Hill Country District Volunteers Mission Trip

The Hill Country District Volunteers in Mission construction trip to the hurricane disaster area is coming together!

We’re hoping to draw participants, whether a team or one person, from churches around the district. BUT because we’re working under VIM rules now, we have to commit to the trip much earlier because there are advance preparations that must be made, and they take time. Short version: if you commit to go, you can drop out up to the last minute, but if you aren’t on the list early, you can’t decide to join in at the last minute. Besides, quarters are assigned in order of commitment, so first come, first served. 

That entrance door will close on Saturday, December 9, after which you can get off the bus at any time, but no one can get on.

As mission trips go, this one is an all-time good deal:


 Columbus, where Highway 71 meets I-10. There are still 40 un-repaired homes there which flooded in Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, when the Colorado River overflowed from the heavy rains. That means 40 low-income families are living in temporary quarters until their homes are habitable again. Our host will have the arrangements made and the supplies bought — we bring tools and a willingness to be God’s hands.


WHERE WILL WE STAY? Cathedral Oaks Worship and Retreat Center, the Crossroads District’s version of Mount Wesley, just west of Columbus, near Weimar. You can look ‘em up on line at http://umccathedraloaks.com

. Click on “Facilities” and then “Dormitories” for a description of accommodations. They’re holding the Dorm C rooms for us, described as about equal to Motel 6, but they promise the Dorms A and B aren’t bad, either. At least they all have real beds; no cots in church gyms. If you just have to have cushier housing, you can, but you’re on your own for arrangements and payment, and you’re still expected at Cathedral Oaks every evening for dinner, debrief, and worship.



 They already have grants to buy materials, so we don’t have to chip in for that, although we may do so to help their budget (they’re going to run out of money long before they run out of jobs). Neither will we have to do our own cooking. Cathedral Oaks will feed breakfast and supper (after which we’ll have our daily de-brief and worship service). Lunch will be sandwiches provided by a local church. Best news: it costs only $10 per head per day; the conference and district are covering the rest of the expenses. You can pay when you get there.



 We arrive on Tuesday, December 26, the day after Christmas, and leave Monday, January 1, New Year’s Day. If you can’t get there on the 26th, it’s OK to come later. If you have to be home earlier than the 1st, that’s OK, too. Come when you can and leave when you have to. It’s what you do in between that matters.



 Anyone willing to work as the hands of God. Methodist, other church, no church, in our district, out of our district, skilled, unskilled, adult, youth, child. Anyone who has completed the 9th grade is a volunteer in his or her own right and needs to be registered individually, and have the background check, and attend the mandatory team meeting. Anyone who has not yet completed the 9th grade is a part of your family group. Still need to know who they are, though.


REQUIRED ADVANCE PREPARATIONS: (1) Under the new VIM rules, you have to have a background check specifically for this trip through your own church. Doesn’t matter if you just had one, even for your church…it has to be done again. ONLY EXCEPTION is if you’ve had the Safe Gatherings training, which includes a universal background check. It counts for this trip. (2) There will be a MANDATORY team meeting at First United Methodist Church in Johnson City on Saturday, December 9. VIM rule, not ours. It won’t be long; it’s mainly to cover basics (like rules) and let everyone meet each other before we get to the site. (3)

 Children under 18 MUST HAVE the attached parental permission form in by the mandatory team meeting December 9 UNLESS both parents will be on the trip. If dad and junior are going together as a bonding experience, mom needs to sign off. If neither parent is going, both must sign. Note that the signatures must be notarized.



 You send me an email telling me who is in your party. We don’t need money until you show up. You do need to start the background check process promptly, because the holidays mess with everyone’s schedules, including the background checkers, and some offices close before Christmas. You also need to plan to be at the mandatory team meeting. Sorry…VIM rules. 



  • Bad news: You’re on your own for transportation. Churches may take their own vans or buses, or you can carpool, or just come by yourself. Good news: No tickets to buy or itineraries to keep.
  • An extra benefit we’re providing to our hosts is tools. We’re asking volunteers to bring old tools, duplicates, tool they’ve upgraded from, or those you pick up by asking your church to contribute. The plan is, we’ll leave them behind at Cathedral Oaks, for use by the next team, or by locals working on their own homes. We already have a table saw and this week we expect to have a wallboard hoist. Anything you and your church can add to that will be welcome.
  • You don’t have to be a master builder to come. Construction skills are helpful, but willing hands matter, too, and we can put everyone to productive work. If we can teach teenaged girls to operate miter saws,we can turn anyone into good help. Spouses and children are welcome, with the caveat that there’s no special provision for children.

George Barnette

Missions Chairman

Hill Country District

United Methodist Church