Lodestar Mission Experience, Sept. 12-16

September 29, 2011

By Cynthia DeLand
Lynnewood UMC

"We are small, but we are mighty," as our leader, Steve Elliott, said. Six of us from three Tri-Valley United Methodist churches spent five days working on the two top maintenance items at Camp Lodestar, one of two retreat centers for The United Methodist Church's California-Nevada Annual Conference. Our team consisted of Donna Lundquist from San Ramon Valley UMC, Cynthia DeLand from Lynnewood UMC, and Dick Crawford, Steve Elliott, Roger Everett, and Coleman Johnson from Asbury UMC in Livermore.
The primary task was to install a chain link fence around the large backyard of the onsite director's home. The second task was to remove the walls from an outdoor stage, and then put up a railing around the back of the stage.
We had all arrived at Camp Lodestar by noon on Monday, Sept. 12, with each vehicle filled to the brim with tools, food, and luggage. The camp is so far up into the mountains that there would be no "run to the store" to pick up supplies.
The stage deconstruction started off with a bang, as we pulled down all the supporting beams and the walls, with ropes and chains. After the walls were removed, it was obvious that lots of the decking was rotten. Replacing the deck was a task we had not planned on, but hey – let's go for it!
Wednesday and Thursday were mostly devoted to installing the fence. None of us had installed chain link fencing before, but with handy instructions, we got the hang of it quickly. 
The rest of the time was spent at the stage, pulling up rotten boards and several rotten joists, replacing those joists and other rotten foundation pieces, replacing roughly half of the stage's deck planks, and installing a safety railing.
The camp director and his wife treated us to very nice dinner, Thursday night, in the camp's beautiful lodge. Other nights, Coleman was our chef for dinner, his efforts culminating in an outstanding chicken cacciatore.
Steve led a great devotion each night, more in the form of a small group discussion. He presented intriguing questions, ranging from, "Is the universe an accident?" to "Who are we?" to “How will it end … or will it?" The discussion from these wide-ranging questions was lively, thoughtful, light-hearted, and serious by turns. 
Camp Lodestar falls in the "local" category of Volunteers in Mission (VIM) trips for the Tri-Valley UMC churches. All six of us thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Camp Lodestar, and another will be scheduled in 2012.