Members of the Grace United Methodist Church in Copperas Cove help build a new living room floor during their mission trip to Magee, Miss.

Courtesy photo

Residents in the town of Magee, Miss., woke up this morning to a better quality of life and an increased faith in God, but they were not the only ones.

Twenty members of the Grace United Methodist Church youth group from Copperas Cove spent last week swinging a hammer, swiping a paint brush, pouring concrete and witnessing the citizens in this small community through their annual mission trip.

Volunteer church youth director Doreen Vasseur said they had air mattresses and cots to sleep on and access to a warm shower every day.

“We basically took over the First Methodist Church’s Sunday school rooms and that is where we slept. We took showers at the church next door and also at a private high school nearby,” Vasseur said. “In total, we completed 11 projects for people who otherwise would have done without.”

The projects included installing wheelchair ramps, building stairs and sidewalks, laying flooring, and even rebuilding a roof. Vasseur said the youth also installed a hot water heater for a woman and her grandchild who had been without hot water for more than six months.

“We had to pick which jobs we could actually complete in five days,” she said. “A few of our teams were done with their other projects early. So they took on an additional project with a home for special needs residents where they painted three rooms and fed the residents dinner.”

The Methodist churches came together to do the work. The families helped by the youth groups were selected through an application process and identified by the local churches and area agencies.

Copperas Cove High School 2014 graduate Allen Dees was on his fourth mission trip and previously did small jobs but never one as big as this year’s task for an elderly couple. Dees said he poured two cement stairways weighing 200 and 600 pounds to reinforce wheelchair ramps that he also built. He ripped up a living room floor, replaced the wood and then tiled it. He then helped build a 20-foot-long, 3-foot-wide landing.

“They were so grateful for everything we did for them. They said it really changed their lives,” Dees said.

Vassuer said while the adult volunteers and the youths are affecting the lives of those in need, their own lives also are were changed.

“Building the ramps and stuff is great. But at worship time every night is when you really see God’s light in these kids,” she said. “To hear them open up and hear how strong their faith is in the Lord is inspiring.”

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