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Sabadosa: St. Catherine mission trip builds friendships

Pictured are participants SCA youth group missitrip: Peggie Cassidy AllenGray Mike MartMike Landstrom Mick Oberst David Landstrom JLandstrom Jim Roberts

Pictured are participants of the SCA youth group mission trip: Peggie Cassidy, Allena Gray, Mike Martin, Mike Landstrom, Mick Oberst, David Landstrom, Jon Landstrom, Jim Roberts, Robert Reed, Sara Sabadosa, Ethan Gray, Jason Blazevic, Chris Klimczak, Gianfranco Calafiore, Sean Roberts, Trista Dearth, Megan Regan, Courtney Leverenz, Emily McWilliams, Claire Maloney, Terri Dearth, Phil Caffee), Terry Landstrom, Jose Hernandez and Adam Bykowski. | Supplied photo ORG XMIT: BO77eAgioFFoB0d69viS

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Updated: August 7, 2014 6:13AM



Imagine spending hours in 90-plus-degree heat and high humidity digging trenches or pulling off shingles from a roof or tearing out old carpeting and insulation without the benefit of air conditioning.

That was part of the challenge faced a few weeks ago by the Youth Group of St. Catherine of Alexandria of Oak Lawn. Amazingly, the volunteers say they had a great time while working under such adverse conditions.

On June 8 at the break of dawn, two 12-passenger vans hit the road for a 14-hour drive to Asheboro, N.C. Thirteen high school students, seven college students and four adult chaperones bonded during the trip.

Many of the younger volunteers had not participated in a mission trip, but those who had shared their experiences, stressing that you never really know what to expect from a mission trip until you get to the work site.

Terry Landstrom, St. Catherine’s youth minister, has organized and led many such trips and said this one “was indeed special. We have never experienced such a warm welcome.”

This was the first time the church’s youth group had traveled to the southeast region of the United States. They were a part of the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge and were greeted warmly by both the Habitat for Humanity staff and members of the Pisgah Methodist Church.

Upon arrival at the Mount Shepherd Retreat Center, the visitors were treated to a barbecue dinner and got to meet the professional crew along with the family who would benefit from their work. The new owner of the house, Peggie Cassidy, along with her three young children would work alongside the crew and volunteers.

The Pisgah Church group presented each volunteer with a surprise gift bag filled with essentials — leather work gloves, sunscreen and assorted treats. The Cassidy children had decorated tool belts and personalized them for each member.

On the first day on the work site, groups were appointed. They had siders (used power saws and put up siding), diggers (dug out trenches for piping to be laid), painters (painted the exterior of the house), scaffolders (put up and took down scaffolding), nail gunners (worked on the interior of the house) and insulators (ripped out/installed insulation).

Ethan Gray, a student at St. Rita High School, said, “No matter what kind of work somebody was doing, they always had fun. Even digging dirt all day was fun in the group because everyone made it fun.”

Also from St. Rita, Mick Oberst said his favorite part of the mission trip was putting up siding on the house “because I had a chance to meet a lot of the volunteers and work with them on this particular project.”

My daughter, Sara Sabadosa, one of the college students, surprisingly liked the dreaded insulation job.

“I got to wear my protective yellow suit and enjoyed a free sauna session under the house’s basement,” she joked.

All kidding aside, she went on to say that the St. Catherine volunteers “enjoyed working hard on the job site, and the best part was looking back at all of our accomplishments.”

While hard work and muscle power were the focus of the week, there was leisure time built in as well. The group visited the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, did some canoeing and zip lining and were treated to several other side trips. They saw the Asheboro Copperheads play summer league college baseball just down the road from the work site.

Some of the volunteers were invited to be in a live broadcast at a local radio station where disc jockey Larry Reid talked with them about their mission work and played a song written by Phil Caffee, St. Catherine’s assistant youth minister.

Courtney Leverenz, a student at Richards High School in Oak Lawn, said her favorite part of the mission trip was “growing close with the workers and family whose house we were building. Besides teaching me construction skills, they showed me that love can be found in everyone, even in strangers. ... The people I met will hold a special place in my heart. This mission trip is an experience I will never forget.”

Claire Maloney, who attends Mother McAuley High School in Chicago, always wanted to go on a mission trip because “I wanted to help others who really needed it.” She said the trip was everything she expected and more.

“We all bonded so well. There were no cliques and everyone was included — whether it was making up songs or dancing on the job, we all had fun working,” Maloney said.

Caffee, who led prayer and worship each morning, had much to say about the hard work of the teens.

“We not only got to take part in building a house, but we got to take part in building lives,” he said. “These kids sure let their lights shine, and they have touched the hearts of many. Our fearless leader, Mrs. Terry Landstrom, did a wonderful job leading the kids not only on-site but by her godly example.”

Landstrom said the teens were “always polite and mannerly, our youth group impressed the people of Asheboro. We will miss them all and hope to return to work again among our friends.”

First-time participant Trista Dearth, a student at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, may have summarized it best when she said, “I have learned that sometimes the people who you are giving to give you so much more than you could ever give to them.”



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