Home > Our World > News > News Archives by Date > 2011 > September 2011 > News - September 2011
N.D. confirmands live their vows to do good

 
Translate

Editor’s Note: North Dakota residents face mountains of cleanup from seven weeks of flooding that led to the worst disaster in state history. In Minot, a city of 40,000, the flood destroyed 4,100 homes. In nearby Burlington, more than a third of the town of 1,100 was under water. The catastrophe left 8,000 to 9,000 people homeless in central North Dakota. Winter will begin in October in North Dakota.

4:00 P.M. ET Sept. 20, 2011 | MINOT, N.D. (UMNS)


Amber Perry, 14, bakes a cake for a flood survivor at her home in Burlington, N.D. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Amber Perry, 14, bakes a cake for a flood survivor at her home in Burlington, N.D.
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose. View in Photo Gallery

“We vowed to do all the good we can. Just a week later, the flood happened. We were like … it’s time to start doing good.” When Kalob Thomas, 15, and six other United Methodist teens were confirmed this spring in Des Lacs and Minot, N.D., they anticipated a summer of earning extra money, learning to drive or just relaxing.

But the days of “sleeping, watching TV, hanging out with friends and eating lots of junk food,” as the lanky Thomas described it, were not to be.

In June, the Mouse (Souris) River overflowed its banks, covering much of Minot, N.D., and the surrounding area with floodwaters and leaving a huge mess of soggy tree limbs, insulation, lumber, appliances and once-favorite toys.

Almost overnight, the youth had an opportunity to put their lessons learned — and their faith — into action.

Thomas and fellow confirmand Chance Fjeldahl, who lost his home in the flood, quickly went to work mucking and gutting their neighbors’ soaked homes.

Thomas’ mom, Michelle, counted on her fingers as she named the people the two young men helped. Twelve families, plus Faith United Methodist Church, which sustained heavy flood damage, resulting in an uncertain future for the congregation’s beloved building.

Many gifts, one Spirit

She recalled a light moment about halfway through the hectic summer.


Recent confirmands from Faith and Des Lacs United Methodist churches put their faith into action as they helped others after spring and summer floods in their community.  Photo courtesy of Amber Perry.
Recent confirmands from Faith and Des Lacs United Methodist churches put their faith into action as they helped others after spring and summer floods in their community. Photo courtesy
of Amber Perry. View in Photo Gallery

“It’s early in the morning. Kalob is tired. We’d been doing this about three weeks. Sometimes we wouldn’t get home until 5:30, and we’d been working the whole time.” Someone told Kalob to go to “the house beside Bob and Ada Lower’s home. Well, he went to the house beside the Lowers’.”

“You told me it was the house on the corner,” her son interjected.

“Well,” she explained, “there are two houses on the corner.” When it was time to serve lunch to the crew with whom Kalob had been working, he didn’t show up. “He had gone to the wrong house. He was helping another crew.”

Another confirmand from the boys’ class let her love for baking guide her good deeds.

Amber Perry baked a cake for her confirmation mentor, whose Burlington, N.D., home was lost. That was the first of several treats she created for others.

The 14-year-old, decked out in her “I Helped Rebuild Minot” T-shirt while she baked a delicious chocolate cake, loves sports. Her pastor, the Rev. Debra Ball-Kilbourne, said Perry “has the gift of encouragement.”

“I like going to church,” Perry, a ninth-grader, said.

“Pastor Debra made a hot dish (casserole), and I thought, ‘I could do that’” for someone. Since she enjoys baking cakes, brownies and cookies, Perry decided she had found her niche.

Asked how many more cakes she would bake for flood survivors, Perry – who aspires to be a veterinarian – replied with a smile. “I have no clue. A lot of my friends in school were affected by the flood.”


Michelle Thomas (right) recounts the families her son Kalob and another United Methodist confirmand helped during the June floods in and around Minot, N.D. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Michelle Thomas (right) recounts the families her son Kalob and another United Methodist confirmand helped during the June floods in and around Minot, N.D. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
View in Photo Gallery

‘A people of mission’

Ball-Kilbourne remembers this year’s confirmation class as one of her favorites during her more than 30 years of ordained ministry. She described each confirmand individually: “musically gifted and fun loving … a gentle giant … an ardent believer … an intelligent, risk-taking fun-lover … a gentle soul and a wonderful nurturer … a hard worker.”

During their confirmation classes, the students focused on the three simple rules of Methodism’s founder John Wesley: Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.

“We hold off on doing confirmation until eighth or ninth grade,” Ball-Kilbourne said. “We allow them to receive communion (before then). They don’t have to understand God’s grace before they receive God’s grace.”

Each confirmation student has a mentor with whom he or she works every week. Mentors must be at least 19, have a solid relationship with Jesus Christ and be a United Methodist. Each confirmand also engages in Bible study and does a service project.

This year, Ball-Kilbourne noted, the service projects “kind of grew into the flood.

“I wanted them to love Jesus Christ,” said Ball-Kilbourne, “and to have a quickened sense of mission so they would become a people of mission.”

It seems that message hit home as Thomas, Fjeldahl, Perry and their peers spent their summer reaching out to their neighbors.

To Thomas, the decision was easy. “I really couldn’t say ‘no,’” he said.

*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Comments will be moderated. Please see our Comment Policy for more information.
Comment Policy

Commenting Rules

Comments will not appear until approved by a moderator, which will occur at least twice daily.

Please keep your comments brief. Avoid personal attacks and do not use inflammatory or demeaning language.

See our Comment Policy for more information.

Glad you liked it. Would you like to share?

Sharing this page …

Thanks! Close

Add New Comment

  • Image

Showing 0 comments

Reactions

Ask Now

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add this address to your list of approved senders.

Would you like to ask any questions about this story?ASK US NOW