2018 Mission Trip Blog

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Sunday July 22,2018











Friday July 20,2018

Thursday Night closing Service

Our last night with TeamEffort has always been a moving experience as there is reflection on the past week as well a recap of the message. The message for Thursday night was about Love and that we should love Jesus just like the way Jesus loved us. This was followed by group reflections in which the question posed to each us was what do we put in ahead of Jesus that prevents us from fully loving Jesus. An insightful question that made some of pause to realize that hectic life of work, school and family is a big contributor.

Travel day home

We opted to begin our travels home on Friday as our work week over and Friday was scheduled as a free day. The unfortunate reality of being 300 miles away from home, and it being a summer Friday, was that no matter how fast we drove we would eventually run into traffic in NY and CT. Rather than sit in traffic a majority of the afternoon, we found an artist that provides glass blowing classes, Michael Peluso (Michael.peluso.com). Located in Elizabethtown, Pa, which is about 20minutes away from Hershey Park, learning to manipulate glass from Michael Peluso was an entertaining time. Michael taught us a little chemistry, showed us how to safely work with a propane torch and then showed us how to easily make bud vase, Christmas ornament or flower. With a table setup for 4 students at a time, we cautiously stepped up (Erica first) to the torches and began to heat up our glass. In the end we all walked away with our glass masterpieces.









Our week long adventure to serve others ended with mixed emotions. Happy and proud of all the work that we accomplished but sad that our week is over and realities of our life will start again.


Thursday July 19, 2018

Work day 4

This week has been another bonding experience for our group. Another tradition, besides finding Walmart, which has emerged over the years has been playing Bananagrams, a game that is a cross between Scrabble and Boggle. It is easy to learn, lots of people can play and is fast paced. During our free time, we have all been playing Bananagrams and it became very evident that Jade and Erica are very quick playing the game. In an effort to balance out the game to allow everyone a chance at winning, Erica and Jade are given the extra challenge that they need to build words that pertain to a theme (for example food). It has slowed them down a little and it has been very entertaining as this challenge has forced them to talk while playing and use their words in a sentence. We have also learned that it is a good ice-breaker. The past two days after breakfast we have been playing in the common area and have become friendly with a couple of girls from a North Carolina church.

It’s our final day of work and it is only a half a day. Our main goal for today is to finish the roof and with that determination Eli and Nicole hop up onto the roof to roll out the shingle layer. With a lot of practice from the previous day and working with the underlayment, getting the shingle layer down went smoothly and another project completed.

The rest of us continued to work on their yard. Using rocks that we had cleaned up on Wednesday, Hayley and Elizabeth, created some art along the edges of their path while Jade and Mrs. Davies weeded and trimmed the yard. While we were working, a Window company showed up to replace 3 windows in Bill’s house, a huge bonus for Mrs. Davies. The windows that were removed were the original window panes and since these windows were going to be thrown out, Mrs. Davies grabbed a couple for her next art project.


With Bill and Cathy’s project all completed we said our good byes and headed to a new site to meet up with a church from Shiloh, PA. We only had 45 minutes to left in our work day and our job was to work on the yard which was severely overgrown. We made a sizable difference in those 45 minutes, but it was not enough, and definitely a project for next week’s group.

We headed back to camp and everyone showered up before we headed out to enjoy our free time in the area. Unlike Tuesday, this was actually planned out, and our first adventure to Penn’s Cave. Just east to State College, it is a cave discovered in the late 1800 and over time filled with water so the tour was via a boat. After touring the cave, we headed out to State College for a vegan friendly noodle house in which we created our own noodle dishes by picking out our noodles, veggies and sauces and then the chefs stir-fried them.  It was delicious.









Our closing service was all about love. More to follow as well as picture

Wednesday July 18, 2018

Work day 3

The rain day hampered all of our work plans but allowed us to have a little extra fun during our trip and sometimes our fun is simply made up. There are only two true baseball fans in our group so going to the baseball game last night was a first for a couple of them and mostly just a night out for fireworks. How did most of them enjoy the game? They brought the friendship making supplies. Some of them also decided to make up background stories about each of the players, like who had a family or who drives a pickup truck. Little did they realize that some of the players actually had apartments and would be walking to their cars during our breakfast. Once they realized who was walking past us, they all jumped up and asked for a picture.

With breakfast over as well as the excitement of meeting some of the Altoona Curve players, we packed up our stuff and headed over to Bill and Cathy’s. The roof was the main priority as there was hope to finish it up by lunch but there was a lot of work left. During the removal of all of the old roofing material, there was a section of roof that had dry rot and needed to be replaced- a great opportunity to use some power tools. Hayley volunteered and with a little safety training Hayley was cutting some boards and the roof section was fixed. By the end of the day, we were able to install the drip edge, lay the first layer of roofing material and reinstall the gutters. One more layer of roofing material to go.

The rest of the group worked on yard cleanup. One corner of the yard contained a pile of rocks so Jade, Erica and Hayley moved them and created a small flower bed ready for next year. Some of the rocks that they picked were used to edge the two rose bushes and with a little extra weeding, Bill and Cathy’s backyard was ready for them to enjoy for the rest of the summer.

Our evening service focused around trust and the story from Mark 4:35-41 (a very abbreviated version). Jesus is with his disciples on a boat when a storm rolls in. The Disciples become scared and ask for guidance from Jesus. Jesus replies asks “Do you still have no faith?” This led our group into a very deep conversation, during our own reflection time, Is trust and Faith interchangeable?












Tuesday July 17, 2018

Work Day 2 or Rain day 1

Waking up to thunder is never a good sign especially on our Mission trip but it was God’s plan. Five minutes before it was time to go to breakfast, the sky’s opened up in a torrential downpour. While we were eating, TeamEffort was scrambling around for plan B as most of this week’s projects were all outside.

Our group had one project inside which was to complete the drywall installation. Our challenge was figuring out how to get the piece of drywall from the staff’s room to Bill and Cathy’s in the pouring rain. Fortunately we have a van, so the drywall team cut the piece in the staffs apt and we (the SYG) held the board over their heads as we drove to the house, 45 minutes later the wall was installed, taped and spackled.

Mission work comes in many different forms although the kids prefer hard labor, connecting with the home owner is another form. While Erica, Jade and Elizabeth were finishing the dry wall, the rest of the group sat in the dining room with Bill and Cathy talking and making friendship bracelets, which has slowly become the theme for the NMCC Mission trip. While the kids were sitting around the dining room table making bracelets and talking to Bill, Cathy was in the kitchen baking pineapple cookies. Our kids also had the opportunity to meet one of the granddaughters, Emily, and with a little coaxing Emily sat down and started to make her own bracelets. We finished up our stay with Bill and Cathy by eating lunch with them and enjoying the cookies.


With most of TeamEfforts projects cancelled due to rain, we were left to our own devices. Our first stop, Boyer Candy outlet. Boyer Candy is the maker of the Mallo Cup, a chocolate cup with a marshmallow filling. With a little research we also found that they make a butterscotch cup filled with peanut butter and pretzels covered with peanut butter and chocolate. It was evident by who purchased things that this type of candy was of only interest to the chaperones. Next stop- Society of St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store. This store was some of the kids “candy store” as they scurried through the aisles looking for some discount clothing. The two standout purchases from the store was Eli’s 20 gallon fish tank and Erica’s metallic gold shoes, which took a lot of peer pressuring to get her to purchase. We ended the afternoon with our daily stop to Walmart for more bracelet supplies.


The service for Tuesday night was going to focus on “Thirst” and probably how we could quench our thirst by following Jesus. During our own NMCC SYG meeting, we did discuss the message from Monday (“Follow”) and then continued our discussion with Tuesday night theme. Why? So that we could enjoy some more Altoona experiences and catch the Altoona Curve play the Bowie Baysox (Double AA Baseball).









Monday July 16, 2018


Every evening TeamEffort holds their worship service which starts off with games and then transitions to hearing their message. The games are a way for the kids to get their hearts racing and build some excitement. NMCC SYG, however, prefers to be even keeled and works very hard to try and lose in every game as fast as they can. In one game the object was to play “Simon Says” against an opponent and then when told the one that picks up the shoe faster wins. The winner continues on the loser sits down.   In this game, Jade and Erica faced off against each other but when it was time to grab the shoe- they just stared at each other and eventually both sat down. Thank goodness for Mrs. Davies as her competitiveness emerged and actually played 3 round.

As TeamEffort continues the theme of “Cast Your Net”, we listened to the readings from Luke 5:1-11 in which Simon had been fishing through the night with no luck. Jesus then told Simon to go back out and cast his net again. Simon followed Jesus’ request and in return filled his boat with fish. Jesus then told Simon “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people”.


Work Day 1

A huge shout out to our female chaperone, Jen Davies, this year. With our SYG predominantly girls, the female chaperones have the huge task of ensuring that every girl on the trip is awake with enough time to prepare for the work day. Some years there are a lot of girls to get ready in the morning (Mission trip 2017) and some years there aren’t. No matter how you look at, it is a responsibility that takes an expert in time management. Luckily our breakfast time starts at 8:10am.

The food on these Mission trips is never something to talk about which is part of the reason we go to Walmart so often. This year, we were totally amazed with the breakfast spread provided to us this morning. A plethora of breakfast sandwiches, hash browns, sausages and homemade donuts. So many choices! Lunch is a different story (not worth writing about).

After breakfast we jump into our van along with our site coordinator, this year is Celeste, a student at Austin Peay State University and drive to our first work site. We meet the home owners, Bill and Cathy, and review the projects for the day, hang a tiny piece of drywall in the 3rd floor bedroom and re-shingle the back patio roof. As God would have it, Eli and Nicole are not afraid of heights and immediately volunteer to work on the roof. The back patio is small, approx. 8x6ft, which is a good project to work on except that the house was built in 1892 and as they started to remove the shingle layer they discovered many more layers of tar paper (about 7) before they actually uncovered some wood. After our hour of removing roofing material, Elizabeth jumps in to help and by 3pm all the material has been removed, they uncovered a hole that needed to be repaired as well as the section that abuts the gutter. Eli, Nicole and Elizabeth are also covered in tar and black roofing material – a missed picture opportunity but they are all smiling and happy that the hard part of the project is completed.

The dry wall project was to remove an 8ftx3ft section of old paneling and replace with drywall. Jade, Erica, and Elizabeth initially started this project and after the 5 minutes that it took to remove the paneling the project was stopped because the dry wall did not get delivered to the site.

Hayley, still recovering from her knee surgery, had limited mobility but troopered on and had the task of patching holes along the stairwell. A small strain on her knee as she needed to go up down the stairs a couple of times but it gave her the opportunity to work with Bill as he taught her how to properly spackle a wall. One could hear the joy in Bill’s voice as he explained good spackling techniques.

One project that was not on TeamEffort’s repair list was the repair of their concrete steps leading onto the front porch. The original concrete steps had additional concrete slabs added to them and over time the first step deteriorated. Our entire group felt that this was extremely unsafe and would not feel good working on their house and not repairing it so Jade and Erica wrote down lists of supplies and we were off to Home Depot and then, due to lack of materials, off to Lowes. Upon their return and with a lot of guidance from Bill, the front step was laid down and curing for the night. Erica and Jade may be entry level masons.

We wrapped up our work for the day with a quick stop into Sheetz, Altoona’s version of 7-Eleven or Wawa’s and then back to the apts for showers.


Sunday July 15, 2018

Mission trip 20

18 Begins!

Another Senior High Youth Groups Mission trip adventure begins as six SYG, Jade Chin, Eli Davies, Erica Mallon, Elizabeth McCann, Hayley Murphy, Nicole Reynolds and chaperones Jen Davies and Jeff Chin loaded up the van to return to Altoona, PA to work with TeamEffort again.  And what a great way to start our trip  with a little love from the Deacons as they organized beautiful snack boxes and met us at the Church at 7:30am to hand them out.  It’s the little things in life that go a long way and getting these boxes every year always makes the SYG happy. Especially when they step into the van knowing that they are on the road for at least 6 hours.

The drive in the van was typical for a SYG trip, a lot of early excitement as we drove away and that leads to a lot of talking and giggling. Lunch was at the Cottage Family Restaurant located somewhere along Rte 80 in Pennsylvania. Diner food is always a crowd pleaser especially when trying to feed a crowd of 8. Of particular curiosity was the veggie burger that had quotes around “vegan”. Not sure why it was quoted but it was enjoyed by the two vegetarians (Elizabeth and Erica) as well as the vegan (Jade).

We arrived into Altoona ahead of registration time which only means one thing, to continue our tradition of shopping at the local Walmart. Luckily there was one within 15 minutes from our housing, so off we drove. Altoona, unbeknownst to all of us is a fairly large city, and with a little research we learned that it had a population of 46,000.  Along the way to Walmart we noticed many different stores for us to venture into, like Target, Field and Stream, the local thrift store and the Boyer Candy outlet Store (the maker of the Mallo cup). So many things to do with so little time.

After loading up with snacks and drinks at Walmart, we returned to TeamEffort to check in. What a difference 3 years makes! The housing location changed from the last time we visited and we are now at the Penn State Altoona apts. The guys apt is nothing to brag about no air conditioning and a funky smell in the rooms but since there are only 2 of us we have lots of room. The girls room is an amazing an apartment that looks like it was recently renovated with central air conditioning and each girl gets her own room for the week.

TeamEffort’s opening service was as anticipated and with a little extra as they are celebrating 25 years of providing mission trips.  They opened with music videos from 1993. This year’s theme for the week is “Cast your Net”, based upon the parable of the fisherman. More to come on this topic. The bigger emphasis for tonight was Phillipians 4:13 –“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” and as we go through this week we should be working outside our comfort zone.