Members of a church youth group from Amarillo, Texas, spent the first day of their spring break in Great Bend, cleaning up a house that was heavily damaged by fire last month.
Paramount Baptist Church members had never heard of Leesa Maupin before last week, but Paramount’s 626 Youth Ministry came to Great Bend on a “faith walk,” according to Monty and Stephanie Williams, the adults sponsoring a team of six teenage volunteers. Two similar teams headed to missions in Oklahoma City and Houston.
God guided this group to Great Bend and Larned, said Erin DeOtte, a 10th grader at Amarillo High School.
“We prayed over a bunch of maps and the Lord led us to Kansas, and ultimately here to help this lady with her house,” DeOtte said. The team spent most of the morning and afternoon pulling up carpeting and toting what couldn’t be salvaged to a Dumpster in front of the house. They also made a pile of things to save, including family photos.
“We’re super glad to help Leesa, and we’ve made it a lot of fun,” DeOtte said, noting the six teens have all been friends for years.
“We’ve cleared the house out!” teen volunteer Jordan Humphrey said Monday afternoon, when two Dumpsters were nearly full.
He said they came prepared for any scenario, so they brought sleeping bags. They put them to use after the first night in the motel. This past weekend they made contact with the Rev. Doyle Smith and his wife Carol at the First Southern Baptist Church in Great Bend, and the Smiths invited the whole group to stay in their home. The sponsors, boys and girls each got one of the three extra bedrooms.
“We have a rotation on who gets to sleep in the bed,” Humphrey said of the boys’ room.
This is a lot different than his typical spring break, Humphrey admitted. “Usually (break was spent) just sleeping in, hanging out with friends and doing things with family,” he said. “I felt like God was telling me to go on this trip to help people outside of Texas.”
Other teens in the group are Krista Little, Karis Stephens, Isaiah Robinson and Luke Knight. Robinson’s family actually lived in Great Bend for a time, but moved away when he was younger, the sponsors said.
“For a number of reasons we felt led to come to Kansas,” Monty Williams said.
“We’re on a faith trip; we’re just going to follow what God tells us to do,” his wife added. She said the group arrived in Great Bend via a church van on Saturday. They had done some searching on the Internet, and chose a Great Bend motel because they planned to work at the Larned Pride’s community garden on Sunday. That got changed to Tuesday after it snowed Sunday.
On Sunday they found the First Southern Baptist Church in Great Bend, where the Smiths invited them to spend time with the local youth group.
Someone at First Southern Baptist knew that Maupin needed help, after fire gutted her home on Feb. 22. Maupin worked along side the volunteers on Monday and said significant progress was made on the house.
Anyone interesting in helping Maupin can contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or send conventional mail to the home address, 207 Plum St., Great Bend, KS 67530.