Mission 2016: Stockton Day 4 – 104 Ain't Nothin' But a Number

It was a hot one, Dear Reader, I won’t lie. It wasn’t quite hot enough to call off work, but it sure felt close. For our team, I can tell you we were very grateful we got some shade today, even though standing in the shade was hot, too. We had cookies, primer, and poetry, oh my! Here’s the scoop:
A Variety of Mornings, a Variety of Delays
Our first update is with Morghan and my work team, The Wildcats, working on repainting Jenny’s house (Sam, Erica, and Kemi are on the other side of the house in their work team, too). We’d reached the point where scraping was done and now we needed the power washer. Thing is, we didn’t have a hose. The hose the work team at the front of the house used wouldn’t come off the spigot and we had to wait for a longer hose to arrive. Before then, SSP staff Natalie and CIT Sam stopped by with homemade cookies and a discussion topic. Later, Tony showed up with the hose and we got to work on the house. We power washed the entire back, and at close range it turns out you can chip away some of that tougher paint, plus put on nearly an entire coat of primer. We think we’ll be ready to return on Thursday to finish that primer coat and get a good start on the painting. Will we finish the entire project before our time is complete or will it be left to next week’s group? We will see…
I spent some time interviewing HAUMC youth and adults in other work teams and found out what others were up to so far. Turns out, we weren’t the only ones experiencing delays. The Little Free Library team, which includes Bethany, Matt, Drew, and Sean from our church, has had a slow start. They were without their binder of “how to” information at first, so they took the opportunity to go on a field trip to check out some completed LFLs to give their team a better idea of what they were working toward. Next, some of the work on the project so far had to be recalculated, and that takes time, too. These sorts of things happen on mission trips. We rely on the week before doing well and then do our best so the next week can build off our success. No harm, no foul – just a teachable moment about what momentum looks or doesn’t look like when we try to do service work.
Another delay came at the homeless shelter. The main job is cutting new siding, painting it, and getting it put up on the building. However, there was a lot more work involved to get the old rotting siding off than they were ready for, initially. Again, when we want to get to a new place, there are often more steps to take than we first know. Plus, there isn’t a lot of shade and that big hard sun keeps the work a little extra challenging.
Old McBUFA Had a Farm
We had a team at BUFA Farm including Jo and Catie. BUFA stands for Black Urban Farmers Association and their mission is to help people feel confident growing their own food. Most of the crops go to organic food companies yet a generous portion stays with the farmers themselves. Youth from this team told me they worked with the proprietors / owners to create new 6×4 lancer boxes to grow squash, zucchini, herbs, tomato plants, zucchini, anything you can think of in the veggie world. They hauled several wheelbarrows of fresh compost for the new lancer boxes, too. Other members of the team tore down parts of horse corral fence that had been chewed on by the horses (but the new boards couldn’t go up because they were too think to bend into a circle, so yet another delay!). The food at BUFA is great, too. Catie told me she had the best fresh yellow honeydew she had ever had, and she doesn’t even like honeydew!
The team moved to another farm, Boggs Farm, after BUFA. They spent much of their time digging holes for new fence posts to create a new chicken run. Next steps are to put in the posts and cement them solid, while others on the team get some weeding done. Speaking of chickens, one of the young women from another church had experience with chickens and showed some of our teens how to catch them. Catie caught a chicken but let it go pretty quickly when it started flapping its wings in her face. Of course, this part of the update wouldn’t be complete without mentioning all of the fresh apricots the team got straight from the tree. But they had to have them, you see. The branch had to come down to make way for the new fence. It’s what Farmer Mike told them! J
Slammin’ Good Times
After dinner, we had local spoken word poet, Brandon Leake, visit us and offer a cultural speaker time. Brandon grew up in South Stockton, the part of the city where we’re working, and he performed a series of poems about his life, my favorite being “Steps to Being Brandon Leake” (Step one: be named Brandon Leake!). During his presentation, he had the group do some writing about our challenges and hopes to overcome and at the end he explained what we’d written all ends up together as a poem. Many teens seemed to really dig Brandon’s presentation. There have been small opportunities to do writing from time to time this week and I’ve been impressed by how quickly the teens take to it.
We were also treated by a visit from SSP Executive Director Rick Eaton today. With offices just an hour away in Sacramento, Rick was glad to go to each work site and connect with first-time and returning participants. Later, we were able to sit down with him as adult leaders and talk about our experience at SSP. We appreciated his lighthearted charm and he clearly has a servant heart.
Okay, I’m off to bed before another full day. Tomorrow, we divide into our church groups for a new work site in the morning, and then we’ll head to the beach. Thank you for your comments, your subscriptions, and your prayers, Dear Reader. And don’t forget, you can click the pics to see a larger version of them.

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