We are a Welcoming Church,
Following Christ in Faith, Love and Compassion

The Mission Team has returned from a trip to Bayville, New Jersey and have many pictures to share.  Below are a few to give us an idea of what happened.  It appears they re-did the floor in pretty much every room, fixed several walls, and ripped out and mostly put back everything in a kitchen.  There are also photos of fun times they had and the church where they stayed.  Enjoy!

Click on the photo to view larger, and on the right of the larger images to see more.

Click to read the Iola Register article.

The Mission Team is looking outward for how to best respond to the recent Oklahoma tornados.  They also work with local organizations like Thrive Allen County and Hope Unlimited (a women’s shelter) to reach out to the community.

Mission Team completed a two-day service project in Joplin on March 22 & 23, 2013.  It was a very positive experience. We did painting, drywall, demolition, wood trim and door-hanging work in a couple of homes, helping the people of Joplin move a little bit further on in their progress from recovering from the tornado two years ago.  The Rebuild Joplin organization has done a wonderful job of coordinating volunteers who have come in from all over the country to help.  The First Presbyterian Church of Joplin, working with the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program, were gracious hosts and have a very nice facility for volunteers, so our living accommodations were quite comfortable.

One of the energizing aspects of the trip was interacting with all the people we came in contact with:  the student volunteer coordinators of Rebuild Joplin, working through Americorp; the volunteer group from Iowa that was also staying at the Joplin Presbyterian complex; the other volunteers working on the projects; and the actual homeowner, Merle, who assisted us in the work.  Everyone we came in contact with was very friendly, welcoming and appreciative of our help.

Rebuild Joplin plans to continue their work through 2015 so we are already thinking about planning another overnight trip next year.  The Spring Break time slot is convenient for people, the travel distance to Joplin is short and the organizations and people involved are top-notch.  They really appreciated our level of skill and work ethic and would be more than happy to see us again in a year.

Click on the photo to view larger, and on the right of the larger images to see more.

Photo's from some earlier mission trips are shown below. More will be added as they are made available.

A team departed Wednesday, June 20, 2007, on a Mexico mission trip.  That year the team included Eric Olson, Nancy Toland, Bob Hawk, Susie McKinnis, Jennica Rausch, Rich Banz, Jay and Rachel Ayers, and Pastor Jim Rausch.  They were joined by Elizabeth Toland and Aaron Stauffer as they played the roles of hosts and guides.  Below are a few photos sent back by the team.  Click on the thumb-nail photos for the larger views.

Jay Ayers and Eric Olson talk with boys aged 13-17 at "Albergue Menor Repatriado", a facility for youths sent back to Mexico by the US Border Patrol.  In some cases, they were separated from family members while attempting to cross.   In many cases, they have been sent by family (at a cost of $2,000 or more) to attempt to cross the border to secure their financial future.  Quite a load for 14 year old kid.

This center cares for them, attempts to reconnect them with family, and discourages them from making border crossing a goal.  In most cases, the people are lied to by "coyotes", profiteers who promise guidance across the border, most often through deserts.  The people are often misled as to the distances to walk, made vulnerable to bandits, anbandoned, etc.  One boy survived 9 days in the desert and gladly sought out the border patrol.  He said he will not make another attempt to cross.

This is a group shot at our brief stop in Magdalena de Kino, Sonora.  This is a beautiful town about an hour or so south of the border.  We had lunch in their square, which has a tomb where you can view the skeletal remains of Padre Kino, a missionary who died in 1711, who is still beloved to this day for his care and love toward the indigenous people.

Eric examines a swamp cooler at a building in Hermosillo the church calls its community center.  In January, thieves broke in and stole all the copper tubing for the plumbing, including the water suppy for the cooler.  They also ripped out all the electrical fixtures and wiring.  We will work to repair and replace what has been lost, hopefully with plastic pipe in order to be less attractive to thieves, and other more secure solutions.

In the first photo, taken on the roof of the Presbyteran Church in Hermosillo, Sonora, Bob Hawk, Rich Banz and Oscar, a local church member, seal the roof with a white substance that better deflects the heat of the sun, which is considerable!  We are expecting 100 plus temps here every day, as high as 115 degrees.

In the next photo, a mesh layer is applied and will be covered with another layer of the white sealer.  This job was started early this morning, in hopes of completion before 10 a.m. due the heat.

As the lone youth, Jennica has done very well on the trip.  Three long days with nothing but "old people" to talk to has its challenges, but she really had no problems at all.  However, she really came to life when we made contact with some of the children of the church.

At worship on Sunday, June 24 at the Presbyterian church of Hermosillo, the Kansas group shared two songs and participated in Scripture memorization led by Pastor Miguel.  The focus today was on the nature of discipleship which requires that we surrender all and put following Christ above all else.  The Scripture passage was Luke 9:57-62.  A meal prepared by the women of the church was enjoyed by all after worship, and the group utilized a digital photo printer brought by Rich Banz to share photos with our Mexican friends.  Upon presenting a photo to one man who had his photo taken with his wife and 3 daughters (the oldest is age 14), he said this was their first ever family photo.

A sprawling city of over 1 million situated in the Sonoran Desert, Hermosillo is seen here from a mountaintop view.  A reservoir east of the city serves as the water supply.  Large retailers such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Soriana are part of the economy, as are Office Max and Costco (Our member cards work here, too!).  We were somewhat surprised to see a large Woolworth’s store.  Makeshift shacks house many poor, while some have advanced to better living conditions.  Some government housing programs have begun to produce large numbers of cookie-cutter homes that represent an improvement for many.

The image that comes to your mind when you think “community center” is probably very different from the one pictured here, however with the newly repaired swamp cooler, lighting, electrical outlets and a working toilet this community center operated by the Presbyterian Church of Hermosillo is back in business.  Today our mission team hosted a vacation Bible school.  For two days we spread the word about our VBS throughout the colonia where the center is located, and on Monday about 40 children came for games, crafts, singing, snacks and other Bible centered fun.

At day 2 of our Mexican style VBS, singing "Jesus Es la Luz" (Jesus Is the Light) was a big hit, especially the part where they shout "Boom, Boom, Boom".  The girls shouted one time and the boys the next.  When it was time for crafts, each child made a stuffed bear to take home.  The bears have the word "Jesus" and several hearts printed on them.  We showed them photos of the children in Iola making (and hugging) these very same bears at their VBS just a couple of weeks before.  Not to be outdone, soon each child had a "muy gordo" (very fat) bear ready for cuddling.

There are still many "colonias" (neighborhoods) that look like this.  Squatters come from various places for jobs available in the cities, especially those with "mequiladoras" (foreign factories).  The pay is $3-$6 per day.  Squatters choose a piece of land and begin to build homes with whatever is available - palletes, cardboard, etc.  Eventually, "poco a poco" (little by little), concrete floors are poured, cinderblock walls are raised, roofs of metal are added, and so on.

However, something we see more frequently these days (that I never saw 6 – 10 years ago) are large neighborhoods of modern-looking, cookie-cutter houses like theses.  Some are built by the Mequiladoras.  A family with two incomes can generally afford to rent a unit or even eventually purchase one.  They usually have 2 small bedrooms, a living/dining area, a small kitchen and a bathroom.  Our group ate at the home of Gerardo and Maria in one of these neighborhoods.  The units had been for sale at one time for $50,000.  I understand the company that owns them now is down to $25,000 per.  Gerardo and Maria pay $100 monthly rent presently.  After dinner, when the hottest part of the day has past, we enjoyed singing outside their home.