As told by Roxy Odiorne: Well, today was the final work day of our mission trip, and it was such a rewarding day. This morning, we split up into two groups. One went back to the “Park of Walls” to finish painting and the other group went to canvas an unreached neighborhood to tell them about Southwinds. I had spent the past two days at the park painting wall after wall, but when Brett assigned me there again, I was actually really excited to get to work on this project from start to finish. When we arrived at the park, it hit me again about how this really improved the park. The walls had gone from dingy, discolored, and graffitied to fresh, light, and pleasant. I started off by helping Mrs. Patterson paint the tops of the walls to match the middle. Even though we were both exhausted from the past four work days, we were energized and quickly began to tackle the task. Once that section had been finished, we all painted pillars around the park and completed touchups while a bunch of the guys used the paint sprayer to finish the entry walls. We were finished by lunch, and it was such an amazing feeling to see this park go from kind of a gross, unkempt looking place to somewhere inviting and beautiful. After seeing what it had started at, it was so rewarding to see the fruits of our labor. Our two groups met up at this cute little Mexican food place for lunch, and it was so nice for all of us to eat lunch together for the first time since Friday. After lunch, we split into different groups again, and a few people went to clean up an abandoned house while the rest of us finished canvasing. I enjoyed getting to talk to a few people along the way and introduce them to our church and to what we were doing. When all the streets had received flyers, we went back to the church to shower and have dinner. For the past few nights, we have had dinner at the church, served by different people. Tonight, some of Southwind’s youth provided food for us. The food was so good, but the best part was getting to interact with some of the high school girls who belong to Southwinds. There were about seven of them, and they were all so sweet and so much fun to talk to! They told us about life in California, and we told them about life in Texas, and we built so many awesome relationships in the course of an hour. I loved getting to share life with them, even for a short time. When they left, we had our nightly share time, and we all talked about our purpose in being here. It was awesome to share one last time with others who love God and love serving enough to give up Spring Break! I am so grateful to have had the experience of this week, and so blessed to have seen what God has shown me this week.
As told by Jenna Drummond: Today was an amazing last day here in Tracy! I have had such a fun week and I’m really kind of sad that we are coming home tomorrow. Today we got ready and left the church at around 8:45, then went and canvased a neighborhood in Lathrop, CA . . . a town close to Tracy. Well just so y’all know, we KILT that neighborhood and my team and I finished in about an hour. Then, we met up with another team and help to finish painting the great wall of Tracy and canvased some more. We also ate a DELISH lunch at a Mexican restaurant and I ate ALL THREE of the delish tacos that I got. Then we split up again and went and knocked out some more neighborhoods that we canvased in. What was also pretty cool about canvasing today was that we went to the neighborhoods where we repainted the park benches, tables, and trash cans and it was pretty cool seeing how much livelier and nicer the new paint looked in the neighborhood. Also, today I got to reflect on just how much of an impact we’ve made here in Tracy. We even got interviewed to be in their newspaper for crying out loud! That was so unexpected! Earlier this week Tara and I got to talk to one of the men from the Men’s transition center where we worked this week and he told us how the Lord brings different people to different places, to do work, all to bring glory and purpose to him. I definitely thought about this and how my sweet friends and I were able to bring the light of the Lord to the sweet people of Tracy. I will FOREVER remember this trip and how God can take any person, in any way, shape, or form, to absolutely bring glory to him.
As told by Amanda Montgomery: Ello Mates, what a week it has been! From working in a garden to painting park benches, we have finished many projects this past week. Today, my group painted benches, tables, and trash cans at different parks around Tracy. Working with me today was Mrs. Downs, Lance, Kathleen, Brett, Jenna, Jamie, Emily, Rylie, and Kat. We finished 3 parks which contained 27 benches, trash cans, and tables total. At the second park, a reporter came to interview some of the people in my group. It was exciting to see how much we have impacted the community of Tracy so much that we will be in their newspaper. Many people come up to us throughout today and they tell us how much they appreciate what we are doing, so it’s a great feeling to see how God is impacting their community tremendously through us helping in the city. Another thing that people have told us is how much they appreciate us coming all the way from Texas to help while the people already living in Tracy and the neighboring cities don’t do much to help their own community. Helping the community gives us the chance to tell them about God and Southwinds Church because it brings up the questions, who are these people? What are they doing here and what is their purpose here?
My team started the third, and biggest, park after lunch at about 1. At 3, we only had about half the park done and didn’t know if we would be able to finish it before we had to leave at 5. We felt really motivated to finish the rest before we had to leave, and we got it done by 4:30. I thought it was cool that we were able to finish the park that quickly, and it looked great! We have been able to use this trip to show how great God is.
As told by Allison Billingsley: Today we started our work day at 9:30. One group went and painted a park and the other group that I was in painted walls outside and in the park. After a couple of hours our painting group was already getting a lot done. A man from the newspaper came by and took some pictures of us and one thing that he told us that stood out to me was when he said that people don’t normally go out of their community and help someone else’s. That opened my eyes that what’s normal to someone else isn’t normal for another person because normal to me is helping other community’s and mine. After he left, our group went to Mr. Pickles and ate sandwiches. After lunch we went back and tried to finish as much painting as we could in the time that we had. When we came back to the church we took showers and got ready to eat dinner. The Filipino Small Group cooked for us and after dinner we had a little bit of a dance party. Then we talked in a group about what happened in our day that stood out to us and then went to bed.
As told by Emily Wilkes: This morning I woke up at 7:30am, ready for whatever kind of day God threw at me. We then drove to Chris’ house to get all of our groups settled for the day. I went to an old run down park and re-painted all the benches, trash cans and tables. What I didn’t realize until late tonight, was the impact that we were truly making on the Tracy community. Several neighbors throughout the day came over to us and thanked us for all the hard work we were doing. Some man even brought us water and gave us his email, so that he could volunteer the next time we were doing this. Something as small as that made all of this so worth it. I also met a man that told us he has a three year old son that he can’t take to this park, because it was too old and run down. I used that statement as a motivation to push through my hot and long day. Throughout the whole day I felt somewhat useless, in the way that I wasn’t making much of a difference. I never would have thought that painting old benches would make such a difference. As more and more neighbors stopped by I started to see more of what God was doing with us today. Sometimes I can’t always see the work the Lord is doing right in front of me, so I have to take a step back and evaluate what God has done with me and how he has used me. I cannot wait to see what other blessings the Lord will provide for our team the rest of this week.
As told by Elise Whorton: Spanish Sand will forever be implanted on my mind after today because that is all I saw for seven hours. At 9:00 this morning, Roxy, Kat, Jamie, Kylee, Allison, Mrs. Patterson, and I set out for a park close to a neighborhood. There, we met up with two ladies from Southwinds, Pat and Kimmie, who have been helping us all week. For about the next three hours, we painted a nine foot fence that was between the park and the neighborhood. Not long after we had started, the lead musician from Southwinds, his wife, toddler son, and another man from the church, Stafford, came out to help us. Without them, we would have not made it as far as we did. We were able to work faster than I had anticipated and almost finished two sections before lunch. For lunch we decided to go to In and Out which was a much needed break. In the morning, it had been a little cool, but after lunch, the sun was shining directly on us. Even though the food energized me, I found it even harder to get back to work. While we were painting, we began to notice that we were not the first group to try and repaint the fence. This led to painting a little more of the fence to try and give it a more coherent look. After lunch, the musician and his family had left, but Pat and Stafford stayed to help. After finishing the first two sections, that was the majority of the fence, we headed to the entry way of the neighborhood that was made of the same material as the fence. By this point, I was exhausted and felt the sun draining me more than ever. I was hydrated and my stomach full, but after having the sun beat down on you for several hours, I was questioning why I came on this trip. It was not long after this point that the other girls in my group reminded me why I signed up. Somehow we were able to joke and laugh our way to 5:30. Overall, this was the most draining day I have ever experienced on a mission trip, even after we received reinforcements. This evening, a small group from Southwinds cooked us supper. Honestly, the best part about supper was that it was served at the church so we did not have to go anywhere to eat. Many people from the church and small group ate with us which turned a simple meal into a time of fellowship. There were several people who did not know what all we had done up until this point so we were able to share with them. In doing so, I hope we inspired people to get connected to a missions project in Tracy. It is strange to be in an environment where going out to serve in the community is somewhat of a foreign concept. This trip has made me thankful that I grew up in a church and family that makes an effort to serve others. However, this trip has also made me wonder if there is an area in my life or our church that I don’t realize needs attention. I look forward to finishing out this incredible trip and I wait in anticipation to see what God will do in me, this team, and the city of Tracy.
As told by Kylee Downs: Today started early. We woke up at 5am to get our bags loaded to prepare for church. We finished early so we went to IHOP where Brett bought us a yummy breakfast. We came back to Southwinds church and had a great worship service. As soon as it was over, we loaded up in the vans and were on our way to San Francisco. The drive was beautiful as we made the hour long trip. It was full of greenery and hills everywhere. When we arrived we were released to eat lunch and explore for an hour before we had to meet up for Alcatraz. We boarded the boat and were on our way to what they referred to as “The Rock.” We took the audio tour which took us through the main prison. It was really interesting to get to hear prisoners share information about Alcatraz and how things used to be. After the tour we went back to the main land and were given 2 hours of free time. I started out walking up what seemed like never ending hills along with 5 others to get to Lombard Street. When we arrived, we decided to walk to the top of the stairs and view it from the top. It was defiantly worth it because it showed the bay and all the buildings from a top view. My crew and I then headed to Ghirardelli’s Square. We waited in line and got a really yummy shake. With time limited, we ran back to our meeting spot. As a group we decided to head back to Tracy and eat dinner there. We met at Home Depot and split up into groups to eat dinner. When we got back to Southwinds we had share time. Elise said something that I agreed with. It was how San Francisco’s culture was so different than Georgetown’s. The world is farther from God than we realize. I am grateful to be a part of a youth ministry that is making a difference in the world and sharing God’s love to everyone. I ask for your prayers as we head into the last 3 work days that we make an impact and continue to work hard in all our actions.
As told by Tara Drummond: This morning we got up early, packed up our stuff and headed over to IHOP at about 6:30. We were all dragging our feet a little bit until we had pancake-filled bellies. After breakfast, the team and I headed back over to the church for the 8:00 service. There, we worshipped and listened to a sermon about marriage, which really wasn’t relevant to us kids, but the pastor told of a story about a swimmer that almost swam completely across a foggy ocean but gave up because of exhaustion. In the story, once the swimmer got out of the ocean she sadly saw that if she just swam a little further, then she would’ve made it. The pastor used that story to illustrate how that if we just trust in the Lord, and then he will get us through the fog. After the service, the group loaded up and made the beautiful drive to San Francisco. Once we got there, we ate and shopped at Fisherman’s Wharf. Then we went to Alcatraz. There, we walked around with an audio tour around the cell blocks and it was so cool to see a place where a significant part of history happened. Back at Fisherman’s Wharf, we shopped, watched street performers, ate dinner, bought chocolate at the Ghiradeli Chocolate Factory, and walked around the cool city. Afterwards, we headed back to Tracy, ate a yummy dinner at Panera, then went back to the church where we unloaded and had share time. Today was fun especially because we got a break from working and got to see a popular part of California. Although I’m happy that we had today, I’m pumped to get back to work tomorrow and start to finish what we came here to do.
As told by Connor Lancaster: Gravel, DG, the Devil’s Sandbox, what the French call granit decompose… decomposed granite. When the Tracy Mission trip gang woke up this morning at around 7:00, we knew we were in for a full day. While some went to parks or cheap hotels for their part of the day, some stayed at the community garden; the same that was mentioned in a previous blog that a church took over to make new again. At the garden, the small group of us started continuing the work that was started yesterday with the moving of wood chips into the back of a trailer from their previous place on the entirety of the garden floor. After the old mulch had been cleared, we tackled the final and arguably the most difficult phase of garden transformation – shoveling in decomposed granite between each individual garden plot. This was done in the simplest way possible. Shovels, a wheel barrow deemed “Bertha,” and sweat. Still, I managed to clobber my own leg with the end of a shovel attempting to sink the scoop into the pile of gravel, leaving a pretty sizeable cut, if I do say so myself. Lunch was hotdogs and chip bags brought by First Presbyterian Church, which we were very thankful for. As the day drew on, the groups serving in the rest of the town came to our aid with what came out to be six cubic yard of gravel. We finished this job by about 4:30, having decommissioned several wheel barrows, drank gallons of water and lemonade, and tested our limits of frustration. Dinner tonight was provided by the same church that had brought us the hotdogs, but this time we went to them at the church and ate lasagna, salad, and garlic bread that they had provided for us.
Colossians 3:23 says, “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” and after hours in the gravel battle field, it was hard to see why we were doing this. But the passage I just mentioned, as well as the passage from our quiet time devotionals spoke to me out in the garden. The parable of workers waiting to be hired all day and the landowner coming back time and time again to hire them, paying them all equally saying “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” God uses the least of us for big things. The garden that looked like a landfill before we started earned the title of “the least of these” proudly. But the beautiful part of it is that a youth group from Georgetown, Texas flew hundreds of miles and made it better than it was before, not for any one person, but to further the kingdom of God.
As told by Roxy Odiorne: Today was our second day of our Spring Break Mission Trip and it was such a tiring, but rewarding day! We had three different assignments that our team was split up into: delivering clothes and food to the people at Motel 6, working in the community garden, and painting benches at a neighborhood park. I started out the morning in the community garden, shoveling mulch into a trailer to take to Millennium High School. When we had finally transferred the huge pile into the trailer, we began to rake the excess, old mulch into piles and then shovel them into wheelbarrows to be taken away. We were all exhausted by the end! When the mulch had been moved, we moved onto our next task-creating gravel walkways between the paths at the community garden. There was a giant pile of green stones and dirt that we had to shovel and move and it is a lot heavier than it looks! We would shovel them into wheelbarrows, dump them on the paths, and then use rakes to smooth the gravel out and place them in the pathways. The work was hard and slow, but the finished paths were so much nicer than the dirt. We had finished three before we broke for lunch and then I switched to painting. The group before had completed three of the five benches and one of the trashcans, leaving us two benches, two trashcans, and a picnic table to complete. I enjoy painting, so even though it was hot and the paint was thick, it was actually pretty fun! My favorite part was seeing so many people come through the park and getting so excited when they saw what we were doing, or heard we were from Texas. People kept thanking us or telling us how grateful they were, and it touched me as to how much painting a bench can impact someone’s life. One woman was talking to us and said, “Wait, you came all the way from Texas to help us?” She was so excited by what we were doing, and I could tell it made her day. Our group finished the park furniture and it looked so great! After that, we went back to the park to help for about twenty minutes before we were finished for the day. We now only have one thing to do for the community park, and it looks so great! It’s so cool to see how in just two days how much impact we have had! Tomorrow we have our day off at San Francisco, and then it’s back to work for three more days. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in the rest of the week!
As told by Jamie Downs: Hi! My name is Jamie Downs and I am a senior this year. I went to San Diego, California my sophomore year for the Spring Break Mission Trip and it was so much fun getting to connect with all the other high schoolers and serve in that part of California. When I heard that we were going to be in a new area of California I was excited because I am a fan of new places and new experiences. I was also very content with there only being 19 people on this trip because it gives me an opportunity to grow closer with my friends in the youth and make memories before I leave for college. Today we started off the morning with donuts and talking through how the day is going to look. We had three groups all doing different things in the area. I got to canvas for a couple hours and then was sent to a community garden that needed a lot of work done to it. They had mulch (looked like tiny pieces if tree bark) that attracted bugs that they didn’t want getting into their plants so we went through and raked about 100 piles of the mulch, shoveled it into a wheel barrel, and then loaded it onto a trailer so that we could take it to a local high school that was in need of mulch. The next step will be bringing in gravel to lay it down so that the people can have a walking path when they come, which we didn’t get to today but will tomorrow. We also painted a brick fence that took a while because we had to get into every single crease and crevice, but we knocked it out within hours. Although we still have a lot to do at the community garden and I didn’t get to see what the garden looked like before we went to work, I know that we are making a huge difference and God is going to use that garden to bring people closer to Him. Please be praying for us as we continue to work in Tracy!!
As told by Katryna Patterson: Well, today was exhausting, to say the least. I feel like going in to today, everyone was EXHAUSTED!!! We woke up this morning to a beautiful array of donuts, Starbucks coffee, and warm blankets. Chris and the team here at Southwinds were ready to head out and let us help accomplish good deeds. After our amazing breakfast, we reviewed our jobs: there was the community garden, the Motel 6 group and the Home Depot group. I was originally going to go with the group helping fix the community garden, but I ended up helping collect clothes and non-perishable foods for the people living in the Motel 6 here in Tracy. We took off and headed to the first neighborhood, which seemed to be a wealthier-class neighborhood. Sadly, we only collected 3 bags out of the entire subdivision, and our group kind of started to lose hope. We didn’t really see how we were doing good deeds when we weren’t reaching anybody. So, after a couple of more blocks of canvasing, we helped in the community garden for a while. Later on today, we gathered again and canvased, this time in a much less wealthy neighborhood, and there, we saw the fruits of our labor. We received so many amazing blessings to give to the families living in the Motel 6, and I realized something very odd. Those who had plenty to give, hardly gave at all, and those who didn’t have as much gave as much as they could. I was reminded of James 1:17, which basically declares that all worldly objects are God’s; we don’t own them. At the beginning of today, I was quick to judge someone, just by walking up to their house, but by the end of the day, I was able to see that those with less, tend to give more, because they know how to appreciate what they have, and truly know what it means to be blessed, whereas those who have been blessed abundantly more, cannot relate and tend to have a more stoic, uninterested look or way about them. One thing I’m going to consider going into tomorrow is that we should appreciate what we have and give it up when called, because it’s really wasn’t ours in the first place, but God’s. If you’ve read this far and would like to be praying for us here are some things we DEFINITELY need prayer about: strength, as we go into another hard day of work and peace throughout this week, as we may step out of our comfort zones to do good deeds, which leads to good will, which leads to the Good News.
Hi! My name is Rylie York, and I am a member of the Tracy California Mission Team this week. I am a junior, and this is my first Mission Trip to California, so I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for me and this wonderful team. Yesterday evening (Thursday March 9th) the majority of our team arrived at FBG at 5:15 to head to the airport by 5:30. I say “majority” of our team, because I planned to arrive at the church at 5:00 but remembered that I left an AP English Assignment at my house and had to run home and get it. Needless to say, the Lord provided clear roads and patience in order to make it back to the church in time & I made it on the vans to head to the airport. In the moment, this was a stressful time, but looking back on it now, I know that God had it in his hands and I can even laugh a little. We arrived at the San Jose airport around 11:00 pm California time. We then gathered our luggage and headed for the vans. On the drive to Tracy and Southlands Church I was amazed by the hilly landscape of California. Having never been to California, I didn’t know what to expect and I love the green landscape of beauty. This morning (Friday March 10th), we have eaten our breakfast, had a long night’s sleep, and we are ready to serve the Lord with our hands and our hearts. Thank you for reading, and remember to Love God and Love People today.