South Carolina Mission Trip Day 1

Wow! God has certainly been providing for us over the past 48 hours. It was midnight on Saturday night/Sunday morning that we gathered at church to load the vans and begin our trek to Lexington, South Carolina. We expected to arrive at our destination between 5 and 6pm. At 10pm last night, we finally pulled into the parking lot of our host church in South Carolina. We drove through quite a bit of rain and storms, took a long detour to get around some backed up interstate traffic, and learned that it takes quite some time for 46 people to use the bathroom when there are only 2 stalls available. We were tired and frustrated, but were met by an energetic and accommodating Next Step staff. We also met the people from a church in Ohio who are also participating on the mission trip with us this week. We quickly found new friends in these people!

How did God provide? First, the church was able to purchase a new van just before we departed! YAY! One less rental. On the way down to SC, we had planned to have a picnic lunch (packed by our awesome moms!). However it was raining and we couldn't eat outside. We pulled into a travel center and, after hearing our needs, the staff ushered us into a private dining room and made us feel right at home! Later that night, God multiplied our "loaves and fishes" when we needed dinner. We had planned to be in South Carolina at dinner time, however we needed to eat on the road. God worked that out and we had enough lunch left over that each person had a feast for dinner as well. Yay God! 
Today was hot! We started on our worksites this morning, and are so excited about our tasks for the week. Most of us are working in the same neighborhood, but on different homes. The community we are working in is incredibly kind. We making a lot of friends, playing with kids, and really enjoying working alongside of each other. Some of us are roofing, others are doing flooring, some are building ramps while others are fixing bathrooms and working on siding. One group even got to demolish a large shed today and will be rebuilding it during the week.
Worship tonight was a highlight of the day! We sang, watched an amazing video, and celebrated how we had seen God during the day. Tonight we talked about how easy it is to believe lies instead of trusting in God's truth. We talked about the danger in making decisions based on our emotions, and the importance of focusing on the unseen - God and His truth. 
We'll be back tomorrow with more updates! Thanks for praying for us.



46 missionaries to South Carolina

The t-shirts have been tie-dyed, the 15 passengers vans are on hold, and the suitcases are beginning to fill up! Higher Ground is sending 46 missionaries to South Carolina very early on Sunday morning. Our caravan, consisting of four 15-passenger vans, a mini-van, and an SUV, will make the 17 hour trek to our destination, where we will spend the week doing construction work for the people of Lexington County. While we don’t know what we will be doing there, most likely we can expect to be roofing, siding, building ramps, painting, installing flooring, and perhaps even framing a house. On Friday we will participate in a community wide cookout.  We return home on Saturday, Aug. 2nd. Each day during the trip we will post updates and pictures right here on this blog – we are eager to have you join us on our adventure!

We would love for you to be praying by name for each student and adult leader who is participating on this trip. Our group is divided into smaller teams for the trip, and those teams are listed below. Maybe you can pray for one team a day!

Brian Hayman

Jefferson Corder

Colin Compton

Marquez Green

Nathan Green

Kevin Jiang

Casey Thompson

Ethan Torre

Peggy Hayman

Madeline Beatty

Kate Bach

Amara Green

Jordan Smith

Anna Strange

Jenna Torre

Matt Gumm

Luke Russell

Caleb Bohrer

Nate Compton

Zac Dettinger

John Peters

Charlie Strange

Josh Kueber


Anne DeChamps

Elsa Gumm

Jenna Acker

Julia Dawson

Corrina Hendricks

Renata Jaeger

Abbey Meyer

Nicole Schulz

Sarah Oberdeck

Kylie Cook

Kendra Bach

Abi Dettinger

Cadeja Hendricks

Kate Hettenbach

Alli Meyer

Maddy Strange

Emily Powers

Asia Acosta-Chhom

Rachel Corder

Mae Jaeger

Angie Jiang

Faith Kalscheur

Katlyn Miller


Leave a comment and let us know how you are praying for us as we prepare for this next adventure!


10 Signs to Look For When Deciding When to Hang Up the Keys

One way we can demonstrate an accepting spirit to our neighbors (those with whom we live, work, and play) is by providing a safe, non-judgmental environment for discussing difficult topics.  Today I want to discuss one such topic.  

As we age, it’s normal for our driving abilities to change.  Deciding when someone is no longer fit to drive is a challenging issue.  Often, emotions overpower facts.  Having a tough conversation like this is never easy, but we can be a visible reflection of Jesus when we approach each other with grace and respect and when we listen to others’ concerns with humility and gratitude.  To begin, let’s focus on the facts:    


Virtually all of us will have to stop driving eventually.  Even if we have to reduce our driving or give up the keys entirely, it doesn’t mean the end of independence.  Seeking alternative methods of transportation can offer health and social benefits, as well as a welcome change of pace.  These positive outcomes of giving up driving may be a great way to frame the conversation.  


Just as passing a road test does not ensure a safe driver, reaching a certain age does not automatically mean an unsafe driver.   A study published in the journal Neurology reported that as many as 76% of people with mild dementia are still able to pass a road test and drive appropriately.   Statistics show that 77% of older adults wear seat belts compared to only 63% of younger drivers.  Older drivers tend to limit their driving during bad weather and at night, and drive fewer miles than younger drivers.  And only 5% of older adults involved in fatal crashes had an illegal blood alcohol concentration, compared to 25% of 21-64 year olds.


However, older adults are more likely to receive traffic citations and have accidents than younger drivers.  What accounts for the increase?  As we age, decreased vision, impaired hearing, or slowed reflexes may become a problem.  A chronic condition like arthritis, or a sudden change in health like a stroke may impact strength, coordination, and flexibility, which affect one’s ability to safely control a car.  To continue driving safely, we need to recognize that changes will happen, get help when they do, and be willing to listen if others voice concerns.


Here are 10 signs that it’s time to have a serious conversation with a driver, regardless of age, and his/her doctor.  (I realize half of these are true for my teenaged children!)

1.     Stops in traffic for no reason or ignores traffic signs.

2.     Fails to signal or signals inappropriately.

3.     Drifts into other lanes or drives on the wrong side of the street.

4.     Becomes lost on a familiar route.

5.     Parks inappropriately.

6.     Has difficulty seeing pedestrians or other vehicles.

7.     Has difficulty making turns or changing lanes.

8.     Gets drowsy or falls asleep while driving.

9.     Lacks good judgment.

10.  Has repeated minor accidents or “near misses.”

[Some of the preceding content has been adapted from Wheatridge’s Health Notes by Marla Lichtsinn, Parish Nurse, May 2014.]


Remember our motivation, which bears repeating: we can be a visible reflection of Jesus and exhibit an accepting spirit toward our neighbors when we approach each other with grace and respect, and when we listen to others’ concerns with humility and gratitude.  Let me know if you’d like more information about the decision to stop driving, or information on products to help keep older drivers safe and extend their driving years.

And before you get behind the wheel and head off to your next destination today, would you share your answer to this question: when you’ve had a conversation with a loved one about their driving habits or another challenging topic, how did it go for you? 


Bust Out Those Neighborhood Maps!

I know we’re now in the Share portion of the 1more Friend series, but prayer is the foundation of our caring and sharing, and is a primary way we can be alert to opportunities to relate to our neighbors.  Recently the Church in East Madison has started doing two things I want to share with you.

First, in our lifeGroup times, we ask each other this question as a check-in: What have you been praying for?  Since we’ve done this a little bit already, I can personally highly recommend it.  Rather than asking how your week was, or what you’ve been up to, try asking this question sometime, because it leads to deeper sharing of what’s on your heart.  Sharing the answer to this question invites another person into your cares and concerns, and allows you to pray for each other.

The next thing we’ve started doing is prayer-walking as a church group, in the neighborhood we are meeting in.  Have you done a neighborhood prayer-walk with someone from your lifeGroup who actually lives in the neighborhood?  It really changes a prayer-walk when someone in the group knows the people you are praying for and some specific ways to pray for them.  Because of that, we’ve started making the neighborhood maps that the Stranges introduced to the church a few years back.  So now when we split up into smaller groups that wouldn’t necessarily contain someone who lives in the neighborhood, we can still prayer-walk with a map that gives the names of the people in the houses that we encounter, and sometimes a specific way we can pray for them.  This is one way we’re trying to be attentive to our neighbors and alert to what’s going on in their lives.  

Do you have a neighborhood map, labeled with the names of your neighbors and how you can pray for them?  

  • If so, have you used it for prayer-walking?  How did it go?

  • If you don’t yet have one, would you consider making one this week?



You Don’t Have to Be Mother Teresa

Our focus this week in the 1 more friend-Share series is to be “in the picture” in our neighbors’ lives, remaining aware of what their greatest needs are.  When we’re out and about in our neighborhoods, busy at our workplaces, and involved with our friends, it can feel like a lot to manage, especially when we also feel called to spend quality time at home, to help out at church, and to volunteer in our community.  If you’re like me, you’ve experienced ups and downs during the journey of intentionally reaching out to others, sometimes telling yourself you just don’t have time to do it all, or that adding one more thing just won’t work: “I can’t just drop everyday life and be serving all the time! I’m not Mother Teresa!”  Today I want to challenge you to let go of that excuse and self-accusation, because here’s the thing: it’s only adding one more thing if you view mission as something separate from life. What if we viewed every element of our lives as mission?

Of course living life as mission will always have its challenges, but serving others in our neighborhoods and communities as well as serving at church are important callings for us to recognize, since we never know where God will show up!  When we serve only during church functions, we risk letting ourselves off the hook when it comes to sharing the Gospel in our other circles of influence.  On the other hand, if we hang out exclusively in our own professional and social groups, we can keep ourselves (over)scheduled to the extent that we feel we don't have time to serve in God’s house and in our community.
One way you can share, and support the mission, is by filling open service spots at church whenever you can.  Think about the last time you attended worship: I bet you saw someone handing out bulletins, video recording the sermon, or helping with communion.  And last time you ate a meal at church, you probably noticed some people serving food and drinks and keeping things clean.  What about in your community: have you ever gone to a library or senior center, or enjoyed a playground or other park activities with your kids?  All of these are areas where you could make an impact by serving!  So I want to hear from you: when and where are you planning to share your time next?