A group of 30 youth and 20 adults participated in a service trip to Long Island, New York from Sunday, February 17th to Friday, February 22nd 2013. The group left early on Sunday morning for New York City and spent the first day of the trip taking in the sights of the city, including visiting the ‘Top of the Rock’ at Rockefeller Center, the site of the World Trade Centers, and Times Square. They ended the evening with a worship service at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. The quote of the evening came from one of our Junior High boys who said, “I have never been to church in a skyscraper before.”
Monday through Friday were spent in Freeport, New York, an area hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The group stayed at First Baptist Church of Freeport. Each day teams went out to homes in the area to work on clean up and repairs. They gutted water damaged walls, cleaned out crawl spaces filled with “junk” from the hurricane, pumped out water from basements (yes, months after Sandy hit!), insulated walls and ceilings and crawl spaces, hung drywall, and assisted with a lot of clean up. It was really impressive to see how much everyone contributed, especially the teens.
Over the week, the group worked in 12 homes in the area. Perhaps the neatest experience was to see how thankful the owners were for the group’s assistance. For many of these homeowners they have no other way of repairing their homes. Many do not have insurance (or flood insurance). Not only did the group supply free labor, but in many instances free materials—literally tens of thousands of dollars in building materials through donations and other connections.
In the evenings the group gathered for a time of worship and teaching. Each night they considered the power of words, emphasizing that words are the windows to see what is actually in our hearts. As Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). What we need is a heart that is saturated with the grace of Christ, so that our speech may give grace to those that hear. Everyone was touched by these messages in some way.
Expending our lives for the service of others and the gospel is always a worthwhile investment. Such an investment is sure to “reap dividends” that last, and often bring us joy in the here and now. This has certainly been true of this service trip.
On the Sunday after they returned, some of the students and adults shared reflections on their trip. You can listen to what they shared here: Hurricane Relief Trip Sharing