June 11 — our first workday — dawned gorgeous and temperate in Alma. After breakfast and Morning Watch (a daily devotion and energizer led by our All-around Guru/Guide/Organizer/Mom/Leader Ginger Ovens), the eight teams and the tool truck headed out at 8:30 to tackle their projects. On “Alma Mater” Day (get it?), Bill Smith and Marty Ovens decided to honor that big university just west of Illinois.
I visited Team 2 (the “Jelly Jamerz”) first. This team includes Mark Baker, Lisa Dunphey, and Doug Varney as adult leaders, plus young adults Mitch Martin and Kelsey Garbe. The students putting in the hard labor (and big hearts) are Ariana, Matt, Courtney, Cole, Alex, Rachel, and Emily. This team’s site was outside Alma on a small farm. The farmhouse was 120 years old and was occupied by Louella, a sweet young lady who will turn 92 later this month. The team was scraping and painting a very old shed as well as the trim on the house. If time permits, they’ll stain Louella’s wheelchair ramp and deck in the back. We found a garden gnome, but I don’t understand why they thought that was funny (see picture).
Next came Team 5 (the “Chicken People”), which was working in a neighboring town. This group was assigned to a rather old home that needed quite a bit of work. They rehung gutters and took down a wooden fence that had over time gone from a 90 to a 45 degree angle. The difficult part was the removal of the ancient fence posts, which required a lot of muscle and a lot of effort. The existing panels were reused after being stained. The homeowner, Mary, surprised the team with heaps of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream + toppings. Team 5 includes adults Rachel Bednar and Bob Ellig, plus young adults Garrett Dorr and Katy McMullen, who is one of five members of the same family on the mission trip. The poultry-loving and hardworking young people are Julia, Andrew, Claire, Kyle, Haley, Ellie, Calvin, and Steve (who was celebrating his birthday Monday!)
After a dinner of tacos, we played games, had small group discussions and worshipped together, led by the senior class. The story was the book of Job, exemplifying Monday’s theme of “Lost Hope” (the tone will brighten as the week progresses). We enjoyed insightful and personal testimonies from Jess and Andrew, and a message from Amanda Hartley.
Then off to the dorm to rest up for Tuesday!