Sidney Johnson, left, of Whitney, Texas, and Zach Long of Cleburne, Texas, paint newly installed siding on a Philadelphia home Thursday afternoon. Johnson and Long came to Philadelphia as part of the Central Texas Conference Youth in Missions for the United Methodist Church. The program saw 75 students and adults in Philadelphia last week doing repairs to local homes and businesses.
Sidney Johnson, left, of Whitney, Texas, and Zach Long of Cleburne, Texas, paint newly installed siding on a Philadelphia home Thursday afternoon. Johnson and Long came to Philadelphia as part of the Central Texas Conference Youth in Missions for the United Methodist Church. The program saw 75 students and adults in Philadelphia last week doing repairs to local homes and businesses.
A group of 75 students and adults from United Methodist churches in Texas were in Philadelphia last week building ramps and decks, painting and doing other miscellaneous projects for many in need as part of the Central Texas Conference Youth in Missions.

The workers, from Cleburne, Lake Cities and Brock, Texas, were divided into eight teams, each consisting of two adults and five to six teenagers. From June 15-20, the groups helped out at local homes by building ramps and decks as well as painting and other miscellaneous mission work.

Jan White has been helping with the Central Texas Conference Youth in Missions for 15 years, traveling to cities and towns all across the south, from Oklahoma to Alabama.

"We do this every year," she said. "There are about 1,500 students and adults in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi doing this kind of work. We work every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m."

After arriving Sunday night, the group stayed and camped out at First United Methodist Church on east Main Street. The group was able to shower at Neshoba Central High School. The bulk of their work was done outdoors, making for tough conditions in the middle of the summer. Even with their busy daily schedule in the sweltering heat, the group still found time and energy to have activities and worship each night.

White said that her experience in Philadelphia was nothing short of a great time.

"It's been great," she said. "We love this place. It's a wonderful little town and we like smaller towns like this because all of our work sites are within about a three or four block radius with the exception of one, and they are only 10 minutes away. So it makes it a lot easier for us to support them and for our construction people to support them. We've been getting materials from a local lumber company and they've been just wonderful. First Methodist has been very hospitable. Goodway Missionary Baptist invited us for dinner because we are doing mission work for several members of their congregation. We are really all out in the community."

By Thursday, a few work teams had already completed projects and were moving on to other ones. White speculated at that point that at least 14 projects would be completed by the end of the week.

Zach Long of Cleburne, Texas, was one of the students who made the trek to Philadelphia. Despite the long trip, Long was grateful to have an opportunity to come help others with mission work.

"It took most groups about 10 hours to get here," he said. "This is actually my fourth mission trip around the South. We've started repairing fences, put up siding and took down old siding, now we are painting it. It's been pretty awesome. Coming out here and helping all these people is just an experience that everyone needs to have."

Fred Britton, pastor at First United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, has been used to going out and traveling for mission work rather than hosting a group. However, he said the change gave him the opportunity to meet others with great enthusiasm for their mission work.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to host this team," Britton said. "We are thankful to see youth who have made a commitment to follow, love, and serve Christ through service to others. And we are thankful for the impact they have made in the lives of those they helped and served in our community. Because of the opportunity to serve others in the name of Christ, we saw the hearts of the youth mission team overflowing with excitement and joy."