Ten people embarked March 1 from Maplewood Academy with two vans, food, sleeping bags, painting supplies and, most importantly, positive attitudes on a mission trip to Minnesota. Acts 2 and 4 describe the early Christian church as living in harmony and unity while working for and with each other. For 12 days, our group shared an Acts experience as we worked with Capital City Adventist Christian School, the Stillwater Church, ACTS Thrift Store, Cass Lake Fellowship and the Bemidji Church.
Work started with painting the gymnasium floor and walls at Capital City Adventist Christian School under the direction of Jon and Mandi Kutschara. Doug Eno, a Maplewood alumnus, repainted the lines of the gymnasium floor while students, staff and friends (Mike and Dave Haefner) prepared and painted the walls. With a spirit of oneness like that described in Acts and a desire to help, four coats of paint were applied in two days, and the gym was cleaned and put back in order before Sabbath.
The students said one of the true highlights of the mission trip was meeting people from around the conference. The Stillwater Church greeted us with open arms as we worshipped with them and assisted with their ministry to the homeless in the Twin Cities. We drove the streets looking for homeless people to whom we could give food, blankets, tarps, hats and gloves. What an experience to give to the homeless and receive hugs and positive stories back from them! We returned to the Stillwater Church Monday to paint their fellowship hall, but the work was secondary to getting to know the church members who fed and loved us.
Tuesday, March 7, found our group traveling to Monticello to work at the ACTS Thrift Store operated by the local church. We spent two days sorting and organizing donations and cleaning the store. The students enjoyed shopping for good deals as well. Kellie Peterson was a joy to work with, and Amy Sutherland opened her home and heart to our group. It felt good to work with people who actively minister to their community.
The last part of our mission trip involved working at the Cass Lake Fellowship house, an outreach of the Bemidji Church to Native Americans. The church members lovingly took us into their homes, and we were grateful to meet new friends.
We focused our attention on projects at the Cass Lake house, which is directed by Bob and Holly Ewert. They patiently taught us how to hang doors, trim windows, lay floor tiles and hang mirrors. We were even able to continue perfecting our wall painting skills. Our students spoke for the Bemidji Church service on Sabbath and for children’s church at the Cass Lake house. Seeing the students interact with the children was a heartwarming experience. Bible stories were told, prayers were said and hugs were given.
Over the 12 days, a bond was created between students and staff. We laughed, cooked, ate, worked and rested together. The memorable worships, prayer times and new friends truly united us. We had an Acts experience and we praise God for it. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had” (Acts 4:32 NIV).
—Linda Vigil is the religion teacher and chaplain for Maplewood Academy.