Living in Community

By Jennifer Nagorka, Bill, Annie, and Douglas McKenzie

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Neither storms, nor chiggers, nor heat, nor power failure kept members of FPC Dallas’ 10th annual Family Mission Trip from laughing, working and rejoicing together in God’s love.

Almost 30 people met at church early on July 21st for the five-hour drive to Ferncliff Presbyterian Camp and Conference Center outside of Little Rock, AR. The group, ranging in age from seven to 64, included Director of Children’s Ministries Miatta Wilson and the Reverend Dr. Laura Barnes, interim associate pastor for mission & evangelism. After unpacking at the camp retreat house, several kids set off to meet the sheep, pigs, chickens, rabbits, miniature donkeys and solitary goat that live at the demonstration farm next door.

Later that afternoon, we helped package dehydrated meals for Rise Against Hunger. We scooped a mix of dried vegetables, raw rice and soy protein into heavy weight plastic bags, then weighed and sealed them. In about an hour, we packed food for 2,394 meals.

Sunday morning, we worshiped at an outdoor pavilion overlooking a lake. We shouted “Thank you!” to God, received Communion and reflected on the parable of the mustard seed. After lunch, we inspected over 850 Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) school supply kits weighing more than one ton. We checked that each contained the correct items and removed unnecessary packaging to minimize shipping costs. Then we changed into swimsuits and enjoyed the camp’s new pool. Thunderstorms struck just before dinner and lasted past midnight.

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Monday, we helped out at Jackson House, a social service agency in Hot Springs. Some people prepared and served sandwiches to the hungry, some organized donated hygiene and baby supplies on the sweltering second floor, and others sorted clothes and toys at the adjacent thrift store. We had a picnic lunch, then drove through a deluge to Heifer International Ranch for a self-guided tour of its global village. As we were heading back to camp, Miatta received word that power was out at Ferncliff -- which meant no water, A/C or lights -- so we detoured for pizza. The lights came on in time for our evening devotions.

For four days, we lived in community, working together and sharing meals, stories, advice, concerns, laughter and faith. We felt and shared God’s love. Many thanks to the Sunday school classes that donated to PDA and Jackson House, and to all who prayed for us during our trip.