Tuesday, March 30, 2010

From Miles

I worked with our home owner and learned to respect everyone. She told us some crazy stories about how it's important to respect people and look past what you may have been taught. Through all that she had been through, losing her house, and some family members in hurricane Katrina, she still wanted to help others that were even worse off than herself. Seeing how she cared for others even after things most could never imagine happen in her life was really cool -Miles Carey Snow UMVIM '10

Jeff's rememberings

So many good stories to share about Louisiana.  Do I talk about the pleasure of getting to know Bob after being told that he may be a little difficult?  Should I share the pride I felt when Emma, Graham, and Karen B put up a wall all by themselves.  Or how cool it was to stand at the bayou and picture the speedboat chase from "Live and Let Die?"  Perhaps the sheer relief that Zexin did in fact escape the week with ten fingers, ten toes, his face, and other appendages still intact in spite of some questionable drywall cutting techniques.  These and so many more small things get added to the long list of memories that started five years ago when we first drove up Roberts Blvd.  Here are the two things that I think I will carry away the most from this trip:  The sense of frustration that the mission may be over when there is still clearly so much work left to do on the south side, and my complete and utter inability to articulate how much I missed not seeing Carl's trailer parked at the Aldersgate campus and having him as a valued member of the team.  - Jeff Munson, Slidell '06, '07, '08, '09, '10.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sammy and Brittany work at Peggy's

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Sammy's Story

One day while we were working Peggy called us down and she had baked delicious chocolate cookies for us. She gathered everyone around while she gave us all cookies and she looked at each of us and thanked us. She explained that her house was better than all of her neighbors. We looked around and all of her neighbors houses were beautifully finished. So we looked back to her inquisitively. She told us that her house was made of love and thats what made it so special. She had groups of people for the past 6 weeks come and give their love and time to help her. She felt the love and caring nature of each person that came to meet and build her home. She explained to us that that feeling alone made everything worth it. She knew her house would get done soon, and that whenever she was inside it would remind her of all the people that love her. Her neighbors couldn't say that, and that made her proud and happy. After telling us all this, there was an immense feeling of purpose throughout us all. That was why we went on the trip, and for her to recognize that was wonderful. -Samantha Herrick UMVIM team '08, '10

Rocko's stories

Short Story #1. Wednesday night, sitting in the reflecting garden outside the bunkhouse, I hear a very friendly voice say "Excuse me, but are you from Maine?"  "Why, yes I am."  "Well, I saw the Maine license plates and I just had to meet someone from Maine.  I love your state."   That's how I met Monty, who had come for the community supper, and the five minutes we chatted reaffirmed how great a state we live in.

Short Story #2.  Will never forget watching Peggy, our homeowner, surprise Miles and O'Shea with a kite and a flying lesson.

-Rocko '10 UMVIM Team

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Randy's mission trip story (From the Top of the World)

Randy's Story:
      A story from the Mission trip - where to begin - perhaps with a series of  memories flashing from the road and our "rolling nest" - six souls in a tin can on wheels stuffed to the brim with pillows, sundries of food and entertainment, good will, and oddments of the lives we left behind, temporarily watching the occasional (were there three or four?) gigantic crosses beside the highway, boastful proclamations of faith and place, roll before us on the way south and behind us on the way north; and reading the billboards asking the clergy of Knoxville what they were doing about the "3000 abortions a year" in their hometown making us wonder if they were the ones responsible and what sort of guilt was being proffered; the cars and the trucks and the folks on the road with us, each with a personal mission, passing the land and creeping up on the Gulf coast until at last we arrived on the immaculate grounds of the place called Aldgate (did I remember it right?) in Slidell ; soon we were at work at Peggy’s; she told us stories of the flood and the wind and the fury of lives torn apart and left in the backwaters of places just off the road to wither in desiccated depression until someone suggested she direct her prayers making them manifest in words to that incarnation of faith - the church!  help was there already marshaled by those who tried to restore their brothers and sisters after the deluge; and five years later there I was (grateful to my daughter who insisted I come) happy to lift the drywall sheets to make the walls dry - 17 feet above the ground which was still a few feet less than that flood;  like working in a tree house the crew and I measured and plumbed and cut and lifted and screwed and sunk again screws then finally (how funny, how ironic) applied "mud" to the walls we hoped would never taste water again making them smooth sanding them smoother sealing them together with a promise of paint and trim and the finishing touches to be completed by others someday real soon - the last trickle of help restoring a place for Peggy, her daughters, and her sons, and her grandchildren, and a home for her husband, too, when he returns on those infrequent days from labor so far away.  At the end, we tour St. Bernard, flat and filled with busy life brimming with business and folks in a hurry to come and go (did water really cover it all?), and we wait on a bridge while a barge passes below before descending to the Ward - a 9th circle of hell then and still – now an opportunity lost … for us … to become a greater nation … lost when we did not mobilize - immediately - a simple, civic devotion to neighbors - fellow citizens; in every empty lot and broken house is a vision of what was, what might have been, what will be resurrected by those who call that place home;  and the melancholy, which seeps into me as we turn corner after corner after corner of work yet to be done,  is relieved by an echo of a youthful voice silenced too soon so long ago: "There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"  Bobby Kennedy knew - as privileged as I – he knew and now I knew, watching the passing parade of unreasoning poverty and wondering why only a few had homes rebuilt - with innovation and a committed compassion rendered into action.  Now I knew Kennedy’s truth: “It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly. The future will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task.  And the task is great – preserve the hope and serve the change begun in the last election … and remember his other words: “Ultimately, America's answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.  So, then we enjoyed the exuberance of the parade - the joyful kissing and carrying on – (the gift of love … loving and being loved … not a streetcar named Desire) - and then the exotic French Quarter – a reminder that Maine is a place far away – “Hey, man … Maine!  You gots to be joking!  That’s like … on top of the World!” he shouted … to us in the van … supporting his honest labor outside the bar …  on Bourbon Street … when we paused at the light … and as we passed on the green … he knew we high schoolers were “working tourists” … I am certain he could see our “shine”.  Then the road home past the same landscape in reverse; more billboards hectoring our eyes, some our sensibilities, telling us what we ought to believe and how we ought to behave … specifically; and I was not mistaken; it was a short wave radio station proclaiming its version of the Word into the electromagnetic spectrum for all the world to hear, if all the world had radios … and were tuned to its frequency.  For five years the word on our campus was an invitation … to do a little good.  A little good was done.  There is more to do – here and there – one day at a time.  Let’s choose our tools and continue.  -Randy '10 UMVIM team & KHS English teacher.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Meg's story.....

I remember one day, Miles and O'Shea were working with Peggy, our home owner, in one of the rooms. They were sanding, and as many of you know, sanding is not the most fun job in the world. I was in the other room doing my sanding when all of a sudden I hear laughter and singing coming from the other room. Miles and O'Shea were teaching Peggy how to "turn her swag on" and Peggy was teaching them dance moves from when she was a kid. It was amazing to me that two kids from the city were able to connect with a woman from the Southern countryside through music and dance. We all stopped and watched Peggy as she danced around her house...it was a moment of pure joy and contentment - a simplicity of life - that I don't think I will ever forget.  -Meg Richardson UMVIM '08, '09, '10 and KHS Senior

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mission Team update

photo by Devon Huntley, KHS '09, American University '12, UMVIM team '08, '09,'10.

You missed a spot!

Team work is all about helping each other do good work.  And that's what this year's RUMC/Kents Hill School Volunters in Mission were all about.

Team members insulated, drywalled, primed, painted, mudded, sanded, sanded, sanded.....met some amazing people and brought back lots of stories and photos to share.  Watch for them at this site.  Meanwhile, we watched for developing "fruits of the spirit" as we created a community in Christ.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Walk Away ?

So I listen to this interesting economics Blog from Public Radio, it's called "Planet Money". A few weeks ago they had a story which was largely about the burst of the housing bubble and how it had changed the way people think about foreclosures. The woman they were interviewing was a lawyer in Arizona who helped people deal with foreclosure. She was explaining that when she started this work people were mostly looking for help in preventing the bank from taking their home, but now people were calling to see if banks could be forced to take their home. There's a lot of interesting economics behind all that, but it's this observation she made that really tweaked me -- we have, she explained, finally seen a shift in society such that there's no longer a social stigma associated with loosing your home to foreclosure. And she compared it to the change in the 60's when divorce became acceptable, when a failed marriage was something that people walked away from without a sense of guilt. And it struck me thus - how did society ever get to a place that it was socially more acceptable to walk away from another person then to walk away from a thing? When a marriage vow meant less then a signature on a loan? Listen to the podcast here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2010/01/podcast_to_walk_away_or_stay.html