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
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.
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
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!
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.
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,
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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