When the Walla Walla City Church’s mission trip to Mexico fell through this spring, little did they know what God had in store for them.
“We had planned to return to Nogales, Mexico, where we built a church in December of 2007,” says Mark Etchell, pastor. But plans had to be canceled, and trip leaders began looking for another way to serve. They contacted Upper Columbia Academy's Dean Kravig about any needs he might be aware of in the Yakama Nation, where he had previously worked.
As a result of their conversation with Kravig, the City Church mission team made plans to head to the Yakama Nation for a week-long mission trip but discovered they would need an additional $7,000 for various projects.
When Etchell brought the increased need before the church family, they contributed and pledged in excess of $12,000, or $5,000 more than projected expenses.
With generous support in place, Doug Brown, pastor, led the team of building contractors, young people and adults to Wapato. Several eighth-graders joined the team from UCA Elementary School. In all, the group totaled approximately 50 people. They also received great support from members at the All Nations Center in Wapato.
Team members hosted a daily Vacation Bible School program for the children in one of the nearby government housing areas and helped with community cleanup and repair projects for elderly Native families selected by a local agency to receive assistance.
“Our days started at 7 a.m. with breakfast and ended at 7 p.m. with supper,” says Brown. “After supper we'd have worship with some of the Native American folk which helped us understand their culture."
The team originally planned to do three re-roofing jobs, remodel and paint one kitchen and one bathroom, paint the exterior of two homes, build an awning on the back of one home, build 15 wood sheds and split as much wood as possible for those new wood sheds. However, part way through the week, they discovered the team would have extra time and extra money, so they added two roofs, one more kitchen, two wheelchair ramps and two front porches. When the Vacation Bible School was finished, that group spent a whole day picking up trash at many of the 18 homes at which they had worked.
“What an amazing time we had,” says Brown. “Our people dug in and didn't quit until it was all done. God blessed us with just enough people power, just enough money and just enough energy. God is good.”