Missin’ our Missions Trip

After 8 hours in two very full vans we are officially back in Upland, Indiana! When we made it back onto campus we departed ways into the many different directions of our dorms; it was odd to know that our team wouldn’t be spending the night under one roof anymore.

This trip has been more than I could have ever imagined – God has shown himself to all of us in many different amazing ways. Whether it be the sound of birds chirping and hammers on a roof intermingling, or the smiles of the homeowners we were blessed to work with, God’s glory was everywhere! The Lord blessed us with the opportunity to see how he is working in Memphis through organizations such as SOS, Memphis Teaching Residency, or Fellowship Residency. Memphis may be a community that is seen in a negative light, but during our time in the city we were shown again and again that God has not given up on the town.

Thank you to everyone who supported our group both financially and prayerfully! This trip was an experience that I will never forget due to the days filled with sweaty work, the evenings filled with worship and fellowship, and the nights filled with laughter. Although we only helped fix one family’s roof this week we were able to portray the love of Christ to all of those around us, and we were able to understand more of what it means to be Christians outside of the Taylor Community.

From beginning to end this trip has been a reminder to all of us that God is still doing amazing things throughout our community and throughout the world.

Writer: Caroline Vaporis



Final Day

Eleven thousand five hundred twenty minutes so great

How do you measure a Memphis service spring break?

In van rides? In BBQ ribs?

In nails pounded in a roof?

In laughter?


What’s that Hannah?


“What about loveeeeee?”


Sounds good to me. The work week is over but our journey included just a few more memories on this last Saturday. Speaking of love, one of those memories included the National Civil Rights Museum in down town Memphis, which stands in place of the old Lorraine Motel, the site where MLK was shot.

However, before heading to the museum we set off for lunch. Despite hearing no complaints about the cooking in Tennessee this week, the group decided to cross the border and try some Mississippi cuisine. After filling up on sub sandwiches and burgers we then headed to the museum, a place that is a living testament to the strength of the spirit of love.

The museum took us from the beginning of slavery in America through the civil rights movement. It was sobering hearing and seeing the accounts of abuse and injustice that have littered this countries’ history. The city of Memphis is nearly 65% African-American (slightly more than Upland), and we learned how in it’s not-so-distant past even its most decorated street, Beale Street, ran red by the hand of racial injustice. The repercussions of these events are still evident today. However, the museum does not leave you with a sour taste in your mouth, even if it leaves you with a heavy heart. The end of the exhibit is MLK’s mountaintop speech, his final speech, which he delivered right here in Memphis. He concludes the speech with a couple very powerful lines: But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land… Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

Even though we all learned about it in school, the museum served as a powerful reminder of how MLK preached love in order to, literally, change the world. Without him and all the other incredible people involved in the civil rights movement there is no way we could have had the amazing opportunity to go and fix Mr. John and Ms. Janet’s roof this week.

After leaving the museum we stopped for dinner at Memphis’ oldest diner. We have been blessed with some good eats this week, but this restaurant could only be paralleled by the food from Mr. John’s grill. It was a grand finally.

Last, but not least, the group headed across the Mississippi River on a footbridge to lay claim on the state of Arkansas. After breathing in that sweet Razorback air we headed back to SOS for our final night’s rest.

Tomorrow will start bright and early as we depart from volunteering in the Volunteer state and head on home. I think Kevin (Slims) said it best when he said, “I’m really going to miss the trip.” Me too Kev, me too.

Day 6

Today we wrapped up our time working on John and Janet’s home in the Binghamton neighborhood of Memphis, TN. These past five days have flown by and have left a lasting impact on our team.

This morning began with an extra hour of sleep (#blessed)!!! After a little extra rest we arrived at our worksite ready to finish the week off strong. Some team members were on the roof shingling the last plane while others were tidying up the backyard foliage and picking up trash along the streets. After our final lunch break we said our goodbyes to Janet and her home. We were so grateful for the opportunity to build a relationship with Janet and John. Their hospitality towards our group was incredible. Through meals and conversations we enjoyed getting to build community with them.

After packing up at their home we headed back to the SOS center for some deep cleaning of the building before dinner. We enjoyed some delicious grub at Swanky’s Taco Shop followed by a highly demanded trip to Jerry’s Sno Cones – which did not disappoint.


As our time in Memphis is coming to an end we took some time tonight as a team to reflect on our journey thus far. Here is a bit of what our team reflected on tonight:

  • This week allowed for a refreshing break from the exhausting routine of school/life.
  • It was a time to see God’s beauty in even the smallest of things.
  • Created an opportunity to explore, try new things, meet new friends, and get out of a comfort zone.
  • Becoming more knowledgeable about why SOS has set up their ministry the way it is and the impact it has on the community and volunteers.
  • Learning from each other’s heart for the service and different perspectives.

These are just a few of the insights into how this week of serving with the Memphis community has impacted each and every individual on this team. It will be hard to leave in a couple of days, but we have been so refreshed and rejuvenated from this experience and are encouraged to continue to learn and reflect from this opportunity.

We are excited to head back into the city tomorrow to visit the Civil Rights Museum and maybe even take a quick trip to Arkansas and Mississippi (stay tuned)!

Writer: Maddie Eiler

The Meaning of Construction & Food

Wow! Our team had an awesome and fun day working on the roof and enjoying lunch with our homeowners. First, we start out with our usual routine of eating breakfast, putting on sunscreen, and driving over to our construction site for this week at the Tillmans.

Yesterday was a cold and raining day, for we weren’t able to get much of the house done as we had hoped. Luckily, today we had accomplished a lot with the roof and the weather was much better today with 75 degree weather and sunny. Everyone on our team was having fun and very outgoing.

The first half of our day, half of our team was working on the roof while the rest of us were learning how to grill with John our homeowner. We enjoyed chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs, along with lots of laughter. We laughed about how we accidentally left Bryson at house, and heard about how John and Janet met. We’re thankful that we were able to spend time with John and Janet on understanding what community means to them.

The second half of our day, we worked diligently to shingle the roof and finished landscaping. At the end of the day, we left with sunburns and sweat stains feeling accomplished in our efforts.

To wrap up on our day, we enjoyed an engaging chapel, challenging us to reflect on what we have learned this week. For me personally (Kevin) I’ve learned on how God wants me to keep challenging myself on trying new things and to push me out of my comfort zone. I’ve really enjoyed my time at Memphis this week and I’m thankful that I was able to be a part of this experience. This team has encouraged me to face my fears and make new friends.

We’re excited to wrap up our time at SOS and enjoy the remainder of Memphis!

Writer: Kevin Anderson

Memphis Day 4

Here’s to another jam packed day in the books! We started it off with an early breakfast and then we were off to Mr. John and Mrs. Janet’s to put in another hard day of work. We did some more de-shingling and finished the underlayment on half of the roof. Though the weather was cold and wet this morning, it eventually warmed up by the time we were having lunch. Jamming out to “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn (our anthem) helped keep us distracted from the weather and focused on our goal. We made great progress and will be starting re-shingling tomorrow. Looking forward to a warmer Thursday!

After having lunch at the house, we headed back to SOS to have a relaxing afternoon. BUT FIRST, we had to stop at Sonic to get some shakes! (Can’t forget to mention that we left poor Bryson at the house. He was fixing Mrs. Janet’s printer and we forgot about him. But don’t worry he’s here now). Wednesday’s are half days which give the teams here a chance to rest up and explore the area if they are interested. And we were DEFINITELY interested! 🙂

For dinner we headed out to Central BBQ, to finally hear what everyone had been raving about! Now this was some GOOD food, let me tell y’all. The brisket was to die for, the pulled pork was scrumptious and the ribs were phenomenal. We took our time to enjoy the atmosphere of the restaurant and relax in the presence of our team.

Our last stop was the world famous Beale Street! It was so fun to walk around, people watch, and soak up the culture of this lively place. Lucky for y’all, I am the groups photographer so here I will include some picture’s to do the talkin’.

Thanks for reading this and please continue to pray for our team as we push through the second half of this week! We hope to make great progress and continue to get to know Mr. John and Mrs. Janet even better!


Memphis team at Central BBQ

Exploring Beale Street!

#ILOVEMEMPHIS (left to right) Maddie, Molly, and Jeanine

Writer: Jeanine Aupperle

Grit & Gibson’s

IMG_8056.JPGProductive, successful, and exhausting are some of the team members words to describe our day. Today started bright and early with chicken biscuits and devotionals followed by a long and hot day on the roof. Throughout the day, team members rotated jobs such as sawing wood, removing shingles, applying underlayment, pulling up weeds, and trimming trees. All team members (Jimmy is back!!!) put in a lot of effort and sweat, leaving us feeling accomplished and a little sun burnt.

We were able to get to know the homeowners we are serving this week, John and Janet. John has been living in Memphis for over 50 years residing in the Binghampton neighborhood. Binghampton is one of the lowest income neighborhoods in Memphis and has been a partner neighborhood of S.O.S. (Service Over Self) for over 30 years.

Janet loves growing tomatoes and enjoys her pecan tree in the back yard. She enjoys watching talk shows in her free time and spending time with her two children, and grand baby on the way. John works at Goodwill and spends his free time working on his truck. We are excited to continue getting to know John and Janet throughout the week!

After returning from our work site, our team enjoyed a much needed nap time followed by chapel and an annual Gibson’s donut run. Today consisted of lots of laughs, encouragement, and fellowship.

Prayer requests:

  • Rested for the rest of the week
  • Staying motivated to finish our goals
  • Continued fellowship and unity among team members
  • Strengthened relationship with homeowners
  • Open eyes to see and hearts to feel the ways in which God is present in the community

Writer: Molly Fletchall

Memphis Day 2


Lunch break at da house


Greetings from Tennessee!


Today started bright and early at 8 AM.  As we ate breakfast with still-sleepy eyes, our worksite leader informed us we would be working at John and Janet Tillman’s house in the Binghampton neighborhood.  After eating, we gathered our supplies and departed for the worksite, a short 5-minute drive away from SOS’s home base.  Unfortunately, one team member has fallen to the stomach flu (#RIPJimmy) and was forced to stay in bed all day.  Pray for quick healing!

When we arrived at our house, we met the homeowners and went through a quick roofing training session before stepping onto the roof.  At first the old shingles were very slick and most of us were nervous of falling off.  We were all safely harnessed in though, and quickly entered a rhythm of de-shingling one section of the roof.  As the day progressed, we rotated on and off the house, pulling off loose shingles and cutting new boards.  We even had a couple team members face their fear and step on a roof for the first time!  The sun was beating down on us in about 80 degree weather.  Even though it was hot it was a nice break from the cold in Indiana.  We finished at about 4:30 and returned to the SOS center with dirty faces and tired bodies.

Later tonight we visited SOS-partnering homeowners who have the financial capability to live elsewhere but choose to live in these poor communities we are working in.  We were able to hear why they do what they do and learn about a small portion of their life story.  This was super cool to gain a glimpse of the different perspective that these homeowners had to offer.

Overall, today was a great start to our week.  We were pushed physically in hot weather, and experienced a new aspect of life that occurs here in Memphis.  I am loving our trip so far.  Everyone in our team is so encouraging of one another, and we are constantly filling the room with outbursts of laughter.  Please pray we would be able to process all we are experiencing, and that we would continue to be able to show God’s love and grace to those we encounter as we work.

Now I’m back to play our game of the week, Murder in the Dark!  It sounds bad, but it really is a lot of fun!


Drew, Hannah, Rebecca, and Molly (left to right) on the roof