March 13, 2017 – Tracy, California

17309588_780980812035_7757034315624918459_nAs 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.

17155644_10212497677543592_2974566731215248227_nAs 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.

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