Ninety-degree weather, manual labor and full workdays all completed with an attitude of bringing restoration in the name of Jesus Christ -- that is what Texas Baptists' Bounce is all about.
"I just really like working hard to help people," student volunteer Kayla Kemp said. "It makes me feel like I'm impacting people."
Kemp, high school senior from First Baptist Church of Copperas Cove, was one of nearly 200 volunteers who joined Bounce, a student-focused disaster recovery mission experience, which launched in West, Texas mid-June where the community is recovering from the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion. Churches from around the state, as well as Oklahoma, Georgia and New Mexico contributed to the effort.
"The construction is an opportunity for us to encourage and love the community," David Scott, director of Bounce, said.
Students went through a four-week training period that taught them skills needed to participate in the recovery. They spent the week working on manual labor projects such as repairing damaged roofs, replacing siding, and painting houses.
Homeowner Jan Vaculik bought his house in 1974. He said he had been waiting to see his house painted for 30 years, but he was never able to get it finished.
As a Bounce team put the final coat of paint on his house, Vaculik looked around and said, "It's a big blessing."
Students used their gifts in more ways than one. As her team's chaplain, Kemp was able to provide a devotional each afternoon for the team.
"It's been a really good opportunity because I think I do have a gift of teaching, and I got to use that gift," she said.
In the evenings the students gathered for a worship service. Sophomore Dalton Cozart from First Baptist Church of Cisco said each lesson was relevant to the work their teams were doing. A lesson about Nehemiah reminded him as to why he decided to participate in Bounce.
He said the pastor taught that "Nehemiah wasn't a wall-builder, but he went and rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem." Cozart found joy in the fact that while he and his team may not be Bob Vila, God called them together to rebuild a house. With a grin he said, "It looks good."
Throughout the week, students saw firsthand the impact God has on people's lives through their work. Bounce has three core values: to restore hope, to rebuild communities and to reflect Christ. By using these core values, its focus is to impact the way students view missions.
"We want use Bounce to cultivate a love for missions and ministry in the lives of students," Scott said. It is his hope that the weeks students spend serving might help them to see God's call on their lives.
Bounce will continue one more week of work in West. Later this summer they will move to Austin where floods damaged parts of the city. They will finish their work in Moore, Oklahoma.