Mission Trip to Bayville, New Jersey
GPC-led teams have participated in 20 mission trips to work for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance on rebuilding projects. We sent groups on 9 trips to the Gulf Coast to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief, and made 4 trips to Nashville, Tennessee, for flood rebuilding; 2 trips to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to build houses for tornado victims; and 5 trips to the New York/New Jersey area to provide assistance after Hurricane Sandy. Groups go twice a year, normally in spring and fall. For further information on the next trip, planned for March 27–April 1, 2016, contact Mary and Bob Wasik.
Monday, September 21
Point Pleasant House
It was workday number one for GPC’s 20th mission trip. Can you believe that…20 mission trips in 10 years? I think we are all feeling very honored to be a part of this special milestone. And we found that veterans and first-timers blended beautifully to produce one of the most productive first-days-on-the-job ever. We split into two groups, and this author worked in Mount Pleasant with the larger group, who found ourselves in the rebuild of a home just a short walk from the beach with gorgeous ocean view. All of us felt energized to be working in such a lovely setting. Our mission was to get the main floor and upstairs ready for Fletcher (who, it is important to note, has been on all 20 mission trips) to spray paint. No job was too small, whether filling in those tiny pesky nail holes or taping down plastic to protect the wood floors. We left feeling very proud of how we’d all worked together to accomplish our first-day goal. The homeowners, as you might guess, were even more delighted. The house was originally owned by the mother of the female homeowner. She grew up there. She and her husband raised their two, now adult, children there. It definitely meant a lot to her to bring it back to life, and her goal is to be back there to celebrate Thanksgiving. We give thanks that whatever skills we bring can help restore this family to their home that has been the source of so many occasions and that the devastation of Hurricane Sandy will fade as new memories are made in a home that so many have volunteered to bring back from the storm’s destruction.
Our homeowner, who is a retired police officer, welcomed us. He had experienced much damage from Sandy, and just as he and his partner were feeling that the end of their recovery was in sight, she died. We quickly felt like a team with the homeowner and among ourselves. Dave had prepared for our job of removing the existing sliding door by finding a detailed how-to YouTube, and Dave’s cousin Shel had much practical experience with such home repair work. We were grateful to find that a new door of the correct size was waiting for us and for the accessibility of the work area, and we were warmed to the task by the homeowner’s welcoming attitude. We thank the Lord that we are able to help others through difficult times and serve Him.
Tuesday, September 22
Point Pleasant House
As the newbie of the team, I am taking on the challenge of writing up the blog for today, Tuesday, September 22, 2015.
Our team began our second day of work in historic Pleasant Point Beach, New Jersey. We worked with Mrs. G., a second generation owner of a beautiful, partially rebuilt historic home right on the ocean.
When we first came on the job yesterday, our team leader, Fletcher, came up with a plan to get the most work done in the time that we had. We knew the owner was very anxious to finish by Thanksgiving and she was counting on us to help. But we weren’t sure we could do the work necessary for her to go on to her next step. Did I mention that she was very anxious? I know many of us were praying for her and asking HER to pray for us so that we might be able to do all that she needed.
When we arrived at the house today we had an unexpected boon: There were about ten extra people on hand to help us! The extra people gave some of us a bit of extra time to speak with our fellow workers and the owner herself.
Speaking with her, I began to understand her story. In this house, she grew up. In this house, she raised her children. In this house, she held her mother and watched her breathe her last breath. This structure was more than the sum of its parts. It was more than a house; it was and always will be her home.
Her desire to have her home made complete is now so understandable. She had not been able to have Thanksgiving there for the last three years. In that time the home has been saved, raised and partially rebuilt. To her it is so close to being done, she can really feel it. After the work we completed today and the plan for tomorrow, we hope we can help her reach her goal!
Our mission was completed successfully. When we learned that we needed adhesive backed flashing tape we found just what we needed at a nearby locally owned hardware store that had personally experienced Sandy. The store staff was helpful and friendly. Shel was delighted to find such a gem of a store so convenient to his home and when we needed more caulking we knew where to go. The rest of the job was fairly straightforward and our homeowner was present to enjoy the moment as we approached the end of job. Thank the Lord.
Wednesday, September 23
Wednesday was a media event for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and United Way of New Jersey. They were celebrating a homecoming for a resident of Little Egg Harbor, NJ. Three of our team (Juliana Ziorklui, Mel Reid, and Mary Beth Lawrence) were asked to travel about an hour south of the Morning Star Church to this exciting celebration. Even though we did not do any of the work on this particular house, organizers wanted the “Blue Shirts” to be represented.
We joined reporters, politicians, corporate volunteers, United Way staff and a very happy homeowner in marking the milestone of returning Heddy to her home. September 23 was Heddy’s birthday and so there was a double blessing. Rob Clark, who works with United Way, said, “Shortly after Superstorm Sandy, we met with representatives from FEMA and other emergency organizations to begin to organize the recovery effort. I had no idea how we were going to get everything done, but I was told, ‘Don’t worry. The “Blue Shirts” will help you.’ I had no idea who the Blue Shirts were and how they would help us, but now I can’t imagine what we would have done without them.”
I’m glad that Presbyterian Disaster Assistance volunteers have such a good reputation in the emergency management community. We work hard and enjoy giving hope to people who have been through a rough time.
—Pastor Mary Beth Lawrence
Worksite – Point Pleasant
We think the awesome relationship among the owner of the house, PDA, Morning Star, AmeriCorps, and United Way is amazing grace. This is what Christ was talking about when He said, “This is my body.”
Our assignment for painting the whole house was 90% completed and in our eyes was a huge accomplishment for four and a half days. Each room received two or three coats of paint.
Wednesday night the team of 24 workers went out for a seafood dinner. When dessert was served, a huge piece of carrot cake served at least 18 of us. It was Biblical!
Thursday, September 24
Spirits were high on Thursday and the painting continued. In addition to this progress, some of the workers serenaded their colleagues and the neighborhood with show tunes and old Girl Scout songs.
Lunchtime on the beach was a good opportunity for sharing stories from former mission trips, and for extra entertainment we had our own kite flyer to mark our work site. Thursday night, Morning Star Church held a dinner to honor the workers and the homeowners. Everyone attended, including representatives from AmeriCorps, United Way and PDA.
The Gaithersburg team expressed thanks for the hospitality of the Morning Star congregation’s support of our mission team on the Jersey Shore.
—Dinah Jones and Maxine Counihan
Friday, September 25
Working like crazy we finished all the wall painting by noon, leaving only some wood work for the AmeriCorps workers to complete. The homeowners are ecstatic with the results. We headed home with hearts full of thanks to God for the time spent with our team and the work we had completed.