The Susquehanna Conference visits for mission work on the Onondaga Nation Reservation
Connection. This is what enables United Methodists to make a difference in the global community. Just as the Upper New York Conference engages in mission work all over the world so all the Conferences. Last week, members of a mission team from the Susquehanna Conference repaired houses on the Onondaga Nation Reservation, just South of Syracuse.
In fact, the Susquehanna Conference has been committed to mission work on the Onondaga Nation for many years—this year marks their eleventh visit. It rained the entire week and all their projects were planned for outdoors. That did not stop them! They switched gears and with the help of Dicky Crouse, a Native from the Syracuse area, who coordinates mission work on the reservation, they visited many homes that were in dire need of interior work.
John Shepler, a member of Calvary UMC in the Susquehanna District was the team leader for this trip. This was his fourth visit to the Onondaga Nation. He said, “Over the years, I feel like we are becoming more welcomed by the Natives. They now refer to us as the ‘do-gooders.’” He explained that his volunteer team, which had many people who were on this mission trip for the first time, were incredibly dedicated to the work they were doing, which included repairing floors, painting, and plumbing work.
John said, “When we were younger, we did roofs, but we aged and don’t do that anymore. Now we do stairs and decks. And when the weather defeats us, we can paint, install flooring, and do some plumbing work.”
The team stayed at St. Paul’s UMC in Syracuse. John said, “The folks at St. Paul provided amazing hospitality!” Members of the Onondaga UMC joined the team on the volunteer projects. They were up for breakfast at 6 a.m., did devotions between 7 and 8 a.m., and were out the door to get to work by 8 a.m. each day. They enjoyed lunch together at the Onondaga UMC and many of the Natives joined them.”
This was Vicki Geigas’s first-time mission trip to the Onondaga Nation. She painted ceilings and walls for a few residents on the reservation. She said, “The Natives were so nice…they were so open and willing to share their culture. The love of Christ very evident.”
In addition to working on homes, the Susquehanna Conference team was able to learn a lot about Native American culture. One highlight was visiting the reservation’s buffalo farm.
Mission trips like this call team members to continue such mission work. Vicki said, “I fully intend to come back next year.” John said, “Next year we will come back wearing shirts with Do-Gooders printed on them.”
It’s great to have other Conferences collaborate with Upper New York to fulfil the UNY’s vision “to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places.”