Saturday, July 25, 2015

2015 MTrip Final Day (Dave)

Final Day: Saturday, July 25, 2015

We're in the final stretch. Granted, we're still about 3 hours away and have to pass through Ohio (the armpit of America) and with our luck you never know what car troubles we'll encounter. Looking back on this week, I'm glad that I got to have an experience like this as my last mission trip. This was a week full of defeats and triumphs, challenges and ingenuity, difficulties and teamwork, and lots and lots of sweat. We were able to tackle any obstacle throughout the week with unmatched enthusiasm and teamwork. We took any situation that God gave us and worked with it. When the luggage truck broke down, cooler heads prevailed and we ended up playing frisbee while waiting. When we couldn't shower for a couple days, we decided that it was okay because we all smelled bad, together. When it seemed like finishing Castella's porch was impossible, we all pulled together and worked an extra 2 and a half hours to not only finish her porch but give her a railing as well. This week isn't supposed to be about us, it's supposed to be about doing God's work, but it's hard to not feel a sense of accomplishment when we saw Castella's smile as she stepped on her new porch for the first time. It took a while for me to realize that we don't go on mission trips just because Jesus was a carpenter. We came down to West Virginia because we are called to love, and we made an impact on someone's life. Castella is going to have that porch for the rest of her life, and we as a group were able to make that happen. As Nathan's dinner prayers go, 'thank you God for this food. Thank you God for everything we have.' I'm thankful that God has given us an opportunity to love. I'm thankful for all the silliness that happened this week. I'm thankful for all of the reflection this week. I'm thankful for all the love that we have shown each other this week.  I'm thankful for all of the parents that are supportive of this. And I'm thankful for STAGE. Rock on.
~Dave Bluhm 

2015 MTrip Day 6 (Bethie & Sam)

Day 6: Friday, July 24, 2015

Today we woke up at 5:45 in the morning and we packed our bags and started driving to River Expedition that was about two hours away. We went white water rafting and it was my first time, at the beginning I was terrified of falling out of the raft during a rapid. There was a class four rapid and the raft almost flipped over but we were ok. After the almost flippage the raft was filled with water up to our knees and once the water drained, part of the raft landed on my foot and I couldn't get it out. After all of that fun we had we got back to the POG and got changed. We then went on to Subway for lunch. I had Italian bread with turkey, American cheese,lettuce. I also got two chocolate chip cookies. Then we drove for about three to four hours to Nathan's aunts house for dinner and dessert which was amazing. Then we went on to All Shepards Lutheran Church in Ohio to spend the night there.
- Bethie Stinson

Today we woke up at 5:45, earlier than most of us had the whole week. We packed our bags and cleaned our rooms at School For Life and took off for good. We stumbled upon a flat tire on our way, setting us back about an hour. We arrived at New River for white water rafting a little but later than expected, but they just put us on a later adventure: the lower river expedition. After white water rafting we all changed and got back on the road to go to Nathan's Aunt Jean's house for dinner. She prepared a wonderful meal for us and we were all extremely grateful. A bunch of us started a soccer game in her backyard as well, which was really fun even for those that didn't normally play. Then we went to a church in Columbus about 5-10 minutes away for the night. The first thing we did was sit in a circle in the sanctuary and go through our highs and lows for the week. We also read our letter from our parents and really reflected our time together. There were a lot of tears involved there. After that, we regrouped and played games; including a STAGE classic "aliens," and sardines. Then we cleaned up a little bit and went to bed.
- Sam Bourgeois

2015 MTrip Day 5 (Sarah H. & Emily)

Day 5: Thursday, July 23, 2015

Today in my group, after a french toast breakfast, we headed out to Castella's for our last day of work. As usual I went to greet her in the morning and watch some old game shows. I always enjoy watching the smile appear on Castella's face as we come in to talk to her. We worked really hard today, probably put in the most effort. We stayed until we got the job done which was probably until 4:30. We were so determined to finish the porch and when we did she was so happy. It was really sweet when she prayed for us. When we got back, all the local kids, teens, and parents were there as well for the cook out and performance from the little kids. We ate good hamburgers and watermelon outside with everyone and then had to clean kitchen and bathroom (ew). The little kids showed off their dance moves and then there was basketball games to watch and ice cream to eat and shirts to buy. We ended the night with a quick jam sesh and got ready for the early morning the next day!
-Sarah Hart

Today we all woke up early and my group hurried to the Powells house to finish our project. We came to find that our helper Joe was already there, which was a great surprise. Most of us stayed to finish up the floor, and some of us went to Debbie Powell's sister's house to wash more siding. At around 2 we said our goodbyes, took pictures and went back to the school. When we got back, we had a cookout with great burgers that Ted made. It was our chore day, so we cleaned up after dinner, and we cleaned the gross bathroom. We watched a performance the little kids from the community set up, and then had ice cream. Some of the people in our group participated in the 3v3 basketball tournament, and everyone watched. One group lost in the first group, and the other got in second place. We ended the night late with a quick group worship before we went straight to bed!
-Emily Bourgeois

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2015 MTrip Day 4 (Sarah S. & Lauren)

Day 4: Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Today my group was split up doing all kinds of things around Debbie's house and her neighbors. We finished painting a room for her, we are almost done fixing her kitchen floor that was sinking and washing her neighbors siding. After a long day at work we headed up to miracle mountain which was absolutely beautiful. We roasted hot dogs for dinner and had a blast playing capture the flag with other youth groups (we won three times in a row). We had a nice service overlooking the mountain side and then s'mores to end the night.
~Sarah Stephenson

Today after breakfast and devotional time, my group started and finished repairing Castella's front porch by hammering in new boards. While a part of the group was working on that another  to be small group put together the new stairs for the back porch. Also, two or three people would keep Castella company inside, enjoying 80's game shows. After returning from the worksites and having some free time, we all headed to Miracle Mountain which revealed to have breathtaking views, especially with the sunset. We roasted hotdogs for dinner, played frisbee and capture the flag, and just hung out. We had a different worship session than the other days where we got a little time to just relax and think in the gorgeous setting of the mountaintop. When it got dark we came back to the school for a short group recap and meeting to end the day.
~ Lauren Koch

2015 MTrip Day 3 (Lydia, Owen, Max and Christian)

Day 3: Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Today the group that is working on Castella's house with the unreliable porch got right to work cutting the wood that will soon make up the new one. We all split into groups that learned how to and used the saws, hammers, and electric drills. When one or a few of us did not have a job to do or finished a job, we went into the house and chatted with the homeowner. While at times we may not have had a hammer and nail in our hand, we were still building a relationship with Castella and breaking boundaries formed by society. It has only been the second day working at her house and we have all immersed ourselves into a world we have never known by getting to know someone who knows it better than anyone else. By the end of the day we had the steps that would lead up to the porch measured and cut and had constructed the deck for it. We were also given a blessing today with overcast and light rain for most of the work day which kept us cool. Today our team didn't just divide and work, we divided and composed the pieces that will later come together to form a gift from God delivered by our power to another child of God.
~Lydia Blakely

My group went to a neighbor of the lady we were helping and scrubbed her siding.
~Owen Molloy

My group had some issues because the lady's house was too small so we did three different things, we painted her house and scrubbed her neighbor's house so we could all help God in different ways.
-Max Smith

My group picked up a bunch of trash on the side of a river and the garbage ranged from nasty sweatshirts to bottle caps.
~Christian Touchton

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2015 MTrip Day 2 (Connor & Sam)

Day 2: Monday, July 20, 2015

Today we split into two groups to do work. One group went to a house where the kitchen floor was sinking and the other went to a house to rebuild a deck. My group had the kitchen floor project. We had some difficulty today, the biggest one being that when we got to the work site the owner didn't want us to fix her floor. She was under the impression that the contractor would be there to review our work. So after learning that we weren't going to start the floor today we decided talk with and get to know the owner and her friend Nick. We really got to know the people and we bonded as a group a lot. After talking for a while we decided to pick up trash around the river. We are very excited to start on the floor tomorrow.
~Connor Barash

My group went to a house with an unreliable porch. We spent the first half of the day demolishing the porch, running into some possibly poison oak in the process. We also set up a game plan for the new porch; which we will be working on the rest of the week. After lunch, we headed back to the school and got set up for kid's club. Although we were attempting a scheduled day filled with games, an arts & crafts project, a skit, and a snack; we were lucky enough to be with a group of kids that went with the flow. We did a little bit of everything. The kids were very loud and energetic, but I think (and hope) they enjoyed themselves. We had trouble earning their attention at first; but by the end of the time we had together, I think we had them pretty much under control. We're excited to get back to the home tomorrow and start building the porch!
-Sam Bourgeois

2015 MTrip Day 1 (Dana)

Day 1: Sunday, July 19, 2015

Today we met at Cana at 6:30 in the morning to drive to West Virginia for our 2015 mission trip. The STAGE group will be here until Friday when we leave for white water rafting and then will be going on to a church in Ohio where we will bevstaying overnight. We are doing mission work like helping repair a ramp and stairs and also replacing a sinking kitchen floor and helping with the kids club on Monday. The drive through Ohio was fine, but once we hit the first toll booth in West Virginia, it started to get a bit rough. At the toll booth the Prince of Glory (POG) van and the enterprise car got through with no trouble, but the luggage car stalled out because of a busted fuel pump and had to be towed. So as this is going on the enterprise car waited right after the toll booth but the POG thought everything was good and drove for two miles before pulling off of the highway. So the people in the POG got out and waited for around half an hour and hung out, played frisbee, and climbed up the side of a rocky hill. So once the enterprise and the luggage car (on a tow truck) caught up to the POG, we got the necessary clothing we needed for tomorrow and got back into the vans as Mr. Ted went to stay in a hotel and get the car fixed. We then stopped about 2-3 hours later when the enterprise van thought the had a flat tire. It got fixed and we left the 7/11 to go get dinner at Dairy Queen. We then finally got to the school we were staying at around 8. So what was supposed to be an 8 hour drive turned into a twelve and a half hour drive instead. I am very excited to be on the trip this year as its my first and although it's supposed to be in the mid 80's all week, I know I will have a great time, have fun, help and meet new people, and hopefully bond with everyone in STAGE 2.
~Dana R. (13)

P.S. Mom and Dad I know probably won't read this until you get back but, please be super safe and have fun on your trip and don't get eaten by a bear. I love and miss you so much! See you Saturday.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

2014 MTrip - DAY 6 (by Megan)

Friday DAY 6 (Megan)
Today was our last day at camp.  By breakfast time at 7:45 we were expected to have most of our stuff ready and packed for our departure later in the day.  After breakfast, we headed down to the whitewater rafting place.  Although it was sprinkling a bit and a little nippy out, it still was fun.  We broke up into 3 rafts of 6 people each and headed out on the Ocoee River.  We traveled approximately 5.1 miles and dropped a total of 245 feet throughout the rapids.  After the bus ride filled with music back to camp, we had some free time to get all of our things together.  We quickly ate lunch and headed back out on the road.  Everyone seemed to be tired out and most of us slept on the way to our next stop, Wittenberg University.  We arrived around 11pm (later than expected) and we all got our own dorm room keys.  Most of the girls had their own dorm to themselves and some of the boys roomed with each other.  After everyone was settled we all gathered in the common room area.  As tradition, the seniors got to reflect on all of their past STAGE experiences and say their goodbyes.  It was an emotional night despite the fact that it was 1 in the morning!  Overall, the day was packed with fun-filled times and meaningful conversations.  Leaving camp in Tennessee wasn't necessarily easy, but the times that we had there will never be forgotten.
-Megan Kossak

ps. For an album of 100+ pics from the mission trip, go to

Friday, July 18, 2014

2014 MTrip DAY 5 - by Eric & Connor + Andrew

Thursday DAY 5 (Part 1 by Eric)

                This Mission trip has been one of the best in my five years of going on these wonderful one week getaways for others. This year instead of being separated and broken up into other groups, we instead worked together for the last four days, which has provided a variety of new and unique challenges. In my past four mission trips I have been mostly working with those who I do not know as well STAGE members. This week has forced me and many others to work as a team and to work as hard as everyone knows that you can.
-Eric McChesney

                                                                                Thursday - Part 2 (by Andrew and Connor)
                Today, after we got back from the worksite, we had two hours of free time before we started our first activity of the week, Paint Ball.  We filled the time with plenty of Euchre, Spoons, and Hold Em.  For some of us, this was our first time playing paintball, and we were nervous and excited. Once we got to paintball we broke into teams, MC DREAM and Get Real.  Even though Get Real dominated most of the games, it was still a fun and enjoyable experience for the whole group.  After everyone cleaned up, we left for El Rio, a nice Mexican restaurant in the city.  We were able to walk across the Tennessee-Georgia border while we were waiting.  The food was great, and we were all happy to enjoy a good meal before chapel.  Our stomachs didn't agree.  It is great to be part of a great group like STAGE that can be brought even closer together just by paintball, Mexican foods, and long frequent trips to the bathroom.  That day ended by the best Chapel service of the week, followed by prayer circles out in the field, bringing the group closer to each other and to God. After the prayer circles we all went and sat around a campfire and sang songs. one of the best things about this campfire was that our group leader Ashley came and joined us. Whenever we would start a new song her face would light up with joy and I think this was one of the best examples of how God brings joy into our lives. 

-Andrew Bourgeois & Connor Barash

2014 MTrip DAY 4 (Shannon & Tyler)

Wednesday DAY 4 (Part 1 by Shannon)

                Today was a very successful day! I’ve worked mostly on the roof and today we started scraping shingles off on the other side of the roof, and we finished laying down the black layer of roofing paper as well. We started to lay shingles over the roofing paper and got four or five layers put down. On the deck we’ve gotten the railing on the ramp put up and tomorrow I think we’re working on the railing going up the stairs. This was our last full day to work and even though we’ve been working really hard I’m not sure if we’re going to finish the shingling or the railing. Today Ashley mentioned that in the past groups she’s worked with Wednesday is normally the worst day in the way that everyone gets frustrated with each other and just want to get the project done. At the end of the day though she mentioned that we were the best group on Wednesday she’s had so far. All in all I think we work together really well and I’m constantly laughing, everyone in the group is so funny. This experience has been really enjoyable and I’m so glad I get to spend it with everyone in this group.
-Shannon Schafer 

DAY 4 - Part 2 by Tyler
                From what I hear, sounded like everyone had the best sleep so far on the trip and it might’ve been from all of the hard work that we’ve all done, plus compared to the hot days before, this felt like Michigan weather so I was feeling right at home. Also from what I’ve heard, that Wednesday is one of the toughest days at this mission site camp area place thing. Nope... nothing like that at all. Not only were we working hard but we all continued to get along with each other. While some were up on the hot, blazing roof replacing the shingles, easy to see that that is exhausting to endure through, the rest were working hard on the ground rebuilding the porch deck, organized into groups adding the railing measuring and cutting and putting in the spokes between the edge and the railing. I really wish that we had at least another full day working, not only that I fear that we would need a little more time to finish everything in time, but I have really enjoyed the time we all had together working our hardest. I can go on and on but I’ll just say that I’m super confident that with how amazing this group is we will accomplish our goals together with the most positive attitude.
                -Tyler Vincent