Friday

Today is our last day at Sager Brown. After the team spent the morning in the Depot/Carl built/installed a wheelchair ramp out in the field, we completed our kitchen duty at lunch and headed back to Houston. 

 We did a little ‘housework’ during our week. We led the meal blessings at one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner. We were also responsible for cleaning all the tables, washing, drying, and setting our dishes for the next meal. Everyone pitched in, and we as a team were more efficient as the week progressed. I think Carl (and on Friday, Amy) had the hardest job, loading, running and unloading the industrial dishwasher. The two of them certainly kept us on our toes! After doing kitchen duty this week, I am confident that a few of us will say a special prayer for the unseen kitchen staff whose work is often not acknowledged and appreciated. 

Through Thursday afternoon, the seven teams at Sager Brown had accomplished so much!

 * 2,352 hygiene kits inspected and boxed (more done Friday morning)

 * 3,120 school kits checked and packed (more done Friday morning) 

 * Approximately 200 school bookbags cut and sewed

* 200 plates and glassware washed and dried (our team)

 * 3 beds constructed, one toilet installed, one wheelchair ramp built and installed (our team) 

* 63 plus new friendships made or deepened 

* Too many smiles, laughter and memories to count...priceless

‘Farewell, dear friends, stay safe, dear friends,

Have peace, have peace.

We’ll see you again we’ll see you again, 

Have peace, have peace.’

Traditional Hebrew Blessing

Thursday

Although the weathermen had predicted rain all week, we were blessed with cold but dry weather... until Thursday. However, the rain did not detour our group from our various projects.

Amy, Diane C, Diane G, Dot, Hazel, Joan, Rachel, and Sandra took a ‘field trip’ to Chez Hope, a temporary home for victims of domestic abuse. After we were given a tour of the facility, we were brought to My Sister’s Closet (MSC), where we would be sorting and organizing donated clothing. It is not uncommon for a woman (or a man) to flee their situation with only the clothes on their back, so MSC serves an essential purpose. However, we were charged with organizing a small room overstuffed with clothing and bags, admittedly a bit overwhelming. How could we make a difference?

With permission from Charlie, our supervisor, we sprang into action. We picked up our favorite handymen, Carl and Ed, made a quick trip to the store for our materials and organized the space as best we could with the time available. Without speaking, everyone started to do what they did best: Amy, designed the space; Carl, Ed, and Joan, constructed clothing racks; Diane C, organized the shoe closet; Charlene, Diane G, Dot, Rachel, and Sandra, sorted and organized clothes. Together, united, we left our small mark at a great organization. 

Diane C, Hazel, and Karen utilized their talents sewing beautiful book bags in the sewing room, where they had devoted much of their time this week. Kay, always detailed oriented, continued with inspecting kits. 

Tonight, the missioners from the seven teams, along with the long term volunteers, gathered for a beautiful Vespers Service filled with music, readings, and testimonials. It is hard to believe our time at Sager Brown is almost over!

A prayer read at the Vespers Service has so much meaning after these days at Sager Brown ‘We give thanks for these blessings of service and community. Help us, wherever we are, to continue to feel the Holy Spirit in our lives as we serve our sisters and brothers with joy and compassion. Amen.’

Wednesday 

We are midweek in our Sager Brown adventure, with 1.5 days left before our return to Houston. After breakfast, five women missioners departed on our ‘field trip’ to the St Mary Center of Hope, a day program for disabled adults. We had such a joyful morning! We played Uno and puzzles with the adults, listened with amusements to their boyfriend/girlfriend stories (ah, remember those days?), and sorted clothes for the thrift shop. We loved everything about the Center... their Christmas tree decorated for Mardi Gras with green, purple and gold tinsel/ornaments and adorned with masks, and listened to the zydeco music! The Center was filled with such love, and the caregivers and the adults had so much fun together. We were so happy the Center let us hang out with them for a few hours. 

One of the t-shirts in the Sager Brown gift shop says “What happens at Sager Brown... doesn’t stay at Sager Brown”. That was well evidenced this morning when our other missioners spent time at the Depot. They had an opportunity to gather together to pack/bless supplies loaded into a truck headed for Hazelhurst, Mississippi. The residents of Hazelhurst are recovering from Pearl River floods earlier this month. Please pray with us for the people of Hazelhurst, who will receive our supplies this week. May they find a little comfort in these packages and our prayers. 

After lunch, we had a ‘play day’ with a road trip to Avery Island, took the self-guided tour of the Tabasco Factory, and did a little shopping in the gift shop. Who knew there were so many Tabasco branded products, even Raspberry Chipotle Ice Cream, and Tabasco Coke? We also enjoyed a wonderful Cajun dinner together at the Yellow Bowl Restaurant.  

It has been so beautiful to see new friendships develop and relationships deepen within our team. Through our mission work, nightly devotions shared meals, and many many competitive games of ping pong and dominos, the week has been filled with joyful tears and lots of laughter. There is a comfortableness in our group of different ages, genders, and personalities, which comes by spending time with like-minded people and shared values... serving God and others. 

Until tomorrow... 

Tuesday

Tuesday, the Chapelwood team shared their many talents, both at Sager Brown and off-site. The men got to use their tools, doing home repairs. In contrast, others visited with residents of St Jules Apartments (subsidized housing for low income elderly and disabled), and provided light housekeeping and played bingo. Other team members continued their sewing and inspection activities at the Depot.

A moving experience for many this morning was the ‘Blessing of the Pallets.’ The pallets contained the completed and inspected hygiene kits, school kits, and bags ready to be shipped to those in need. Those in the Depot circled the pallets, each placing hand on the boxes and recited the prayer aloud.

Many of us said later that we could imagine the future recipient opening their kit and/or bag, being excited, and hoped the person could also feel the love that was packed inside. Today, we weren’t just packing a plastic bag with ‘stuff.’ We weren’t just installing a new toilet or building a new bunk bed. We were delivering to a person, like us, but born into very different circumstances, new items that we hoped would bring a smile to their face and make their life just a little bit better. We were giving them a little hope and dignity. How lucky we all are to be living where we are on February 18, 2020, that we can travel to LA, enjoy this time with our friends and do these seeming less small acts of kindness. I believe our team was all put here this week, together, for a reason. ‘To much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48).

Now it certainly hasn’t been all ‘work, work, work. After all, it is the week before Mardi Gras, and we are wearing our gold, purple, and green beads with pride. We are well-fed (the meals are amazing), and even Amy got the baby in the King Cake at lunch! We are getting to know each other better, laughing a lot, and also learning that an old dog can learn new tricks.
We look forward to tomorrow, a new day, and new memories.

A big thank you to our prayer partners for their daily notes of affirmation and love, and to those back home whose prayers and presence are felt.

Monday

After a restful sleep, and fortified by a delicious hot breakfast, Chapelwood missioners began our Monday with orientation and an opportunity to sign up for outside ‘field trips’ during the week.

This week, our team will sew bookbags, play bingo with Seniors, build wheelchair ramps and beds, repair houses, inspect hygiene and school kits and ...more importantly, share our own time and talents with the Baldwin community.

There are six other teams in addition to Chapelwood represented at Sager Brown: Zanesville, Ohio: Houston, Texas (Lakewood UMC, Klein area), Waxahachie, Texas; Albany Missouri, different parts of Florida and Iowa. One missioner from Missouri has served 30 years. Our own Carl Sandin has served ten years, Beth Dudley, nine years, and many others from 3-6 years. What keeps drawing these individuals back to Sager Brown?
We look forward to hearing their own stories this week.

During meals and while ‘working,’ It has been fun to visit with so many different people from both urban and rural settings. We are so fortunate this week to have a diverse group of ages, including three youth from Zanesville: 12-year-old Sam, 13-year-old Elizabeth, and 15-year-old Isabella. What lessons can these teens teach us as we view Sager Brown through their young eyes and boundless enthusiasm?

Despite the gloomy day,
there has been so much excitement as we visited the ‘Depot’ to get training to inspect the school and hygiene kits and during the tour of the facilities.

After our dinner and devotions, we went to play games, tell stories, and enjoy quiet time.

-Sager Brown Team

Sunday

The 14 members of the Sager Brown team, led by Pastor Rachel Sciretti and lay leader Beth Dudley, arrived safely to Sager Brown in Baldwin, Louisiana, Sunday afternoon. We were assigned to our comfortable dorm-style rooms and had an opportunity to unwind and get to know each other a little better.

In addition to Sciretti and Dudley, the Chapelwood missioners are Dot August, Diane Cameron, Hazel Cole, Amy Eggert, Diane Gonzales, Joan Korpal, Ed Jensen, Sandra Ladner, Charlene Pettigrew, Kay Rhea, Karen Ridgeway, and Carl Sandlin.

We had a chance to see other missioners (63 in total) at an orientation meeting. After a dinner offsite, evening devotional, and gifts of beautiful prayer squares knitted by Ginny Itz and notes of encouragement written by our prayer partners, some missioners adjourned to rooms for an early night. In contrast, others challenged each other to a friendly ping pong competition.
Our group of newbies and veterans look forward to a productive week of service and fellowship!

 

-The Sager Brown Team

 

PHOTOS FROM MISSION

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