Teen Mission to Yakima

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Thursday, July 26th, 2013

It’s my second time being involved with the parish’s activity and so far it is one of the best summers I’ve experienced so far. However my first impression of Yakima Mission was far different from what I’m experiencing right now and I’m glad I came instead of backing out. St. Stephen community has given me their greatest respect and kindness overall regardless of my religious opinion. I never worked with home or ever yet touched these types of tools. From this mission, I learned how to work with tools that I never ever touched in my life, work well with my life, and appreciate my life. I also learned to not be judgmental, work in horrible condition place (I hate to be dirty) and be more polite to others. Again I’m glad I decided to do Yakima Mission, because it’s one of my best experience I’ve ever experience. I’m glad I’m helping others and I’m glad I’m representing St. Stephen. I can’t wait to do Yakima Mission next year, the week is going by fast.
- John Nguyen 7/25/2013
This is my second time being on mission since last year. I've found going on mission that I love helping people and I love to be able to see the happiness in others eyes when we go out and fix their house. This week I've been working on this ladies house that needed a lot of things done such as a new ceiling in 2 rooms and a lot of painting and patching up holes but it’s been a lot of fun getting to know her and her family. She has two sons with some mental disabilities, and on the second day one of them came up and offered us some burritos which was so nice of him! I loved getting to know her and hear all her stories that she had to tell us. One day during our lunch father Ed came and ate with Leona and all of our gang. I was great having him there. But it was also great for Leona as well because there was finally someone there to talk to her because we were all busy working on her house. Leona is one of the sweetest ladies I've ever met, she is loving and she always puts people before her. For the past couple days we have been making her a sandwich and some fruit for her for lunch so she can eat with us and enjoy the company. It is so nice to get away and be able to help the people in need who are truly in need and not just people scamming you, I loved being able to come down here and see the smile on others faces when you are there out of the kindness of your heart to help them out. I am ecstatic about coming back next year for my last and finally year of mission, and I cant wait to see all the faces on people when we are there helping them! Mission 2014 come faster please!
-- Natalie Ledvina 7/25/13

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It was a pretty experiencing day; we got to meet kids that got orphaned at a foster home. It was really great meeting them because they were polite and really excited to watch us do what we came to do. Today I also really bonded with my group it was quiet for a while then we started to talk and we took off from there. The women that lived at the home we were working at was a great role model to the kids because she really just took in the children and started to take care of them for a mom that is graduating out of a rehab. I guess this wasn’t really a bad trip it was great so far and I'm looking forward to working with my group and the foster family.

-Tommy Nguyen 7/22/2013

            Been a long day I'm not going to lie. Not as hot as last year but still tiresome. Anyway it was a great day getting to know my group a bit more and great to see the women we help out. Over the years I've been doing this and now looking back through all the experiences I guess I really have grown up. I never realized it really and this year I really feel more humble and more energized to make a change in this foster mom’s life. Hopefully I can apply all that I have learned to the future.

-Paul Tran 7/22/13

This being my first mission I can honestly say I expected it to be so much different. My first day was an experience like I have never had before and was tough to finish the day. Today has been one of the best and most inspirational in a long time! At the end of day 1 I could honestly say I did not want to come back next year but today giving it another chance, I don’t know what I was thinking yesterday. Breaking out of my element has been the biggest challenge and also stepping into others lives but I wouldn’t go back and change anything I have done so far. All I am looking forward to now is the rest of the week except the day we go home!

-Erica Garl 7/23/13

We’re rampin it up! Third times a charm I guess, this being my 3rd mission trip I’ve finally got the hang of everything. With Rick and Matt as my leaders, this year our group stays entertained and laughing and smiling even after painting and building ramps in the 100 degree weather. This years mission is a lot different then the previous years but at the end of the day your still giving your time and doing whatever you can to better and to help those in need out. Just listening to the elderly people’s stories as we are building their ramps is amazing. It is all really humbling and makes you feel good. The previous woman who we built a ramp for yesterday said that she had been looking forward for this day for the last 7 months after breaking her spine in 8 places two years ago when she was 81 years old after falling off of a second story balcony! Knowing someone had waited that long for something like that is crazy. It’s amazing how such a small thing like building a ramp impacts someone life so much, and seeing how appreciative she was about it. Overall, I love doing these mission trips because you get away from your crazy everyday life for a week and get completely taken out of your comfort zone. You learn to live a life of simplicity and it really just makes you stop and think and learn to appreciate what you have in your life. It just shows that you shouldn’t take anything for granted. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Alexandria Knolles 7/23/13

This is my first mission trip and it’s not exactly what I expected. First there was yesterday when we built our first ramp for a lady who we never even got to talk to. Then we went to DQ to use the bathroom and our group had to experience solidarity, which let me tell you was very hard to do! When we finally got to the second house, it was hot, we were all tired, and most of us were already cranky. However, with the help of a big tree that gave us shade and a kind, older lady who shared her stories, we got through the day and made the best of it. Although there were some gross moments (the chicken poop and gross green/ brown liquid that ended up on my hand), it was a good experience. Today we worked hard in finishing our work and got to learn more about Lowell, the man who taught us to built the ramps. How some people can be so selfless and volunteer their works is such an inspiration to us all. So far, although the work was hard and the sun was very hot, Mission has become an experience I will  never forget and has taught me how even though you may not want to, living with solidarity and in simplicity can make the world a much better place. Ramp it up!

~Kelly Spratt 7/23/13

I'm on my first mission trip and I have to say it has already had its ups and downs. One of the ups I have to say was when I was at a house with Josh, Erica, Alex, and Rick to paint a stairway way for an elderly couple so they could get around the house better, but we also ended up helping them out more by putting in their a/c for them, which I'm thankful we did for them b/c first: they looked so happy! Second: we also got to cool off for a minute! Now one of the downs was when we went to this kind old lady’s house who had 18 kid and lord only know how many great grandkids, the down was that there was a ton wasp and stuff to throw away which was both scary to be around that many wasp and to be throwing away some the decaying plants that had to be chucked, some of which smelled, but I got used to it. I also got to experience some of what I would like to call, “the most awesome wisdom and stories from a man named Lowell who is a magic man with tools!” And learned a lot about what he did in New Orleans and just how he is just so selfless of a person to go down there and help with the clean up and how he is helping others today! So far in the all the work I've done I feel that I'm starting to understand what I was came down to Yakima to do and I feel that I'm doing a good job with it. I can’t wait to see what I come leave with now and what’s coming down in the rest of the week.
P.s: I'm happy that I haven’t burnt yet!
-Dirk Healy 7/23/13
Today has been one of the longest days of my entire life. This is my first time going on mission ever. It has been everything i've expected so far and more. I've met a handful of new people as well as rekindling with some friendships within our own church group. The first official day of going out and doing hard work was not as bad as i expected it to be. I expected myself to be passed out from heat exhaustion..but i didn't! Meeting the home owner and her foster kids were interesting. It's nice helping her out while she's helping out her foster kids. Many of my team mates have good things to say about the family. I'm excited to see our progress on the house and the relationship we will build with Sharon and her kids with it only being the first day. Okay bye.

-Gretchen Lirio 7/22/13

Monday, July 22, 2013

2013 Yakima Mission is Underway!

Once again our youth and adults have journeyed to Yakima, Washington for another week of service and growth. Please pray for the team and watch this blog for updates throughout the week.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

An interesting discovery made at one of the sites


Friday 7/13

Friday, July 13, 2012

Going to mission in Yakima has been an amazing experience for me. For the past week, I have been working on building ramps for people who can no longer walk down stairs or have some type of disability that prevents them from getting around. We built a bridge for a women who needed help getting from her door to the drive way. We also made 6 inch stairs into 3 inch stairs so a veteran of World War 2 can walk down the stairs easier. We have also built 3 different ramps for elderly people who extremely needed it. It is so nice to see how much people appreciate us. A simple thing like building a ramp means so much and can completely change their life. I never knew I could make so much of an influence on someone like that.

I have also become very close to the people I am working with. I honestly didn’t think I would get along with the people in my group, but we are all so close, and I am sad that our journey is coming so close to the end. Also, the guy who is teaching us how to build ramps has to be the most extraordinary person I have ever met in my life. He is so inspirational, and makes me want to do more in my life. Coming to mission was not what I expected. I got so much more out of my week than I ever thought I would. This is one of the most memorable events I have ever experienced. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

-Camille Senn

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mission numero tres!

Every mission offers something different to me. Every year I have worked on a different site. This year I was excited to find out that I got put into the ramp group and finally able to meet the extraordinary Lowell. With high expectations for this man, I was still astounded by the man I met. I loved hearing the stories of his full life and working with him to build these structures I never thought I could do.

We started the week by building a “bridge” for a sweet lady. Next day we built shorter stairs for a man with hip problems. The man stayed the whole day outside in the boiling heat to watch (and try to help) us build the stairs. You could tell how gracious he was and excited for his new stairs. On Wednesday, we tackled our first ramp. The first ramp was an eye opening experience. I learned a lot about how a ramp is assembled. After we were done and I sat back looking at it, I was proud of our work. Thursday, we went to work at our next ramp. We met a woman who visited her daughter “365 days a year” at this house to help her. I was inspired by her dedication to her parents and one day hope I am able to help my parents as she does. Today, Friday, we are attempting to finish two ramps. I am excited to fulfill such a goal! My favorite job this week has been the hole driller! I have learned that I really like using drills and really don’t like wasp nests.

This mission, I am in a group that loves country. At first I dreaded all the country I had to listen to but I was amazed at how much it grew on me. I have thoroughly enjoyed my team members. We have bonded. My two leaders have been great and I will never forget the moments we have had. Mission is always a great experience. Thanks to everyone who helped the wonderful week happen.

~Christine Baker, the ramp builder 

This has been one of the most inspiring, fun, and motivating experiences I have ever been on! If I had the opportunity to work with the people that I did again I could never pass it up! I love the group so much I feel like we have a special bond and it’s just so much fun working with each of them and I hope to work with each and every one of them again. We all get along great and have really became close. I consider each of them my friends. We have fun together making jokes and even talking about serious topics. The environment we created was just amazing. I love our site manager, Lowell, he is an amazing man and I am just so blessed to even work near him! He has lived such an amazing life and he just inspires me to be the best I can be and to help people to the best of my ability. Pam, where to start… she has been a great leader pulling us all closer together, without her I don’t know where we would be. Matt on the hand… he is learning just as much as we are haha  He has been good though! I love working with him and I’m glad he was able to stay the whole trip! I feel I have even more special connections with Paul, Ivy, and Brittany. Not saying I didn’t connect with everyone else Before mission me and Paul had barely spoken but since we have been here I have found him to been a great guy and he is just fun to be around and always comedic! Ivy is just so cool! She is super good at like all sports! She was pretty shy at the beginning of the week but now she is like hilarious! She still doesn’t talk as much as me but when she does everyone laughs Brittany is just like amazing! She is super nice and kind and funny and awesome! We have some pretty great conversations and some pretty close to the heart talks! I am really going to miss her next year because she does so much and she’s so fun to be around and makes me laugh every time she talk to me haha she just amazing I can’t say enough about how much I loved being in this group because it wasn’t just about helping others but it has really helped me into becoming a better person. I love each and everyone and I love the work that we have been blessed to do. I feel like we have helped these people with something simple which will help the day overall be much easier. I love doing the work and getting help from the crew and the people of Yakima have been so nice to us and Lowell has really accepted us by letting us into his home and telling us how he came to do this and he is just the coolest person in the whole world! I BEG that next year I can work with him again because he is just amazing. I love everyone from our church and it’s been such a pleasure working with them all! I also loved meeting the people from all these other places because they all have such kind caring souls and it’s been such a fun time hanging with them and getting to know them! I LOVE MISSION!


This is my fourth year at mission and my fourth year building ramps and working with Lowell. Each year is just such an amazing experience. The kids I am working with are incredible. They are so willing to work and have so much energy. The amount of work we have accomplished is phenomenal. We have completed one project per day and we are attemping to complete two today. I have never done more than one ramp in a day since I have been doing this. We will see if we can do it. Our work group has bonded and is extremely close. We laugh, share, cry, talk and so much more together. We have had so many God filled moments on our site. When we go to share them at night with each other you can barely get a word in. Everyone is just bursting to tell theirs and everyone usually has multiple experiences to share. I have been very blessed to work with each and every one of them. Definitely an experience I will not forget.

Pam Redmond

This is my first time blogging and first time on mission. I was only supposed to step in for one of our leaders for a day but after meeting the group I was in and spent a whole day building I really didn’t want to leave. The kids in my group did not make it any easier at all. I just about cried when they all asked why I couldn’t just stay any way, I could just stay in their group. The adult leader just had too much on his plate and it was easier for me to just stay if possible. My prayers were answered! I was able to stay the whole week and experience a full mission!

The kids in our group are more than just amazing. Some of them didn’t know each other and where pretty quiet and shy, but after a day or so that completely turned around. Our group seems closer then you could ever think seven teenagers could ever get in one week or even in two weeks! Our group spends all day together working then every evening we get together for our group sharing time, our whole group walks all over each other in excitement to share with each other what they appreciated that day. We are the last group to leave, they don’t care that they are taking out of their free time. When we are finally done we get together in a big group hug!

From just four days these kids, our group of adult leaders and just doing all this work for all these grateful people have all hooked me into mission. I am completely loving it I will remember this experience for ever.

-Matt Garcia

Last night was culture night, and as part of the event, three people from the Yakama Nation came to the church we’ve been staying at and presented several dances, songs, and cultural information. It was a mother, and daughter Starla (I think!) and son Cato. There were two other siblings, but they couldn’t make it, because of work or something. Anyways it was really fun and amazing to learn about the culture. The family shared with us that their father had passed away five years ago, and in one of the performances, Cato wore a headdress that had belonged to his father, but had not been worn since his father’s death. I felt honored that the family thought enough of our group to finally wear the headdress again. Also, when the family was getting ready to leave, they told us that they had wanted to make something for all (like 120) of us, but that because of working, and some other things, that they hadn’t been able to. They had went to the local craft store and bought a ton of visors for us though. And not everyone received one, but I found it very touching that the family had wished to make us gifts and that even though they didn’t have the time to do that, they found a way to give us what they could. It was really heartwarming. Starla also told us that she and her sister are trying to learn the language, because there is now only one fluent speaker left! That was saddening to learn, but inspired me to look into language preservation after I finish my schooling at Gonzaga.

Oh, Starla also shared this thing that her father said before he passed. It was that ignorance isn’t really bliss, because if it was, then more people would be happy. People chuckled at this, including me, but it really is true.

The group I am working with is really amazing. Everyone contributes in more ways than one, and I really enjoy our meetings at the end of the day, when we all share how we saw God’s grace during the day. It’s awesome how the nine of us always have more than one thing to share, too. I feel so blessed, and know I am. I also never thought that I would be able to help others in the ways that I have this week, building a bridge, stairs, and ramps. I also didn’t realize that so many people were in need of these things. It seems crazy to me that these needs are all coming from one area, too. Realizing that I can help people in this way though makes me think that there might be a lot of other ways that I can help people that I just wasn’t aware of.

I hope I continue to do mission work for the rest of my life. One of the leaders from one of the churches on this mission is 82 years old! Now that is cool. His name is Jim, and he is from Georgia. His granddaughter is here on the mission, too. Jim is one of my leaders for our small group reflections (which is different than our site groups that we work with during the day). He’s told me about all the Southern food he likes to eat.

Ivy Wood (little miss princess)

Hey it is Paul Tran and now it’s Friday night. The week has gone by so fast and it was great to see all of the work we have done, accomplished. This year in some ways was better than last year but not all. My team with Steve and Debbie has been great and we worked so well together. The program during the sessions could be better but in all again it was fun. But more importantly the people we met in Yakima were so grateful and thankful to us I was surprised this year. I’m glad that I got the chance to go and I wish to go again next year!

Good Night and Good luck,

Paul Tran-

I cannot find the words to say how much Mission has meant to me this year. Today we finished up our last few ramps and finished our work we had planned here in the Yakima community. Our group feels like a family now, so open and loving and I don’t want to leave them. I never want to leave Mission, but especially this year because it’s my last. The memories I’ve made here, from laughing at something funny to how amazing I’ve felt making a difference in the world, will never fade no matter what happens. I can’t believe that I won’t be coming back next summer, but I know that I’ve made a difference doing the work I have done in the past four years. To all those who are hesitant or not sure about going on Mission – do it. Every single one of you will be incredibly changed from this experience and it’s something you will never forget. So much so that you might end up crying your eyes out with your site group on Friday night, like my group just did.

God bless,

Brittany Redmond

This week I worked on the reservation at a women named Dorothy’s house. With Dorothy lives two of her sons, Kevin and David. During the week our team patched what seemed like an endless amount of holes, painted fixed two bathrooms including piping, plumbing, and all that stuff. It was a long week but I enjoyed it. During the week Dorothy stayed to herself most of the time. Today was our last day and we did a lot of last minute touches. When we were all done, Dorothy came out of her bedroom to see end result. Seeing that smile on her face was such a blessing. She was at a loss of words when she saw the bathroom with the beautiful flowers Jenn drew. I’m extremely happy I went on mission this year and will continue for my last year next summer. Can’t wait!

Briana Lee Jackson: Daughter of Christ’s Blogggg

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wednesday 7/11/12

Today was day 3 at our worksite doing chore services. My team and I have been helping an elderly woman for the past 3 days paint her house, and painting the trim. We are painting her house lavender! It’s adorable, but the painting is a lot harder than you’d expect, especially in 100+ temperatures! It’s all worth it though. Tomorrow all we have to do is touch up our mistakes and then finish the trim. It’s hard work but it’s all worth it, especially when Amanda comes outside to check on us and see how we’re doing and her face just lights up, you can tell she really appreciates what my team and I are doing. Amanda is the cutest little thing, the first day we met her hair was all done up and her makeup was perfect just for us!

Yesterday we helped in a retirement home doing things for the elders in their apartments like cleaning the bathrooms, mopping the floor, vacuuming etc. My partner Madison and I helped this woman named Sarah out. We walked into her home and you just saw her big smile, and you could tell she was just a genuinely happy woman! She looked great, I couldn’t believe when she told us she was 82! We cleaned her bathroom, vacuumed and mopped her floors. She appreciated it so much, and she gave us wonderful advice and told us lots of stories so we got to know her on a more personal level. She told us about how she found beauty in everyone, and how she was born naturally a spiritual person. It was the little things we did for her but she appreciated everything we did. The last time she had help in her house was 3 weeks earlier!! It was such a good feeling knowing that we were helping a genuine woman who actually needed the help and truly appreciated it. Sarah gave me wonderful advice that I took to heart. It was overall a good experience and makes you feel awesome knowing you made a difference and did little things to make someone who’s going through a hard time get by in life.

Alex Knolles

Hey everyone,

Alright so its day three and we just finished destroying a refrigerator that was infested with pounds and pounds of rat poop. Day one and two were fun. We did a lot of repair work on the walls because we had found over 20 holes and we wanted to make the house look nice. We have a lot of work ahead of us and we hope we can finish it all in the remaining two days we have left. We have also been working on restoring a bathroom, painting the interior walls, patching the roof, and general cleaning. Dorothy, the woman who owns the house, has been very appreciative of our work so far. Yesterday, Tom Blackeagle, the site coordinator for the Yakama Nation reservation, stopped by to check up on our progress. He taught us about the Native American culture in the area, which is rich in tradition and storytelling. He is just an awesome, inspiring guy who has dedicated his whole life to serving people in his community. We are looking forward to two more great days at Dorothy’s house, and we’re praying that the thermometer drops below 100 for us! See you all back home!

-J.P. and Jessica

Thursday 7/12
For my fourth year of service at the Yakima mission, I was blessed to have been able to build wheelchair ramps with a great man named Lowell. Each year, people are always so enthusiastic about how they have enjoyed working with Lowell, and my goal for my final year of mission was to be on this worksite. Even though the site is known for building wheelchair ramps for the people who have a difficult time accessing the indoors and outdoors and are bound to a wheelchair, the first two days consisted of building a little bridge in front of a lady’s house over a small 4 inch dip between the door and driveway, and modifying one man’s steps from 6 inches to 3 inches. On Wednesday, we built our first ramp and the amount of teamwork was extraordinary. Everyone worked equally and people offered another to take over their position or asked if they would like to do some drilling. At the end, our ramp was completed, and we are looking forward to building 2 more ramps throughout the week

Nathan Miller

For my first time being on Yakima Mission I did not know what to expect other than going to a really dirty house infested with tons of insects and mice. However, when I had entered Anita’s house it was rather cozy and homey. Anita was the lady I was helping for the week and she was one of a kind. Although she was stuck in a bad situation, Anita’s personality was uplifting and full of humor. She was probably the most kind and gentle old women I have ever met. Working to make her house a better place to live in was a great pleasure and opportunity for me to spread God’s word and action to Anita’s family. The main problem she had at her house was her bathroom. At first glance of her old bathroom you can see the molding on the ceiling and the rust on the sink, bathtub and toilet. Anita also wanted her living room and kitchen painted. I mostly worked on painting the living room and kitchen white. After four days of painting, the living room is finally painted and makes the room feel so warm and bright. Our host, Anita, loved the painting job and the smile she had when she first saw the complete painted room was priceless. Anita was a kind spirit and sometimes even gave us fresh fruits from her farm such as cherries and bell peppers. This journey has truly become life changing and through mission I have grown a closer relationship with God. I am currently a senior planning on attending San Diego State University in the fall of 2012 and I really regret not being involved in more missions during my high school career. I am truly blessed to be given this opportunity to help Anita and her family.
God Bless,

Chris Garcia

For this being my first time on a Yakima mission, I thought working on the reservation would be hard and be boring, but I met some wonderful people out here. I met Anita and her three young great grandchildren. Even though it takes an hour to come out here to work I’m glad we are far away from where we are staying because it’s great bonding time with people you never thought you would even think of getting to know. Working on the reservation is very hot, so all week we are working inside and redoing Anita’s bathroom and repainting her house, fixing something’s up, and getting to know her. Anita is an amazing inspiration, she always wants to help us work and help with anything we need, she is always so happy and smiley. I was really nervous about coming to Yakima because of not knowing the place around me and not knowing basically anyone because I had just started going back to church again so everyone made their cliques. But I found some great friends of mine that helped me get to know some people and meet some new friends. We had a really bad thunder and lightning storm on Monday night, man was that scary, and I thought it would never end. It went on for two hours I thought. Wednesday night was so much fun! We went to the water park and played football with the Jesuit boys! While working you find yourself getting tired of painting all day so you decide to put some fun in there by having a paint war, I got so much paint on my arms and face it would not come off at all! But don’t worry I got Chris back for it. You’d think after a couple days of having 100 degree weather and getting up at 6:30 and going to sleep after 11:00, you get really tired, but if you just keep on going and going and don’t give up on what you are working on then you don’t seem to find yourself tired anymore. This has been an amazing experience for me because its teaching me that there are people out that need help and need some pick me ups and I am starting to realize that I should be more observant of people in need of something. I never thought I would have such an inspiring experience on this trip. Lets be honest I thought it was going to be so boring and I thought I was going to walk into a house so gross and so nasty that no one would ever want to go in there. But that is not the case, I found myself cleaning for fun and helping people out and finding some new people to keep in touch with. I am really glad I got to have this experience and I will be back next year 
With love,

Natalie Ledvine

Waking up on Monday morning at 6:30 was pretty hard. But seeing what comes out of it, is so amazing. My group headed out to the reservation this past week, for an hour long drive. We came to know this amazing woman named Anita; she lives with her son, and 3 great grandchildren. Throughout the course of the week, we came to know a little of her story, and spent some bonding time with one of the children Nathaniel. He doesn’t talk, except for when he wants the cats, to make them fight ha ha. As a team we have been working so hard on the bathroom, the walls, and now we are working in the kitchen, painting that. Everyone kind of has their own feel for what they like to do, but at one point I’ll have to work in the bathroom… Looking back at the past three days, it feels so amazing, getting the chance to help someone in need, and being part of a change in her life. Chris and I have been tackling the ceilings, which is a hard workout for our arms, but there is muscle coming in.. after the soreness. We’ve had a few paint fights, but discretely so we wouldn’t get in a lot of trouble, sometimes, it was just too noticeable ha ha. The bonding time throughout the day has been amazing as well, but the time after with the other churches is fun too. I’ve met some pretty nice people, starting new friendships, and creating amazing memories. So far, my first mission experience has been completely amazing. I can’t describe in words how powerful it is to change someone’s life, and creating happiness through our own happiness and hard work. This experience has given me a chance to grow closer to God, and see how he made people to help others. I am so blessed to be helping this family, and cannot wait until next year’s mission. I have to get back to painting the ceiling!
Olive Motola

This year has been a tremendous amount of enjoyment for me. When we finally reached our work site for the first day, we were greeted by a very special person. The house we would be working on was on the Indian reservation and the woman who owned the house was a sweet old lady named Anita. Every moment I would get a chance to talk to her she would always be positive. The first day we had got out there, the night before she had moved her couches outside so we could move around better. However, there was crazy lightning storm. So when I asked her about the couches, she had the opportunity to say something negative. But, she said, “Well at least they are clean now, hahaha.” She always brought a smile to my face every time we talked. He has great sense of humor and I am very fortunate to have this woman, taking part in her life. She truly deserves good things to happen to her because he is such a great person. Another day, I had to go under the house to screw in a board, there were so many spider webs and insects. When I got done I was covered in all sorts of dust and dead insects. That was the same day that I stuck my hand down a toilet drain by accident. Then I stood up and my hat fell off my head and went down the whole in the floor, stopping on the mud on the ground. Also, that morning I had communicated with Anita’s great grandchild, Nathanael. Every day I would wave to him but the third day, I played peek a boo with him bringing out the largest smile, that filled my heart with fulfillment. Knowing that this child does not need much compared to more fortunate children, in order to have a great time. It was the same for Anita. My goal everyday I wake up is to make every person I encounter smile. Anita and Nathanael made my ability to reach the goal by being themselves, providing happiness in simplistic manner. I am really glad that I was able to work with everyone in my group. It is unfortunate that it is coming to an end and that it is my last year. I wish I could of gone on mission the years that I missed. Mission has provided me with the experience to appreciate life with every second that I have it. Knowing that if I do not care about people or life, then my life will be poor; maybe not financially but spiritually and socially I will be poor. Family and friends are the key to success in this life. If everyone in this world cared for everyone like how they want to be treated then this world be more loving. I really appreciate the ability to come on this mission trip and will never forget the people that met nor the people that made it happen.
Connor Relph

This is my last YNIA experience as a youth and it’s breaking my heart. I have attended four years of mission trips with this organization and I LOVE them all!!! This year my group, the Parish of the Holy Spirit from Kennewick, WA is helping to host a sports camp for Kids Rock. Kids Rock is an organization dedicated to bringing Yakima’s inner city youth closer to God. The head of Kids Rock, Dan, has completely dedicated his life to God and his plans for the children of Yakima. He converted his front yard into a water park/playground for the children and his house is always open to them. The children we work with are extremely loving and full of God’s spirit!! We have had an incredible time singing and dancing and praising God with them. When asked what their favorite part of the camp was so far, many replied “the counselors!!!” It was extremely touching! Several campers have very close relationships with our Savior and even know the Bible very well. I have been so blessed to be able to participate in YNIA mission trips and will miss them a great deal. St. Stephen’s, thank you for inviting me to add to your site and for sharing such amazing experiences with me here at this mission.
God bless you and keep you all of your lives,

Becca Casazza

Each morning we, as young neighbors, grudgingly pull ourselves out of the warm comfort of our sleeping bags for a day filled with toil and heat. For the lucky ones, they have the air mattress that has kept their goodnight dreams afloat for the past three days but for those who were not as fortunate it was the cold, unforgiving, stiff floor. I am a lucky one. Today, being a little over half way finished with my adventure I feel as if the unfamiliar things prior to my arrival are now the things I seek for comfort. One place in particular sets a part from the rest. The Lighthouse, a quaint and homey thrift store where my crew and I had spent the most of our days, is where strangers are now friends and where each days lies a new thrill. One person can simply not spend enough time in this place of antiques and items. Who knows what items are to be found? A teapot maybe for uniqueness or a shirt found with the price tag stating it was $198.00 are among the few. When one walks into this store they are greeted with smiling faces and a ‘something for everyone’ mentality. However, you better act quickly because there is always activity here at the shop that never rests. I was lucky to be among the few souls to be allowed in early but our time was not spent in a frivolous manner. I along with my crew was sent to the basement to perform the grueling task of sorting out the holiday decorations. With Christmas being the most celebrated holiday I should have seen it coming but I was not prepared. Santa, Reindeer, Snowman, and heaps of Garland are all the eyes could see all packed into boxes and crammed to the top. We had a task, a mission as I hear it being called, to help out this store and we accomplished it today. Now when one is sent to the basement she is not greeted with scarecrows trying to be friends with festive angels but rather a relaxing feeling of restored order to the once cluttered clash of festivities. The eight of us had single-handedly, well I guess in this case multi-handedly helped this shop with peace. With the peace of mind that holidays will no longer remain a nightmare they are able to sell $20,000 in merchandise each month. With items most often costing a quarter it sure is put into perspective how much the community is being aided. While our friends slaved away in the heat almost to the point where dehydration levels were a high threat, I, my fellow Americans, was able to seek the pleasure of an air conditioned rooms of treasures and trinkets. The smiles and memories made are not to be forgotten because when I make my last voyage to the shop tomorrow I plan on taking a little bit of the lighthouse with me by bringing home my very own a ceramic lighthouse painted to perfection. There comes a time in one’s life where one has to look to God for what the next step in her journey will be. With daily prayer and mass THREE times from the time of my departure to my arrival back at home I am a confident believer Jesus is definitely in the water. With Mission being a pit stop on my road map to summer fun it was a great time to rejuvenate, both in body and mind. Next week you may not find me in Yakima or even at home but at the top of Mt. Adams. As I climb the mountain I will be able to look back and remember the glorious heat and the memories I made while participating in this church function. I am a lucky one. For those who have continued to read this I am appreciative my writing has not bored you completely enough to stop and if you manage to see my parents, make sure to tell them I say hi. With this said I must bid you farewell.
Your Humble Servant and Most Devoted Writer,
Bridgette Johnson

This has been a great week so far and I am so glad I came here to Yakima for my first mission. At first I didn’t know what to expect doing community service for five days but it has been amazing so far and I am sad that it is almost over. My group is working at the lighthouse shop which is a shop that sells cheap items so poor people can shop. When I first walked into the store, I thought it was a small store but it is bigger than I thought. The staff welcomed us and we felt very comfortable. She has told us great stories about the customers which are very nice to hear. Every day we come, the store manager, Debbie, has a game for all of us the play. The winner each day gets a 10 dollar gift card to the store which is a lot of money because most items cost less than 10 dollars. Unfortunately, I have not won. After that, we went to work. Our job was to sort Christmas items into categories. Our group has worked 4 days and it looks way better than it did Day 1. We will have our last day tomorrow and will hopefully finish. It will be difficult though because we have made close relationships with the staff members at the store, especially Debbie, Holly, Hugo, and Robin.
-Nathan Nguyen

This mission is my last one out of four that I’ve been on, and I’m on the ramps site for the third year in a row. Each year I’ve been here has been different and unique in its own special way, including this year. I’ve worked with different groups of people every year and this year’s group is particularly amazing. We’re all bonding together in our work as the week is coming to a close and it’s coo to be a part of a group of people who are all excited and willing to help our brothers and sisters here in Yakima. All the families we’ve brought aid to have offered a part of themselves to share with us, including one woman who had Native American drawings all over her house. I’ve been able to share my knowledge of building ramps with this year’s group and it’s cool to see them all learning how to put together these structures, especially in the 100+ heat. I wouldn’t trade these weeks of work and experiences for anything, and I am so glad that I decided to come on Mission every year I’ve been here. It’s made me the person I am today.
Brittany Redmond

So I’ve just graduated high school, but this is my year at Mission. Friends have told me about this guy named Lowell who was really awesome, and I was lucky enough to be put in the ramp group, which is the group that Lowell works with. Lowell is retired, but used to own the company that started producing the plastic shells that fruit is sold in in the stores. He also used to be a biology teacher. Now he builds ramps for those who need it, and goes on all kinds of mission trips. He even left one a little early to meet us in Yakima, where he lives, so that we could make life easier for many elderly and disabled people. He is really selfless and inspiring. His company made him a lot of money, but he lives very humbly, and spends an incredible amount of time and energy serving others. I’ve met some really cool people, including an elderly lady who lost her toes to a disease, a veteran from WWII whose hips prevent him from walking up and down regular stairs, and more. I never knew I could help people in the ways we have this week, but it’s been eye-opening, and motivating.
Ivy Wood

Hello everyone,

Well, today is Thursday, the 4th day working down in Wapato at my site of the Reservation. Arriving at the house, we expected to repair a bathroom, patch some holes in the wall, and repaint walls; however there were quite a few more surprising jobs that needed to be done. A couple of the surprises were dealing with a mice infestation and poor plumbing. Without hesitation, we decided to take on the challenge.

While getting our duties completed, many of us took the time to get to know the family we were helping. My fortunate conversation was with one of the sons living in the house. Being in his middle ages, this man loves basketball and used to play outside his house. We kicked up a conversation about this past season of basketball, both angry that Miami Heat took the title, instead of Oklahoma City. Getting to know the people we are helping has reiterated the fact that we are all of God’s children—we are all alike—and some of our brothers and sisters are living under poor living conditions, and it is our duty to help our brothers and sisters when their in dire needs. I’m blessed with a happy, healthy home and rarely take the time to thank God for it. I’m very glad that I came back to YNIA for my 4th year, knowing that I’m making a difference in the world and knowing I’m making another family happy.

God bless,

Jennifer Marie Ciriaco

Patrick Pham’s Mission Log

Mission is going well, the sun is almost constantly blazing down on our necks and you can find all of the kids taking refuge inside the gyms or in our air conditioned rooms. Just over these past few days so much has happened. I’ve lead a revolution against higher class citizens learning leadership and standing up for equal rights. Of course this was during the economy simulation game in which the program director tries to teach the injustice of inequality, but I think that by taking a stand against the game really taught us kids more than any silly rigged game would. I’ve descended to the depths of a half flooded crawl space discovering that even though things may be dark and dead mice may be lying next to you, if you’ve got your friend and Dan you’ll be okay. I’ve climbed onto the roof and seen the mountains for miles around learning that life isn’t all about work and every so often one must take a break and look around themselves; otherwise they’ll let all the good things pass them by. Well, I should probably get back to painting this living room. Can’t wait to be home and tell everyone about the great times we’ve had over here.

Patrick Pham

As usual, the week is almost over and it feels like we just got here. Today was actually the first day that it was less than one hundred degrees here in Yakima. Not that this influenced my mission work too much since I was assigned to the “Lighthouse” which is not actually a lighthouse as I originally thought, but a second hand thrift store ran by the local mission here in Yakima. The store takes donated items and sells them at prices that aim to be affordable for the working poor. But you would never guess this was the case if you just happened to stop in. The managers, Debby and Robin, who have been guiding us through the week, do an amazing job of making everything look so appealing that the only way you are able to tell the difference between their store and an antique gift shop is the prices.

They do a great job of making anybody feel welcome and my team and I have grown to love every bit of it. Every morning they have had a game ready for us ranging from hide and go seek to treasure hunts. And to make even more motivating, the winner has received a $10 gift card for their store. They also shared inspiring stories about past instances in the store showing us that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. And to make it even better, they always had treats there for us. I couldn’t have asked for better management!
When we pulled up to our site on the first day, none of us were really sure what to expect. All we knew was that we would be assisting at a thrift store; and when I heard and saw what our task was, I wasn’t quite sure how excited I was about it. Our assignment was to organize and sort a basement full of hundreds of boxes of various Christmas decorations and related items so that when Christmas came around, they would be able to set the store up for their annual display. Christmas was the shops most profitable time of year where they raised about $20,000 for the mission each month between November and February. In its previous condition, I could honestly say that I don’t think their annual display would’ve been a possibility. Boxes were falling over each other and were full of miscellaneous items. It was quite chaotic and intimidating and the hardest part was just getting us started.
Once we got the ball rolling, it didn’t stop. We had Christmas down to a science separating and sorting stockings and snowmen and dozens of boxes of ornaments and lights. And don’t even get me started on the amount of garland we went through…We were lucky enough to have the help of Holly, the manager’s daughter who just happened to be a veteran at Christmas sorting as her and her friend spent the entire previous summer doing the exact same thing. But we even surprised her when we accomplished what took the two of them their summer, in four days. I’m not even sure they expected us to finish the sorting this week but were overjoyed when they came to check on us today and saw that we had already moved on to the other holidays (Easter, harvest, new years, etc.).
In the past two years, I have worked on the ramp crew, moving from site to site each day and this was the first year I spent all week in one place. We have grown to love the crew at the lighthouse and they have continued to inspire us with stories each day. I wish I could share these stories with you but it’s too much for me to write on paper. As with each of the years past, this mission will be a week of my summer I’ll never forget.

-Brandon Taylor (St. Stephens, Lighthouse)

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Renton, Washington, United States