By Don Edward Pannell
Special to the Milwaukee Times
Cousin Whitney was not interested in going originally, but summed her trip as “inspiring. I was reluctant and scared because they told us we would not be in a hotel but would have to sleep in a big room full of girls and use a portable shower! However, the closer we got to the date, I got more excited. Despite all that, I discovered that while the kids there may have the same material things, such as high tech phones and gadgets, they do not have a family, as I do.”
While Whitney was reluctant and not overly excited about the trip, Dante Rhodes, on the other hand, was extremely optimistic and excited about taking the journey. “I enjoyed experiencing the different way of worshipping, the different type of songs and the different way of speaking and praying. The high point of my involvement was when we completed building the deck.” Seventeen year old Dante was so impressed with the building aspect of his trip, he has decided to pursue a career in carpentry. “Having been in the church all my life, I took this invitation as an excellent opportunity to gain new experiences and view how other people worship. My summation of the trip– excellent!”
While the young people were gaining their experiences, chaperone Billy Conner gained admiration for their commitment on the mission. “The trip was very fulfilling for me. Ms. Thomas is very persistent and kept asking me to go. However, I couldn’t take off during the time scheduled for the mission because of another planned trip. I couldn’t afford to take off both weeks from my job. I was telling a friend of mine from work about it who was retiring, and he said it was something I needed to do. Well, he felt so strongly about my involvement that he gave me a thousand dollars so I could take the week off! I felt it was very worthwhile and all the credit goes to the children. When we were leaving, the boys from the center got on the bus and thanked us for coming to help without getting paid. It was very moving for me, and it was a great success.”
Success was the theme of all the participants as they relived their experiences.
Dalisha Smith was thrilled with meeting diverse new friends. While she wasn’t particularly excited about the aspect of moving bricks, gardening and painting, she still feels it was work that was much needed and worthwhile. “I basically grew up in the church and I was excited about doing something different. I have been to the South several times so that part was not new for me. I would have to say that my experience was wonderful!”
Although Alexys Richards did not grow up in Canaan, her grandfather wanted her to become more involved after joining the church two years ago. She enjoyed being on the trip to help people that were struggling. “The accents and worshipping were a little different but I would have to say it was an outstanding experience.”