Folks came from Florida and helped Minneota residents paint their homes during a special event with Bethel Fellowship of Minneota.The Meiners’ house got a new paint job due to the combined efforts of the Floridians and the Bethel Fellowship Church. Timothy Merwin pulled tape off after the window was painted.The Floridians were: (left to right) Alex and Melinda Bowman, Bill Plummer, Richard Riendeau and Timothy Merwin. Folks came from Florida and helped Minneota residents paint their homes during a special event with Bethel Fellowship of Minneota. Plummer and David Myrvik built an entryway.Jenna and Karla Anundson prepared the meals.

Florida volunteers captivated by Mission to Minneota

When you think of volunteers going on a mission, you think of places like Chile, or Haiti ... or even Africa.

But — Minneota a mission field? Well, yes. In fact, when five volunteers from Titusville, FL came to Minneota last week on a mission trip known as, “Mission Minneota,” they found, “The first day we felt like we’ve been friends forever,” said volunteer Richard Riendeau. The group from Trinity Community Church in Florida hooked up with the Bethel Fellowship Church of Minneota.

There were other choices, like Bolivia, but Riendeau and the others decided to take their talents to Minneota.

“Two weeks ago, the projects all came together,” said Bethel Fellowship Pastor Tom Nomeland.

The Florida volunteers and members of the Bethel Fellowship Church combined to paint the home of Carolyn Meiners and the garage of Marcia Johnson. “Painting was a blast,” said Riendeau.

“Paul Engels and his daughters were great. These kids give you reason to put hope in our kids,” he added.

“There they were — out there pullin’ the wagon, with a sweet spirit,” he said.

Actually, Riendeau had the answer to the question, “Why Minneota as a mission field?”

He replied, “The mission is where you make it. Sometimes you can’t do big things, but you can do the little things.”

Riendeau recently retired from a 41-year career with Publix Super Markets.

“The people are spectacular,” Riendeau said. He called Minneota, “A gorgeous town,” but laughed, “I think it’s cooler than in Florida — and those mosquitoes here are horrible.”

Volunteer Bill Plummer, a building contractor by trade, echoed the feelings Riendeau had about the people in Minneota.

“The people, especially God’s people. We all have the Lord in common and it’s like you’ve known them all your life.”

“I was looking to help someone in a community and use my immediate skills,” he said.

Plummer added, “It’s nice to see all the work volunteers put in and see the finished product.”

He’s been on a mission trip to Nicaragua, but found the mission to Minneota enhanced his perception of small town American life.

“They’ve been able to stay a small town community — where you know everybody,” Plummer said about the Minneota people.

“You can’t be friendly in a big town. People think you have a motive,” Plummer added.

“We didn’t know who was coming until recently,” said Pastor Nomeland.

“It was hard work, with high pressure. We sprayed the house off the week earlier, then when we were working on it we fought wind and rainy weather,” said the Bethel pastor. The Florida crew came in Monday night.

By Tuesday morning they were having their prayer devotional, then jumped right into the job. It takes a lot of volunteer work to get things done and one of those with a staff preparing the food for each meal was Karla Anundson.

“They were great meals and a different meal every time,” said Pastor Nomeland. Parishioner Sue Jacobson, who took the photos of the project, said what she liked was the “camaraderie.”

Jacobson said, “Everyone was laughing together, working together and just enjoying being together.” Associate Pastor Alex Bowman of Trinity in Titusville, was designated the leader of the group — but he quickly deferred, saying, “Tom (Nomeland) is the head man).”

“What I enjoyed was the town itself,” said Bowman, adding, “It’s how quaint it is ... and runs at a slower pace and is a close-knit community. And I love the architecture of the homes.”

He put it simply, “It has a nice feel to it.” Then Bowman chuckled and said, “But the mosquitoes are abundant.”

The Floridians, Bowman said, “Feel very grateful for the opportunity to serve the community.”

He added, “Some raised funds or paid their own way. It was a financial investment (to come to Minneota), but it was done to enhance God’s kingdom. We’ve enjoyed being of service to the town of Minneota and spreading the Gospel and Jesus love.”

Bowman, too, liked the “feel of the community.”

He said, “In a larger place, people are not connected. Where I came from people go into their homes after work and stay there. Here, everyone is out and about. Everyone knows each other.”

Bowman claims, “When relationships connect, that’s when you can serve.” Other than fighting Mother Nature’s elements, the work on the house and garage went well.

“Bethel Fellowship has done a great job building a church that’s goal is showing the love of God in a practical way,” said Riendeau.

Also along on the trip were Melinda Bowman, Alex’s wife. “She helped with the meals and in many other areas.”

Trinity Church’s pastor’s son Timothy Merwin was also one of the volunteers helping the crew in Minneota.

“What’s nice is you can take strangers and put them in a job site like this and everyone knows we are here for the Glory of God. And that’s where the community comes in,” said Alex Bouman.

The group was given a meal on Saturday, talked to the church fellowship on Sunday and by Monday were heading back to Florida.

“It’s been a blast,” said Riendeau.

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