Mission Trip Success
The High School Outreach Team was finally able to take our regularly scheduled mission trip this year for the first time since before Covid. Our team consisted of 19 students and three adults helping with fundraising, service projects, and planning throughout the year. Due to the change in school schedule this year, the trip dates conflicted with the end of the year sports calendars as well as other school district schedules. Ten of the students and the three adults were able to make the trip to Kentucky.
Welcome to Sandy Hook, Kentucky
We stayed in an elementary school which had been abandoned and refurbished over the past 2 years. The group in charge, Next Step, had send volunteers ahead to make sure the sleeping areas, kitchen, bathrooms, and large group meeting areas were prepped for our groups and the other groups coming through August.
The Mission Trip Goals
We were the very first group of students on this newly established worksite. We joined with two groups from Wisconsin in Sandy Hook, Kentucky. Our work areas were on the sides of and around a heavily brush filled gorge with caves and a creek flowing at the bottom. The final goal for this years-long project is tear down and rebuild a 100-year-old tobacco barn to be used for storage, clear trails for hiking and meditation walks, clean out the pit which had been used for large item dumping, build a second floor guest house onto an already existing home, plant a community garden to be used by anyone in the local area, and level ground on one of the slopes to eventually build a community center and retreat house to be used by groups in the future. Needless to say, we had no shortage of work.
After receiving instructions an safety protocols once we arrived at the site, we began work. Because we were the first group ever on this site, we spent a lot of time reorganizing tools and scrap wood as well as setting up work areas and teams of people on the 10 acres we were working. Building a functioning outhouse on the site was a major task. Because our area was so remote, there was only one functioning toilet in the area and that was only for genuine emergencies.
A group of 6 students and 2 adults from our Outreach Team spent the majority of the first day preparing to build this outhouse. The working included:
- cutting leveling ground and planting cinder blocks for the outhouse base
- cutting scrap wood for the sides, door and roof of the outhouse
- creating an incredibly sturdy frame to be moved around the acreage over the summer
Other groups worked to clear the dumping site of more than 900 tires. The tires were repurposed to build a wall in the river bed.
Our projects continued for the next two days, but expanded to include clearing trails by hand, putting up fiberglass insulation, more wood cutting, planting the garden, and cleaning out the barn. By day 4, our entire Outreach Team came together to finish mounting the outhouse door, digging a water runoff trench around the outhouse, and cutting the sizing the bench and seat for the inside. It was a total team effort to finish this project which, when all was said and done, we completed by staying late on our last day.
The team did an amazing job preparing this work site for new groups to come in every week for the rest of the summer. We met local volunteers, Mark and Brian, along with the owner of the property, Steve, who were able to help with the barn clean up and the garden planting. They were thrilled with the amount of work our groups were able to do in our 4 days on the work sites. What was a work area that was disorganized and dangerous, was now a safe place for construction and building projects to begin.
When Not Working…
Each evening we were able to come together and share our stories of that day’s work, and share a set of devotionals with each other. The work instill pride in the students and gave them important insight in working for other while expecting absolutely nothing in return. The local community, future mission trip groups, and retreat groups will forever benefit from the work we did this week.
We returned home the next day and made a stop in Columbus, Ohio, to go to the zoo and have lunch. The team was able to refresh and refill our batteries with a nice stop that provided some beautiful scenery, peaceful surroundings, and really cool animals. Our car loads of very tired but happy people arrived back home around 8pm Friday evening. It is a unique are rare gift to be the active hand and feet of God in a community that will never truly know us. The mission trip experience blessed us with time shared together, joy, and the inspiration to be the hands and feet of God in our own community.