Day Seven - So Thankful

This has been a productive week here in Florida! We have had the opportunity to really help some families get their lives back on track. Our team has put in over 40 hours of hard labor. We never would have gotten through the week without two very valuable teammates that did a ton of work behind the scenes. Tria’s kitchen (a combination of Maria and Tracy) has cooked countless breakfasts and dinners, cleaned the kitchen and our living space, gotten our lunch supplies ready, endless trips to Publix and Walmart, washed our stinky clothes at the laundromat, brought us treats at the job sites, and taken care of any emergencies (don't worry, no one got hurt). You may not have seen them in a lot of pictures but we want everyone to know that without  these two ladies we would not have survived.
Thanks Tria!!!

~Pastor Mike 

Day Six - Letters from Home

At this point in the trip we are all a bit tired and hoping to have the energy and patience to get through the next two days! We eagerly hope to get everything done in the homes we are working on. So, how do we stay motivated? What puts a smile on our faces every night? Your letters! One hundred nineteen letters were written by many of you just for us. Each night we get to open one and we want you to know just how much we appreciate every single one of them. These letters helped us to remember that we are loved and that we are making a difference. 

As the week has gone by, we can’t help but think of this scripture from Colossians 3:12 -
“You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Even if you weren’t physically here on the trip, you were a big part in helping us live this out. Thank you for taking the time to write them. Thank you for praying for us and please don’t stop!

Day Five - Laughter

Laughter is a good thing. It’s the end of the day and I’m hearing it from the youth in the other room. It’s late and I’m still hearing it from the adults gathered around a table. It’s been a day that didn’t turn out like many of us thought, but I’ve heard chuckles all day long. In fact, thinking back to breakfast there was a good deal of laughing then. I’m pretty sure that there will even be a few laughs as we turn out the lights.

You might think a mission trip is somber and serious as we focus on sacrifice and serving. However, serving is bringing out the best in us. Here’s a group that a few months ago didn’t know each other. Here’s a group that now has come to respect and appreciate one another. Here’s a group that has come to love and laugh regularly with each other. 

It’s the middle of the week. We have completed some jobs and are moving on to other jobs. We are celebrating what has been accomplished and deciding if we will be able to finish what we start tomorrow by the end of the week. We have experienced highs and lows. We are weary, yet still enthusiastic. As we share during evening devotion, it is clear that God is doing great things in us. As we see progress at the work sites, we see that God is going great things through us. And as I listen to the laughter as I type, it’s so much fun to see what God is doing among us!

~Pastor Mike

Goodland Team

Chocolaskee Team

Day Four - Work Continues

Our two teams continued their work today at their locations. The heat and humidity continue to try and slow things down but we try to stay hydrated and focus on completing our tasks. Much progress was made on both homes today! It was great to see the fruits of our labor and to know we have made a difference. Tomorrow, both teams finish up little tasks at their original locations and then begin work at new homes. 

There are two gifts of hospitality at the end of the work day that go beyond words - a snack and a shower. Some awesome members of the church have opened their homes each day to smelly, stinky and dirty strangers to take a shower. It may seem like such a small gesture, but we we are deeply appreciative because it is so refreshing! The other treat happens right before that. Just when we are dragging in from the work site with our reserves running on fumes, we are blessed by two of our teammates who have stayed back to prepare not only a snack but a dinner that smells amazing! We have certainly eaten well and been abundantly fueled for the day’s activities!

We have a devotional that the team is working through each day. In the evening, we gather as a team to share highs and lows as well as where we see God in our day. The team is memorizing Hebrews 13:16- “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is please.” This verse helps us when the work is hard and the heat is strong. It helps us to remember why we are in Florida; to serve and make a difference in Christ’s name. We look forward to what God has for us tomorrow!

Nightly Devotions

Chokoloskee Team

Goodland Team

Day Three - The Work Begins

Today we began our work here in Florida. Our team is divided into two groups to complete different projects. One group worked in Goodland and the other in Chokoloskee. 

The Chokoloskee team worked on a trailer that had water damage in their ceiling and part of their flooring. The team got to meet the family we were serving as they are still living in the home during construction. Part of our job today was to take down the ceiling tiles and insulation. We also had to pull up damaged flooring. This was followed by adding new insulation into the ceiling. We also started working on the soffits around the house to ensure that water would not get back into the house. We anticipate finishing this task tomorrow. We wanted to work quickly to get this done for the family as the father of the home is very ill. Our team worked very well together even though the Florida humidity is no joke. We were able to manage many smiles and laughter as we worked throughout the day. 

The Goodland team worked to remove the flooring in a trailer and then began to reinforce the substructure of the trailer as well as hung insulation and installed some subfloor. Many from this team got to a use nail gun, staple gun and reciprocating saw for the first time! Under close supervision of course! We were unable to meet the elderly owners of the home as they are in Michigan with family until their home can become livable. We all dragged home extremely hot, achy and tired, but with an deep rewarding feeling that our efforts are making a big difference!

Chokoloskee Team

Goodland Team

Day Two - Sunday is Fun Day

Sunday Is Fun Day

When New Life goes on a mission trip we always have a fun day to explore the area and the culture. Today, the team explored Everglades City and Marco Island! We started with a mangrove airboat tour at Captain Jack’s. It was AMAZING! We saw a 10 foot crocodile during our tour. How amazing it was to  learn about this intricate ecosystem and how it all works together. God is a great creator! After the tour, we explored the animal sanctuary. We saw alligators that were 65 years old and met Charlie, a 30 year old alligator who taught us a ton about their species. A fabulous lunch was enjoyed on the water at Marco Island. Then some of the team rested and some enjoyed the beach. This was a great bonding day for our team. Tomorrow the hard work begins, but we can’t wait to help make a difference for those that are still without a home due to Hurricane Irma. It is very hot and humid in Florida, so please pray for our safety, patience with our work and each other, and the homeowners we are helping!

Day One - Getting to Florida

Getting To Florida
We successfully got 17 friends safely to Collier County, Florida. It was a great day to travel. Lots of laughter and smiles as we got to spend a lot of time getting to know each other during plane rides, lay overs and lunch.   We are staying at Wesley UMC on Marco Island where we were greeted with a great home cooked meal! The members of the church ate dinner with us and shared stories about the area. After that, we set up our home for the week, enjoyed devotion by the water, received our first mail call and got some much needed rest! Thank you for all your support and prayers.