Mission 2016: Stockton Day 3 – Work It, Groups!

It was our first full day of work at SSP and we have the sunburns to prove it! Well, not too bad, but it sure was hot today, edging up to 100. Dear Reader, here’s the scoop:
Measure Twice, Cut Once!
Divided up into our work groups, everyone had the chance to take in safety demonstrations on various power tools, including the power drill, chop saw, and circ saw. Many groups won’t go near these tools again for the rest of the week, but by doing this all together, we both get to make sure those who need the training have the training and we also all have a chance to use a few power tools. Which, of course, is really fun if you don’t usually get that opportunity.
I was impressed by the safety tactics used by the staff. For example, you never operate a power tool by yourself. You always have at least a Power Buddy to plug it in and unplug it. Or if you’re making a cut, you have a Board Buddy to help carry the board or hold it in place. Likewise, we have Ladder Buddies and other buddy systems to help keep us safe. It’s a great idea and I was grateful to see youth really take it all in stride. I didn’t hear anyone say, “Why can’t we just use the drill, already?” Instead, people understood safety is the key to doing what we do.
This Is the Place
All right, time to get to work! We split into our work teams, everyone got their job ready – from loading up the tools to making the PB&J lunch – and we headed out for the day. Each work site has an SSP construction liaison who gives us the overall vision of the project, brings us tools, and generally assists with any questions or concerns we have. This year’s projects include building railings on Alice’s deck (a new deck built by SSP volunteers over the last few weeks), working on farms filled with chickens and horses, doing new construction on the local homeless shelter, building new Free Little Libraries, and priming/painting a home to bring up its value and aesthetic.
I’m in the painting crew, so today I’ll write about that. Later, I can add some details about other projects. Jenny’s house is in need of new paint and not just because it’ll look pretty. There are chips peeling and cracks splitting everywhere, and it needs an overhaul from top to bottom. We have two work teams at our site, one at the front of the house and one at the back. My team – Go, Wildcats! – is in the back and let me tell you, Jennifer, Jared, Marcus, Maxine, Kate, Hannah, Morghan, and me are very, very grateful that we’re working in the shade! It’s hot, no doubt, but the shade is really helping the work get done.
Monday was for scraping. We scraped all the old paint from the trim and any large patches coming off the textured (stucco?) walls. There wasn’t enough time for the power washer to make it from the front of the house so that’s how we’ll start off tomorrow. Our next step will be a coat of white primer followed by a brownish tan color for the home. We had a moment to meet Jenny, the homeowner, who was grateful to have us there. I can’t recall how she exactly heard about SSP, but I do know her house is right next door to Alice’s house (the deck and rails, remember) so I have a good guess.
How to Build a Community
After our evening meal of chicken pasta hot dish (which, Dear Reader, these friendly Californians call “casserole,” for some reason!), we had a time of singing songs, worship, and team building. I brought my ukulele and so staff member Kelsey and I jammed out to the group’s requests from the SSP songbook. In worship we explored how different communities have worked and what will help ours work, then we ended with a human knot exercise. Most groups got through it 100% and the ones who didn’t, well, they had plenty of laughter along the way.
Counselors and Staff have a joint meeting while youth have “Jammification,” a time to get ready for the evening and put on their pajamas / jammies. Because of the meeting, I only had a little time to teach and share one of my favorite card games, The Great Dalmuti, with Sean, Drew, Ian, Matt, Sam, and teens from other churches. I first experienced this game on a mission trip in my former church and I’m glad to pass it along to Hennepin as a new tradition. It wasn’t invented by the person who invented Magic: The Gathering, but he was the first to assemble it into an actual marketed game. Take a look, it’s a great one for a large group or family.
And it’s at this point in the evening I leave you, Dear Reader, hungry for more as we enter our next work day. I hope to have more information for you on several other projects in the days to come. Thanks for reading, subscribing, sharing, and commenting!

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