How multigenerational mission trips provide opportunity to grow together as a church family.
Kurt Jostes, Camp Restore – New Orleans: Please go ahead and introduce yourselves and your age, if that’s OK with y’all.
Tony: Hi, My name is Tony Avina. I’m 61… plus.
[Others] …Are you 62?
Tony: In two weeks.
Jenna: Jenna Callahan, and I’m 21.
Wil: Wil Kolnik, I am 56.
Madison: Madison Bick, I’m 22.
Scott: Scott Mertens, 54.
Kurt: Great! So, who would like to share the background story of how y’all first got involved serving with us in New Orleans?
Wil: Christ Memorial’s senior pastor during 2005, pastor Jeff Cloeter, was just installed at our church in June before Katrina. So, he served his vicarage at Trinity Lutheran in Baton Rouge, had contacts, and our first trip that he organized was in November of 2005. And then in 2006 he organized another trip because his first call to our church was as youth pastor, so we had 20 or 30 youth come back in June of ’07. In ’08 we weren’t sure where to go, for some reason we didn’t know Camp Restore existed, so we were contacted by a team in Baton Rouge to do a Habitat build. And then I was surfing around, trying to figure out, OK, where are we going… and found Camp Restore, and have been addicted ever since.
On the first two trips we… it’s pretty amazing – we had homeowners who were doing a lot of the work themselves, so some of the team was helping them put their drywall back up… about four or five feet… and other groups were mucking out houses, with the oil that was… pretty scary stuff. But we’ve always managed to have a team that’s done construction.
The interesting part of coming down here is… what I know now compared to when we first came down is immensely more. Not only do you learn things at Camp Restore that you take home and use, but you learn things at home that you bring down to Camp Restore and use. I mean, it has to be a God thing. It’s just amazing how it works. We’ve done stuff we would’ve never [imagined]… putting rafters on a tornado-damaged home on the second floor… we did it! It was fun and we’d do it again!
Scott: On that first trip my daughter Rachel came along as well, so she had been here before I was, and she came back and was telling me everything that she had observed and what was going on down here, and between herself and Wil, they convinced me and got me into this, and as Wil said, it’s kind of an addiction… God has given me a talent, he’s given me something that I do well, and I really feel strongly that it is something I need to share. That’s one of the reasons I keep coming back.
The way we are treated here at Camp Restore is just phenomenal. Between the cooking of Mrs. Lorraine, when we had Walt here as construction manager, just everything that goes with it, and then meeting the actual homeowners and taking a moment to hear the stories that they have and just letting them talk… I don’t really know how to explain how it makes me feel, but it’s something that I feel strongly enough about that I need to come back again and again for.
Kurt: In addition to the core work, what are some aspects of taking a trip together like this that you’ve found valuable?
Scott: In years past we’ve had a wide spread of ages, usually an older group – 40s and 50s, but we also had some youth in their teens. I’ve had two daughters down here before, Jenna here and Maddie were teenagers when they came down here with us, and it’s actually given me an opportunity to really get to know them on a different level that what I knew them before, prior to coming down here. To me it’s a lot of fun to be with them.
Jenna and Madison: Awwwww!