Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day in New Jersey!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone from Long Beach Island, New Jersey.  

Today we started our day out in Long Beach Island, New Jersey to see if there was anyone there that could use our help.  We stopped and talked to the awesome people at the Red Cross and they told us that it seemed like most of the folks had gotten help from FEMA - which is great, but that meant there is not a lot of need for us here.  They fed us a wonderful Turkey dinner.....ah, just like at home :)

So, since we were not really needed there, we stepped out to the and all.  It was amazing!  

After our little outing at the beach we headed to Atlantic City, NJ to do some mission work.....that was fun!!!!  

We walked around and met a lady by the name of Ms. Bates....she was the sweetest woman ever.  She told us all about how she used to take in children whose parents could not or did not want to care for them.   But when the Hurricane hit, she was saddened that only one out of the many children she raised called to make sure she was ok.  When we showed up, she was reluctant to allow us to help her because she has felt so rejected lately.  After offering her food and a warm blanket, she ultimately agreed to allow us into her home and give her those items.  Ms. Bates cried and said that Jesus sent 4 angels to her today when she felt rejected.  I gave her a card from one of the Children at St. Annes along with a blanket.....she was so greatful :)  While there, she said she needed some cleaning supplies  too, but the distribution center was not open and she did not feel comfortable going there to take hand outs.  We hugged her and told her we were driving, we felt like we really needed to help her out, so we headed to the store and bought her some cleaning supplies.  We also bought her some flowers.  I will never forget the look on Ms. Bates face when we returned.

We started out in an area that had several homeless people in the park and wanted to give them food that we had brought with and blankets if needed....we were barely there 5 minutes and a police officer arrived with his lights flashing and told us "you stick out like a sore thumb all need to leave, this is not somewhere you want to be".  That made my heart sad.  Isn't our job in life to seek out the lost soles and give them hope.  I was determined to do that even if I could not do it there.

We stopped a few blocks up and walked the streets.  There were several people at the bus stop that prayed with us.  We handed out several turkey dinners and blankets; The stories we heard today were heart many people have so many reasonst give up, but they don't!  They keep going.  I am glad to know we could help them today and put a ray of hope back in their day that God has not forgotten about them.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 3....working on destroying Sandy's damage :)

Today is day three......Wow, where do I start?

This week has been crazy amazing thus far!  As we were driving to Atlantic City all this week, I noticed a sign on a billboard that said "Nice try Sandy, but we are Jersey Strong"!  In my heart, I know that the Jersey Shore Will be bigger and better because of this tragedy they call "Hurricane Sandy".  There is soo much work left to do here, that I am sure it seems very overwhelming to the people here; But, just from the people I have met so far on this trip, they have a passion for their homes and where they live....they will NOT be defeated.   Knowing this, makes me OK leaving at the end of this week.....I will be back; I don't know when, but I WILL be back for sure!

For the past three days we have worked with Varnell and Carlos' family, they have become like family to me and the rest of my group as well.  Today was the last day that we had to spend with them, and it was bitter sweet....We did some crazy amazing things in their homes(2 of their 3 homes are completely stripped and ready for a rebuild...and the insurance company was there today as well :).....I am so proud of all that we were able to accomplish for this awesome family.  Ya see, Varnell and Carlos had no idea that we were going to help them at all until Laura, Bobbie, and myself showed up on their doorstep on Monday and after chatting with Carlos and looking through his homes, we just knew they were the ones that needed our help this week.  We did not come here with an agenda except to share our love and be the hands and feet of god!  I believe we did just that for this family and it makes my heart smile :)  Carlos shared with us that when his momma called and told him 3 woman were on their way to the house and wanted to help, he was very reluctant and thought "yeah, ok, woman???"....upon our leaving him, he hugged us and told us that he will never doubt the power of a woman and the love of god again....he sent us as his angels to help him regain hope and faith again....Mission Acomplished!!!!!

Another thing that amazed me while finishing up Carlos' home is that Atlantic City Workers were there picking up the mounds of trash off the street.....several workers helped carry out trash and dump wheel barrels before they went on lunch.  One of the workers came back early from his lunch break and came right in the house and offered his help until their crane operater arrived.  He not only helped, but when two more of the city workers arrived, he had them helping as well!  Atlantic City Workers, you have made this Minnesota girl proud :)  Thanks for your help guys!   

We then headed to the shelter to drop off more donations for the displaced homeowners from Atlantic City......very overwhelming!  Their faith here is amazing, it kind of makes me feel guilty about the Americanized lifestyle we take advantage of in Minnesota.  We are so very FORTUNATE!

After going to the shelter, we went to downtown Atlantic City to help an elderly woman remove a few items from a crawl space.  I was saddened to see a child about 8-10 riding his bike down the rode smoking a cigarette :(  There were homeless people EVERWHERE.  A lot of those people slept under the piers when they were still standing, how many died, where do they go now?????  A lot of questions going through my mind as I type.

This evening, we spent the evening leading the youth group from Calvery Chapel.....made me miss home seeing these kids, but it was great to get to meet them.  So many of them could not even tell me where Minnesota was :)

Tomorrow, we will be going to serve the homeless and other lost soles in any way we can.  We want them to have a reason to give thanks....I don't really know what that looks like, except to tell you that just talking to them, listening to them, not judging them, offering them help, offering them hope, and just loving on them makes them smile; even when there was not a smile on their face for weeks.  And really, how long did it take out of my day to accomplish that.  I now have a personal mission upon returning....I will seek out the people that just need a little hope....christian or not, they deserve to feel the love that all of us have in our lives!

I am getting very long winded, but I really do feel blessed in my life.  I have heard such horrible and nasty stories on my trip...things that NO ONE should ever have to deal with......and they feel like there is no hope left, until after we just love them!  Crazy what love can do I tell ya!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Carlos & Momma Varnell

Waiting to help Virginia

The waterway in Virginia's backyard where hurricane sandy flooded

Isn't she cute!

I figured if I did not take a picture of the cat we found, y'all would not believe here it is.
Well, it is Tuesday night in New Jersey.  Time is flying by.  It feels like there is soo much to do here, and so little time.  We have done a lot while we were here, however, the need is still so great that it is heartbreaking.  Adventures in Mission have several mission trips set up to come back out here and partner with them long term, so I know that they will be taken care of.

People here have been so wonderfully appreciative that we would travel from around the US to help them.  We have people here from Georgia, Texas, Virginia, and well of course Minnesota.  

I don't think anyone knows my name her, they just keep calling me Minnesota.  The weather here has been in the 50's and I giggle every time they all say how cold it is....of course they then make comment that the only reason I'm not cold is because I am from Minnesota :)  LOL  (Love this crew....they are fabulous)

We started our day out in Atlantic City again helping and elderly woman clean out her crawl space.  Well, they told us that we just needed to remove a few windows....not the case!  I felt like we were on the horders movie...we removed everything from old anchors, to saw horses, wood, windows, oars, doors, and even a boat :).....oh, and I must not forget we also removed a cat....yes, a cat!  There must have been a cat living under her crawl space and when Hurricane Sandy hit, it got stuck under the house and died....we of course captured that on film.  

I have been amazed at the strength in this community.  Virginia not only suffered water damage from Hurricane Sandy, but she also lost her husband a week ago, and her son is currently in the hospital!  We prayed for her, and I ask that you call do the same.

After leaving Virginia's home, we headed back to Varnell's home in Atlantic City to finish up a few things and to start on the next phase of the home.  WE made some awesome progress ......its amazing how much a team of 9 girls and 3 guys can do.

During our breaks, I had an opportunity to do some relational ministry.  As we were walking around the neighborhood, I noticed a family that had 3-4 children playing.  We knocked on the door, met the family and found out that both of this womans children lost everything in Hurricane Sandy.  We asked her if she needed anything and she told us she could use some blankets and such and she said they could use some clothing for the little ones...she was not at all concerned about herself, but just that the little ones had some clothing.  We were able to give her some hats, gloves, scarves, some clothing and a couple of blankets for her little ones and a scarf and glove set for herself and her two children as well.  We could tell that she was not used to taking handouts because she became teary eyed and gave us all a hug.  So Sweet, I will never forget the family that lived on Beach Street in Atlantic City, NJ.

The last thing on the agenda was to take one of the special hand made quilts to Ms. Liz and give it to her for leading us to help Varnell, Carlos and their family...they clearly needed us, and if it were not for Ms. Liz's huge heart, we would not have made the connection with this family and would not have been able to offer them any support. 

Today was a good day!  I love this crew, and their enthusiasm to help is contageous :)

Until tomorrow......have a nice night!  Peace and love to you all!