Our Last Day in Eleuthera

Today was our excursion day in Eleuthera.  After a hearty breakfast of pancakes, bacon and eggs; we dropped of our new friends from Columbus, Mississippi at the airport.  Then we explored Preacher’s Cave.  Preacher’s cave is where European settlers founded the first church on the island of Eleuthera.  The settlers cam seeking religious freedom.  We loaded up the bus and drove to our first beach of the day, Gaulding Beach.  We enjoyed swimming, snorkeling, and laying out at the beach for a couple of hours.  Some of us were fortunate enough to find some very large sea stars.  We grabbed our towels, dried off, and loaded the bus so that we could go see Glass Bridge.  It is a bridge were one can see the Atlantic Ocean on one side of the bridge, and the Caribbean Sea on the other side of the bridge.  We grabbed a few group photos and found ourselves on the bus yet again.  This time we went to Bottom Harbor Beach where we met up with our hero Pauline.  (Pauline was our chef for the week; because of her amazing cooking, I’m pretty sure we all gained weight this week.)  We had a picnic on the beach, and then went snorkeling, and swimming.  Some of our students were able to discover a sting ray.  It was pretty long, and some of our more adventurous students went for a closer look.  By this point we were all pretty exhausted, so we went over to Gregory Town for some shopping! We were able to purchase souvenirs, and other Bohemian treats.  After a relaxing excursion day, we capped it off by going over to the BMH’s director’s house and having a bon fire.  We sang songs of praise to God, and shared about our experiences in Eleuthera.  It was a tremendous time for all of us to sit back and take in all that God had done in our own personal journey here in Eleuthera.  As we come back home, we ask that you continue to encourage, pray, and keep us accountable as we now bring our mission of Go, Serve, Love from Eleuthera to Aiken, South Carolina.  We want to partner with you to bring the love that we encountered this week to our own community at home.

Megan & Brian

Adventures of Tori and Rebekah in Eleuthera


Rebekah Weeks

After our nightly devotion, Tim secretly called away for Operation Eleuthera. Operation Eleuthera consisted of a few of our church members standing around a trash burn pit to save a Bahamian puppy. Clark and Tim crawled carefully around the edge of the burn pit to find the puppy. After about five to ten minutes, Clark was head first in a trash tunnel attempting to reach the puppy, who was burrowed under a pile of palm fronds. When the puppy was rescued, Tim scaled the walls of the burn pit with the puppy safely in a plastic bin. Kaitlyn (an 8 year old girl from Columbus FUMC) and I had the honor to name the puppy. If the puppy was a girl, her name would have been Lucy; and if the puppy were a boy, we would have named him Hatchet. We confirmed later on that the puppy was a boy and was named Hatchet after Hatchet Bay in Eleuthera. We made sure the puppy had proper food, water, and shelter for the night and left it alone to get comfortable in his new environment.

Rebekah Weeks & Tori Shekastehband

The first day on the worksite, we didn’t know what to expect for the week ahead of us. When we stepped off the bus, our worksite leader, Kenny, met us at the front door of Ms. Lena’s house in Hatchet Bay. Ms. Lena is the sweetest 72 year old lady that anyone could ever meet. Throughout the work week, she greeted us with hugs and welcoming words. She shared many of her life stories with us, both positive and negative, about her life. One of the first stories she shared with us was about her son. Ms. Lena told us that a few months ago, his appendix ruptured and he was minutes away from death. She followed up with stories about her grandchildren, whom she loved greatly.

She never failed to mention how great God was for sending us to repair her roof and simply to have company. We will always remember how thankful Ms. Lena was that we came into her life this week. She hugged each of us personally and thanked us for our service to her this week. Before we left, Ms. Lena gave us her address so we could keep in contact with her in the future.

Our worksite leader, Kenny, was a very strong hearted man. Throughout the week he had his struggles (as Tori CONSTANTLY said this week), however he still had a good attitude about the hard work we had ahead of us.

Rebekah’s experience: I knew automatically that I would have some type of connection with Kenny. He has had many hard times and so have I. As the week progressed, we shared life stories with each other. He struggled throughout the week because he wasn’t able to see or talk to his son on his son’s birthday, which was on Tuesday. We talked about his father and how they don’t get along very well. He explained to the work group that he prefers being called Kenny instead of Kendall because it reminds him that he is his father’s child. He also talked to me about how a few of his friends who were shot and killed when we was younger and he had friend who was shot this week in Nassau and passed away. These stories hit home for me. All of his stories taught me very good lessons about my friend choices and how to treat everyone around you. On our last work day, we ate fried conch and french fries together, at the famous Twin Brothers restaurant, and he asked me questions about my life (he said he had done all the talking and it was finally my turn). I openly explained my hard times to him. One question that he asked me really caught my attention. He asked me why I wore so many rings and what each ring meant to me. He also asked me about my family life and my personal struggles. Kenny really opened my eyes this week and I am very, very blessed to have been able to meet him on this mission trip.

Tori’s Experience: I didn’t get the experience of talking and bonding with Kenny too much this week because I was always laying on the roof trying to take a nap to ignore the heat.  My first encounter with him was for sure not a pleasant one.  I knocked over his drink and he yelled at me for calling him Kendall.  But our last workday together was an entertaining day.  Kenny, Tim, Tom, and I were the only people working on the roof because of how hot it was.  I decided to ask Kenny questions about himself to pass the time.  I learned about his taste in music, what language that he took in school, what he would do with a million dollars, how he regretted his past, and his favorite color (which happens to be blue just like mine).  The group came back together after lunch and continued working on the roof when he called his niece.  After he got off of the phone with her, he was dancing around the roof singing and dancing in his own world.  The happiness that Kenny received from talking to his niece was so uplifting that it made all of us smile.  All-in-all, I wouldn’t trade working with and getting to know Kenny on the top of a roof for anything else because he made me realize that I don’t need to take the relationships that I have with others for granted.

-Tori and Rebekah

More updated photos can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fbcaikenyouth/albums  (pictures of the puppy coming later)

Day 4

My third day of work here in Eleuthera started with reading my letter for my prayer partner, Sandra Thomas.  Her daily messages are so encouraging and I really appreciate the prayers the she and others are lifting up for all of us on the trip.  Those prayers mean a lot to us! 

After  Ms. Pauline, who cooks our breakfast every day, led us in a song and a devotion, we ate and did our camp chores: cleaning bathrooms, the dining room, or the kitchen; collecting the trash; or taking care of all the coolers for each site.  As the saying goes, “many hands make light work” and we were soon boarding the bus to go to the work sites.     

Tim leads my crew, which also includes Billy, Frankie, Gretchen, Rebekah, and Tori.  Our site leader, Kenny, is from Eleuthera and has a lot of experience in construction.  He’s teaching us all a lot.  He’s very open about his background, and some of the bad decisions he made when he was younger.  Please pray for him as he strives to overcome his past.     

We are re-roofing Ms. Lena’s house in Hatchet Bay.  Her house has grown over the years, with multiple add-ons.  Her roof has been leaking for a while and has damaged the inside of the house.  She is so very sweet and friendly, and so happy with the work we are doing here.  We have already finished two small sections, and still have a larger section to fix.  After we finished today’s work, we went to the beach for a couple of hours.  It was beautiful, and reminded me of last night’s Bible study at the local church (Psalm 19), which talked about how all of nature glorifies God. It was lots of fun to spend time with others from the mission group and get to know them better!

Today was my birthday, and I received so many birthday wishes.  I was kind of surprised since I hadn’t mentioned it to anyone, but Martha found out and started spreading the word.  Tim and Megan knew a while back, so I was surprised by a gorgeous birthday cake at supper.  It was a such a special day for me (though I missed having Marcy and Timmy with me).

The most meaningful part of the day, though, was when we gathered at the end of the day and talked about our devotion reading, and where we’d “seen Jesus” during our day.  I was impressed by the stories and insights shared by our team, from the youngest to the oldest.  One of the main things I got from tonight’s gathering was how having lots of money and “things” is not necessary for people to be happy.  The people we work with here (Kenny and Ms. Lena, for example), are happy and so generous with what they have.  It humbles me to see their generosity, and reminds me that “earthly treasure” is not where we should get meaning in our lives.  Growing to be more like Christ and doing what He calls me to do should be my main source of identity.  This trip is making me aware that I have growing to do in this area of my life! 

-Tom Reid

Love is Patient, Love is Kind

Tonight you are going to hear about the adventures of Sarah and Madison. Our experience has been a little different than some of the other work groups here in Eleuthera. While the others got started on their first task on day one, when we arrived at our location, we learned our work had already been done. As we waited  inside the house for the bus to return and take us to our new site we were greeted by a little girl and her sister. They lived in the house with not only their mother, father, brothers, and sisters, but also their cousins, uncles, and aunts. We decided to introduce ourselves since the bus didn’t seem to be coming anytime soon. After we finally figured out her name and how to pronounce it, we learned she was four and her little sister was two and her favorite game was hide and seek. Suddenly, Sarah suggested we play a game so we decided to play duck,duck goose!

After many rounds of duck, duck goose, we got tired of running and asked her if she wanted to play go fish. Excited to play a new game, she said yes and we moved on to the next round of entertainment. We quickly learned a card game grows old with a four year old that doesn’t really know how to play so a new game was suggested. So we asked her to choose the next game, of course it was hide and seek. We might have played eight rounds of this lovely game before she was bored. Next we played Bluebird, which was new to all of us. We had to stand in a circle and hold hands while singing a song about bluebirds and Patrick ran under our arms. Whoever Patrick was going under when we stopped singing had to hold onto his shoulders and the song started again, the process was repeated until there was only one person not on the train. The last person standing was the winner. Unsurprisingly, she won this game as well. She continued to win all the games we played for the next two hours. We also sang songs and of course played multiple games of hide and seek. While we didn’t actually do any manual labor in the two hours we were at that house and at first we felt like we were wasting our time by sitting around, we soon realized our mission for however long we were at that house was to play with that little girl.

We finally made it to our next site which is the public library and we were excited to finally get to work. However, when we arrived there was still no work to be done. We ended up waiting another hour for supplies and directions, which were rather vague. While the week started off rocky now that we have gotten into our individual jobs and know what needs to be done, the group is moving smoothly and the work is getting done. On the first day we saw God in that little girl and in our own patience. While our work may be different than the others, we were given opportunities to learn patience and spread the love of Christ in unexpected ways.

Do All The Good You Can,

Sarah and Maddy


Bruce and Billy on Island Time

Here is a story of each of our days told by Bruce and Billy. Watch how our schedules diverged from each other and reconvened together just like our faith.


7:00 – I woke up, got dressed, packed my lunch, and ate pancakes and bacon.

8:00 – We arrived at the worksite in Eleuthera Island Shores. We had more than a half mile trek through the Eleutheran jungle to the worksite. We met Ms. Melrose who was very accepting and welcoming to our crew. Our crew consisted of Holly, me, Megan, Martha, Brian, and Louis and Clark.

10:00 – We were busy pulling up old shingles and nails.

12:00 – We ate a fabulous lunch of sandwiches (I had PB&J), chips, and apples.

12:30 – We were back to work. We saw God when the sun came out finally on the rainy, dreary day.

1:00 – We started replacing the plywood where it was rotting through. Louis and I had to hang off of the edge about 18 feet off the ground.

thumb_IMG_9289_10243:00 – We nailed the tar paper to the plywood and this is when our fearless leader Megan hammered her finger. No worries…her finger and nails are okay. We started to clean up.

4:45 – After waiting for the bus for an hour on the side of the road in the back of a pickup truck, we headed to pick up the other group and go to the beach.

5:00 – I met back up with my bestie Billy and we swam in the refreshing water because a pipe at the compound was busted and there was no water.

6:30 – The food was really good. We had curry chicken and potatoes, cole slaw, Coke, and rice.

7:30 – John, the head of BMH, shared the history of Eleuthera and BMH.

8:30 – We got together as a group and each of summarized our day. We shared where we saw Jesus throughout the day.


7:00 – I woke up and put some pants on. Then I headed down to breakfast and had banana pancakes. They were terrific.

8:00 – We loaded up the bus and we arrived at the worksite in Hatchet Bay. There were chickens and goats roaming the road. My group was Gretchen, Tim, Rebekah, Tori, Tom, Frankie, and myself. As the bus was leaving with the other groups still aboard, I yelled to Bruce and as the bus passed by, I gave him a high five.

8:30 – It started to rain and Tim decides we’re on “Island Time”, so we went to take a tour of the town.

9:30 – We got our supplies and we ascended to the roof to begin our workday.

11:00 – I ate a peanut butter only sandwich and fed some of it to the stray neighborhood dog that Gretchen named “Turtle” because of the pattern on its fur.

12:00 – We finished taking all of the shingles off of one area of the roof. Then we begin replacing them with new shingles.

2:00 – We finished that section with the shingles. Tim and I began working together to put the hips on the roof.

3:30 – We finished work because it was too late to start anything new…so we thought.

4:55 – We are finally picked up from our stormy, dirty worksite and then we proceed to the beach.

5:00 – I swam in the water. It was a good time.

5:20 – We left.

6:30 – After showering we entered the dining hall and we had a delicious dinner.

7:30 – In group time, I learned about the history of Eleuthera and it made me think more about my time on the island.

8:30 – Our youth group collectively exchanged stories from the site and we had open prayer.

At 9:30, Bruce and Billy began to work on this blog post together.

More pictures are trying to be uploaded.  Hopefully more will come tomorrow.

FBC Island-Sunday, June 19th

Eleuthera, Day 1

Saturday afternoon, after more than a year’s worth of planning and preparation, FBC Aiken set out on their annual High School and College Mission Trip. Our destination: a Methodist Mission Compound on Eleuthera, a small island in the Bahamas. We stopped outside of Atlanta to eat dinner then checked into the hotel. Shortly after we had a brief run-down of the theme for the week, “Go. Serve. Love.” and received our awesome t-shirts.IMG_1208

Sunday, after waking up at 5 am, somehow the team managed to eat breakfast, shower, load all of our luggage and tired youth on to the bus and head to the Atlanta Airport.IMG_2252 We checked in without any issues other than excessive amounts of glitter and Drew’s boot setting off the security alarm. We checked into Nassau and ate at Wendy’s to get a last taste of home-cooking. After the plane had to manually reset because one of the propellers wasn’t working at first, we eventually got into the air and landed safely on Eleuthera Island. We loaded onto a big yellow school bus and drove down the coast to the Bahamas Methodist Habitat compound.

After meeting the local team and getting settled in, we were Grateful to be served a hot meal of BBQ chicken and mac ’n’ cheese and cupcakes. The best word that comes to mind is Gratitude for the hospitality we received from the Methodist team. We are all excited to have a great work day tomorrow and start to build long lasting friendships with our hosts and the community as we come together to reach out and help intake of need.

-Drew Epps and Clark LeMaster

 More pictures can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fbcaikenyouth/albums/

the Bahamas beginning

Oh the places you’ll go, Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way! -Dr. Seuss

I could not have picked a better quote to describe how I am feeling at this point in my life! Hi, I’m Holly and I am a graduating senior that will be going on the High School and College Bahamas mission venture this summer. I am overjoyed that I will be able to go on this trip to further my relationship with God and have the opportunity to share God’s love, mercy, and grace with others. When I first heard that we were having a foreign mission trip this fall, I was so excited to hear more. I have not been able to go any of FBC’s mission trips and I was really hoping to have this opportunity! It took a bit to talk my parents into letting me go (first time flying and first time overseas!), but now they are on board and excited for this opportunity for me!

We will be going to Eleuthera Island, Bahamas which is about 50 miles east of Nassau. It is a very long and thin island (only about 110 miles long!); the entire island is about 200 square miles. We will be volunteering with Bahamas Methodist Habitat at Camp Symonette. They are supported by the Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church and the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission and UMCOR. It is a non-profit outreach ministry to provide disaster relief and home repair in the Bahamas. They provide assistance throughout the family islands of the Bahamas and as far as Haiti and Turks & Caicos. Volunteers work on projects that dress substandard housing and promote community. The mission of BMH is that they are “called to share and receive Christ’s love by connecting the resources and needs of the global community.

Accompanying my on this trip will be Tim Hasty, Martha Martin, Chuck Martin, Tom Reid, Louis Simmons, Clark LeMaster, Brian Doud, Tommy Sessions, and Megan Turner as the adults. The youth will be myself, Tori Shekasteband, Rebekah Weeks, Laura Kate Reid, Frankie Reid, Bruce Nation, Gretchen LeGrand, Patrick LeGrand, and Billy Haller. Madison Martin, Sarah Laurence, and Drew Epps are the college students/interns going.

We will be leaving for Atlanta on Saturday, June 18. We will stay the night in Atlanta and head to the airport early Sunday morning. On Sunday, we will fly to Nassau and then to Eleuthera Island. BMH staff will pick us up from the airport and then we head to Camp Symonette. We will have Orientation before dinner and then group activities and devotions.Monday through Thursday we will follow the same daily work schedule:

6:30am Wake up

7:00am Morning Devotional

7:10am Breakfast/Make Lunches

8:00am Leave for Work Site

Noon Eat Lunch at site

4:00pm Leave Work Site FOR BEACH!

5:30pm Showers

6:30pm Dinner

7:30pm Evening Activity/Free Time (Worship and Bible Study at local church, local performing artist (rap or worship), beach campfire, devotions)

9:00pm Group Devotions

10:00pm Quiet Time

10:30pm Lights Out

Our project will depend on the work done by the previous teams as well as the weather and other natural disasters. They will usually include general house and building repairs such as siding, roofing, flooring, concrete, wood structures, basic electrical, painting, etc.

Our Friday Excursion day will be spent enjoying God’s beautiful and glorious creation! We will tour several beaches, visit local landmarks, go by a local gift store, and have lunch at a local restaurant! We will pack and clean up on Saturday before heading to the airport to fly from Eleuthera to Nassau and then from Nassau to Atlanta. We will have our church buses pick us up and bring us back to Aiken that afternoon/evening!

While we are at Camp Symonette, we are expected to help with daily chores around the camp including dishes, packing lunches, gathering vegetables, feeding chickens and collecting eggs, and sweeping, etc. Many of the normal resources to us in the USA are very limited in the Bahamas. A gallon of milk in the Bahamas cost around $8-$10. A 5 gallon bucket of paint cost around $100 at home, but cost $250 there!

As you can see, this trip is going to be an amazing experience for everyone involved. I hope and pray that the people receiving our help will be touched by God and that all of our relationships will be strengthened as we are opening our hearts and minds to serve. I came upon this bible verse from Isaiah the other day and I think it is an excellent one for the beginning of this adventure.

Isaiah 6:8 – “Then I heard the voice of the Lord. He said, “Who will I send? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me!”

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers in the upcoming weeks and don’t forget to check out this blog daily during the mission week for updates! Also, visit the Bahamas Methodist Habitat website at http://www.methodisthabitat.org.

-Holly Fulmer