Ever hear of a natural disaster in the news and wonder what can be done to help? Fifteen members of Trinity United Methodist Church of Grand Island just returned from Wilmington, North Carolina, from a week’s visit to restore dignity, hope and safe living conditions for three families whose lives changed last September.
Just weeks after the Grand Island community returned to the routine of a new school year, residents of Wilmington found their homes and schools damaged and destroyed by Hurricane Florence, leaving them with lives anything but routine. Pastor Kevin Slough of Trinity began planning the adult mission trip titled “Operation God Still Provides” and sought willing adults to fund their 14-hour trip/six-day stay and give up a week of moderate Grand Island July heat to toil in the Carolina sun.
Aging from 21 to 70, the adults on the mission found their own lives changed forever, as well, from meeting residents such as Josephine. This hurricane victim, despite losing virtually everything when her tin roof blew off over her head while inside, arrived at the site daily with smiles, gratitude and stories of strength and hope. In the face of potential pain of telling and retelling the story of her losses, Josephine met with work crews like those from the United Methodist Committee on Relief each day to cheer them on, give neck massages, hold ladders and wipe the sweat off of the brows of the workers. Having lived in that house with her husband, now deceased, and raised a family, Josephine could have felt disgruntled and defeated but instead truly had an attitude of gratitude.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you” was heard over and over again as her smile and deeply rooted faith in Jesus Christ renewed her patience and re-energized the volunteers for more hours of exhaustion. Starting with subflooring, wiring, insulating, scraping, reinforcing, painting, window removal and reinstallation, weeding, raking and planting, the group left her house having gained more than they left behind. Treasures found within the rubble included a Viking pin, further connecting each of the mission team to Josephine and her community.
Ideas are already being shared at Trinity Church to make such an adult mission trip an annual opportunity to serve the Lord and his people. Those interested can visit any Sunday a.m. for a casual traditional worship service in the family room at 8 a.m. or for a contemporary praise and worship service at 10 a.m. in the sanctuary with praise band and choir, with frequent offerings by the bell choir and orchestra. Nursery care is also provided. Children and youth can learn to have a thankful, giving heart through the church’s Roots and Branched Christian Education Departments; missions are being planned for them on a quarterly basis with a larger initiative next summer. Visit www.trinitygrandisland.org or call the church office at 716-773-3322. UMCOR, United Methodist Committee on Relief, is always looking for funding and volunteers, as well; opportunities are always available at www.umc.org.
Jill Atkinson paints exterior trim.