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Video Recap

It was an amazing week for the team in Kanawa County. In truth, I think we are all still processing the experience, the people we met, the truths we learned about ourselves, faith, work and what it is to live out Micah 6:8.

We undoubtedly have more to say, so stay tuned to this blog for updates.

In the meantime, enjoy this video that captures some of our favorite moments on the trip.

See you soon!

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“Nothing is Easy”, but why should it be?

from Steve Lanham (Papa Ham)

There are very few things that are “easy” to accomplish. If we are honest, the things we are most proud of, probably came about because of hard work. All sorts of cliches come to mind; “Hard work builds character”, “Try and try again”, and so on. It is safe to say that the people of Clendenin are full of character and the “trying” never stops.

Joe and his unending spirit and love of God, even in the face of a life in a wheel chair is faith and character lived out. Chip, who is rebuilding his flooded out restaurant, just keeps on trying. This “trying again” comes on top of serious health issues. James, who we met today, is working to rebuilding his life by finding work in the recovery efforts happening all over the this area.

It is for people like this and the glory of God that we have spent the last three days wrestling with limited power, uncooperative wood, and uneven concrete floors to create a place for community. With the resolve that only comes from God, we have constructed and torn apart more than one platform to make the best seating space that we can for the community to use at the Roxy Theater.

I am inspired by the strength of the people who call this place home and the students and leaders we have shared this mission with. In particular, the students and leaders who are part of this mission have power that comes from God. More so, they have a sincere heart for creating a space that people in this region will come to find more joy and community.

We have one more day left on this mission to move the work along at the Roxy Theater. Although “Nothing is easy”, all things are possible with God. I so look forward to seeing God’s work completed in the Roxy, Clendenin, and all of us.

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Hammer Time at the Roxy!

My ears are still recovering, but my spirit is soaring after our day today.  We arrived at the Roxy bright and early and eager to continue our project.  In previous mission trips experiences, the kids usually experience several one-day projects tailored to the short attention spans of middle schoolers.  This is different, and I think all the kids are loving it.  Seeing day-to-day progress on one big project seems to be a highlight for some of them and a source of pride for others.  After receiving our morning instructions, we got to work.  Most of the kids grabbed a hammer and started pounding.  One nail per six inches on every single joist.  Every. Single. One.

They quickly finished the several boards that were placed, so many of them went to run a few quick “errands.”  They dropped off the books from our book drive, delivered cinder blocks to another work site, and delivered our site trash to the construction refuse site.  I wasn’t there, but it sounds like they enjoyed being productive while those of us left at the Roxy got things ready for their return.

While they were away, our alignment crew measured and marked every spot a nail was needed.  They also made sure newly cut boards were flush with the base supports.  Meanwhile, I (Melissa) had a blast using the circular saw to cut and trim pieces to fit.  I now have a very close bond with a certain SKIL saw and look forward to working with her again tomorrow.


When the kids all returned, they got back to work hammering and nailing and hammering some more.  When we later shared highs and lows, almost every single kid named their low as a hammer vs. finger injury.  They may be a bit bruised, but they are certainly not beaten!  They are so very proud of their progress!


In the midst of all this productivity, there was no shortage of opportunities to mingle with the locals.  One interesting thing I’ve noticed in my brief interactions is that nearly every male I’ve met is over sixty and ALL but one are sporting a hat displaying either the war in which they served or their branch of the military.  And the one that wasn’t wearing a hat had a Marines sticker on the window of his business.  This is one proud and patriotic community and they have plenty of hope to go around as they continue to recover from the ravages of the flood.

One man we met was introduced to us by one of our kids.  Jake spotted a man down the street and asked permission to go out and chat with him.  Heather walked out with him to make sure all was safe, and then let the two of them get to know each other.  It turns out “Champ” owns a bar and grill and is working hard to rehab the place to allow him to reopen.  Despite the fact that his pool table is still covered in flood mud, the new drywall is up and the floor tile was delivered to the curb today.  Since Jake had built a relationship with Champ, he offered to “employ” the kids to help him move the two pallets of tile into the building.  Although we didn’t hire the kids out,we were more than happy to let them knock out a very big job ina very short time.  Champ was thrilled to have the help and was impressed with our “good kids.”  He kindly insisted on making a financial contribution, which we quickly passed along to Next Step, the organization through which we are providing this flood relief. It was a win-win-win!

We finished the work day with a trip to Dairy Queen to celebrate all the blood, sweat and sore thumbs from the day.


Our sheer exhaustion and sore muscles didn’t stop us from fully enjoying those frozen treats, and we look forward to another full day tomorrow.  We know that there will be some big problem solving challenges to tackle (the age of the building provides so much character and history, but also walls that aren’t square or even parallel and floors that aren’t level), but we are ready and hopeful to tackle another big section of construction.  We may see some more sore thumbs, but we’ll also see kids gaining experience and expertise with hammers and drills, and more importantly, the opportunity to bring smiles to the faces of the residents of the town of Clendenin.

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The Roxy

Today we started building platforms at an old theater called the Roxy.

We had to bolt the platforms to the one that was bolted to the concrete. The board that was going to be against the previous platform were not always straight so we screwed one end then the other end.  I (Lia) Rita and Abby were to push the board against the previous plat form we were called the alignment team. While we pushed the Drill team screwed in the screws. After we almost had all the boards bolted Cheryl noticed the last three were upside down so after lunch we had to flip them over. Then we started to place the plywood and noticed that the wood didn’t fit so we were going to put the plywood long way. Problem solved.

More to find out tomorrow…

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Being F.A.T.


You know that expression, “the best laid plans of mice and men”…yeah. That.  So it turns out, that’s a staple part of the mission trip experience.  So far, our place of residence has changed, our partnership and even a little our schedule for the week.  For a planner like me (Heather) who doesn’t love surprises, this was a teensy bit disruptive to my overall vision for our trip.

And, I could have let it derail us.

Sometimes, it’s tempting to respond with resistance: it’s not what we were told, it’s not what we expected, it’s not what we planned. But that isn’t the point at all is it?

God isn’t surprised at all.

If I’m being honest, all these things that changed are for the better. We are more easily accommodated, we have greater access to providing relief and rehabilitation from the flood damage, and ultimately, we have greater opportunity to build relationships in the community of Clendenin.

So to clarify, we aren’t in Braxton county – we’re actually in Kanawa County, the heart of the greatest devastation from 2016’s raging waters. We’re staying in a wonderfully welcoming church in a sweet neighborhood of survivors, thrivers and neighbors.

As we head out to the worksite this morning, our devotional centers around Matthew 7:7-8 . In the middle of uncertainty, change and struggle, we have a choice, don’t we? We can choose to trust that Jesus is not just some one waiting for us to show up. He is actively listening, engaging and standing with us as we move toward him, beside him and allow him to move through us, bringing H.O.P.E to our neighbors, no matter where we might find them.

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Mission 2017: Braxton County, WV

In June of 2016, Braxton County, WV experienced a devastating and deadly flood.

The town of Clendenin, WV saw over 35 feet of water, completely devastating roads, businesses and countless homes. Approximately 26 lives were lost in the region. In some cases, towns that were considered remote became completely isolated by roads being washed out, completely cutting them off from relief efforts along with access to critical supplies including food and water.

The long term impact to the community, economy and personal lives is immeasurable.

Sunday, July 23, our team of 14 middle school student and adults head out to continue the important flood relief and restoration work in this beautiful area, rich with history, unique in culture and standing strong with incredible resilience.

We’d love your prayers as well, specifically in these areas:

  • For the health and safety of our team
  • That God would divine and direct our interactions with local residents in such a way that ignites H.O.P.E.
  • For God to reveal the work He is already doing in Braxton County so that we may join Him in that work and through prayer
  • For Braxton County to experience renewed hope and joy as well as improved economic conditions in the near future
  • For unity on our team
  • For our eyes to be open to seeing those different from ourselves as Christ sees them
  • That we would be moved and changed in powerful ways by the experiences on this trip and bring that home to change our student ministry likewise

Feel free to subscribe and follow along with us this week!

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Mark Your Calendars!

Once again, we are headed out on a BRAND NEW adventure for 2017! So even if you have been to a meeting before, or on a trip with us before, you definitely want to be a part of this meeting!

At Seneca Creek Community Church, we have defined our vision in the following way: To ignite a movement of the gospel that will transform our world with the H.O.P.E. of Christ! The gospel is the HOPE of the world and we, the Church, have been entrusted with that hope.

In ignition, we believe that students are in a unique position to live out this calling.

We are looking forward to an amazing summer Ignition Mission trip and we can’t wait to share the details with you!! Mark your calendars for one of these two informational meeting dates:

  • Sunday, January 29th at 9:00am
  • Wednesday, February 8th at 6:00pm

This meeting will cover all of your questions about timing, location, student eligibility, etc. so if you are even remotely interested, please plan to be there.

SPACES are already set and they are EXTREMELY limited.

Our trip dates are July 23-29, 2017 and, yes – I know it seems like the summer is forever away, but we are working with early deadlines and planning. Believe me, summer will be here before we know it!

If you or your student is interested, or even just curious you really need to be at one of these meetings.

If you have a moment, please RSVP HERE. That way I can make sure I have plenty of materials (and refreshments!) on hand.

Can’t wait to see you there!