Vidalia church takes mission to reservation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 15, 2000

VIDALIA, La. — East Central Baptist Association called upon volunteers from its district’s churches to spend five days in North Dakota this summer building a mission church on the Sioux Nation’s Berthold Reservation.

The &uot;mission impossible&uot; became a reality as volunteers from First Baptist Church of Vidalia and St. Joseph, La., headed west June 23 for Watford City, N.D., about 35 miles from the reservation.

The next morning, the group was greeted with quite a shock. &uot;It was 38 degrees when we got up, and most of us had packed shorts to work in,&uot; said Julia Harrell of Vidalia First Baptist. &uot;So everyone had to scramble to get sweats to stay warm.&uot;

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When they arrived on the construction site, they found another church crew had laid the concrete slab. &uot;Our crew’s primary job was to ‘put it dry,’&uot; Harrell said. This would entail putting up walls and a roof.

Harrell was one of two women out of 52 volunteers who chose to do construction work. &uot;I like to work with the wood,&uot; she said. &uot;My husband and I built our own house in Clayton, so I kind of learned a little about it then.&uot;

The volunteers first split into smaller groups to work more efficiently. &uot;Our group made trusses to support the roof while the others put up the walls,&uot; Harrell said.

In the end, the convergence of volunteers went beyond the call of duty. &uot;Our group did more than we had thought we would,&uot; Harrell said. &uot;We put on shingles, placed insulation around the outside, did the electrical wiring and put in the sheet rock.&uot;

While the church was being constructed, other volunteers were busy holding what they had to call &uot;Day Camp&uot; for the children on the reservation, because &uot;Bible School&uot; was an unacceptable term.

&uot;I really did get a blessing from going,&uot; Harrell said. &uot;You come home with a different feeling.&uot;

First Baptist will share a program about the North Dakota mission trip and Bettye Huhn will give a presentation on her trip to Romania at 7 p.m. Sunday at the church.