Emanuel Ringers

For the latest video at the service Click HERE

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mission Trip Wednesday, July 10, 2013



The whole group returned to Fort Plains to help out with the destroyed houses. We started out at a home next to the creek where we saw various debris along the sides. It was powerful to see the creek and debris firsthand. We split into two groups where one group stayed at the property and mucked out the basement while the other group returned to Renee's house to complete the removal of all her drywall from floor to ceiling. Seeing the house destroyed was very emotional for Renee, and also for the rest of us. We saw that the destruction the flood had caused extended far beyond mud in the basement- not only into the extent of the house from floor to ceiling, but into the hearts of those who lived in Fort Plains. By the time we left for the day we completed taking out all the dry wall and sweeping it onto the curb. We were all sweaty and exhausted by the end of the day's work, but it was extremely worthwhile when we thought about the help we provided.

Many of the homes are condemned in the town - though from the outside they look unaffected, their foundations have all collapsed due to the water which makes the structure unsafe to live in. Those houses needed to be torn down and rebuilt completely. It was awful to see how many families lives were uprooted.

For lunch, we walked a few doors down to New York Pizza. As soon as we went to lunch it began to rain, and by the time lunch was over it had ended. Some would say good timing - others would say a God Sighting.

At this point a small group of us went to Barbara's friend, Linda's home where she owns horses and taught us how to ride. Thanks to Barbara and Sonja who helped Linda get all 5 horses ready for us to ride! We ended our time there with root beer floats. God's spirit was present in the hospitality and joy of our time there.

The rest of the group returned to the hotel, to relax and do laundry.

In the evening we ordered our own food but ate together in a conference room provided but the hotel. The community time with the whole congregation was great.

The evening ended with several games of bowling (alley conveniently located in the hotel). We had a blast! A game of monopoly was also played that evening!


Kate and Sonja

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mission Trip Tuesday July 9, 2013

The group headed on a 40 minute ride out to Fort Plain with SALT. The town was hit with severe flooding from the Otsquago Creek. Due to heavy rains the creek rose very quickly not giving many people enough time to get out. The Main Street had 3.5 ft of water and left 3 inches of mud left behind. FEMA was only staying until Wednesday to haul away debris so there was a time crunch as after that deadline, the homeowners would have to pay for removal of the debris.

We were split up into two groups. Four people went to go help a photography studio and the rest of us went to a house that was hit hard. When we stepped inside the house we immediately couldn't believe the devastation throughout the house.  The house was barely recognizable as a place that people lived in.  In the back of the house there was a bunch of valuables that the owner had to go through to decide what was/wasn't  trash Our jobs consisted of sweeping, taking down walls, carrying damaged items to the curb, and taking out bathtubs. At the end of the day, it definitely made us appreciate what we have and made us be thankful for what we didn't lose during our storms.

It was a fun but tiring day. It feels really rewarding knowing we helped a family out. When we took a break we stood on the sidewalk and this old man was walking towards us. He started cracking jokes and it really made us realize that these people can smile after all the things they've been through.

When it was time for lunch, the SALT coordinators encouraged us to head to the Methodist church where members were providing free lunches for volunteer workers. They said there was often things like fried chicken - yum!  But when we arrived it was a little late and all they had left were PB & J sandwiches and watermelon.  It was hard to be disappointed when we saw their welcoming smiles.  They were so apologetic and after a bathroom break and watermelon appetizer they sent us to the Senior Center where we heard there was Macaroni & Cheese!  Now the kids (and truth be told, some adults) were really happy to hear that!  Except when we got there - you guessed it - they had just finished up the last of the Mac & cheese!!  But they filled our plates with extra stewed tomatoes and sautéed apples and were so happy that they could be doing something for us!  The hospitality and gratitude shown to us by the people in Fort Plain was really heartwarming.

As we drove home, Sandy and Peter took the group out for ice cream because it was their anniversary. 

Driving through the area, we noticed the places that appeared obviously destructed by the storm. The river was filled with debris, roofs were on the ground and structures were collapsed. One thing that surprised us the most is when Bridget pointed out a family that had a nice house that seemed to be okay after the storm, but truthfully had experienced a lot of troubles. She explained the entire bottom floor of their house was demolished and had trouble getting the insurance to help refurbish the important, now useless rooms like the kitchen, bathrooms, etc.

The story truly shows that there is more to a person or place besides their/its appearance.

The group returned home tired and in need of showers!

While the group was in Fort Plains - 
Eiko and Erica held a bell workshop for 5 new ringers. In the two hour time, these new ringers learned about bells, how to ring them and by the end were prepared to ring for our Thursday evening service. The 3 octave set of bells we used were the ones that were covered in mud and muck, and now were ready to ring. The refurbishment of the bells were thanks to donations by other bell choirs from benefit concerts held, like the Hudson Valley Handbell Festival held in Nyack, that our ringers attend every year. Not only were they refurbished but the new cases were bought since the old cases were water logged.

Once everyone returned tired and exhausted, it was our evening to cook dinner together at the church.  Eiko took the ringers to rehearse for Thursday's service while the rest were left to prepare dinner. Sara and her husband Todd and their daughter returned to join us for dinner. Cake was bought from the local farm to celebrate the wedding anniversary.

Fellowship followed with chess and monopoly by some. Marianne, Patrick and Luke made the local news that night about the clean up that was happening in Fort Plains.


Kristin, Jessica, Barbara and Ginger

Mission Trip Monday, July 8, 2013

Sadly - only a partial group photo this morning - maybe at lunch we can get the group together!

We arrived at the SALT office behind the Reformed Church in Schoharie and split into three groups: the barn group, the demolition group and the lunch group. 

Ginger, Miyako and Eiko were the lunch crew. We went grocery shopping and prepared lunch before the troops returned to church. The lunch crew God Sighting today: Shopping to feed twenty took longer than expected but when we arrived at the church to unload and prepare for the arrival of the rest of the group who were scheduled to arrive within the hour - Sara and her daughter came and were a great help in preparing lunch and navigating an unfamiliar kitchen. 

The barn group went to a farm where we helped unload wood from the barn and also helped load other things into the truck. Everyone in the group agreed that we saw God in the dog. The dog's name was Yingling and the whole time we were working the dog was following us. The dog was always cheerful and watching us. He made everyone that was working there happy and he brought a positive attitude to the table. While we were in line to carry wood he would be next to us and everyone would pet him. 

The demolition group. We took down walls and pulled up floors, the first floor of this house was destroyed due to water rushing into the back of the house from the road above, there was a big slope downward from the road right behind the house, nothing much had been done in the house since Irene hit and the family (husband, wife,and child) were living elsewhere. The wife came by with a friend while we were working and was overheard telling her friend that she was so excited she was going to cry, some of the kids really liked doing demolition. The God sighting at theis worksite was a flower in the rubble which symbolized that among all the hurt and destruction, the flower showed a new beginning and hope.

After lunch and clean up we headed out to Bob's cousin's family dairy farm, Danforth's, and had a wonderful tour of this family farm now in it's 7th generation. (It was begun in 1817.) We saw the plant where they make yogurt and butter. Their brand, Cowbella butter, is sold at the Pleasantville's farmer's market! The Jersey cows were milked and some of us, following Sandi's lead, hand milked Daisy the cow. Two week old kittens were also popular attraction, as well as the very cool tree house, Charlie the dog, and a sampling of kefir, their drinkable yogurt.

Ending the day eating at a local eatery, Amy's. Part of our plan was to patronize as many local businesses as possible to help in the economic recovery as well. We ate great food outside on picnic benches while the weather cooperated and then had delicious ice cream for dessert. 

We ended the day back at the hotel gathering to discuss the day's events and our God sightings.

Allison, Erica, and Marianne

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mission Trip Sunday July 7, 2013

Here are my God Sightings so far - and I am sure there were more by others.

- a blessing by our church family at Emanuel 
- arriving safely to the hotel despite the motorcyclists getting caught in a torrential downpour and hail, (one of them was literally pouring water out of his boots), one of the cars getting stuck in traffic for an hour before daringly crossing the median, and another getting to Cobleskill via NJ and PA.
- the United Prebyterian Church of Schohaire allowing us to use their space for our lunches, some dinner and meetings.
- Sara Cipperly(with the help of her daughter and mother) providing us a welcome package with maps and menus so we can get around and patronize the local businesses, for her tour of her church and the damage caused and the repairs that were done
- our Emanuel Family and friends who helped with our fundraising so that we were able to cover most of our housing cost for the week
- our time of devotion and fellowship together
- during the tour of the church, the beautiful stained glass windows around the church - none were damaged during the storm. This was amazing as the church was filled 6 feet high with water and none of the floating debris broke the windows
- a million dollars of damage to the church and its buildings and only $100,000 was covered by insurance and monies from the Presbytery. How is that a God Sighting? Despite that, the church continues through the donation of pews, chairs, hymnals, skilled and non-skilled workers who gave of their time, including weekly workdays to get things done.
- the buffet dinner that could accommodate 20 of us and the downpour that subsided so we could get back to our cars.

So many more things are planned for the week - with many more God sightings to come. 

(did not get our group shot in today - planning on tomorrow!)

(I am late in posting as my Dad is the one who is usually the webmaster - I may have to ask him to do it from home if I cannot do it from here! Also pictures to follow - another thing I forgot to ask Dad about how to do before I left!)

Eiko

Mission Trip to Schoharie New York July 7 to 12, 2013


This mission trip idea was started by Marianne and, in planning, I felt it would benefit our ringers more to be going on the mission trip rather than of our usual Area Festival. I had figured that we would somehow incorporate or bring bells into it and then... a God Sighting! Barbara suggested that Marianne  contact Lutheran Disaster Relief and found SALT (Schoharie Area Long Term Disaster Recovery).

"Why was this a God sighting?" you might ask. Well, the year before at the Hudson Valley Handbell Festival the beneficiary was the United Presbyterian Church of Schoharie handbell ringers. Their church was flooded by Hurricane Irene and their bells were covered in mud and muck, their music library and all associated equipment destroyed (tables, pads, covering, books etc). The concert raised funds to help get some of their bells restored. 

Then Hurricane Sandy hit and the discussion came up - Should we change the destination of our trip? But we found out that SALT predicted that the area still needed 3 to 5 years (even a year and a half AFTER the storm) to fully recover. We did not want those affected and still being affected to be forgotten so we stayed on course to go to Schoharie. (Incidentally, the beneficiary committee of the Hudson Valley Handbell Festival was asked again to consider the Schoharie Handbell choir to be the beneficiary as it was difficult for those not directly affected by the hurricane to see that even now there is still a lot more to be done. 

It is finally July amongst the busy lives we all lead. Twenty-two of us have come together, varying in age and ability, for 5 days to experience all the God Sightings we can.