The last time I went on a mission’s trip, it is when I was in High School. The Youth group went down to Baja California, Mexico to a town called Manendero. About a couple dozen students sacrificed their Easter breaks to be on this trip. I was fortunate enough to be able to again the following year. It was an amazing experience and I always wanted to go on another one again.
About six years later I hear from my mother about our church doing missions trips all the time. I was always hoping the college group would do something, but never really thought about the adult ministries. I was excited to hear about it and shortly received an email about going to Canada. A year flew by and I was on my way.
Photo Album -> HERE
The Adventure to Canada
When one plans a trip other then a weekend, a lot of things have to happen. In my case I had to first off be able to leave work during the busiest time of the year. The trip was going to be for two weeks and I knew how work can be. I asked early on during the winter of 06-07. I was able to get permission from my supervisor and her supervisor.
Now that work was ok with me leaving, the next step was a passport. I never did receive it in the mail by the time I had to leave. It arrived two days before I got home and it was lying on the porch. I didn’t have any trouble getting into Canada nor did I back into the USA.
The passport situation was not the way I wanted it to go, but I was fine. I had approval from work too, so what was left? The cost of actually going on the trip. I didn’t really worry about that too much. I was concerned at first, but realized if God wanted me to go, the money would come from somewhere or there would be opportunities to make more. Sure enough everything came into place and I was ready to go.
The team consisted of 25 people. The youngest was about 14 years old and the oldest was in the 70’s. We all worked well together and soon became a close team throughout our stay up there. The team was (looking at photo number 2 on the church steps):
Row 1 (back): David, Kathy, Jamie, Jim, David, Kelly, Chuck, David, James, and Paul.
Row 2 (middle): Jerry, Ron, Joshua, Susan, Emily, Michael, Chuck, Billy, and Alma.
Row 3 (front): Patty, Sam, Kayla, Sandy, Olivia, and Peggy.
Traveling to Canada was going to be by van, train, ferry, and a bus. My least favorite was the train ride. Even though it was neat at first, sleeping on it and being stuck for about 25 hours was not any fun. I did get up and move around. The scenery was beautiful once out of California. However, it just took a long time. Luckily I had people to talk to, a great book to read, and games to play. The ferry ride out of Seattle to Victoria was so cool. I didn’t get sick or feel “in motion” when I got off.
Once there in Port Alberni, we were greeted by the church members. They were very nice and hospitable people. The whole time we were there you could see by their words and actions they were true followers of Christ. The team was divided up into groups to head back to our hosts homes. At first we were all under the impression we would be sleeping in the church with our sleeping bags and pads we had brought. It was a nice surprise to find out that was not the case. I shared a place with Desmond, the host, and a team member named David (back top right of team photo 2). He was an awesome host and so helpful towards anything we needed. He had a dog named Frazier, who we all played with and was entertained by.
There was a lot of work to be done. We needed to remodel three bathrooms, convert a storage room to an office, turn a carport into a garage, paint, finish up the parking lot and a bunch of small projects. We ended up doing some plumbing repair, electric work, keying locks, installing doors, and I am sure other things I wasn’t even aware of the team doing. Everything was completed for use by Sunday and touch up work was completed on Monday.
The first thing the team worked on Monday was demolition of the bathrooms. We removed everything in the bathrooms. Toilets, tile, dividers, dispensers, and even the sink! I had a lot of fun doing that and we discovered something in the women’s bathroom. There were three dead rats in the walls. I later heard from one of the church members regarding the smells she would sense when entering the bathroom some time ago. We later discovered a water pipe that was leaking. The bathroom was then remodeled by having new paint, a new piece of dry wall, new toilets, and a tile floor.
The men’s bathroom took a little longer then the woman’s to demolish and clean out. The men’s bathroom had tile along the walls that needed to be chipped out a piece at a time. The next big obstacle was a cement block below the urinal. It needed to be removed. Chuck jumped on board with the jack hammer and for entire day worked on getting removing it. He later discovered they would have to open up the foundation below because they couldn’t get to the piping for what we had planned. Once it was all cleared out, the remodeling took place. New dry wall, paint, toilet, and tile floor was put in.
The upper bathroom had a shower in it. The team later learned how a part of the church was designed for a pastor and his/her family to stay there. That was no longer the case, but they wanted to keep the shower in there anyway. Everything was stripped out and removed all the way down to the studs. Susan was the lone ranger on that bathroom and worked on it for along time. Once the remodeling was under way, I helped install a bathroom fan to remove moisture or natural odors from the room. It was really easy. Chuck worked on the electricity for the area. Both older David’s worked on various parts of the bathroom. Paul and I did the wood trim. Kelly painted the trims and with Sandy’s help, brad nailed them to the wall.
I missed working with wood and doing some construction work, so I quickly jumped into the carport work scene. I spent about 90% of my time there building, putting in electric outlets, and installing part of a garage door. The most interesting part was the nylon covering we installed on the garage. Instead of using wood panels, they used these nylon plastic things that looked like wood. I enjoyed putting them on because there was no painting afterwards. It was white just like they wanted and went together pretty quick. I assume they don’t use much of that down in California because of the hot temperatures. My roommate David and I worked together a lot in this area.
Now the rest of the stuff is what I would call smaller projects. These were the little things many people may or may not ever notice (excluding the painting and parking lot). Fixing door hinges, sanding doors, fixing locks, washing walls, weeding, trash, are just some of the things that were done.
On Monday, our last work day, some of us were able to do a quick and small job for the community. The Bread of Life, from what I understood, offers food and services for the poor and homeless. Our job was pretty simple. All we had to do was unload oranges and put them into the kitchen. It wasn’t hard at all, but it was a good laugh to see where the Oranges were coming from. The boxes were from Terra Bella! LoL.
While we were doing all of this work, we ate down in the basement of the church. The Youth and children meet down there in separate rooms for their Sunday School classes. It became our breakfast, lunch, and dinner area. We had an awesome kitchen staff that would get you anything they could. They even took in special requests when anyone would ask. Thanks!! I enjoyed the turkey sandwiches and ginger ale! Church members also brought in fresh smoked salmon several times. I know, we had it rough didn’t we 🙂
Not everything was dead serious or without variety on our trip. We all did have a lot of fun while working on the site or going elsewhere. While on the job site, some people got tired enough they hid and went to sleep. However, someone with a camera found them. Others while on break had fun whenever the camera came their way. Others spent their evenings out on the driving range. My first time ever playing golf was on this trip too!
The last Sunday we were their, some of us did escape to the beach. It was about an hour and a half away, but the drive was beautiful. Lush green forests with lakes, waterfalls, and rivers. Some of the peaks had snow on them too. When we arrived at the beach, I was surprised to see how clean it was. The group of us that went saw some humpback whales about 100 feet from the shore line. It must have been a young one chasing food around. It was awesome to see a whale so close! We took our hosts out for a dinner. It was Chinese food because the other restaurant was closed. The food there was great and we had a good time. Our drive home was relaxing and we saw two black bears too.
On Friday, June 22nd, the Church invited us to go out on a picnic with them at the lake. It was lightly raining at first, but soon went away. The food and company was great. I helped with roasting marshmallows for the kids around the fire pit. Some of the youth put on some entertainment later on that evening. Most of the teens did go swimming in the lake though. It was a great time of fellowship and simply getting to know one another better. We were out there for a long time since it didn’t get completely dark till 1030PM there.
Goodbye and Farewell
I made some good friends on the team and up in Canada too. I will miss them, but I am sure I will see them around sometime. There were other things we did in Canada, such as some tourist stops like the Butchart Gardens, prospecting claims with Theo, group dinners, and more. Those are not what we really came up there for though and I also didn’t have a camera to capture photos of all the events. Overall the trip was great and it went by to quickly. God is great and it was awesome to be doing hands on work for Him.