Workcamps Bring Willing Workers

Photos by campers, not Rodney Stewart.

                         Group Mission Trips – Photos by campers, not Rodney Stewart.

One very old Blackfoot Indian on a reservation in Montana was invaded by six energetic, but somewhat nervous workcampers. The kids knew that the old gentleman had become depressed after his wife died three years earlier, and he had let the house fall into shambles.

The work crew was assigned a list of tough projects for a week: painting inside and out, repairing broken windows and doors, rebuilding the back steps, and putting a new roof on the house.

With no time to lose, some of the girls began to clean the walls inside the house in preparation for some fresh paint. But when they opened the door to a backroom, they discovered what must have been a three-year supply of clothes piled in huge stacks throughout the room. A slender pathway wound through the mountains of clothing. And the walls couldn’t be painted until all the clothes were moved.

The group members decided that they would wash the old man’s clothes in the kitchen sink. Then someone discovered an ancient washing machine under one of the mounds of clothes. Soon, clothes hung from every clothesline and fence in the yard.

By the end of the week, the crew members had a new friend they called “Gramps,” and he had a huge smile on his face to go along with his rejuvenated house. The resident beamed with happiness as he bounced across the room to see the closets full of freshly washed clothes. And he proudly said that his new friends had taught him how to use the washer.

Perhaps his deep three-year-old pain healed a bit as the crew cranked up the washer that only his wife had used before. His clothes wouldn’t create miniature mountains of smelly fabric again. Pride in his home returned with the invasion of the visitors who respectfully waded into the back rooms of his homes.

The kids were channels through which God’s love flowed into this old man’s life. Both he and his new friends would never again be the same.

Each of the crew members knew what it was like to find that “lost coin” in a house they had cleaned—and painted, and re-roofed, and repaired. Each of the workers felt a special glow inside, knowing that they had done something special for someone who clearly needed their help.

For more information on Group Mission Trips or potential Summer 2018 Mission Experiences for your church, visit www.groupmissiontrips.com

Developing Relationships with Navajo Partners

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“Yá’át’ééh.” “Hello” in Navajo.

Recently, I traveled to Southern Utah to meet with local Workcamps partners and community members in preparation for our Summer 2018 Montezuma Creek Challenge Workcamp.

My week was filled with newness. New languages spoken. New meals shared. New sites seen. And while the experiences of eating fry bread with every supper and adventuring through the desert canyons were top-notch, my favorite part was actually the familiarity of building relationships with people who care about their community.

I am constantly blown away that no matter what city or area I am visiting, I experience genuine hospitality and the expression of love from a community and the people who call it home.

As we drove down unmarked red dirt roads, our partners were able to identify homes that we’ve previously worked on not by a site number or even by the home repair work completed, but by the resident’s name and story.

They shared stories of residents who were impacted by the youth who came to serve, residents whose homes would have otherwise crumbled without new roofs that were installed by participants, and residents whose stories forever changed the lives of our staff and youth.

In every meeting with schools and Navajo chapter leaders, I so valued that the importance was never to just talk business. We got to know each other, checked in on our lives, and kept the conversation focused on the people we cared for. I heard new names and new stories, but the heart behind it all was the same.

It’s this type of community development—the kind where relationships and stories come alive—that I am so proud to be a part of.

“Ahéhee”, my Navajo “thank” you for an incredible week.

For more information on Group Mission Trips or potential Summer 2018 Mission Experiences for your church, visit www.groupmissiontrips.com