We have been serving communities from Maine to Colombia for the past 15 years.
Assist- JC History
We began with a domestic mission trip to Risingville, New York where twelve of us built a handicap ramp for a church and helped an old lady by painting roofing tar on her leaky hot tin roof while other members cleaned out 45 years worth of canned fruits, vegetables and meats from the basement.
The mission outreach continued with our first international mission trip to Nuevo Sacramento, Honduras where we built our first house, held our first medical clinic and conducted our first Children’s Bible School.
In late June our mission team went to Eastport, Maine where the local UCC congregation hosted us. We carried out a major construction rehab project, painted another house and did some interior painting on a smaller job. While there, we slept in the local elementary school gym, prepared meals at the church, and thankfully were hosted for two dinners in the homes of church members.
We returned to Nuevo Sacramento to build two houses, provide a medical clinic and lead Children’s Bible School.
The team gave Central Congregational Church a fresh coat of paint as well as putting a new roof on the home of one of the elderly parishioners. The school welcomed us back with open arms which spoke well of the previous team’s efforts to leave no trace.
Back to Honduras...back to Nuevo Sacramento where we built two houses with a third being constructed in a village named Montesano located 2km downhill from Nuevo Sacramento. Again a medical team provided care and again Children’s Bible School brought laughter and relationships between the Hondurans and Americans.
The most challenging project to date was the construction of the shell of the Labor of Love Food Pantry in Eastport. The 30x40 building was closed in, roofed and sided in one week. In addition the Team constructed trails at the Shackford Head State Park in Eastport along with painting part of a home of one of the elderly parishioners.
Honduras was our destination. The team again built three houses, this time in the colonia known as Agua Blanca. We looked across the valley at Nuevo Sacramento and actually worshipped with our old friends on the Sunday we were in the country. Medical services were provided at both Agua Blanca and Nuevo Sacramento with some important connections made with the Honduran Red Cross. Children’s Bible School once again helped the American teens and Honduran children to form bonds of friendship.
The Eastport Team was the largest group we have taken on mission. 75 teens and adults worked on nine separate projects during the week. One roof was completed, two porches were completely rebuilt, one huge house was painted, a handicap accessible ramp was built, doors were installed and siding completed on one home, continued work on the food pantry, Vacation Bible School for the local children was held along with shoreline clean-up at Shackford Head State Park and the Dennysville Church was painted. The team visited Pleasant Point and met with one of the Passamaquoddy elders to learn more of the tribe’s history.
The Honduras Team of 64 teens and adults from All Souls and an additional 3 teens and 1 adult from Maryland ventured to a new area outside of Tegucigalpa: a colonia named Cataluna. Our team built 2 houses and a kindergarten classroom. We offered a medical clinic that saw over 400 people and we conducted a Children’s Bible School. The bonds between our team and our old friends from Communion Baptist Church in Tegucigalpa were strengthened...particularly after the change of government (called by most news agencies “a coup”) that took place during our stay. The impact of that event really did not affect our particular group, though the worry it generated back home was huge. We continue to pray for our friends who are living in these uncertain times.
Though we think our work cannot get more extensive in Eastport, it does. Nearly 100 teens and adults worked in Eastport over 8 days tackling 16 projects. A storage building for the food pantry was built, Shackford Head State Park had trails improved, a whole house was painted, two homes had extensive trim sanded and painted, extensive window repairs were done at one home, 4 porches were built/re-built, a long deck and ramp were replaced, earthen stairs to the road were created for an elderly gentleman, a rotten bulkhead was removed and a new one built, two home owners had substantial grounds work and yard clean-up done. Vacation Bible School was held on the Passamaquoddy Reservation. A very large wall on the downtown museum was revived with an elaborate and well-done paint job. In return, the residents of Eastport welcomed us with open arms encouraging us every step of the way. It was a great week together.
In June, 53 teens and adults traveled to the same colonia we had worked in during our 2009 visit. What a joy to greet familiar faces. The Kindergarten Classroom that was built during our last visit was in full use this tie...and our team built another classroom right next to it. We also built two hoes, conducted a medical clinic in Cataluna as well as Nuevo Sacramento and led a Children’s Bible School. The ten years of connections in Honduras continue to produce bountiful fruit in our congregation and in the churches we touch outside of Tegucigalpa.
What made the Eastport Trip so special this year was the cohesiveness of the team. Young, inexperienced team members joined up with seasoned veterans to replace a roof, paint an entire museum, refurbish a condemned band stand, replace a porch and stairs, build a privacy fence, remove brush, build a stone retaining wall, spread wood chips on a park path and secure granite benches in addition to hosting a community meal celebrating the work of the Labor of Love Food Pantry. Our Vacation Bible School at Pleasant Point was very meaningful to the work team assigned there. They have made an important connection to the Passamaquoddy community. The hard work of the 76 team members was always coupled with fun and enjoyment of living and growing together as workers together in Christ Jesus and for one week in Eastport we truly lived as heirs of Christ’s promise.
This was the first year we offered three distinct mission opportunities. We are now calling this our International Year of Travel rather than the “Honduras Year”. One team of 16 college students and adults (ASSIST-JC 2.0) went to Honduras with an organization called Pure Water for the World. They installed water filters and did some testing of water sources in a remote region around the town of Trojes near the Nicaraguan border. They also built latrines at 3 schools and distributed parasite medications. Another team of 53 traveled to Antigua, Guatemala. Working under the supervision of the Christian school, Kairos, the team built 3 homes for needy families, conducted a medical clinic, distributed food to poor families and held an open air portable Children’s Bible School. A third team of 8 traveled to Black Mesa Reservation in Arizona where they assisted people of the Navajo Nation put an addition on their church building. They also worked a home renovation project. All the teams had moments of profound connections to God through their service and the team connections were strong and deep. A very fine summer of mission and spiritual growth.
79 adults and teens made up the new team in Eastport. The team was young, yet their enthusiasm and dedication to the tasks assigned to them was impressive. The roofing team had the best view as they replaced the roof of a long time Eastport supporter of ASSIST-JC. They also repaired a dilapidated stairway and replaced a memorial bench for the widow. Three houses were painted by a phenomenal paint team. An elderly couple had their decaying porches replaced and parts of their home repainted in bright yellow which caught the whole town’s attention. A 94 year old woman and her disabled son had siding repaired and a safer step/porch installed. The same team which did such good work with the mother and son also tore out and replaced a deck and stairs for another widow. The VBS team supported a local Bible School conducted by an independent Baptist Church who did not have enough helpers. They said we were an answer to prayer. We also had a team go to the Passamaquoddy Reservation on Pleasant Point to clean-up the decaying convent. It was a sad and sobering job about which one team member remarked, “We are preparing the body for burial”. The efforts were received as a gift of love from one faith group to another. The whole team was supported by a wonderful kitchen crew that kept us pleasantly satisfied. By the end of the summer we had received more thank you notes and donations from the Eastport community than at any other time. This continues to be a relationship of joy and service.