team doesn’t have a t-shirt to add to the wall, we’re going to put up a map of Delaware with a pic of Grace Church on it, and the names of each team member. We want others to know we are a part of such an amazing UM connection.

Just in case you think we might have forgotten, even though Neil isn’t a UM, he’s a vital part of our team and the connection. He is the reminder that the United Methodist circle is greater than just us: it includes all who follow Jesus Christ and share the name Christian.

New pics are posted on Facebook which can be accessed through the Grace Church website at http://www.gracechurchum.org.

Tomorrow is coming all too soon. Pray for our team as we go out on day three.

Sweet dreams.

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When You’re On a VIM Trip, You Know You’re in Trouble When…

Posted by Anne Pruett-Barnett Monday April 19, 2010

When you’re on a VIM trip, you know you’re in trouble when…
You are a half hour into a 31.9 miles drive to the work site and you are still 30 minutes away
from it.

This morning as we headed out of Camp Hope, with our team leader Penny driving the van and me navigating (using MAP Quest type directions and everyone knows how precise they are, haha), we made a right onto Rt. 57. A half hour later, I wondered aloud that I thought we had missed a turn four miles into the trip. We finally made it to the work site, with everyone still speaking to me, thanks to the wonderful assistance from VIM coordinator Dee who gave us an alternative route using the very road we were on!

We arrived at the work site much later than planned, eager to begin. Paul, acting as project leader, handed out our assignments and we began our tasks. I’d like to say that everything went smoothly from there out. Am I laughing?

When you’re on a VIM trip, you know you’re in trouble when…
You are working on siding on a home and the holes you’ve drilled don’t match up to the studs,
even though you are following exactly the directions you’ve received. Two hours later….

How many United Methodists does it take to put up one sheet of siding around a window? Ask Paul and Neil.

After breaking for lunch, the outlook on the siding was much improved. The measurements were figured out correctly and Serena, the woman whose home we are helping to build, seemed relieved.

Just in case you believe that everything else ran smoothly this first day on the work site, think again.

When you’re on a VIM trip, you know you’re in trouble when…
the site coordinator forgets to tell the two people who are roofing, Edwin and Penny, step one
in the day’s roofing process; so they begin with step two.

What’s the problem with that, you ask?

Everything done on the roof during the morning had to be undone in the afternoon. If you have been on a roof in 80 degree weather, you will understand how much fun that was! All that said, the site coordinator helped undo step two, helped them do step one, and all was well!

Our first day on the work site was a challenging one but a really good experience. From the time we began in the morning, the team was in good humor, worked well together, learned to hurry up and wait, became better acquainted with each other, and by the end of the day had developed a wonderful rhythm in our work together. While all our skill levels are very different, we began to gel as a team.

A plus of the day was that we met Serena. She spent the day with us, sharing her story, and helping us to understand the impact that Katrina had on her and the area. It was the beginning of a relationship that we hope to continue to nurture this week and, perhaps, beyond.

When you’re on a VIM trip, you know that your blessings outweigh your troubles when you come to the end of the day and are eager to return the next. We certainly are!

A few pics from today are on the Grace Church Facebook page. You can access it by going to the webpage (http://www.gracechurchum.org/) and clicking on FB. We’ll post more as we go along this week.

In the meantime, sweet dreams from a very happy Pastor and team member. (I learned to caulk today. Yay!) Tomorrow is coming all too soon.

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They Call Us Clumpers!

Written Sunday April 18, 2010 by Anne Pruett-Barnett

Every day in our life we learn something new. Here’s today’s learning: Apparently, it’s easy to identify VIMers who come to Mississippi to work because we are said to move around as groups wherever we go, or as the locals say, “in clumps.” Thus they affectionately call us “Clumpers.” How fun!

Our team arose around 7 a.m. this morning in order to get on the road to a United Methodist church that had early worship. After traveling some distance from the site where we are staying to a “First UMC” somewhere near Biloxi, as we turned into the drive, we discovered the church we had chosen on the internet was a work in progress, consisting of only a frame. We headed back toward the major road, passing another UM church which had a worship service at 10 a.m. Since it was only 8:30 a.m., we went on to the local Wafflehouse, of which there are many, and ate our breakfast. Wafflehouse was an exercise in organized chaos! They showed us real teamwork. They have the concept down pat.

From there, we went to worship at Cedar Lake UMC where the people welcomed us with open arms, thanking us for the work we would be doing. It was fun to look at the bulletin and see the sermon title, When God Says “Go.” It was a challenging message for our team.

I’m always amazed at how small our world is. Before the service began, I introduced myself to the Pastor and discovered that he had lived in Wilmington in the ’70s when he worked for Dupont.

In the afternoon, Jan Randel joined us and gave us a tour of the damage that had been done by Katrina. It was an eye opener. Since it has been almost five years since the hurricane damage occured, I think most of us felt that the housing would have been rebuilt and restored by now. This is not the case. The devastation is still all around the area.

Following our tour, the team ate a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. Beginning tomorrow, we’ll be eating our meals at Camp Hope.

Tonight we had a briefing on and were given instructions concerning the work we will be doing this week. Our team will be working on constructing a new home. I heard words like “roofing,” “siding”, and “electrical.” I feel as if I’ve gone into a strange, new land. Prayer would be good.

Tomorrow our team will be moving out and about in a group, in a clump, to Lucedale. I am guessing that the people of the town will point at us and say “Clumpers!” May we, the Grace UMC Clumpers, give glory to God in all that we do and say.

Still no pictures on FB. Need a cable. Hopefully will get it tomorrow.

Sweet dreams! Tomorrow is coming all too soon.

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Wedding, Planes, and Mission Trip

Written Sat. April 17, 2010 by Anne Pruett Barnett on VIM

Wedding, planes, and a mission trip. Tired? Yes. Happy? Absolutely!

Wedding:
It’s been a long day. It began this morning with the wedding of Kyle Fennemore and Liz Terhune. A very special occasion. Kyle is the son of two people with whom I attended high school. It’s been a joy to have Kyle and Liz choose to come to Grace Church.

Planes:
After the wedding and a quick trip home to finish packing my carry-on bag (I had already sent ahead my larger suitcase – no one can ever accuse me of traveling light), we were off to the Philadelphia airport: Neil, Paul, Penny, Edwin, Carol, Kim, and me. There we caught our flight, first to Memphis, then a short layover, and then on to Biloxi.

Mission Trip:
At our final destination, we were met by Maryke and Glen Cottman who had driven down ahead of us. After renting a van, the team made its way to Ocean Springs where we will be staying at Camp Hope which is a part of the Vancleave United Methodist Church.

Camp Hope is dormitory style, men on one side and the women on the other. Also staying this week is a team from Waynesboro, PA. After making up our beds, making the wireless connection so we can be in touch with you, chatting for awhile, choosing a church to worship in tomorrow morning, and praying, we’re off to bed. Tomorrow we’ll send pics! Too tired tonight.

Sweet dreams! Tomorrow is coming all too soon!

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