United Methodist teens on a summer mission in Long Beach

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS  (WLOX) - Teens from across Mississippi are doing good deeds in Long Beach this week.

Using sledge hammers, paint brushes and brooms, the summer mission camp called "MOSAIC" is giving young people an opportunity to demonstrate their faith.

"You saw the shed that they just took down. They love demolition. That's the second shed they've taken down already. We've done some yard work. We put a porch roof on for a lady," said adult volunteer Jerry Leone.

This mission camp also builds new friendships.  MOSAIC began in the wake of Katrina.

"MOSAIC is making our souls alive in Christ. And we come here just because we love the fellowship with all the other students and the adults. And with the home owners. You get this really cool feeling," said Jenny Merkle with First United Methodist in Long Beach.

Cool feelings are welcome on this sweltering morning.

"Well, this would happen to be a 12 pound sledge hammer. We use this to rip things apart, like sheds," said Micah Hood from Tupelo, "I really enjoy just being down here. Sharing God's love through hard work."

Most of the teens are from churches throughout Mississippi. But Megan McKee is here from Ohio.

"Our church was involved with this project last year.  And we just loved it and we're thrilled to be back. It's an awesome, awesome thing," said McKee.

While one team continued the clean-up, another was busy painting a historic home in Long Beach.

"We are staining this house over here. Chocolate color. Doesn't taste like chocolate!" said Ginny Woodruff, who got some of the stain on her face.

The house dates back to 1885.  It was purchased by the Lutenbacher family in the 1970s.

"This is absolutely fantastic. I can't believe that these young people could and would do such a thing. It's absolutely wonderful. They're doing a beautiful job," said Yvonne Lutenbacher, standing beside her husband of 63 years, John.

"I'm having a great time. I wanted to get involved with something like this so I could learn more about God and help other people," said Lane Johnson from Louisville, Mississippi.

"Oh, they're great kids. This would not work without these kids. And they are hard workers. And they will do anything you ask them to do," said Leone.

First United Methodist Church of Long Beach is hosting the summer campers. Nine teams of teenage workers will do a variety of jobs at some 20 different homes this week.

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