Today was our last work day of our mission trip. It was also our last time celebrating Mass with Fr. Mike and the St. Jude community this year. It has been such a privilege to be able to start each day with Mass and community prayer. The atmosphere has been holy and the messages meaningful. Today Fr. Mike ended his homily talking about theme songs. He stated that sometimes we can hear a song and instantly know what show or what celebrity is related to it. Think Hawaii 5-O, the Tonight Show theme and Johnny Carson or “I’ll Be There for You” from Friends. It was then suggested that we think about what Jesus’ theme song would be. Some of the ones we came up with while working were “You’ve Got a Friend” by Carol King; “The Best is Yet to Come” by Frank Sinatra; “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King; “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles; or “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith.
After Mass we went directly to Miss Nancy’s house to get to work. Most of the team went to this work site. This team feels like they are on a mission from God. They are determined to get this project done for Nancy. By 10am the dining room was done. By noon the bathroom was almost there with only a little bit of plywood to be installed. After a short lunch break, it was back to work with a few finishing up the bathroom and the more skilled men pounding it to get work done in the big bedroom.
Joan and Connie went back to St. Jude Thrift Store to help Miss Mae this morning. They had a busy day with a lot of customers coming in bringing Miss Mae flowers and condolences. One of our former missionaries sent a new shop vac down with us to give to Miss Mae to use in the store. She was thrilled to get it. Connie and Joan used it to help clean up the thrift store. They also had an opportunity to interact with customers. A lot of the locals come to the store just to socialize and catch up with each other.
Later this afternoon our whole group was together at Miss Nancy’s home. What an outstanding group of workers they are. They felt they were on a mission from God to get this project done. It is kind of hard to explain what chaos Miss Nancy was living in. We found out that she has not been able to use the whole back of her house for the last 3-4 years. All of the furniture and belongings from those rooms have been piled in the front rooms and front porch. We stayed late and our team worked extremely hard to get the bedroom finished so Miss Nancy could live more comfortably in her home. She is so looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving dinner in her newly finished dining room. We hope that getting rid of the rotting floors and having a clean new environment will help her heal.
We were so blessed to be with young people so committed to living a life of faith. The four young adults on our team inspired the rest of us with their energy, enthusiasm and fun-loving spirit. Every evening during night prayers, though, we also witnessed a deep love of the Lord. The gang from Immaculate Conception stayed in the volunteer quarters just down the hill from us. We were blessed tonight to have James, an 18 year old young man in their group who has been here at the mission at the same time as us for the last couple of years, came up to borrow some garbage bags for his group. In return he came back with his guitar and played and sang some beautiful Christian songs for us. Being with these great kids gives us such hope for the future of our church. We later sent a big bag of cookies to Immaculate Conception kids for a late night snack. It was revealed that Cameron is also their favorite! (even though Ashley is the one who made the cookies)
James came in to sing with us at the time we were doing evening prayer. Tonight we shared our closest moments to Christ this week and we had fun thinking of more songs that might be Jesus’ theme song. “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts; “I’m Already There” by Lonestar; “Stop in the Name of Love” by the Supremes; “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry; and “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder were some suggestions. All of us shared that we had many special moments that made us aware of God’s presence in our lives. We all agreed that the fact that we actually finished our very difficult job was only due to the grace of God.
Another thing we are all grateful for is the support we received from our two communities at home. Your prayers have carried us through a difficult, busy week. Your generous support of the mission is also appreciated. We were able to present Cindy and Dominic with a $1000 check from St. Michael’s Knights of Columbus, $1500 worth of Walmart gift cards from St. Martin parishioners for the children of Louisa and we had $1100 in cash donations to help buy extra supplies needed for job completion and gave the rest as a donation to the community.
Tomorrow morning we will pack up, clean up then stop for breakfast before we hit the road for home. Blessings to you all and thank you again for your support. See you soon!