A bit sunburned, a bit sore, but back home after a wonderful mission outing.

When folks think of a mission trip, they often think of going somewhere overseas or flying across the country. Our outing was much closer to home. Chehalis, WA is about an hour and a half drive away...close enough for a short, inexpensive mission trip for a small church just getting into the swing of mission trips.

In December 2007 the Chehalis River and many of its tributaries, after several days of heavy rain, overran their banks. In many areas, there were over eight feet of muddy, silt-laden waters. People had to be airlifted from their roofs, or be ferried off in boats. Small communities such as Adna were devastated.

In August 2008, Marcus Whitman Presbyterian Church sent out its first mission team in over two decades. In two and a half days we helped two families get back some sense of normality, doing everything from installing a dryer vent to trim painting, from spreading gravel to installing baseboard heaters and tiling in a bathroom.

This year, as we were trying to determine if/where we would go, we contacted the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance coordinator for Lewis County. Even a year and a half after the flooding, there is still much to be done. She lined us up to work with four households, and we decided to go with three full days of work.

We packed up our tools, our food, our sleeping bags and our Bibles and headed out Sunday afternoon. The good folks at St. Johns Lutheran Church provided lodging for our group for the second year in a row. They are certified as a shelter site, so they have a commercial kitchen, air mattresses and (oh, the bliss) hot showers, as well as a gymnasium. Sunday evening we spent getting settled in and doing some team-building.

I'll take a moment to brag about my beautiful bride of 19 years...she grew up living at a Salvation Army camp where her mom ran the kitchen. She grew up cooking for large groups, so she is our cook on these trips, as cooking for fourteen (seven adults and seven teenagers) is fairly straightforward for her, so we eat quite well!

Each morning we broke fast together at 7:15, shared a Psalm, made up our sack lunches (if you don't like your lunch, you've no one to blame but yourself...) and got our assignments for the day. Then it was out to the homes where we worked until 5 or 5:30, then back to the church for a shower, dinner, evening devotions, and free time.

This morning (Thursday) we slept in a bit, packed up, cleaned the parts of the church we'd used and then all signed cards of encouragement to the families we assisted, as well as notes to each of our team members. We then gathered for final photos, final devotions, and final prayers. Our group then moved, en mass, ten miles up the road for lunch at Burgerville USA before scattering to our homes.

Thank God with us that there were no major injuries, that the weather cooperated, and that we were able to accomplish much this week.

As this is getting quite long-winded, please See Part II for details about the people we helped out.

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