I was fortunate to join the mission trip again this year, with another great group of people. Even though I had gone before it was an entirely different experience for me. For the most part I worked in the warehouse. My time was spent doing monotonous physical labor which left my brain available for much reflection.
As minds go, mine was all over the place. I found myself extremely grateful for all of God’ s blessings in my life. Ciara, my family, our home, our health and the abundance of love that surrounds us each day. I am grateful to be a part of St. Martin de Porres Parish that affords
me the opportunity to give of myself to those less fortunate.
I tried to work a little harder and give a little extra to a mission that has less resources than ever and fewer hands to get the work done. All the while thinking of ways we could make our donations even better. Maybe a school clothes drive, since we go there right before the start of the school year. These children have so little and are so grateful. New socks and underwear should not be too much to ask. While the people we serve may have less earthly goods we could all grow in faith by their example. Thank you all for your support of this great mission. Feeling blessed,
This year’ s mission trip allowed me the opportunity to try and help those in need but as the week went on—made me realize how much the people of Appalachia were able to inspire and minister to me as well. On my 1st job site - JR could not help enough. Though he had just recently been in a head on car accident - still in pain from the accident and faced with fathering his two young children alone - he continually kept a great attitude and wanted to help with the job in any way that he could. To my eyes, the yard was a mess with the out buildings having stuff strewn everywhere and their mobile home in rough shape. At one point, though, JR looked around his surroundings and said - "My kids are the most important thing to me in the world and they are so lucky that one day all this will be theirs - I am so very rich beyond words". That truly humbled me.
Everyday our mission was to see Christ in those who we came to serve. But the people of Appalachia also ministered Christ to us with their great faithfulness and love. This allowed me to see the blessings of true faith in life—no matter what your circumstances may be. Thank you all for your prayers and support to the mission - it was a great blessing to us all.
This year I was truly humbled by the graces receive from God. Some of us knew each other, most of us didn't, but the Holy Spirit truly was with us from the moment we left St. Martin's parking lot. Our friendships quickly grew and I was once again blessed to have the opportunity to get to know and work alongside my fellow missionaries. As the work was hard at times and the heat turned way up, our four crews forged ahead and completed the jobs we were given helping the poor of Appalachia. I believe we blessed the people of Appalachia but God so much more blessed us in the process. I know we would not have been able to accomplish this without your prayers and support. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Know that each of you hold a special place in my heart and I hold you up in daily prayer. May God Bless each of you as you live
out His Message.
This was my second trip to Louisa, so I knew what to expect. Like last year, though, it makes one realize how little a lot of people have, not only in Kentucky, but even at home. Yet those we helped in Louisa, with so little, were quick to pray and thank God for what they do have.
We here at home can learn to be more thankful for all that we have and to be more generous in what we are willing to share with the less fortunate.
Being my second time on the mission, I somewhat knew what to expect as far as people we would be serving and projects we would be performing. However, there was a curveball this time. We were heading down with strangers. Such a big group of people who don’ t know each other -- how
could this possibly work? GOD IS GOOD! ALL THE TIME!
I was given a gift that I couldn’ t have imagined. By the end of the week, not only were these
wonderful people not strangers anymore, but I now count them to be among my closest friends
(I pray the feeling is mutual). We served the community and each other as one body of Christ
and were blessed by the experience.
After the trip, I think I am honest in saying Jesus and I successfully acted despite my inner attitudes that say things that go like: "I have no time for this", "I am not experienced enough" or "I have better things to do."
Trying to glorify God by charity became an expense paid trip to another state for free lessons in different practices. Through what I hesitantly label as service, I found treasures in socializing and
working with men and women whose precious individual characters were a testament to life experiences I don't have. In terms of home repair, I experienced putting up T1- 11 siding, caulking, and safe use of power tools (among other things, some outside of home repair).
Thank you St. Martin's and St. Michael's parishioners. This trip was financially supported by your donations, and in a mysterious way, supported by your prayers. I hope more people of all ages ask Jesus about this opportunity, so that they might also get some hidden treasure.
Our mission trip showed, when people with different personalities, ages and skills, have a common goal, they can accomplish difficult tasks. Praying and asking God to guide us, we became a family. The people that we performed the work for and visited embraced us as fellow Christians. You could see in their faces the faith and love of God.
MISSION TRIP 2017 DAY ONE - SUNDAY, JULY 23
“A Matchup of Miracles”
After many months of planning, our combined team of missionaries from St. Martin de Porres and St. Michael left for Louisa, Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains. We left right at 8am and started on our 9 hour trip to the Fr. Beiting Mission. With only a couple of “potty” stops and lunch at Bob Evan’s, our caravan of 6 vehicles had a smooth, uneventful trip (Just what we prayed for!). When we arrived Cindy Capria, the mission volunteer coordinator, guided us to our home for the next week. This year, because we have a bigger group, we are in a larger house in the city of Louisa. It is a humble dwelling, but has everything we need. We are very blessed that air conditioning is one of those things, as it is very hot and humid here.
We unpacked, got settled in and enjoyed dinner together. After we ate, we gathered in the living room for team prayer. Our 3 burning candles represented the Holy Trinity and the Light of Christ that we hope will shine through us. Unfortunately, we did not seem to have voices of angels as we practiced our team song, “Go Make a Difference” for the first time. We decided we would add several percussion instruments from the dollar store to improve the quality of our performance later this week. It can only go up from here. Today’s reading from Romans inspired us to share what prompted us to join the mission team. A desire to help others and to continue the good work of Fr. Beiting was common motivations.
We concluded our prayer time with a blessing of our hands with blessed Frankincense oil. The sweet smell of the oil filled the room as we prayed that our hands and hearts be strengthened for the work we are assigned to do and that we can be the hands of Christ to the families we serve.
We are honored to represent all of you as we do this work. Your commitment to pray for us inspires and encourages us. This year your team of missionaries includes:
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYER SUPPORT!
MISSION TRIP 2017 DAY 4 - WEDNESDAY, JULY 26
“Sing a New Song On To the Lord”
Yahoo, an extra hour of sleep this morning! After some breakfast pizza we headed off to work at our various sites for a couple of hours. At 10:30 we headed to St. Jude Thrift Store for some live Gospel music. Local musicians sit in a circle and the community surrounds them sitting on couches or chairs that are for sale in the shop. All are encouraged to sing or clap along. Old favorites, as well as some original music, was played. Some of the songs included were “Amazing Grace” and “This Little Light of Mine.” Many of the songs addressed grief and sadness. One of the musicians explained that they felt that sad times are meaningful and they change us. We need to trust in the Good Shepherd and always seek to reach the heavenly shore. It was a very moving and inspiring experience for us all. I’m not so sure our performance was moving, but God is Good- All the Time. He takes care of details that we didn’t even know would work. One of the young men on guitar knew our song and offered to play with us. That was the “difference” we needed! It wasn’t actually rock concert worthy, but it wasn’t half bad.
Beautifully decorated, delicious sugar cookies sent by Nancy, a St. Martin parishioner, were given to Miss Mae to share with everyone at the sing-a-long. Miss Mae is a little dynamo who runs the thrift store. She insisted everyone, including the musicians, have a sweet treat and the few cookies that were left were put on the counter for her customers who came in later.
After the singing, the groups headed to Point of Hope, one of the buildings owned by the mission. We shared lunch with groups of missionaries from Pennsylvania and New York. After lunch we were sent out on well visits. These are follow-up visits with families that have received help from missionaries in the past or visiting residents of local nursing homes. We had the opportunity to visit a single mother of three children, two with disabilities, that we build a deck for last year. They are doing well and are still appreciative of the help received. Another group visited Miss Sylvie, a 90 year old woman who had some home repairs done in April. She referred to our missionaries as teenagers (a boost to their egos) and was a delight. Miss Sylvie is very lonely so some of the missionaries promised to write to her when they return home.
Our final group went to Mountain Manor, a nursing home in Paintsville, a nearby town. Ashley played the piano and others sang along. They sat individually with residents and shared stories and faith. One man, James, shared stories of being in the military serving in Korea. They even met some people originally from Michigan. Chuck had to remind one of the residents that he is a married man, as she was quite smitten and flirtatious with him.
Music seemed to be the theme of the day. Some of the girls went to a local antique shop in town after well visits. The man running the store was playing guitar and singing. When he saw us looking at crosses he asked if we knew the song, “Tough as Nails.” When we said we did not, he played and sang it for us. The song described how strong Jesus was despite his non-violent actions. We feel like we are receiving new blessings everywhere we go.
This evening we attended a holy hour of Eucharistic adoration followed by Mass. Today is the feast day of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne. Fr. Mike spoke about dedication and that we need to be faithful to what God calls us to. God does not abandon us, and we should not abandon God.
Cindy and Dominic Capria joined us for a pasta dinner and told us stories about the mission and Fr. Beiting. All of the missionaries are doing well and are thankful for our communities at home praying for us. Thank you to all who provided baked goods. We are enjoying the sweet treats. We look forward to another busy day of work tomorrow.
BLESSINGS FROM YOUR MISSIONARY TEAM!
MISSION TRIP 2017 DAY 3 - TUESDAY, JULY 25
Baptism calls us all to be apostles
This morning at Mass Fr. Mike said that anyone who has authority is to be a servant. Everyone has different talents and gifts, but our baptism calls us all to be apostles, to be workers in the kingdom of God. No person or job is better than another. We need to be of service to others and spread the love of God. With that, we were sent out to do another day of work with our brothers and sisters of Kentucky.
We have all been working hard, but are having a blast. The missionary team has bonded quickly and everyone has pitched in to make things flow well. We are not members of 2 churches trying to work together, but all members of one mission team working together in God’s vineyard. So much work is getting done!
The team has also been praying for our communities back home and want you to know how much we are feeling the power of your prayers. We are all stepping out of our comfort zones, but not feeling uncomfortable. Hours of sleep are short, but we have had the energy to work hard. New friendships are developing quickly. We have also witnessed the protection of the people we are serving, we believe because all of you are covering us with prayer. Walter (known as J.R., one of the men we are serving) was in a very serious car accident last night, but unexplainably was able to walk away from it. He said he should have been dead and his truck was totaled. God protected him, though, and he is still here to care for his 3 year old daughter and 4 year old son. Praise God!
Two of our three jobs were completed today. The bathroom floor got installed and the exterior steps were completed. Tomorrow morning the house siding should be completed. We are blessed to have several men who have very strong construction skills and they are willing to share that knowledge with the other team members. It is also very exciting to have four missionaries (Ashley, Cameron, Dylan and Joseph) who are in their 20’s. Their youthful attitude gives us older folks an infusion of energy. They give us hope for the future of both our church and country with their strong sense of responsibility and deep faith.
The thrift store team also accomplished a lot today. A box containing 10,000 plastic-like plates (not an exaggeration!) was divided into small portions, bagged up, then stocked on the shelves or put back in the large box to storage. These plates are sold at a much lower price than regular dishes and can be washed many times. We also stocked the shelves with school supplies and the racks with clothes. School starts next week here in Kentucky so many families were in the thrift store to purchase clothes and essentials for school. Many other tasks to help the store staff were done. The highlight of the day was a marriage proposal for Michelle. Unfortunately the gentleman was 87 years old with early Alzheimer’s and wasn’t willing to relocate to Michigan.
Overall, we had a great day. Our evening prayer experience was meaningful with much sharing about God’s grace was helping us stretch ourselves beyond our normal human limits. Please pray hard tonight, we have to sing in the morning (Wednesday). We don’t want to embarrass you or us!
BLESSINGS FROM KENTUCKY!
St Martin de Porres Church
31555 Hoover RD
Warren, MI 48093
Rev. Nicholas Zukowski, Pastor
Rev. Mr. Marion Jurewicz, Deacon
Tel: (586) 264-7515
Fax: (586) 264-4013
MISSION TRIP 2017 DAY 6 - FRIDAY, JULY 28
God is good – All the time
Holy Smokes, this week has flown by! This is our last work day and then tomorrow we will be on our way home. We want to fit in as much as we can today.
Mass started our day again and Fr. Mike was back. He spoke about how we can read the same Scripture verse several times and it can speak to us in different ways at different times. Many of this week’s Gospels talked about sowing seeds. He asked us today to think about the soil. How rich is it? How rocky is it? How dry is it? This will affect how the seeds are accepted and grow. This week we have been asked to plant seeds of faith, seeds of hope, seeds of the resurrection and seeds of salvation so that the Kingdom will come to its fullest. We don’t know how the things we said or did will affect the people we were with. We later agreed that we hope we did plant some seeds this week, but feel like many of those we served actually ministered to and planted seeds in us.
Two crews went out to homes today to finish up a couple jobs. One team added additional railings for safety to the 2 story staircase constructed earlier this week. Another crew fixed a leaky kitchen sink for the woman who had her bedroom painted yesterday. The rest of the team worked at the mission center in the thrift store or warehouse. A few of them later came back to our house and cleaned out the gutters and secured them. We had a downpour yesterday and water was pouring over the side of the house.
It was a short workday and we had a final meeting at the mission center with the other missionary groups. It was announced that today was Christine’s birthday. We sang “Happy Birthday” and had ice cream. Everyone then proceeded to the local Walmart for a flash mob. Small groups of missionaries spread out around the store. Our cue to start was when one on the Seminarians called out, “God is Good” and we responded “All the time” he then said, “All the time” and we responded “God is Good!” That was followed by all of us reading Psalm 105. Look it up. It’s a good one.
The rest of the day was left for us to do as we wish. The people from last year’s team brought the newbies to see where we had previously stayed, then we did a little site-seeing. We visited Yatesville State Park that contains a manmade lake created in the valley of the mountain. It was then home for a dinner of left-overs and some packing.
At the end of the day we sang our song, “Go Make a Difference”, one more time (there has definitely been improvement since Sunday) then had evening prayer. We all talked about our adventures this week and shared when we felt closest to God or when we knew we were experiencing holy moments. These included times spent with each other and times with those we served.
It was a beautiful week, but we will all be happy to be in our own beds tomorrow. Your prayers and support are more appreciated than we can ever express to you. Thank you!
BLESSING FROM KENTUCKY! SEE YOU SOON!
Thank you for your support!
“None of us got to where we are alone. Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle,
acknowledging someone’s help is a big part of understanding the importance of saying thank you.”
Saying thanks is exactly what I want to do, but somehow it doesn’t seem adequate. Your support of our missionaries and mission trip experience was phenomenal. Your participation in the prayer clock was inspiring. To know that so many people were praying for us, literally around the clock, motivated us to push ourselves when we were very hot, very tired or overwhelmed. The graces we received strengthened us, carried us and kept us safe.
If you followed this web page reports, I hope that you were able to get an understanding of our experience. Prayer was a major component of our trip. Our team shared a deep faith, and I believe that was key to our success. We started as a group of 17 people from 2 different churches who did not know each other. Even some individuals from the same church were meeting for the first time. It amazed me how quickly the team meshed and really enjoyed each other’s company. Daily Mass and evening prayer every night anchored our experience. We all agreed how important these things were. Morning Mass gave us spiritual food for the day. Evening prayer ended our day with peace. Every night we sang our song, “Go Make a Difference”, read Scripture, prayed for and remembered our loved ones and supporters, and shared with each other. The sharing was so meaningful and we learned a lot about each other.
Four of our missionaries were quite a bit younger than the rest of us, as they were in their early to mid-twenties. They were a breath of fresh air, bringing enthusiasm and energy, but also a deep faith. We were so happy to have them as part of our team this year. It was great to see the mentoring that occurred between the missionaries with ‘more life experience’ and our young team members. The kidding, joking and encouragement that was shared was a beautiful thing to witness. A lot of laughing happened on this trip. I hope that more young people will consider joining us on future mission trips.
The trip caused all of us to be so grateful for all of our blessings. So many of the people we served had so little, but were happy with what they had. One of the families we served included a father (J.R.) who had been hurt working in the coal mines. He had 2 children, a 4 year old boy, Brad, and a 3 year old girl, Chloe. We found out that the mother had left the family, leaving J.R. to care for the children. The children were filled with joy, though. Chloe was so proud to show one of our missionaries her closet. Inside the closet were a lot of hangers, but only one dress hanging. She said she wore her dress to church every Sunday. When our missionaries gave Brad some scrap pieces of wood, the first thing he did was make a cross out of them. The team was astounded that this little boy could name all the books of the Bible in order! J.R. loves his children deeply and is doing everything he can to care for them and bring them up to love the Lord. In their refrigerator was some milk, a box of cereal, a loaf of bread, a box of crackers, and a little bit of lunch meat. By our standards the fridge was bare, but they were satisfied and willing to share any of it with the missionaries. We all agreed that we could easily simplify our lives and share more of what we have.
A group of us worked in the thrift store most of the week. We were able to see firsthand how our donations are used. Almost all of the furniture we sent down in May was gone, with only 2 chairs from the parish office remaining. There is great need for children’s clothing and shoes. I witnessed one boy who came in looking for shoes. He had none and was barefoot walking into the thrift store. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find any to fit, so his dad was taking him to another thrift store. We left that job feeling that it is very important to send clean, nice clothes and household goods in good repair. These wonderful, but poor, people deserve to receive items that will help them to maintain their dignity. Just because they have little money does not mean they should be expected to wear or use junk.
Overall, it was a wonderful trip. Again, thank you for all of your prayers and support! Blessings,
MISSION TRIP 2017 DAY 2 - MONDAY, July 24, 2017
“A tired volunteer is a happy volunteer”
We started our day bright and early attending 7am Mass at St. Jude Church in Louisa. After blessing our hands last night, we were delighted to notice that the stained glass in the church all had images of hands of them. The Holy Spirit was already nudging us. Our new missionaries were able to experience liturgy celebrated by the 6’10” pastor, Fr. Mike. He is an inspiring speaker and a big supporter of the mission program. Today he spoke about the fact that Jesus was fully human, yet fully God and entered fully into the human condition. (Even suffering from human ailments such as food poisoning). This week he challenged us to “touch the face of humanity in a different way” and to share a little bit of the Kingdom with each other and those we were to serve.
After Mass we went to the mission center for our orientation. Cindy Capria spoke to us about Fr. Beiting, the mission and the people we would be serving. Fr. Beiting often asked, “Have you asked God what He wants you to do with your life?” Cindy reminded us that we must also take the time to listen for God’s answer. The mission has recently lost some of its funding from their archdiocese, so they are having to make some difficult changes to keep mission programs going. They are listening closely to hear God’s answers. Poverty is strongly affecting many of the families in the area. Sometimes food, toiletries, cleaning products and bed sheets are luxuries. Homelessness here is not living on the streets, it is 12 people living in a 2 bedroom home, sometimes with no heat or running water. She stressed to us that we are here to bring God to the situation. The experience needs to be about developing relationships and giving hope.
We were all given our assignments, our building supplies and sent on our way with a mission intern (most of them are seminarians). Mark, Joe S., Cameron, Christie and intern Brad were sent to Walter and Whitney’s home to replace sub-flooring in the bathroom that was damaged by water. Due to some missing supplies, they were not able to complete the project today, but did make plans and spent time with Walter and his 3 year old daughter, Chloe. They look forward to working there tomorrow.
Rocky, Joseph C., Bob, Sheryl and intern Evan were sent to Miss Velma’s home to repair rickety exterior stairs to a second floor. They got half of the job done today and will finish tomorrow. Miss Velma was a gracious hostess to them and provided lots of cold water to our missionaries to help them stay hydrated in this very hot environment.
Dan, Stan, Chuck, Dylan, Ashley and intern Alex headed to Miss Hazel’s home to replace exterior siding. Miss Hazel is bedbound in a hospital bed in her living room. She was happy to welcome our missionaries into her home to pray with her there before they started work on her home. They were able to complete the siding on one side of the house and will return there tomorrow to continue their work.
Renee’, Michelle, Kitty and Christine stayed at the mission center to do some badly needed work in the storeroom of the Attic Thrift Store. Tables of donations were sorted and stocked in the store. The huge area was then swept and mopped and the tables were cleaned so we could start sorting some of the many other donations in the warehouse. We had many opportunities to interact with locals shopping in the store.
After a barbeque of hot dogs and hamburgers we ended the day with evening prayer. We talked about the many ways we have been chosen and blessed by God. After prayer everyone was free to socialize or to get to bed a bit early. We look forward to another full day tomorrow. (By the way, our song sounded a little better tonight! One more day to rehearse before the big performance).
MISSION TRIP 2017 DAY 5 - THURSDAY, JULY 27
Be the face of Christ, See the face of Christ
We started the day going to 7am Mass and were surprised to have one of our fellow missionaries celebrate Mass instead of Fr. Mike. Fr. Thomas from Ghana is a missionary with the New York Group. He talked about God’s request for us to meet Him in the sick, the hungry, the poor. In other words, to see the face of Christ in them. Sometimes fear may cause us to back away from that challenge, but we need to be brave and bold. We are called to see and hear and feel the needs of the hurting. Praying for assistance from the Holy Spirit is essential for success in this.
After Mass everyone headed out for a full day of work. Our siding crew finished their job for Miss Hazel. Another group started a new job for a widow who lost her husband 2 years ago and had lost her son and only child about 5 years before. She is now raising her 2 grandchildren because their mother abandoned them. A previous crew of volunteers repaired the ceiling of a bedroom damaged when a tree fell on the house. Our group followed up and painted the room white, making it clean and bright.
The third work crew headed to Miss Velma’s to add railings to the steps. They were unable to connect to power, so instead finished another project for a Miss Delcie. Another crew put in a new window and our crew did the trim work on it. Our fourth crew again spent the day at the thrift store. The store is not open on Thursday, so we were asked to sweep and mop the whole store. The store is about 5000 square feet! It had not been done in quite a while, so it was quite a big job and took most of the morning. We also sorted and stocked merchandise throughout the day. The store is especially busy this time of the year. Because school starts in another week, families are getting the children ready to start. Many families had vouchers for clothes because they can’t afford to buy them. A voucher entitles each child to 5 pairs of pants, 5 shirts, a couple pairs of socks, a couple pairs of underwear and one pair of shoes. It was amazing how quickly things flew off the racks. This is why our donations are so important. Children count on us.
Tonight, two of the seminarians who have worked with us this week joined us for dinner. After dinner we shared in evening prayer. Tonight we talked about being the face of Christ for those we serve and recognizing the face of Christ in them. The incredible depth of faith in people who have so little made it easy to recognize Christ in them. We also discussed how the Holy Spirit has been so present in our house this week. Our team has bonded so quickly we feel like we’ve known each other for years. We have prayed, laughed abundantly, generously shared with each other and definitely seen the face of Christ in each other.
One more full day of work before we leave for the comfort of our own homes. As always we are grateful for the prayer support you are giving us and we continue to pray for you.
BLESSINGS FROM KENTUCKY!