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Diocese of Rockville Centre

2012 Mission Trip to Joplin, Missouri

by Kristina Viscariello

As our mission trip comes to an end, I have been given the time to reflect on everything that we have done this week. Yesterday we didn’t do any work. It was a day to see Joplin and to explore the neat things it has to offer. It gave me a lot of time to really reflect on how this trip has affected me. It is really hard to describe everything I am feeling. I am so happy I had the opportunity to come and was able to do physical labor. It was completely different doing work and not seeing the immediate effects of it. I had the ability to use a lot of power tools (which is always fun J ), but I also had the chance to get completely out of my comfort zone and talk to people that I wouldn’t normally. Each of the people I was blessed with this week will stay in my heart, and I will bring their stories back home with me. They need their stories shared because they are nothing short of amazing.

I met people with such great faith that they inspire me to continue to fall deeper in love with the Lord. They also showed me how much they need prayers and hope. They opened my eyes to the devastation that still exists even though it is almost a year after the tornado. The past two days we were blessed enough to go to the hospital and visit a women named Kay who is dying of cancer. We prayed and sang with her and the love for the Lord that I saw in her eyes made we want nothing more than that kind of faith. In that moment I realized that nothing mattered but Him. This really touched me because I have been worrying a lot about what is going to happen after I graduate. I have accepted a teaching job with Teach For America, and since I accepted it I have been doubting my decision. I have been nothing but scared because this is the next two years of my life that I just gave to them. Praying with Kay made me realize that none of those fears matter. I know that I have been led to this job by God and He has a plan for me. Kay told us that God is number one and she is completely right. It doesn’t matter what I think or what I want. It is what He wants. I still have fears, but I am at peace with my decision. I know that God would never give me something I can’t handle.

The other night we were sharing our testimonies and one thing that I definitely take away from that night is that I am not the only one who continuously deals with struggles. All of us mentioned struggles that we have to deal with daily. It was such a witness for me to here everyone stories. I have always felt that I have been dwelling on the same thing, but I found out that I am not the only one. It is comforting to know that I am not alone on this journey.

I can honestly say that I am very upset to leave Joplin. This is the last time I am going on a trip as a Hofstra student with my Hofstra family. It is very bittersweet for me. I am excited to get home and share everything that happened here. I want to shout the good news from the rooftops, but coming home means I am one step closer to graduation. I am one step closer to not being able to see my Hofstra family every day. I know I will never lose my family, but I don’t want to leave them. They have given me so many blessings that I will take with me wherever I go.

The challenge is now to keep this mission going. The mission doesn’t end here. It doesn’t end just because we are leaving Joplin. We are all called to be missionaries no matter where we are. Our goal is to bring back everything that we have learned and experienced. We need to bring home our love for Jesus and spread His good word. 

by Cody Bobick

If I had to choose one word to describe day four of our mission trip in Joplin, it would be transformation. The day began with our family breakfast in the living room, accompanied by praise, worship and group prayer. This morning we had a bit of a delayed start getting to our work sites  because of rain and thunder. As we were praying by going around and having each person give their intentions for the day, Steve recalled from our recent Campus Ministry retreat discussions that rain is often symbolic in film, and indeed in life, of transformation, some sort of profound change. (What this transformation would be today, I did not truly know.)

After the weather calmed down, a group of us went to the local hospital to visit a woman dying of cancer, the sister in fact of a neighbor who came last night to our evening of s’mores, songs and campfire. We walked into the room and Sonny began to converse with her, asking if she would like us to pray over her.  Then she said, “He is coming.” To witness her deep faith and to see her in pain because of her illness was so moving. In her, I saw Christ. Because of her, my own faith has increased and my heartfelt desire to bring the Good news to others through the witness of my life has been nourished.  In her illness, you could see the light of Christ within her, as she prepares to meet God face-to-face and experience his overwhelming fountain of love, mercy and eternal life.

by Samantha Lumetta

Hello everyone!

Today was our first full day in Joplin!  We started off the day strong with Morning Prayer that really reminded me why we are here and prepared us for the day.  I am so grateful to be here, experiencing this with a group of truly faithful people.  Even while I am writing this now I can hear the group outside singing their praise.  The house feels peaceful and full of God.  I feel so blessed to be around this community! 

After prayer we all got ready, the ladies of Newman rocking some pretty fabulous ‘veralls!  For today’s work we split up into three teams: one group cleaned up the massive pile of debris in the yard, another went to the baseball field next to the school to clean up and my group headed to a house to put up dry wall.  On our way to the house we pasted by the baseball field to drop off a member of the group, it was shocking to see the destruction.  The damage became very real, I was reminded how lucky I am to both have my home and neighborhood, and to be here to help. 

by Elizabeth Woods

Hello everyone!

Today was our second full day in Joplin on our mission trip and we’re starting to feel a little more comfortable with everything around us!  For example, Cody was evangelizing to the neighborhood cats today, inviting them to come sing praise and worship songs with us and pray around the fire…a cat will be baptized before we’re gone, I’m sure of it!  We also went all out in our ‘vralls and ‘danas (overalls and bandanas), which makes EVERYTHING 20 times better! 

Anyway, we started off our day today as we have each day so far: with morning prayer and singing!  It’s really such a great way to get centered and focused for the day.  We also had a lovely pancake breakfast this morning (what a delicacy!) and then we packed up our things and went on our merry way!  Instead of splitting up today, we all headed down to the little league baseball field to try to finish as much work as possible before it got too late, in case there was a thunderstorm.  Thankfully, we were blessed with another glorious day and it didn’t rain at all!  We were doing all kinds of work there today, including mixing cement to lay blocks for the referee supply building and bathrooms, jackhammering some cement out of the ground (Steve, Tina, and Sam went to town on that!), and digging up rocks from the outer edges of the outfield.  With so many people working there, we decided that some people could head back to the house to work on moving the pile of debris from next to the house into the dumpster.  I headed back to the house for that and stayed there for the rest of the day (aside from lunch, when we returned to the field), shoveling buckets full of debris into the dumpster.  Overall, it was a really successful work day for us all! 

by Steven Lopez

I can’t even express how blessed I am to be on this trip. So many beautiful things have already happened and its only day 1. Woke up at the crack of dawn to see the faces of the RVC reps Marianne and Steve as they brought us to the airport. The bro mobile (including Bridget) went in Steve’s car while the ladies took off in Marianne’s hot ride. Bonding was already being performed as we were listening to the sweet songs on BBMak and Carly Rae Jepson. I am so grateful that Steve and Marianne agreed to bring us to the airport so early. They are such saints.

On the way, during a minor mishap, we thought we heard Bridget say “Oh, Glory, be” instead of “Lordie me.” We all got a nice chuckle out of that. Then, we made our way onboard the plane, which was such a smooth ride. No problems to report. After we touch down in St. Louis, we made a five hour trek in an awesome Mini-Van called Mollama (Molly the Llama) to Joplin. Some of the highlights included Bridget getting zapped by an outlet not once, but twice, seeing multiple religious billboards on the highway (some of which said JESUS in big letters), passing a llama farm, going by Six Flags St. Louis, passing through towns with names like Eureka, Vegas, Cuba, and lastly just listening to awesome music during the car ride.