Shauna Bohlmann, a member of Decatur, Illinois, First Church of the Nazarene, was one of the more than 1,200 Nazarenes who participated in the weeklong One Heart – Many Hands service project in Indianapolis, Indiana. Bohlmann recently shared her first-hand account of the trip:
Our team arrived at her home bright and early on Monday morning at 8 a.m. As we pulled up, the big, brown, chipped paint all over the beast of a house seemed to mock us and promise hours of hard work and labor to take off and cover — and that was just the outside. We had a huge job waiting for us inside as well. At this point, most of us were feeling a bit overwhelmed and started secretly wondering what we had agreed to take on.
Tanya came to the door with her hands on her hips and eyes that darted around, sizing us up and seeking for someone to connect with. Leading us into the kitchen, she showed us the other area we would be working in. She must have sensed our shock at the amount of work to be done because for a moment in time, everyone fell awkwardly silent as we let our eyes absorb the deterioration and our minds began mentally tallying each step that would need to happen over the next five days.
The silence was broken when Tanya locked eyes with me, pointed at my hair in long pigtail braids, and asked, "Do you know how to braid?"
"Yeah, a little bit," I replied sheepishly, wondering what a "yes" would get me into.
"Well, could you braid my hair?"
"Um, sure. Let me see..."
Tanya came closer to show me what she wanted (a French braid) and I saw that a hair wash would be helpful as well.
Another one of my teammates (also named Tonya) and I got to work finding shampoo, conditioner, and Tanya's other hair products she wanted us to use. For the next 20 minutes or so, that dilapidated kitchen turned into a friendly beauty parlor with us three ladies chatting, swapping stories, and connecting.
After that, and over the following days, God provided many other opportunities for me and my teammates to meet Tanya's social, emotional, and spiritual needs through prayers, conversations, laughter, inside jokes, and nicknames (Tanya couldn't remember our real names so she would make them up). The physical needs were also met through a series of hard work, determination, and fantastic leadership.
By the end of the week, the house was painted, the kitchen was redone, and all items from the list (as well as several that were added) were finished. But the biggest and most important outcome was that we gained a new sister in Christ. Tanya had been thinking about being baptized and had several different groups of people pouring into her life, leading her to the Lord. It was two days after we arrived home when I received a picture and a simple text that read: "Check this out." It was a picture of Tanya getting baptized! I called her right away and congratulated her!
This was my first mission trip I have ever been on, and I am so amazed at how God worked things out for our team, for Tanya, and for One Heart – Many Hands. It is awesome to be a part of something so special and life changing — on this side of heaven and beyond.