In recent years, you have heard the term ‘border crossing experience’ to describe our hands on efforts in Outreach. Whether it be to Biloxi MS (Back Bay Mission) or Biddeford (Bon Appetite Soup Kitchen) or other programs, these avenues of service allow us to cross over into new –and often unfamiliar- territory. They offer new insights into our faith, making scripture and the teachings of Christ come alive in our midst. The concept of moving into new territory is profoundly Biblically based. We are reminded of the exile to Babylon and later return to the homeland, the exodus from Egypt and journey of forty years returning to the Promised Land. In the New Testament, we read of the sojourn of leaving behind the familiar to follow Jesus; the way – the truth – the life. This is the road of Easter promise.
I take great satisfaction in leading 21 other volunteers of our faith family to Mississippi in a couple weeks. We will carry the gospel light. We will share that light. We will be enlightened in return. I have no doubt. We would request that you hold us in prayer as we shall carry you with us to the job sites and all our learnings in our week together.
Learn more at: www.thebackbaymission.org. Founded in 1921, Back Bay Mission remains committed to the welfare of those ‘living on the edge’ and in more recent years, impacted by devastating hurricanes in the local communities. It is a mission of our United Church of Christ and its year round Easter messageof hope and new life.
We are students and parents and grandparents---one half of us new to the experience. We are:
Alicia Richelieu, Andy Wilson, Heather and Laura McLaughlin, Linda Hill, Patti and Sarah Berger, Dayton Goudie,
Susan Walters, Peter Sentner, Kiara Davis, Svetlana Lucero, Julie and Allie Bennett, Kristen and Alex Miale,
Jeff and Abby Dubay Troiano, Missy Jordan, JoAnn and Jillian Lapoint.
After our week, I will be staying one additional week to volunteer with the No. Hampton NH UCC congregation. Look at the hallway bulletin board for news of our time in MS as we take you with us crossing the border.
Reflections from BackBay Mission Biloxi, MS 2018
Thursday, April 12 - After a 90 minute airport delay, it was off to DC to see my daughters and birthday celebrations that evening. Fortunate for me,
the next day was the formal inauguration of the new president of American University (where both Laura and Anna now work,
and Laura's college degree received), Sylvia Burwell-- fifteenth president of the school and first woman!
A delightful picnic followed on the quad as clearly spring has arrived here.
President Burwell comes from a small town in W. Virginia, very down to earth in character and recently served as head
of the Office of Management and Budget as well as cabinet Secretary of Health and Human Services in the
Obama administration. At one time, head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with an eye and ear
for social justice and poverty issues within and beyond this country. Her words underscored the importance
of an educated and informed citizenry, connected to values as well as community; all the more critical in our current climate.
I was greatly impressed.
Also began a new book that Anna gave me, DEAD WAKE-The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson.
Very good. Dinner at an outdoor cafe..... and now rest.
Monday, April 16
'Be ready, please, breakfast done and lunches packed for 7:30AM.' Thus we began with
orientation to the week from Craig and Benjiwho oversee the housing rehab program.
Most of us went to Walker Street where we painted exterior home along with caulking, plus
some interior work. This house received flooding in Katrina and now has at least one family member
bed/house bound. Great work crew with Bill, the long term volunteer and our group supervisor.
Three levels of scaffolding, up and down- and moving around the side to back side of home.
Other group did some organizing of the Mission's tools and supplies, then to Gulfport to do final prep on a house ready for city inspection before being ready for a lower income family. A house becomes a home.
Another delicious dinner tonight; pulled chicken, roasted vegetables, rice---- evening trip down to the beach for many - 3/4 walk--- and some then out for ice cream. Such a delight to watch / listen to conversations amongst this group of 22. Folks meeting again 'for the first time' to quote the Marcus Book entitled 'Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time'. Learning of family, work, backgrounds, social concerns/issues and more. And such a fun mix of ages--- blessings abound, God is in our midst.
Tuesday, April 17
Quite a day of significant learnings and experiences. The Walker Street crew continued its painting,
moving scaffolding, and painting some more. Dayton working on some interior closet doors.
Third coat of blue and second coat of white trim. Close to being finished.
The other crew went to W. Biloxi to an apartment of a previously homeless person.... and with the program director, discovered it to be in very poor condition throughout. It was disturbing in many ways and called us to be cautious of judgment when not knowing circumstances. One of our folks spoke of the weighty combination of addiction, poverty and mental illness. Another reminded us that homelessness is a 24/7 job. Hats off to this crew for extraordinary work, and will return there tomorrow. Heather had the opportunity to join a local teacher in her fourth grade classroom and gained insights on many levels. A first for our many trips to the Gulf Coast.