The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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June 10, 2013

Illinois youth group arrives in Joplin to assemble house

JOPLIN, Mo. — Break time was approaching, but Keith Duncan wanted to make one last concentrated push in order to get the large Penske truck unloaded.

“Two minutes, people! Two minutes!” he yelled as the students and adults hauling large wooden sections out of the truck began picking up the pace.

The boards and frames had been spray-painted and numbered to identify where they needed to go. Some were set off to the side, others carried onto the foundation. Once the truck was emptied, the real work was set to begin: putting all of the pieces together to build a house.

Since February, members of the youth group at the First United Methodist Church in Elgin, Ill., have been working on a house for a Joplin resident who lost her home in the May 22, 2011, tornado. The sections of the house were put together in the church basement and were brought to Joplin over the weekend.

The group arrived Monday morning at the work site in the 1300 block of East 24th Street to begin the assembly.

“We have 49 people in the group, with about a 1-to-1 ratio between students and adults,” said Duncan, leader of the Elgin youth group. The age range of the group is 9 to 70.

“We’re anticipating that we should have the walls up by the end of (Monday), put the roof on tomorrow, work on the shingling and siding Wednesday and Thursday. And depending on how everything works out, do insulation and electric work on Friday.”

Duncan said a major emphasis of the trip is to remind the youth group members of the importance of service and mission.

“The three main goals I’ve talked about on this trip is building relationships, building our faith in God and building a house,” he said.

Once the group departs for Elgin on Saturday, electricians, plumbers and other staff members with Rebuild Joplin will see the project to completion. Duncan said he hopes to a have at least a few representatives from the church return to Joplin for the dedication ceremony, though a date for that has not been set.

Sarah Hansen, 15, has returned to Joplin for the first time in two years.

“The first time we were here, we had come from a previous mission trip and stopped here for two days in addition,” she said. “All the houses were rubble. We had to move (the debris) from where it was to the curb so that the Bobcats could take it somewhere else.”

Hansen said she didn’t have any previous construction experience, but as the two-by-fours and other materials began to arrive and work got under way, she learned a lot. She said she was happy to finally be back in Joplin to see it come together.

“The experience of helping someone get their house back,” she said, is the best part of the trip, “and bonding with my youth group.”

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