Church: Lanesboro UMC
District: River Valley
Submitted by: Pastor Amanda Larsen
Lanesboro UMC decided in November 2010 that we wanted to serve in Wadena, Minnesota, assisting with cleanup following the June 2010 tornado. We contacted Kingswood and they planned all the details. They found us lodging as the Minnesota Annual Conference does not have camps near Wadena. Kingswood also found us work through the Ottertail County long term recovery office. These were local people who knew the immediate local needs. Kingswood also provided evening programming to help the youth and adults on the trip understand what it means to have a servant heart, called by God. During the week the Kingswood staff found us materials and communicated between the Ottertail office, the camp where we were staying and with our team.
On our first day, when we checked into the long-term recovery office, the super awesome volunteer Dave told us a few things about Almora. Almora wasn't on the news as much as Wadena. It's a small town where nearly every building in town sustained damage. He said that for many months following the tornado, many of the people in Almora didn’t want any help, because they weren’t sure they were going to rebuild. They simply didn’t think they were worth it. Patty and Dave in the long-term recovery office kept talking to the people in Almora and telling them over and over again that there were volunteers waiting to help in their town.
And finally, the people of Almora had enough hope to welcome the volunteers in. A crew of 150 volunteers spent a week painting, shingling, hauling debris and giving the people of Almora even more reason to have hope. Our crew continued in that effort.
In one week we cleaned up debris at two farms, reconstructed a vegetable stand, and painted the exterior trim at 6 homes. The debris cleanup was the most striking thing for me. At one home every pane of glass in the home had shattered and ended up in the field. There was glass everywhere. We did everything that we could, but a simple thing we take for granted, being able to walk barefoot, will likely never be a possibility for the kids who live there.
Our presence in the town was part of the motivation the people needed to have hope once again. You never know when your words or acts of encouragement will be the kindest, most important words a person hears all day, all week, or all year. I heard from one of our families last week that she was so happy to be able to mow her yard again, because we had cleaned up the debris that had sat there for a year. Do you take joy in mowing?
Do you want to lead a local mission trip but aren't sure about how to put together all the details? Give Kingswood a call at (952) 472-3586. They would love to help.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church