Photo: Teens from the Belmont Religious Council’s Youth Mission at a Houston pre-school.
(Editor’s note: The article below was submitted by Doug John of the Belmont Religious Council, an interfaith council for the town.)
On Sunday, Feb. 18, a group of 28 teenagers and advisors from different religious faiths in Belmont left snowy New England to head to Houston, Texas, to help build houses damaged by Hurricane Harvey as part of the Belmont Religious Council’s on-going Youth Mission trips.
In Houston, we were housed in shipping containers converted into bunkhouses, in the parking lot of a Lutheran church. The living quarters were very tight, with 8 to 10 people crammed into each bunkroom. The Lutheran church provided food and a common meeting space.
Each day we were off to our worksites by 7:30 p.m. We took out walls, windows, ceilings and floor tiles. We put in new windows, plasterboard walls, and ceiling support beams. Everyone worked hard and was pretty dirty and exhausted by the end of the day. Each evening participants of a different religious faith made presentations about their religious practices. Then we had circle time, where everyone shared thoughts about their day, as well as shout-outs praising different people in our group. There was a lot of singing and laughing and a little crying.
Besides working hard, one afternoon we toured the Johnson Space Center and got to see the original mission control center as well as the actual last Saturn rocket and workspaces for future space exploration. Two afternoons after work, we went to a preschool where we read books and played with the kids. After work was done on Friday, we headed to Galveston to enjoy some time on the beach; the water was surprisingly warm for February.
The teenagers were, Heather Sorenson, Will Thomas, Abbie and Tyler Hafen, Barbara and Eddy Joseph, Ethan Andersen, Luke Jackson, Millie Sundahl, Grace Christensen, Andrew Choy, Harry Thidemann, Brad Harvey, Jake Parsons, David Ellison, Sam Harris, Ben Crocker, Eli Sseruwagi, and Mason Apke. There adult chaperones on the trip were David and Anne-Sophi Dankens, Daniel Adam, Dan Cherneff, Arianne Frank, Pastor Eric Wefald, Bret Sorenson, and Tina and Doug John.
We got a lot of work done, made a difference in a couple of Houston families’ lives, made new friends, and had a good time. Next trip will be in 2020, and we highly recommend going.