2018 Team

2018 Team
2018 Team in the original church built for Suyapa

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hey everyone! This trip has been incredible so far. It’s sad to think we only have one day left. Throughout the trip we have been asked to focus on one thing throughout the day, and humility has really hit me while reflecting. It has astounded me at the openness and humility of the people affected by hurricane Sandy. It has been life changing having the privilege to help these people. I miss you all..ttfn ;)

Mason “The Beast from the East” Grimshaw

Hi everybody! How’s it going? Good! This week has been incredible, well, almost. The poison didn’t kill Father, but only made him throw up a bunch. I’ve been breaking every other thing I’ve touched. I broke a crowbar, a grass seed bag, our little plastic baseball (it was a great swing that SHOULD’VE been a home run), a fence that I fell through, and my cot that was really Anthony’s fault. Our best jobs have been the deck demolition jobs that we’ve been able to get and redoing Don’s backyard. I love to hit things with hammers and pointy tools. I miss my family though. Love you mom, dad, Grady, Scar and Vi. Hope you read this. See you Wednesday! 

Hi from New Jersey! First of all, Happy Birthday Mairin!!! Know that you are in our thoughts and prayers and we are sorry that we didn’t get a message out to you yesterday.  We’ve had pretty limited blogging time and internet access. There is so much to tell you all about...our days have been full. The damage of the hurricane is still very evident in many places, even after 6 months.  In the short time we have been here we have developed some special relationships and we have many stories to share.  You all would love it here, the people have been so welcoming and the food has been incredible.  Moira learned to play pitch and touched the ocean for the first time yesterday...very cold but breathtakingly beautiful!! We are missing you all so much and can’t wait to hear about all that has been going on there (also we heard Notre Dame women lost...dang.) Ciara, Aislinn,Mairin and Declan we heard you might not have school tomorrow...you lucky dogs! Dan, hope you are doing OK without lattes...has Ciara figured out the machine yet?! Brendan, Liam and Caitlin, we mis

s hearing from you guys and we need to have a long family skype session upon our return home! (By the way our plane gets in, 8:30 pm Wednesday) Anyway, we love you all so much!!!
Love and God Bless you, Mom and Moira

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Hey everyone just checking in really enjoying the experience here in NJ as it is truly eye opening on what has occurred here.  Even 6 months after the storm there is so much work that has to be done and be cleaned up.  I have been painting doing yard work and cleaning up garbage as well as digging up stumps in the yard with Pete.  According to Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Dobesh I have changed the way the game pitch is played and I am enjoying the glory!! Missing the parents and my always fun to be around little bro! Thanks for everyone who made it possible to get me here including my sponsors, Mrs. Casey and my Family.

Thanks Again God Bless
Austin Olson

The trip is going really well except for getting sick last night (I begin to think the boys are trying to poison me LOL). 

It’s interesting how God works. Each day we have been focusing on different aspects of missionary work like service, humility, God’s grace. Yesterday we were asked to focus on absence/weakness/God providing. We were told some people will bring us lunch to our the worksite. For the last two days the boys wanted to do some demolition work. Well… the food was delivered to a wrong address which was just one street off where we had been working all morning. When we went to pick it up from there (we got a call from the young guy who lived there), we found out that he needed some desperate help to tear down his deck for a crew would be coming to raise his home or something like. It was around 3 PM and it would take him at least a couple days to do it. It took us less than an hour to get the work done and we saved him probably close to $1,000. The guy just bought this house a month before the hurricane. From deck to water was close to 8 feet and during the story there had been 4 feet of water in his living room. Pretty crazy!

God yet again provided. 
Fr. Marcin

P.S. To Father Kerry: I sure hope you washed the cat on Saturday :) 

Today is Sunday, a day of much needed rest. The team has been working long hours and accomplishing much. Our work is not only providing great monetary savings to the families, but also giving hope to families that have been displaced for 6 months.  Father Scott and Catherine are taking great care of us and we are hoping to go to the beach for a break today. Our kids are amazing and always looking for more projects!  Tonight some will join in the choir at 5PM Mass with the youth group from St. Joe's and then we will be spending time with them throughout the evening. Team Skiff, (Barb, Karrie, Anthony, Joe, Holly, Sabine and Father Marcin spent yesterday painting the inside of an entire house for a family of 5. They have only been living together the last 3 weeks and are hoping to be in their home within a month or so.  While we were painting, a crew from Pennsylvania rolled in to put floors down. Although we didn't get completely finished, the house was taking on a new look when we left. What a privilege to be part of this and bring joy to others!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Jakeb Sullivan. Darkness.

Greetings! So far this trip has been great. I love working landscape with the fellas. I’m really becoming close to the guys because we are all packed into the basement with 9 cots. It smells amazing downstairs (I wish). Overall the trip has been really fun! We got to eat New Jersey pizza last night and it might be better than little caesars. Haha. I bought a jersey at a store and the guy told me it was a large. Though he did not mention it was a youth large, so Jed I got you a sweet jersey! Miss and love all of you!

Mason “The Reservation Sensation” Grimshaw

Hey everyone! As I’m writing this, Father is bickering with Mr. Sullivan about marriage or something. We could make a TV show with their interactions. The trip has been pretty good so far. I’m not really sure what to say on this blog because I’m still reeling a little bit but that should be OK by tomorrow. The living conditions are great mom, don’t worry. The culture here seems really different but we haven’t seen enough of it to give you a definite yes or no on that. I think I’m the only Native American in this whole state. I have to give up the computer now, but hope everything is good in South Dakota. Love you guys.

Wayne Sullivan

Greetings to the Rapid City folks. Especially the Sullivans. I miss you so much!!! Some of us have been working outside cleaning up trash and debris. We are called the “Visionaries,” we basically are redoing a families back yard. It is very rewarding and the people are very generous and grateful. To my beautiful family, I love you and know that everyday I am here I appreciate you more and more. Lv, me

Hey guys this is Sabine and Holly!!!! It’s crazy beautiful here and the work has been a ton of fun. Yesterday we went to Seaside Heights and walked. We saw the rides that have once been there but now are destroyed. It’s sad to see homes completely broken apart and we have met many people whose homes have been washed away, yet they have this happiness in them and they know people like us are here to help them. We are missing home very much, but still enjoying our time here. We are praying for you guys and we ask that you pray for us over these next seven days. We love you guys very much. Sabine would like to give a special shout out to her Aunt Annie and Uncle Jacques, without you, I dont know if I’d be here!!

Salutations from beautiful New Jersey. We all are doing well despite cramped living situations and other disadvantages of rooming with many people. We spend our days working on houses that were almost completely destroyed by super-storm Sandy. It has been 6 months since the hurricane and still there is so much wreckage to be cleaned up. These houses that we are fixing up, although they appear in tact are almost completely hollowed out due to flooding. These houses were stripped to their frames and all new dry wall, flooring and siding had to be installed. Most of these people can not financially fund their own renovations, and they are not eligible for insurance money. They rely on others for support and they are perfect examples of humility. I hope you will all pray for us as we continue our work. :) With love from Jersey. 

Anthony Skaleski   

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Greeting from Toms River, NJ.  We arrived late Wednesday evening and had a quick tour of the ocean and bay side areas. The team witnessed first hand the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Seeing the damage and hearing the stories of the  people who lost their homes, put a real face on what we had previously only seen through the media. The pain and suffering is evident in everyday conversations, but once again we are experiencing the gratitude of people who have been through so much.  We are currently working on 2 different homes that received heavy damage.  Drywalling, painting, general clean up of debris in yards and landscaping are the tasks at hand. People have such great need and the burdens of the past few months are many, but they also have great hope. As one elderly lady who is displaced and staying in the same house as the girls said, "spring brings new hope in the crocuses and daffodils that are making their way through the rubble."

Sunday, March 31, 2013

St. Thomas More Mission Honduras/Toms River, New Jersey

The STM Mission Honduras team will be traveling to Toms River, NJ, April 2-10 to assist with clean up as a result of the damage from Hurricane Sandy. This mission trip is in place of their planned trip to Honduras, following the news of two outbreaks of violence in the past weeks in Honduras. The team will be staying at St. Joseph's parish in Tom's River. Their host is Father Scott Schaeffer. Students serving on the mission team this year are Julia Bodine, Liz Carreiro, Leslie Cope, Sabine Daniel, Witt Dobesh, Moira Duffy, Allison Eaton, Catherine Gibbens, Mason Grimshaw, Jacob Henderson, Joe Michalewicz, Austin Olson, Anthony Skaleski, Jakeb Sullivan, Holly Wilson, Peter Wilson, and Patrick Yantes. Seven adult chaperones will accompany the students.
The students will be using this webpage to share their pictures and experiences while in New Jersey.  They are scheduled to leave Rapid City at approximately 1:30 PM on Tuesday, April 2nd. Check back during the week for an update on their work. Please remember the team in your prayers as they travel to NJ to assist their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mississippi Mission

Bishop Heelan High School mission trip students will make a service trip March 28-April 5 to an impoverished area of Mississippi in place of their planned mission trip to Honduras, following the news of two outbreaks of violence in the past weeks in Honduras. They will be working with the Sacred Heart Southern Missions, a Catholic Ministry covering five counties in Northern Mississippi. Students participating include Bridget Blair, Jared Boehmer, Tyren Brockamp, Laikyn Janney,Taylor Jansen, Emily Keane, Arianna Kefgen, Taylor Koolstra, Carson Leiting, Ali Miller, Andrew Namanny, Abbey Schaefer and Bryce Sweeney. The group is being led by Fr. Jerome Cosgrove, Heelan Chaplain and various adult volunteer chaperones. The students will be using this webpage to post their pics and experiences while on the trip. Check back during the week to follow their progress. Please keep all in your prayers they venture out on this special mission.
Greetings from Walls, Mississippi!After a 13 hour car ride, we have finally arrived! We'll try to keep this page updated with pictures of all our activities. We miss everyone back home and we hope you all have a blessed Holy Week.  -The Mission Mississippi Team

Friday, March 29, 2013


Greetings to all Blog Readers,

Much to the delight of their parents and family members the Gehlen Mission Honduras / Mississippi team arrived at 7:40 p.m. tonight. Many wonderful stories will begin to be told.
Thanks to all blog readers.

Take Care,
R. Seivert

Last Update on Arrival

Just spoke with Carolyn. They had just went by Missouri Valley so she said they would be home by 7:30 p.m.

Arrival Home Update

Greetings to all Blog Readers.

Carolyn just called. It is 3:12 p.m.
They were stopped for gas somewhere north of Kansas City.
She thought they would be home sometime from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m.

I will try and check with her one last time around 6:00 p.m. to give you a more precise time.


Message From Fr. Cosgrove

Greetings to all Heelan Mission Families,
Just a quick report from Fr. Cosgrove at 1:25 p.m.
Everything was going great. They were building outdoor chairs and numerous other things, some working in the rain, even though when I spoke with him the rain had subsided some.
The team will be going to Good Friday Services tonight at 7:00 p.m.
The team was met at the compound and accompanied this morning by Sister Jacqueline Kramer BVM, a former faculty member on Heelan's staff. She spoke to the entire group. I think she must have been quite proud to have them there.
Tomorrow (Saturday) they will be involved in numerous things like a big Easter Egg Hunt - evidently for the kids in the community.
He stressed they will not be going to Memphis on Saturday.
On Sunday they will be going to Memphis and attending Mass at St. Augustines.
That's the report. I asked him how everyone slept and he said fine. They were also preparing for a little lunch.
In any case, Take Care,

Journey Home Update

It is 10:48 a.m. Just spoke with the team. They are currently going around St. Louis and making good time. They plan to stop within the next hour or so for a little lunch. Will keep you posted.

On The Road

Greetings to all Blog Readers.

Have just spoken with the Gehlen team and they are right on schedule. They left a couple minutes after 6 a.m. this morning and are almost an hour into their return. They have decided to stop fewer times on the way home so their return trek won't be quite as long. I will keep you posted throughout the day.

Take Care,

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Serving Others

It’s beautiful day in the neighborhood – the neighborhood of Holly Springs, MS, that is. We finally had a warm day, a gorgeous sixty-three degrees, which for some reason felt more like the upper 70’s. Maybe that’s because we’ve been working in forty degree weather since we arrived.

We ate a breakfast of pancakes and French toast, then delivered flyers to announce the Heelan group’s Easter Egg Hunt this coming weekend. At nine we left for Holly Springs to visit Ms. Washington. She was profuse in her thanks for what our group had done for her. She had to hug every singles missioner before we could leave. What a nice lady! Our group photo in front of her newly painted house also includes Ms. Washington and her dog Cocoa. We gifted Ms. Washington with some items Linda’s group had put together for her. She was overwhelmed and enjoyed looking through the items and deciding which person would get each one. She donned her mission shirt so we could take her photo with her gifts.

We moved on to the Garden Café, aka soup kitchen, to begin preparations for the evening meal we planned to serve to the Holly Springs clients. Our menu included sloppy joes, mashed potatoes, green beans, cake, and banana bread. Our students baked thirty loaves of banana bread. They are great banana mushers. They also peeled eighty pounds of potatoes. Parents, take note of the skills these students have gained during this mission trip.

We also delivered the three picnic tables built by our group. They are very sturdy and will make a great addition to the soup kitchen AND summer feeding program for the children. Lois Harrison and Kelly Tartt, the director and assistant director of Sacred Heart Southern Missions mission program, loved those picnic tables. In fact, Lois purchased three plaques that our missioners attached to the picnic tables so everyone would know who had built them.

We did have a little time to enjoy ourselves today. The students played in the back yard we’d cleaned, visited, and just relaxed. Then began the frenetic preparations for supper. Everyone set to work to prepare beverages, set tables, set the meal onto the serving area, etc. Lois introduced us to the people, and Fr. Ries began the prayer. The missioners then sang “Jesus, Remember Me” while Janet accompanied us with her guitar. We’ve enjoyed lots of good music during this trip, thanks to her planning and the great singing of our group.

The people we served enjoyed every bit of food. All of us grabbed our plates and sat with them to enjoy some conversation. Everyone there was quite friendly, and I believe all of us had some interesting conversations. Linda snapped as many photos as possible. We cleaned that place up in fifteen minutes – you wouldn’t believe how this team can work when they get moving. Then we headed next door to the church.

Mr. Faris joined us after Mass to take us on a little historical tour. We toured an antebellum home, much of it in its original condition. Then we toured the original Catholic church which included information about the yellow fever martyrs. Thanks to Mr. Faris for taking his time to show us some of our history.

I am writing this blog as we drive from Holly Springs to Walls. We’ll be too late to welcome the Heelan team, who arrived while we were in Holly Springs. I have a feeling we’ll be awake for a couple more hours as our students share some of what they’ve been experiencing with the Heelan team. We will take a little time to do our final junta meeting and read aloud the message from Seivert. I will keep Seivert posted as we travel tomorrow so you’ll all know when your family members will be back. Time of our morning departure is six. We will say our good-byes to Fr. Ries tonight and let him sleep in a bit before he takes off for Boyce, LA, to visit some friends.

Sleep well, y’all!

Heelan in Mississippi

Just to let all know - Fr. Cosgrove called me just a few minutes ago and the team has arrived safely and was beginning to unload all their items.

R. Seivert

St. Francis / Gehlen Catholic

Dear Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras / Mississippi,

My last blog to you begins with many thank you's. Thank you's that don't come close to 'paying' for what they have done. To Mrs. Bickford and all the chaperone's on this trip. How can one even begin to express the gratitude that is fealt by so many. The word 'fealt' itself comes from the Latin 'fidelitas', meaning 'faithfulness'. A perfect description of those that have gone to serve others. Amazing actually, when you think about it. In this day and age when everything seems to center around the individual and how do I please myself, we at Gehlen have a group of students and adults at the most important time of the Church year, serving others. Others they don't even know. Tonight, with Fr. Ries and the priests in Mississippi, they will wash the feet of others. Do you think Christ would have done anything else? This is your Church. This is your faith. This is 'You'.
So you see, the many thanks you receive from me are muted by the very power of the night. The very power of the moment. The very power of who we are. Catholics, Christians, and people who care.
So thanks to all the chaperones. I am stunned by your love and dedication to those who have less. But, I know, deep in my heart I should have expected it.

To all you young people. I personally want to thank you for your commitment first to Honduras and now to Mississippi. You have done well - more than well. My only hope for you is that you will grow in this mission and return more deeply committed than when you left. That is the experience of our journey in this life. To use a sports metaphor, it is so easy in this culture to take our 'eyes of the ball'. To not see things clearly. To become complacent in our lives. When I was young I truly wish I had had the wonderful opportunities you have had to show your love and compassion for others. I remain always amazed at what young people can do when given the chance. You are and have been great representatives of yourselves, your families, and your school. I am sure that the people of Mississippi are a little better tonight because of your commitment.

One of my favorite Saints has always been St. Francis. My father's name was Francis and of course all of you know my brother's name is Francis and I was elated when our new Pope chose the name. Maybe you can already tell in the few blogs I have posted. In any case I wanted to give all of you a special message tonight - your last night serving those who have less. I have chosen four paragraphs from one of my favorite readings about St. Francis. I publish them for all of you tonight, knowing full well they will be read by Mrs. Bickford at your nightly Junta. They are taken out of context but I think you will get the message of what Francis was all about.
  The bishop was very kind to Francis; he told him to return the money and said God would provide. That was all Francis needed to hear. He not only gave back the money but stripped off all his clothes -- the clothes his father had given him -- until he was wearing only a hair shirt. In front of the crowd that had gathered he said, "Pietro Bernardone is no longer my father. From now on I can say with complete freedom, 'Our Father who art in heaven.'" Wearing nothing but castoff rags, he went off into the freezing woods -- singing. And when robbers beat him later and took his clothes, he climbed out of the ditch and went off singing again. From then on Francis had nothing...and everything.

   Slowly companions came to Francis, people who wanted to follow his life of sleeping in the open, begging for garbage to eat...and loving God. With companions, Francis knew he now had to have some kind of direction to this life so he opened the Bible in three places. He read the command to the rich young man to sell all his good and give to the poor, the order to the apostles to take nothing on their journey, and the demand to take up the cross daily. "Here is our rule," Francis said -- as simple, and as seemingly impossible, as that. He was going to do what no one thought possible any more -- live by the Gospel. Francis took these commands so literally that he made one brother run after the thief who stole his hood and offer him his robe!

   Francis did not try to abolish poverty, he tried to make it holy. When his friars met someone poorer than they, they would eagerly rip off the sleeve of their habit to give to the person. They worked for all necessities and only begged if they had to. But Francis would not let them accept any money. He told them to treat coins as if they were pebbles in the road. When the bishop showed horror at the friars' hard life, Francis said, "If we had any possessions we should need weapons and laws to defend them." Possessing something was the death of love for Francis. Also, Francis reasoned, what could you do to a man who owns nothing? You can't starve a fasting man, you can't steal from someone who has no money, you can't ruin someone who hates prestige. They were truly free.

   Francis was a man of action. His simplicity of life extended to ideas and deeds. If there was a simple way, no matter how impossible it seemed, Francis would take it. So when Francis wanted approval for his brotherhood, he went straight to Rome to see Pope Innocent III. You can imagine what the pope thought when this beggar approached him! As a matter of fact he threw Francis out. But when he had a dream that this tiny man in rags held up the tilting Lateran basilica, he quickly called Francis back and gave him permission to preach.

To all of you. Thanks for carrying into action all our words. St. Francis once said, 'Preach the Gospel everyday, use words if necessary.

Take Care and Godspeed on your travels Home.
R. Seivert


In Mississippi / Toward Mississippi

Greetings to all Blog Readers from Gehlen and Heelan.

It is 3:00 p.m. and I just spoke with both Carolyn Bickford and Fr. Cosgrove on the progress of the two teams.

Carolyn and the Gehlen group were busy getting ready to feed a mass amount of people. I know she said they just peeled 80 lbs. of potatoes and were making countless other things. They didn't expect to return to Walls until 9 or 10 tonight. And then home beginning at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. I will be in contact with them on their return tomorrow and will post an estimated time of return.

Also just spoke with Fr. Cosgrove and the Heelan team was just coming in to St. Louis and he estimated they were a good 4 hours or so from Walls. He said everything was going well and he and Carolyn are in contact with each other.


Passing The Torch

Greetings To All Readers

Bishop Heelan Mission Honduras / Mississippi left Sioux City minutes ago (6:30 a.m.) for their long ride to Mississippi where they will join later tonight with the Gehlen Catholic team. We wish them good luck on their trip and will be waiting their arrival sometime late tonight. The two teams meshing together for even one night is quite special at this time of year - Amazing when you think about it. Carolyn Bickford will help Fr. Cosgrove and the Heelan team in using the blog and all are welcome to read their daily reflections and 'join' the site - giving you the opportunity to send messages and make comments.

The St. Thomas More Mission Honduras / New Jersey team leaves April 4th for their work on the east coast from the devastation caused by Super Storm Sandy. Eventually we hope to track all their efforts as well.

We are extremely proud of all three groups. It always amazes me what young people can do when they are given the chance and the outlet to do good. St. Francis would be happy today.

Take Care,
R. Seivert

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Got'er Done

What a fantastic day! Every time we turned around another group reported they were DONE with their project.

The Cornelius group (Kevin, Stu, Angel, McKenzie, Derek P., and Jacob) finished installing carpet. They put a door and roof on the shed. They were the last group back to the compound, but they DID finish their job.

Linda's group (Linda, Ryan, Elizabeth, and Maggie) emptied the remainder of the bags, sorted through everything and put them into containers for Sacred Heart Southern Missions, created two gift bags of items we'd brought for the Cornelius' family and Ms. Washington's family, and took items to the Thrift Store to sort items into piles for distribution.

Janet's group (Janet and Catherine) cleaned the girls' and boys' buildings. Catherine scrubbed toilets and sinks, vacuumed, organized, dusted, and joined the group that went to the Thrift Store.

Dave's group (Dave, Carolyn, Derek B., Joey, Abby, Shelby, Andrew) started by cleaning the back patio area. They cleaned up dead leaves, dug out an overgrown bush, scrubbed tables, trimmed trees, and did any type of outdoor clean-up or organization needed. They then painted eight sheds in the Dehon Village area of Walls

We had a very nice Memorial Mass for Steve Shea tonight. It helped to make us feel a part of Gehlen Catholic School, who had their service at 9 this morning.

We surprised Fr. Ries at tonight's junta by each of us telling him something we appreciated about him. Then we presented him with a plaque we'd all signed. Though it was obvious he was quite touched, he responded in typical Fr. Ries fashion - with plenty of good humor.

Tomorrow we'll meet Ms. Washington and present her with a gift bag of goods. We'll also pose together as a group in front of the finished home.

After that it's off to the Garden Cafe in Holly Springs to peel potatoes and bake banana bread. We'll be serving clients our sloppy joes, mashed potatoes, green beans and banana bread, and doing a little singing for them. We'll clean up before heading to the Holy Thursday 'Washing of the Feet' Mass in Holly Springs. We'll end the day with a tour of a Southern Plantation home by the current owners.

Upon our return to Walls, we'll prepare for the arrival of the Heelan team, if they have not yet arrived. We hope to have time to give them a few tips for their mission trip and wish them luck.

No pics tonight. I plan to blog from the Garden Cafe and include some photos of the final day. Some last notes from you to read to the group tomorrow would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to those of you who have been sending comments. We wrap up every junta by reading the previous night's blog and every comment you send. Tomorrow will be our last chance to do that.

I'll be wrapping up our mission trip blog tomorrow. Tune in for the wrap-up.

Missioner notes -

For everyone else…miss you and can’t wait to see everybody Friday…everybody better be there to welcome me home. J I told you not to touch my room, Dad. Well, bye, love you, miss you, and see you soon.

Hey everybody, it’s Shelby. I made it back safely to Mississippi and got back to work right away. Last night I helped put some screws into the picnic tables to leave my mark on them. It was a long and tiring day, but I was very happy to be back. Today we woke up to beautiful weather, which allowed us to get a lot accomplished. My group helped clean up around the compound and finished painting the sheds that another group worked on last week. Now that the weather is finally nice, we have enjoyed being outside around the bonfire. Mom, please order me a short sleeve t-shirt and a crew neck sweatshirt. Hope everything is well back in Le Mars. Bye.

Hello Dickman Family! Hope everything is going well in Le Mars. Maggie and I have been very busy, as demonstrated by the blog. Having a great time with Fr. Reis, all the chaperones and the GREAT young adults. I find myself impressed everyday by their zeal and great work ethic. The parents not able to be a part of this have a lot to be proud of. Hate to see the end of the mission but looking forward to reuniting Donna, Drew and Abbie. Love you all…

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Home Makeover

It's been a busy day and it's not over yet. The abbreviated version is this - We worked on Ms. Washington's home and finished the picnic tables. I picked up Shelby at the airport. We had grilled burgers and brats for supper - quite late. It's 8:54 p. m. at the moment, and we are just cleaning up from supper. In a few short minutes we're having mass in the chapel, and then we still need to have 'junta.' I am going to upload the photos now so you can see our productive day. I'll try to blog more after we've finished everything else.

Monday, March 25, 2013

We Are F-A-M-I-L-Y!

This morning I convinced Lois to let us work as a group. She listened and acquiesced to my wishes. Thus, all missioners climbed aboard and headed to Holly Springs this morning. We had a bit of a late start due to my meeting with Lois and some printing work I had to do, but they really hit the ground running. Within five minutes of parking, everyone was raking, putting leaves onto a tarp and carrying them to dump over the fence, pulling volunteer trees, pick-axing a trench, digging, pulling weeds, cleaning a metal bench, and so much more. Because we worked so well as a team, our water project was totally completed, and the team got to watch the water flowing from the sprinkler system. 

Celebrating a successful water project

Since I had to take Shelby to the airport, I was unable to witness the spraying of the water, but I'm going to test it myself upon our return on Thursday. What these missioners accomplished today was absolutely amazing. Teamwork really pays off!

Digging trenches

Tomorrow we go to Ms. Washington's house. I think you need to know a little background about this lady. She was married years ago and had two daughters with her husband. He deserted his family when the girls were young so Ms. Washington raised them herself. Her ex-husband apparently abused drugs and suffered an overdose, which eventually caused him to have seizures. When he reached the point where they were going to put him into a state facility, she stepped in and took him into her own home. She had to quit her job to take care of him because he needed the saliva suctioned from his mouth every thirty minutes - around the clock. She only sleeps in 30-minutes increments so she can do everything for him. Hospice comes in daily for two hours. During that time she runs any errands that need to be done. Her two grown daughters are not happy with their mother for taking in their father, but they do use her as a babysitter, leaving their four children there almost every day. Since Ms. Washington was taking care of her ex-husband around the clock, there was no one to keep up with any house repairs, nor could she afford to pay to have them done. Some family members actually fell through the rotten floor on more than one occasion. Much of the plumbing is in disrepair, and there were actually open areas in the walls that allowed anything from outside to come inside. Previous groups have installed new subflooring and laminate floor tiles, caulked the outside walls, painted some indoor walls, and put up new siding in the 'holey' spots. Tomorrow we are going to paint the entire exterior of the house, remove, clean, and paint the shutters, replace the back outdoor stairway, install a new vanity, sink and faucets, and lay cement walking block to protect them from the mud when walking from the back door to the front of the house. Our team is going to be busy, but they'll be extremely excited to do this for a woman who really acted as a true christian.

Ryan & Derek B. put pipes together

Wednesday we'll need to finish painting sheds, installing carpet, and weeding at a school. Thursday morning will be for any little details we did not finish, and we'll head for the soup kitchen (Garden Cafe) in the afternoon. As I type this blog, the missioners are in the shed making picnic tables from the wood our mission group purchased today. Once we've finished three picnic tables, we will place them behind the Garden Cafe to be used by any clients of that facility and for the children in the summer feeding program. 

Cutting picnic table  boards

Setting screws for the picnic table tops


We finished our mini water project today. I went with Lois to Home Dep-O  (Depot) and we bought all of the pvc pipe and connecters and sprinkler heads we needed for the raised planters (which we built) that the system is being installed for. It was pretty cold again, but it sounds like Iowa is much colder. Lois said that the last 3 weeks have been in the 60’s and 70’s here.  Hello to my family: Keith, Teri, Michaela, Carlyn, and Jackson. I hope you are all happy and preparing yourselves for Easter! God bless.
            -Derek Bretey

Well its finished, and my hands are purple but we got it done; our water project is done. We got the Garden Café work done and we are there again on Thursday to cook and serve those that show up. Tomorrow we are at Mrs. Washington’s house painting, installing a vanity, installing walking pavers, and building stairs that lead from the back door to do. Then Wednesday we are at the Cornelius household installing carpet and finishing the shed in back.
I also want to say hello to those that are back home in the cold(er) weather, and that I am not really missing any of the white stuff on the ground. Dad, if we are digging a trench for the mound in the back yard don’t forget to get a pick-axe.
Also those in Web design, will someone tell Ashley hey for me, thanks. That is all for now.
-Ryan Bates

Aye yo, Abby here. Today was a great day. I know that because I am super tired. We all worked today at the Garden Café, and we got it finished! I had the honor to swing the pick-axe. It was pretty great. I never thought I’d say this, but thanks Dad and Mom for giving me some knowledge on how to work hard. It’s definitely coming in handy. Katie… I don’t even know what to say. You’re making it hard for me to pick a funny story to tell people about you. There are just way too many now. We’ve been talking about you quite a bit, and I finally beat you in being the “great freking.” You held up your end very well, but my dinosaur beat your ways. (: I am having such an awesome time; it’s been more than I imagined. I love you all much, and I can’t wait to see you this weekend. 

Today was a great day. We got to work as a group finally. I learned how to use a pick ax and how to fill a trench!!!! Don’t get any bright ideas, Mom, because I am booked for the summer ;) I am having so much fun with everyone here, and we are all having a blast. Today we went to the soup kitchen in Holly Springs to finish up our project, and tomorrow we are going to Ms. Washington’s house. Yesterday was a fun but freezing day in Memphis. We got to go shopping on Beale Street. Emily- tell Nathan that I am somehow surviving with the unorganizational skills of everyone else L. I try and clean, but everyone makes fun of me. Mrs. Bickford told me I could help with cleaning before we go home so tell him not to worry because I will leave this place spotless. Also- I forgot to get you something yesterday…JK! Dad and I would never forget about you or Mom. I don’t want to go back home to reality, but I can’t wait to see you and Mom on Friday and go back to work on Saturday. Love you lots

Can you pretty please sign these people up for prom. Their tee-shirt nickname will be in parethensies. If there is no name, then just use their regular name.

Elizabeth (Lizzard) Adult Medium
Ryan (Bates) Adult XL, Ashley Collins Adult Large
Maggie (Mags) Adult Small, Andrew Adult Medium
Derek B Adult Large, Shelby Adult Extra Large
Fabio (Rivera) Adult Medium (Alli is date, have her sign herself up)
Angel (Chagolla) Adult Large (Emily H. is date, have her sign up)
Derek P. He will let you know nickname tomorrow… you know how he is
Jacob (Jabba) Adult Small, Kenzie Shelgren Adult Small
Abby (Abbs) Adult Small, Jordan Langel Adult Medium
Catherine Small Adult (make sure James signs up)
Tell Danielle to sign Joey up too

Thanks so much for doing this. We miss you and hope everyting is going great back at school. Tell everyone hi from all of us and we miss them too.


Message From R. Seivert

Dear Gehlen Students and Chaperones,

Greetings from a 'still' cold LeMars and northwest Iowa. I have been reading all of the blogs each day and watching the weather patterns crossing the deep south and wondering if you will accomplish all your jobs assigned. My sense is with the leaders and students you have on this team you will finish early and do much more - typical Gehlen work mentality.

Frank returned from Honduras last Monday evening with all kinds of news. One big piece of information important for you and the team from St. Thomas More is that the water project in Las Uvas began last Monday. Both Angel Paz and Julio Rivera are working the project along with the people and children of Las Uvas.  You might not be there but know that it was your hearts, hands, and hard work that paid for these wonderful people to be able to have clean drinkable water for the first time in their lives. While in Mississippi helping others you are still having an impact in the daily health of so many children 2,400 miles away.  You are doing two monumental things in your young life in two different places on this planet with the same feeling and intensity that the Gospels proclaim we all must have. A few years ago at one of our send-off celebrations in the gym I said that Jesus was the first missioner - that God sent his only son to go and do as he wanted him to do. Today you are following in that same path and I only hope your work for Honduras and Mississippi will make a lasting difference in your future lives. I often tell others I didn't really start living until I started helping others on a daily basis. Being a servant to others is one of the most important and powerful jobs that our faith calls each of us to - each and every day.

Keep up the great work Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras / Mississippi and continue to strive to help others along the way.

I know that many of the Heelan families are also reading the daily blogs from you. Frank also told me that the two houses paid for by the Heelan team and program are under construction. It will ultimately be good to see photos of both the water project in Las Uvas and the 2 new homes in New Capital.

Take Care,
Richard Seivert

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Civil Rights and the Blues

Our free day began with Palm Sunday Mass at Christ the King Church in Horn Lake, MS. Fr. Ries concelebrated with Fr. Gene, who welcomed us all to their church. The procession began in the back of church with palm waving and Hosannas all the way back to our pews. After church we posed for a group photo in front of the altar and were given a tour of the ten-year-old church.

The drive to Memphis took approximately twenty-five minutes. We braved the wind to walk around outdoors and visit a few historical sites before entering the National Civil Rights Museum. Our first stop was the site of Martin Luther King's Assassination - the Lorraine Hotel. The kids were amazed at the information they learned at the Civil Rights Museum.

Our next stop was Beale Street - home of the Blues. Since it was soooo cold today, we opted for a trolley ride to Beale Street. We ate lunch/supper at BB King's Restaurant while listening to live music. Most of us ate some delicious barbeque. Then we spent an hour shopping before heading to our vehicles. We took a circuitous route to drive past Graceland, Elvis's home.

Everyone is anxious to get back to work tomorrow. We hope the weather cooperates. I think our goal is to finish every job we've been assigned, and perhaps a bit more.

Message to my Web Design Class: There'd better not be any cookie crumbs in those keyboards!!! Mrs. Schroeder, you are WAY too nice. I sure hope you are all working diligently.

Our juntas seem to be lasting longer and longer as we grow more comfortable with each other. Tonight we also had a sing-along as we drank our hot chocolate. Our hope is to entertain the people at the Garden Cafe (soup kitchen) when we serve and eat with them on Thursday night.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Our Mission Continues

Today our groups were split into three. Dave's group went back to work on the sheds. They believe they have to finish only one shed and then paint them all. Kevin's and Stu's group returned to the Cornelius' house. They installed carpet in one bedroom and half the family room. They also tore the roof off the shed in preparation for a new one. Linda's, Fr. Ries's, and my group drove to Home Depot to start our day. We picked up some power screw drives, two pick-axes, and a chain saw. Before going to our job site, Kelly took us to Ms. Washington's house. That's where we'll be working on Monday, so I'll save all that information for then. I'm sure it's a story you'd like to hear in its entirety. We headed back to work on leaves, branch trimming, etc. Some of the guys went to work with the chain saw; others carried chunks of wood to the dumpster out front. The rest of us finished raking the leaves and pulling out the volunteer trees. The guys also finished all the trimming that was needed along the fence, cutting off any trees pushing against the fence. I even tried my hand with an ax, chapping up a good section of a large tree branch. As we ate our lunch, we were horrified to hear a loud clap of thunder. We jammed our sandwiches into our mouths and rushed to complete our job. The weather, however, did not cooperate. We stored the tools in the shed and sought shelter, hoping to wait out the rain. Eventually, Kelly suggested she take us on a little historic tour around Holly Springs and then return to the compound. (That Kelly is just full of interesting information.) The other groups came back much later than we because they didn't have rain in Walls. I guess we'll do our best to finish on Monday. According to the forecasts we're seeing, we should have sunny days for the remainder of our work days.

Our special treat tonight was pork chops, which Janet had marinated and Dave, Stu, and Kevin grilled. Janet also made cheesy potatoes. Sr. Margaret Sue dropped by to thank our group for the work at her school and left a strawberry dessert for us. YUM! Everyone is eating so well that the snacks are barely going down. Janet had made a Stations of the Cross presentation, so we participated in that service at 8 and had junta right after. 

Dee Dee Cornelius welcomes the crew who check out the home repair progress to date

Everyone is ready for a little tourist day in Memphis tomorrow. After 10 a.m. Mass at Christ the King Church, we're heading for the museum. We'll then walk to the Peabody Hotel to see the ducks marching through the lobby, a major tourist attraction, I guess. Eventually we plan to be at BB King's restaurant so we can enjoy some Mississippi barbeque and music. I have a feeling we will also do a little shopping. Kelly might be joining us, which would be great, since she is such a treasure trove of information

Stu and Billy install the pad

Andrew Lipp
Mission Mississippi has been a good experience so far. It hasn’t been that motivating to me so far, but I am hoping to feel a spark soon. It is more difficult because we aren’t working side by side with the people, or at least I haven’t yet. It still has been a good time with the group though, getting to know everyone a lot better. I also haven’t felt homesickness yet. Our mission group has been like a family to me. I’m healthy, happy, and looking forward to the upcoming days. I do fill a little dirty though, but I think I can overcome this. Thank you Mom, Dad, Marisa, and Krista for supporting us. Especially Rachelle for sending us that lovely picture of yourself! See you all soon!

Fr. Ries
We finally arrived in Mississippi, and we have had beautiful weather, rain, rain and more rain.  We have done a lot of digging with our group and praying. We are the holiest group around.  We have Janet doing cooking and music for Mass - yesterday she had to decide cooking or singing; she chose cooking to keep everyone happy.  Yesterday at noon, we were forced by Kelly, who is a good Baptist lady, to eat meat pizza, otherwise she was going to throw it out. So we had to call upon the Holy Spirit in which we then had another theological moment in which we had the Lord change that meat to fish.  That was the best fish pizza we ever had.

Jacob Begnoche
Hey guys, skink whisperer here. Things have been going pretty well so far. It was a little slow at first, but now that we are getting the hang of things it’s going a lot smoother. The weather hasn’t been as warm as we were all hoping, but it’s better than Iowa. Sleeping on a cot isn’t as good as the couch back home. I’ve been enjoying the chess, Chinese checkers, and conversing with my fellow peeps to pass the time. The food’s been great so far, and I’m really looking forward to the pork chops tonight! If I think of any other good stuff to tell you, I’ll blog again soon. By the way, anyone find my wallet yet? Love you guys.

P.S. Hey Joe, I’m expecting all of my laundry to be put away when I get home, and Emma, that is a very interesting story that you told me. Bye!

Derek Probst:
Hmmm, what to write, what to write… Well, basically I’m having a good time down here in Mississippi. It is cool to be able to know that I am doing some good in the world. Since we aren’t really working with the people, I sort of wish that I could see how my actions are affecting people instead of just knowing that what I’m doing was helping people but maybe that will come later. Oh we can’t use any water in the guys’ area today because it is “blocked,” but I’m pretty sure Mrs. Bickford just said that so that it is more suffering for us like it would have been in Honduras. Um, despite the fact that it is warmer here and we’re pretty busy, I do miss the Iowa, and I guess I sorta might a little tiny bit or maybe a bit more than a little bit or who knows, a lotta bit miss some of the people that might possibly be in Le Mars like maybe my family or Nicholle, but those are just possible examples… So ya, that’s my blog for tonight. Thanks for reading, bye y’all (that’s my Southern accent).

Elizabeth Bates:
I am having a very fun time down here in Mississippi so far. The last two days it has been kind of rainy and muddy outside, but we are still having fun. Today on our job site we found a frog and Maggie was freaking out (but just a little J). To the web design class “What do you think you are doing eating cookies!!!” haha. Yesterday we played a very very physical game of basketball in the driveway. It was a lot of fun. Tomorrow we are going to Memphis and going to the Civil Rights Museum. Well, I have to go now the living room is being rearranged for dinner so see y’all later. Oh ya by the way hi Mom, Dad, and RubyJ. Bye-bye

Ryan Bates:
I am having a very exciting time down here in Mississippi. I am truly learning a lot while I am down here too. Although Saturday we got wet and Thursday night we got rained out ,we spent the day Friday cleaning the Garden Café. We will hopefully finish the work we are doing in the Garden Café sometime early next week. I also want to tell everyone back home that I am doing well and that I only have one little boo-boo while playing basketball Friday night, but other than that I am doing well.

Maggie writes in her junta booklet

Angel carries away the rotten shed door