2013 Mission Trip Blog!

July 28, 2013 (Traveling day 2 & last blog post)

Eagerness from the kids pushed us to an early start (7am) and because of this start time, we were unable to say thanks to anyone from First United Church of Christ, so a big shout out to First UCC! Without their hospitality, it would have been a really long drive. By now everyone else should know the rest, R1 was picked up in Morristown, NJ by his uncle, lunch was at a diner in Nanuet, NY and then we were home by 3pm.

A couple of points about this year’s Mission trip blog. All the names and jobs described within are true. However, as pointed out by some SYG’ers (Sam) my alignment of the names with particular jobs may have been off. This was due to a few factors; I was able to observe most things; however, by the time I was able to write them down in the blog apparently my memory failed. Also in an effort to keep the posts short, I may have forgotten to mention things – for example- Pastor Jim’s love for his music and his willingness to teach Olivia and Carmella. So the best that I can say is ooops and I am sorry.

pastor -guitar


We are now finished with another great SYG mission trip in which the kids were able to build stronger friendships amongst themselves and chaperones. They were also able to visit another town in the US that is economically and culturally different from Madison, CT. Most importantly they were able to help a family that had a series of unfortunate events and seeing the love and gratitude from Carmella and her grandparents hopefully allowed our children’s faith to grow a little bit further.


July 27, 2013 (Traveling day 1-cont)

Dinner on Saturday night was a nice spread of bbq pork, chicken and vegetable kebobs and cheesy grits all nicely organized ahead of time by Morgan. Our true northern culture shone right through as not too many of the children really enjoyed the grits but at least they tried them. For dessert, there was a fruit cobbler and two pecan pies and as an extra bonus we celebrated Julia’s birthday two days early.

julia bday

The kids then decided come up with an odd game of throw the stick at each other. Actually it was a game of throw the stick and try to catch it but it looked like an accident waiting to happen. Fortunately the game ended without incident and we were on our way again to the First United Church of Christ in Carlisle, Pa.

The night ended with our final night time devotions, a wicked game of hide-n-seek and then the kids talking to each other until at least 1:30am. There may have even been some sleep talking after that


July 27, 2013 (Traveling day 1)

Rain was again started and the hard work throughout the week did make everyone sluggish in getting organized and packed for the trip home. We shared our last meal with the Cary, NC churches and then circled up for the last morning devotion and the opportunity to say goodbye to new friends and fellow workers.


As we departed from ASFC, we were forced to split up, Jeff Chin and Pastor Jim drove off to Roanoke Regional airport so that Pastor Jim could catch a plane back to Madison, Ct and have the opportunity to lead tomorrow service. The other cars started northward – destination WoodstockVa., for an afternoon of leisure in a neighborhood park and to allow the drivers some time to recover.


Dinner will also be at the park and then back on the road to the First United Church of Christ in Carlisle, Pa. To be continued……

 July 26, 2013 (Day 5- last day of work)


Our last day at the Jim & Diane’s house, that means there is a frantic rush to try and finish up all the loose ends of each of the projects. With all of the subflooring installed by mid-morning, Ryan and Pastor Jim were then able to start and finish the tiling process by lunch. The toilet and sink were then installed and the bathroom was operational by then time we left. The bad news, the bathroom still needs some more work such as repairing the washer water pipe and the installation of a bathroom cabinet. The good news- another crew will be working next week at this house and should be able to fully finish the bathroom. The funny news- the bathroom was “road tested” and there was some indications of additional issues but for full details please ask any of the youth group participants.

The floor crew (R1 & R2) carried on with their installation and by the end of the day they were able to get to the last strip of flooring. Time ran out and the uncertainty of how to properly get the last strip of flooring installed resulted in mild disappointment between the two of them.

The gardening crew with three more bags of soil was able to complete their gardens. There was even enough time to create signs for each of the two granddaughters.

camellas garden

paytons pumkin

With many tears from both our children and the oldest granddaughter, we said goodbye. Hoping that next weeks crew will be able to finish where we left off and giving the Jim and Diane a refreshed outlook on their home.

For our last night at the ASFC, the cooking crew served mac n cheese again due to the popularity from the Monday night and the leftovers from the previous days. The NMCC children and adults will always be indebted to the cooking crew for they were the ones that provided delicious home cooked meals throughout the entire week.


July 25, 2013 (Day 4 – also blog of redemption)


That’s a shout out to Sabrina because she has been working with us all week and because she has quietly working I have forgotten to write about her. It has also occurred to me that the more labor intensive projects such as renovating the bathroom or the gardening or the floor installation have gotten the spotlight these past few days. However there have been smaller, faster jobs that have been going on throughout these days and the people working on these have gotten little acknowledgement so – blog of redemption.

trio with paint

Ryan and Pastor Jim continue to work on the bathroom. Reed and Reid continue to work on the flooring.


Sabrina, Tyler, Milan, Sam, Kat and Julia have all been the all around workers helping out in the garden, mowing the lawn or trimming the edges. One piece of equipment that has been incredibly helpful this week has been the gas powered weed wacker. It has been slightly temperamental but with quick service from Ryland and Jim S; Milan, Kat and Sam have been able to cut down a whole bunch of overgrown grass along the edge of the property. One of today’s small projects was to repair some concrete steps, Sabrina, Ryland and Tyler were right on top of it, building the form and pouring the cement. On to the next project, this was to cut off some bolts that were sticking up from some concrete blocks. Hand a sawzall to Tyler, Sabrina and Ryland- 10 minutes later, project complete.  Baseboard trim needed to be stained prior to installation- hand brushes to Sam, Milan and Sabrina- 30 minutes later the boards are drying.

Olivia, Gracie, Devin, and Roberta continue in the garden and to help in the beatification process, they went to a local nursery along with Julia and Kat to purchase flowers. To the delight of the homeowners and the granddaughter Carmella, the garden was finished.



July 24, 2013 (Day 3 of work)

Once again rain and sounds of thunder but quickly passed. Since our group is not responsible for providing food to the churches on site, we all take turns to help out in the kitchen. Today’s breakfast was pancakes (blueberry and plain) and sausage, Julia was the lucky volunteer to walk into the kitchen when the pancake flipper needed some help. Fortunately there were no pancake casualties and breakfast was served on time. Our morning devotion was started with a song led by Pastor Jim.


It was another productive work day at our house. Pastor Jim and Ryan got a step closer to finishing the bathroom, Roberta and her gardening crew finished weeding and are now ready to think about additional flowers. Today challenge for Devon, Julia, Sam, Milan, Reid S (R1) and Reed B (R2) was to eliminate the overgrown brush inside a no longer used above ground swimming pools. Sounds easy? But with the constant reminder of snakes hanging out in places unseen, stepping inside a pool of weeds unnerved us all. R1 and R2 then turned their sites on the installation of laminate flooring and after a couple of practice boards; they should be able to complete that project before lunch tomorrow.

state park

The group of Cary, NC decided that dinner would be a cookout at Pipestem State Park. We arrived with hot dogs and hamburgers cooking and a gorgeous view of the mountains. As part of our Mission trip with ASFC, we listened to a park ranger discuss the coal mining industry in Pipestem and how the industry developed within WVa. We finished the night, as we do every night, with a discussion of the highlights throughout the day but before that Roberta needed to have a little down time.

roberta on swings


July 23, 2013 (Day 2 of work)

A rain storm during the early morning did not stop Tyler, Milan, and Sam from running with their new running buddies. It did give everyone else concern that we would be working in the rain. However by the time that we finished our scrambled eggs and bacon the sun was coming out and the excitement was starting to build for having a very productive day. With all our supplies purchased for the day, Ryan and Pastor Jim took hammers and the sawzall to start the bathroom renovation. Removing the toilet and the sub flooring was more work than expected and by the time that everything was removed it was time to clean up. The gardening crew of Kat, Olivia, Gracie continued their weeding project and made a new friend with the 4yr old granddaughter. Milan learned how to mow a lawn and when asked if she was ready to do it at home, she promptly said no. We finally encountered some snakes fortunately just Garter snakes. Samantha, the person most afraid of a moth, apparently is fearless with snakes and eagerly cleared out the snakes to the delight of the homeowners. Our night ended with a trip to Dairy Queen where the van’s speakers were once again tested for the quality of the bass. This DQ in had the added bonus of overlooking a river (don’t know which one) but it is a beautiful view.



July 22, 2013 (at night)

Our first work day was spent getting to know the family that we are helping. Jim and Diane live in their house with their two daughters and two granddaughters. Due to health reasons, Jim and Diane have not been able to keep up with the rigors of home ownership, forcing them to reach out to ASFC. Most of our group, led by the green thumb of Roberta, weeded the flower beds and pumpkin patch, while Jim S worked with some of the kids to get the lawn mower and the trimmers working again. Tomorrow, Roberta, is determined to have the front yard fully weeded so that she can think about a garden expansion. Our work day ended early so that Mark, our resident contractor, could get building supplies.

Our SYG has been blessed this year because we are at ASFC at the same time as a a group from Cary, NC. This was mentioned earlier but what was not mentioned was the fact that this group also brings a group of volunteers that do ALL the cooking. So after a semi-hard day of work, we had the good fortune to share their meal of homemade mac n cheese and chicken pot pie. The night ended with a small camp fire where the group shared their hopes and fears for the rest of week


And then some fun under a full moon



July 22, 2013 (morning)

 It was a long day of traveling yesterday. Too long to find the time to write.  Our hosts Saturday night, The First United Church of Christ were amazing, such a beautiful church and the congregations was so welcoming before, during and after their service.


Getting to the Pipestem, WVA was Interstate 81South alllllllllll day. Fortunately traffic was good. We encountered some rain but not enough to hamper our view of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Dinner was at the The Homeplace in Catawba, Va., a restaurant and  150 acre farm. Seating 18 is always a challenge but the restaurant readily served us fried chicken, ham, roast beef and vegetables and then finished off with fruit cobbler and ice cream.

Our arrival at AFSC was under the cover of darkness but with open arms from the Center Director- Shelli and a round of applause from the other group from CaryNC. Snakes were the one topic for our site overview pointing out that there are two poisonous snakes in the area-rattle snakes and Copperheads. Things to think about as we start our first day of work. homeplace


July 20, 2013

If the first day is an indicator for the rest of the week, than wow, what a trip this will be! We had a great send off, and left at exactly 10:00, which was my goal! We encountered very little traffic, just a slight slow down as we approached the Tappan Zee, but that can only be expected. The youth are bonding together already, and asked if we could all go out to dinner together! What more could a youth group leader want! It was amazing to watch our 13 youth walk en masse down the streets of Carlisle, in their matching team shirts as we waved to people dining in outdoor cafes. I am so very hopeful for the experiences this group will share over the next few days! Thank you all for your support and continued prayers during our journey.



Hi Everyone!

For the past ten hours the NMCC youth group has already embarked on many adventures. From Burger King pit-stops to local ice cream tastings, we have begun to enjoy the flavors of Pennsylvania! The trip down was comfortable, musical, full of laughs, and everyone enjoyed playing the license plate game. With minimal traffic and sweeping countryside views it seemed like we made it to the quaint borough of Carlisle in no time. After the large helpings of wraps, salads, and chicken wings, at Hanover Grille we explored the historic district and saw many beautiful buildings and floral décor throughout the town. Currently we are all engaged in the BIGGEST Uno game ever known to the NMCC youth group. The air conditioned basement we are staying in seems to fit the atmosphere in this gorgeous church…so goodnight to all and we will be checking in tomorrow!

Milan & Jim Sachs

uno game

We would like to thank everyone who sent us off this morning with hugs, prayers and goodies – parents, deacons and other members of the church made this a very special beginning to our adventure.



July 19, 2013

Where we are going

Appalachian South Folklife Center

A progressive, nonprofit, education organization dedicated to a mountain heritage of freedom and self-reliance; a peaceful place where people of all ages, races, faiths and origins can share community work and creativity…