The St. Michael Young Adult Mission Trip to Grenada
June 13 – June 20, 2015
This week, to say the least, has been an unforgettable experience for us all. Not fully understanding the transformations that would unfold and bring us closer as a group, we soon realized something special was happening before our eyes, from the Grenadian people, and most importantly getting closer to Jesus and appreciating our Catholic faith on a new level. The new friends we made from all parts of the US sharing our faith and mission for the island of Grenada made us realize we are truly one body in Christ. We were blessed with the opportunity to adopt a mother and son, Luke and Anne from St. Paul in Highland, Illinois into our St. Michael’s family. Their input in our nightly discussions brought a new, welcomed dimension. Getting to know some of the Grenadians personally and learning about their lifestyle made us appreciate the many blessings God has bestowed upon us in the US. The love and friendships the camp experienced is very real and not taken for granted among the campers. The tears and sadness when we all were departing the island planning “next year” is bitter sweet. Being a part of this wonderful group of young adults this week once again reaffirms the time, talent, and treasure we invest in our youth for the Body of Christ is priceless, after all, they are the future of St. Michaels. We all want to thank you for your prayers, support, and gifts you graciously extended. Your generosity allowed the light of Christ from St. Michael’s Church, Greenfield, Indiana shine brightly in Grenada, West Indies. God bless you all!
Dennis DeCapua, Jim and Alicia Besinger
CHWC Mission Trips encompass Service, Spiritual, and Social aspects. Click here for a list of the service projects. Below are pictures of the three S’s for your enjoyment.
Old Church Exterior: Before Old Church Exterior: After
Old Church Interior: Before Old Church Interior: After
Jim's workgroup; house painting before and after
Father Norm consecrating the Eucharist at mass on the beach
The first ever Rosary Walk in Grenada!
Jessica Lopez and Taylor Hiland bringing up the gifts
Adoration on the beach!
Last mass in the Blessed Sacrement Parish
First mass in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
College Theme Day!
America Theme Day!
Adult Chaperones plus our host, David
June 19 – Free Day
It is sad to say that our trip is nearly complete as this is our last full day in Grenada. We have finished our service days and have concluded the CHWC work camp. Now it is time for a little R-and-R. We attended a snorkel outing with about 3/4 of the camp. The outing started with an hour long boat ride from our dormitory at St Georges University up to the west coast of Grenada to the “sculpture park” where we snorkeled and sampled lots of local fruit.
In the evening we again boarded the boat and cruised an hour and a half to the town of Gouyave for a town wide fish fry. Gouyave is a depressed fishing town and is also where we performed the majority of our service projects. Every Friday evening the town closes the street in front of “The Old Church” and set up food tents in a carnival fashion. They had everything from locally procured whole fish, lobster, passion fruit juice, and plantains, to mac and cheese and rolls. Think of it as a “taste of Gouyave.” We were greeted on the beach by a band and numerous children, and then we were lead in pied piper fashion to the Old Church. It is worth mentioning that The Old Church has special significance for us since all four work days, at least three of the CHWC work teams were sent there to paint the interior and exterior of the church. It goes without saying that the food was fantastic, and the hospitality was over the top. While talking with several of the local adults, we learned that they were particularly appreciative of our work on the church since many of them had attended primary school there many years ago.
During our week of work we not only met many of the locals who helped with the work projects, be we also developed a friendship with them. At the end of the evening, we said our good-byes and sailed off into the sunset (well not really, the sun was long down, but we sailed back to base camp nonetheless).
The boat ride home was like our last hoorah together. The crew played music through the sound system, and our whole group danced and sang together, along with many people from the other youth groups as well. The coolest part of the experience was when they played a song sort of like their own version of the “Cha-cha Slide,” and one of the members of the crew taught us how to dance along to it as he did. We also did a limbo contest while on the ride back, and we all got to learn just how flexible Jacqueline is. Some of the crew joined in, though, and they looked as though they were professionals.
Once we got back to the dorm, we were consumed by our happy spirits and satisfied stomachs and set off to bed to rest up for the big flight home tomorrow.
The Fourth and final Work Day
Jessica Lopez, 8th CHWC Workcamp
If there’s one thing St. Michael’s is good at, it’s mission trips. I should know, I’ve been on quite a few. We’ve helped where we were needed, made people smile where we went, and sweated more than I’m sure you’d care to know. This week was no different. Getting up out of bed on the Thursday of work week is a bit challenging. We’re a little tired, a little homesick for a real bed, but mostly we’re a little sad. If there’s another thing St. Michael’s is good at, it’s eating. It’s one of the reasons we get out of bed in the morning, besides the work, that is. We even had a team theme one day to honor Taco Tuesday. Usually staff and some parents or local youths from the sites cook the food we eat, but this year was a little different. This year a wonderful woman named Rosie cooked all of our food for us, from lasagna to tacos, and mac and cheese to potato salad, there wasn’t a day I wasn’t grateful to come back to the dorms to a home cooked meal. So I was pretty honored when my work site on Thursday was at Rosie’s house where we were to paint her peeling walls and railing. Unfortunately Rosie wasn’t home the whole day (she was probably somewhere cooking), and I didn’t get to meet her. Thursday was a hot day. It was also so humid it took hours for a single layer of paint to dry. We had no decent paint scrubbers and no running water, which didn’t make our job any easier. But by the end of the day, the walls were painted a clean cream color, and the rails were painted a bright orange. They say home is where the heart is, but I think food is where it is too, and Rosie shared her heart with us through her food, and my team and I were able to brighten her home. It was an honor, and I only wish I had seen her that day to say thank you, and that my rumbling stomach and I really appreciated her. God sent us to Grenada, and Rosie made sure we had the energy to do our work all week.
Program on Thursday night is also a bit sad, but the CHWC pumps us up with a dance party, light show included. This Thursday we also went out to beach in threes to send a Chinese lantern into the Grenadian night sky. You may or may not know, but I’m an Indiana Hoosier through and through. Okay well Catholic mostly, but the Hoosier is pretty strong too. So it only makes sense that my team of three would be the DeCapua sisters Jacqueline and Danielle, Boilermakers, in case you didn’t know. It was an honor to battle the wind alongside them and send off our lantern without a hitch, something not everyone managed to say the least. Just like it was an honor to sweat, laugh, struggle and grow alongside them this mission trip. Sure we like to joke, but when it comes down to it our differences didn’t matter so much this week. We were all on the same team wearing the same colors, we all wanted to reach the same goal fighting for the same cause, and we all finished off our four CHWC work days with a win that goes on all our records.
The Third Work Day
Taylor Hiland, 1st CHWC Workcamp
After the heartwarming experience my group participated in yesterday by building an addition onto a local's house, today was going to have to be great to beat yesterday. Despite my doubts, it did just that. My hope all this week was to be able to change a child's life, and today I was given that opportunity by helping at a preschool in Guayave, Grenada.
When we arrived, I walked into the school and was welcomed by six Grenadian children wrapped around my legs. They were so happy to see us there, and truly enthralled as to what we were doing in their backyard. To answer the question of what we were doing, we were assigned to help partially rebuild a playground swing set to make it more sturdy and safe for the students. This was complicated as we had to have everything cut, measured, placed, and ready to go. Then, we realized that the drill we were planning on using was dead. Luckily, an adult with us thought quickly on his feet and ran to the hardware store. There, he found an "old-fashioned," hand and crank, drill that we used for the remainder of the day. While we weren't able to finish the project today, we made progress that we weren't planning on. We definitely made an impact that will eventually become smiles of the preschool children.
As we prepared for the evening program back at home base, I was a little nervous entering. Tonight was what CHWC calls "Four Corners," which consists of Faith, Reconciliation, Peace, and Healing. Being the only non-Catholic of the group, I wasn't sure how this night would go. To my surprise, it was such a phenomenal and eye-opening experience. I was able to have some private prayer time and talk to many different people about hardships of the present and the future. A couple of these people were our own awesome leaders, Jim and Dennis, and one of our own awesome students, Jessica Lopez. These experiences, along with sitting on God's glorious creation in a foreign country, have helped me realize how much we should be thankful for in the states. I can't wait to see what else God has in store for us in these last few days.
The Second Work Day
Our day started out with rain, so we were scared it was going to turn out just like the first day. Thankfully we had a very sunny and hot day. Once we got started, they decided to split up our group because they needed help on another project, so we went to paint the house of an elderly lady who had lost her legs. We painted her whole house red and cream with a pink door (which she loved btw). This was huge for us to accomplish since we had been rained out the day before and had gotten little done.
After the workday was done we got to my favorite part of the day, Program. It's the time of the night where we mix fun with praising the Lord! We get to be loud, crazy and dance all while worshipping God. Tuesday night we always have adoration, and this one was special. Having 170 Catholics out on the beach, kneeling in the sand, hearing the ocean, praying for whatever they need in life. Father told us the story about the hemorrhaging women, who touched Jesus' robes and was healed. Then we were invited to touch the cloth that held the monstrance and Jesus' precious body. It was one of the most moving experiences I've ever had at catholic heart; there aren't enough words to describe it. We ended the night with a wonderful group discussion about everything that just transpired.
What is God's love? Well today I felt it in every aspect possible. I went to a school today with my team, team 4, if we want to get exact. As we pulled up to the school it seemed odd, there was no halls and 2 floors. "How could this be a school?" I thought to myself, but as soon as I thought that here come all of these adorable children running out of these rooms, in white shirts, red ties, and of course, skirts and pants. Jacqueline just so happens to be in my group this week, and I have been super excited to bond with her since we are active in the same church. They paired us together to paint a kindergarten room. We had to put the rules of the classroom on the wall, and as we are doing such, kids keep coming up to us telling us that they love it with huge smiles on their faces. Who could love a painting about rules? As we finished we asked if she needed anything else to be painted. She told us "colors" in the most calming Grenadian accent. So under the chalkboard we created a vine with different colors and flowers, writing the color of the word below the flowers. We finished up, and the kids were so excited to see our creation! We walked outside and were absolutely swarmed with kids! We played football, jumped rope, and they even played with our hair, eventually telling us "Your hair feels like a dog's coat." I honestly did not know how to respond so I just laughed. I looked over at Jacqueline and saw kids fighting over her hair. I couldn't stop laughing. We eventually got to the point where we were painting the kids' hands and putting it on a tree that the group before us painted to create the leaves. We also painted a quote above, that I will allow you to read in the pictures. The bus eventually came to pick us up. For the few short hours I leaned so much, such as for us, our little things are our big things, and their little things don't even matter to us, such as a "rule wall." I learned how truly blessed I am.
After work we had our program which included my personal favorite: Adoration. We sat there cooling off from all the singing and dancing to listen to Father Norm talk about his life and what Adoration meant to him. He talked about how we need to let God tell us where to go, and we will never be lost. We processed onto the beach with the Monstrance behind me because I had the beautiful privilege of walking the candle that is in front of it with my best friend, Erin Hays. As we went out, I went through the gate, and I could not help but be absolutely lost with where Erin and I were going. Father Norm behind us, Monstrance in hand, told us to go left then go right then go left to eventually get to the alter that was on the beach, just like listening to God and where he wants us to go in life, and we will end up exactly where we need to go. I set my candle down on the table and went to join my Catholic Heart Work Campers kneeling in the sand. We were kneeling with Jesus right in front of us on the beach, and waves crashing in the background. I thought I couldn't get any closer to God until Father Norm told us that we could touch the cloth on which Jesus himself was upon. I was a little nervous to do such until Erin goes up which felt like a boost for me to go up. As she has her hand hanging on the cloth I grab her hand and the cloth at the same time to have a feeling of complete peace come over me, a feeling that even myself cannot explain. We walked back together to our spot and kneeled there together praying. My mom always tells me that if you pray in 2 or more people gather to pray we can move mountains, not only were Erin and I moving mountains, but 170 Catholics moving the mountains of Grenada together as one body in God.
The First Work Day
Matt Kreutzer, 4th CHWC trip:
There are groups from 14 different parishes across the US here with us, and the resulting 150 people are placed on 22 work teams. The free day yesterday gave me the opportunity to meet 5/7 of my group members before I even knew they were on my team. So far, we have all became pretty close, and I know we will only get closer.
My group was in charge of painting a house. After a decent drive, we arrived at the site.
About 50 minutes in, the rain began, and it only got harder. It ruined enough of our work for us to realize that there was no point in continuing (we had expensive paint that we didn't want to waste). So, we took our lunch break, had a really good talk, and I feel like our team became even closer.
We realized no painting could get done because it was pouring rain. So, we decided to head into a local children's school and meet the kids. We had such a fun time taking pictures, getting to know them, and even learning some dance moves. They knew all of the popular songs that we hear on the radio, which created a strong bond between us.
Even though not all the paint was put on the house and now we are a little behind schedule, it was a great day. Our group became closer, and a lot of young students left a mark on the hearts of our team.
Alex Card, 4th CHWC trip:
Today my group was assigned to help a man named Andy, who lived over an hour across the island. This gave my group the chance to grow closer and enjoy the beauty of Grenada during the drive. Up and down, left and right, the bus drove over mountainous, forests, and through colorful towns. It was truly a sight to see.
We were dropped off at the bottom of a hill and were instructed to meet Andy at his house at the top of the hill. After over a half mile walk straight up mountain, Andy welcomed us with open arms. He told us that he needed his porch painted and an additional room added to his house because he has 7 of his own children and 2 nieces living with him.
Work started out well, but as we would soon find out, it is the rainy season here in the island. Pouring down rain soon stopped all progress that was made so we ate lunch and tried to wait out the rain. The rain failed to cease so we packed up our tools and began the long journey down the mountain. By the time we reached the bus, our clothes were drenched but our spirits were not dampened.
The first international, Multi-parish Rosary Walk. About 50 people participated! No better place to do it than on the beach in Grenada.
Can you identify Fr. Norm?
A Day in the Life of a Grenadian
We started out day two of our mission trip bright and early with breakfast at 6:30 AM. After we ate, we all rode in buses up the twisty turny mountains of Grenada to church at the cathedral. All the people on the island seem to know each other because they always honk at one another as they pass by. Also, driving on the left side of the road is still something we have to get used to.
When we walked into the cathedral, we were amazed by the beauty in its simplicity. It was filled with natural light, had two stories, and birds were flying around the rafters. The mass itself was especially inspiring because the archbishop was the celebrant and the local Grenadian people joined us in the congregation. During the homily, the priest sang us a song with his beautiful voice, and he ended it with his own Catholic rap. The sign of peace probably took at least twice as long as usual, due to the genuine friendliness of the locals. They wanted to shake all of our hands.
After church, we went to spend the rest of the day at a beach. The local Grenadian people were there as well, and we were able to witness them playing cricket, and then we did a tug of war challenge: America versus Grenada (America won every time). We learned a lot about the local food as well because they cooked lunch for us on the beach! The chef, Andy, talked to us about their national dish, oil-down, as he prepared it for us. It is basically a stew with chicken, bananas, breadfruit (looks like a fruit, tastes like a fruity potato), pig’s tail and snout, pumpkin, yams, and many spices (Grenada is called the Spice Island after all). We then saw one of the locals crack open an almond in its original shell so we could try it. It tasted the same as a normal unsalted almond except it was squishy. We also were able to drink pop made in Grenada. We all agreed it tasted better than the pop we’re used to, probably because they use real sugar cane and some island love!
To top it all off, one of the local bands performed some Christian songs for us, and we finished out our time at the beach with the singing of our National Anthem by Erin Hays, and of their National Anthem by the band. Today was a day filled with sun, culture, food, and fun! Tomorrow the real work begins. - Jacqueline and Danielle DeCapua -
Post #1, Part I: A Cardio Workout for which None of Us Were Prepared
We all felt a bit off from the beginning. As the Besinger van pulled up to the curb of the Indianapolis International Airport, we were greeted by Matt and Taylor, who were stylishly sporting a mask of sheer terror on their face. Our first flight to Atlanta had been delayed two hours, which was just enough time for us to miss our second flight to Grenada. To be honest, I thought it was a joke. The news caused Dennis's chin to quiver just a little bit, and Jim about lost it. Thankfully, a nice Delta man in a red coat sorted things out, placing us on an earlier flight that was scheduled to leave in. . . fifteen minutes?!
By the grace of God, we made it through security and began to fast walk to concourse A, until another nice lady, this time in a blue vest, kindly encouraged us to start running. Mind you, I'm no athlete, but we did as the lady instructed, and what a site we must've been.
Picture this: The fitness queens and the couch potatoes, pathetically sprinting alongside one another, desperately wheeling an overstuffed carry-on bag and clad in matching t-shirts; well, except Jessica, who, to top things off, wore the wrong one. - Erin Hays -
Part 2: Settling in
After the early morning excitement, we arrived safely at the Atlanta Airport and had time to take an official team picture prior to boarding the flight to Grenada.
The fight from Atlanta to Grenada was uneventful, and thanks to our hosts at CHWC, we smoothly progressed through immigration and customs. They even had a bus waiting to shuttle us to St. Georges University, our home for the next week.
After the long day of travel, now it was time to settle in, and we quickly learned that things are a bit different here. They drive on the wrong side of the road, cell phones may or may not work, electricity adapters are not what they promise to be, and the currency exchange rate is 2.6 Eastern Caribbean dollar to one US dollar (so math is very useful for purchases). This trip will definitely push us out of our comfort zones.
Dinner was the American favorite – pizza, but the best part was hearing 150 people praying in unison beforehand. After dinner it was time to socialize and meet some of the other teams. We even ran into some old friends we met 3 years ago on the mission trip to Greensburg PA. What a pleasant surprise that was!
All in all a great first day. God is good!
- Dennis DeCapua -
The Mission Trip Team: Jim, Alicia and Kristen Besinger; Alex Card; Dennis, Jacqueline and Danielle DeCapua; Erin Hays; Taylor Hiland; Matt Kreutzer; Jessica Lopez; and Erin Parker. Eight of the nine young adults and two of the three adults have participated in previous high school youth group mission trips. Cumulatively we have attended 46.5 mission trips.
The Host Organization: Catholic Heart Workcamp. The CHWC mission is twofold: To share the love of Christ as we serve the neglected, brokenhearted and the marginalized in any way needed. Equally, to inspire participants to live as disciples of Christ through serving others as a way of life; and to foster the Catholic Faith of each participant through the sacraments, prayer and involvement in social service.
Our Mission: We will join together with other young adult and youth groups representing 15 catholic churches from across the US to serve as Christ modeled. As bold Catholics we embrace this challenge to put ourselves aside to serve and restore homes and hearts, feed the hungry, lift the spirits of children, give hope to the disabled, and provide help through partnerships with social agencies.
In conjunction with local nuns, priests and youth groups, we will work with the elderly, pre-school children, the differently abled and orphans; we will tackle construction projects like building a new house and additions to existing homes; and we will paint churches and beautify the area by painting murals.
Amongst the beauty on the island, there is much need as 30% of the population lives in poverty.
The Location: Grenada is a beautiful Caribbean island, is English speaking, and over 50 percent Catholic. We will work and stay in the capital city of St. George. We will embrace the culture and the people of Grenada. We will eat hot local food with a flavor of the culture. We will also celebrate daily mass.
Prayer Request: Please continue to pray for the St Michael Young Adult Mission Team. That we have safe travels, good weather, and rise to all challenges we are presented with as we get outside of our comfort zone, integrate into the local culture, and spread the love of Jesus to all of those we encounter.
6/12: Pre-trip slumber party and spiritual activity.
6/13: Up at 4:30am to begin our day of travel to our base camp in Grenada where we will meet our work teams and learn about our specific work projects.
6/14: The Lord’s Day. Socialize with the other campers, meet the local high school youth groups who we will be working alongside, and enjoy the sights of Grenada.
6/15-6/18: Work days
6/19: Free day (relaxing on the beach and snorkeling)
6/20: Travel back home and land in Indianapolis at 11:50pm