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Katie’s reflection about teaching

26 December

A couple of months ago, I was given the privilege to work with students from Mars Home For Youth. I guess you could say I was consumed with faith, as I said yes to this opportunity, not knowing what I would be encountering during this experience. Donn and I were the ones that were chosen and asked to lead this particular engagement at the MHY facility, located directly across the Mars High School. We were to lead students in constructing 6 picnic tables and 3 park benches that would be placed in various locations throughout their campus.

Once Donn and I arrived onto the campus that morning in our bright green vehicles, we received plenty of looks full of intrigue and slight confusion. We were then greeted by one of the lead faculty members, followed by 20-25 students and a handful of teachers. The students came from various backgrounds, ages, skills, and learning abilities; but the one thing that they had in common was that they desired to be better individuals! This was one of the reasons that the Lord led Hosanna to MHY on this very day, at this very moment.

Photo Credit: MHY Family Services

Photo Credit: MHY Family Services

I’d like to express 2 occurrences that impacted me the most, and placed emphasis on why God called me to be a mission worker at Hosanna Industries.

Be open. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get myself into. I wasn’t sure at all what the environment would entail or how the students would interact or react to us being there. But I let my mind be open to whatever was going to happen, because I knew that God had intentionally led Donn and I to be with those kids. Not only was I being open to a new experience, but also being open to God, letting him use me how he wants. In turn, because we gave the kids the impression we were open to giving our time, most of them were open to learning and receiving the knowledge and skills.

Photo Credit: MHY Family Services

Photo Credit: MHY Family Services

Absorbing knowledge that’s being passed on to you, but also passing on that knowledge to someone else. When I came to Hosanna 5 years ago, I had never thought about going into the construction field. I didn’t even know how to hold a hammer the correct way. Today, I know how to use tools the proper way, shingle roofs, install windows, install flooring, minor plumbing and electrical, etc. I would have never thought I would have acquired these particular skills to the point where my family members call me for favors that involve home repairs. Not only have I learned hands on skills, but I have learned the ability to teach and how important is it to pass on the knowledge that was once exposed to me. Knowledge is extremely valuable and is a key to accomplishment and success. Because I have been richly blessed in being taught by some of the smartest people I know, how could I not pass on what I’ve learned to someone else? When I was presented the opportunity to teach these kids who had never read a tape measure, used a power saw, or used a hammer drill to drill a hole for a lag screw, I took full advantage of it. I used the knowledge that was once told to me, and passed it on to these students. Not only were these kids acquiring new ideas and concepts they had not yet been exposed to, but I was teaching myself how much I have grown over the past 5 years, and that I have the ability to teach what I was once taught.

So be open– to any and all possibilities and opportunities that God leads your way. You never know what you will encounter or how God will use you.

Take in knowledge, and pass it on to others. It’s important to pay attention to the knowledge and the lessons that are being taught all around us; to grasp it and never let go. The opportunity may never come around again.

-Katie DeJournette, Mission Worker

Read more about our trade skill training programs here.

Why do you do this?

19 March

I like what I do. I enjoy the computer work that is necessary to keep Hosanna’s books in order. Writing and producing our quarterly newsletter is a nice change of pace. Dealing with insurance – well that’s just a necessary evil because of the times we live in. Helping out with our special events is fun. Seeking support from foundations so our mission workers can continue doing what they do is an honor and when successful is one of my greatest joys. And, of course, I work with some of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. The work they do each day on behalf of others is nothing less than amazing. I love to hear their stories.

But, what I love most about my job is those rare occasions that I need to visit the people we help – whether it is to get a paper signed, to meet briefly with one of my colleagues on a jobsite or to lend a helping hand in one way or another.

Last Thursday I got to see some of my favorite people once again. In 2013 Hosanna Industries opened the Terrell Trade Skill Learning Center. This facility was named after one of the great supporters of our mission, Mary Jessica Terrell. She was there when Hosanna Industries was founded almost 25 years ago. She was part of many of our blitz-builds; as the furniture was moved in and curtains were hung Mary made sure the finishing touches were completed with precision, love and care. She served on our Board of Directors. Through our Traveling Teacups program she made sure our loneliest clients received cards and visits. Mary went to be with the Lord recently but while she was here with us she quietly changed lives though Hosanna Industries.

But, I digress. It’s been two years since we opened the Terrell Trade Skill Learning Center. We started then working with a group of young men from Homewood, one of the poorest, most derelict neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. These are tough guys. They have lived with pain and poverty surrounded by drugs and violence all their lives. But they have huge hearts.

I had the opportunity right before Christmas to call a meeting with the guys to tell them about the semester we planned to begin in January this year, renovating an abandoned house in their neighborhood. Every one I talked to expressed their gratitude. One guy, Rich, called me three times in two days to make sure everything was still a go. (They haven’t experienced much reliability and accountability in their lives). Their smiles, hugs, and kind words filled the room when we met. Later one of the guys told me that having another semester was the best Christmas present he got (they don’t have many opportunities to better themselves in Homewood). Last Thursday when I went to the jobsite I went to help get glasses for James. We had taken him to Bissell Eye Care in Gibsonia a while before for an eye exam and now needed to order glasses for him. It turns out I was there the day before his 34th birthday. When I had finished what I needed to do, I ran to Giant Eagle and grabbed some cupcakes. When I walked back into the house where the guys were working and handed James the cupcakes, he turned away from me. He pulled his shirt up to his face and scrubbed back and forth. He looked at me and said, “Why do you this, Miss Julie? Why do you do this for me?”

I didn’t tell James that day. I just smiled and gave him a hug. But I did this because it’s part of my job. I did this because everyone should be treated special on their birthday. I did this because it obviously wasn’t done enough in his lifetime. I did this because it was the right thing to do.

Whatever you do today, take a moment a make a difference for someone else. Give someone a reason to smile, a reason to believe in themselves, a reason to dream of a brighter future.

Julie Wettach, Mission Worker

Words From Their Mouths

21 March

The first semester of the Terrell Trade Skill Learning Center is coming to a close. We’ve poured our time, talent, and treasure into the lives of the young men attending this program. I had the immense privilege of participating in the end of the semester interviews of four of the young men. I’m not sure my words can adequately describe this moment in my life. You’d have to meet the men yourselves. You’d have to see them. Shake their hands. Hear the words from their mouths.

My background is so very different from theirs. They know the ghetto. They have experience with gangs. They understand life on the street. They know pain and suffering and poverty like I’ll never know.

Yet they yearn for more. They want a future. They want to better themselves. 23 year old Eric looks at two men aged 55 and 62. He says, “Where I come from you don’t see many men your age living… and doin’ good.”

And my mind reels… You don’t see many 60 year old men living? Where do you come from? Some third world country? No, I know you live half an hour from my own home. Where are your men? Where’s your dad? Who’s your role model? How are you going to learn to be a man? Who’s going to teach you to be a daddy to the baby you’re expecting in five short months?

And suddenly I know that I am incomprehensibly blessed. No matter what I struggle with today it is nothing compared to what these young men have experienced day in and day out all of their lives. And here they are. Putting their feet on the floor every morning. Deciding they want more. Not that they deserve more, not that they’ve even seen what “more” looks like, not that they know what this “more” is. But they want it. And they are learning to trust that we might be able to help them get there.

Mike, slouched in his seat with his hoodie pulled up, looking at the floor and fiddling with his feet, is really quite eloquent. He says it best. “When I first came here I couldn’t picture myself in an environment like this. I was angry. But I committed myself to being a part, to learn what I can, and not to distract others. I did what I said I would and I’ve come to like it. I have a feel for being here, for wanting to be here. I think the people here are good people. They make me feel welcome, a family feeling, you know what I mean? It makes me want to get up in the morning and come out here. You see our different backgrounds. You can’t really understand them, you know what I mean? But you work with us. Everyone’s patient.”

We’re throwing our heart and soul into these young lives and we might be the first people they’ve ever known to do that. But they’re doing even more. They’re learning to trust. The relationships they’ve known in the past haven’t helped them learn that. And once they dare to trust, their whole world will change. They will have the opportunity to learn and grow and dream of a bright future. They will have the chance to make something of themselves. They will be men. And their little boys will have role models worth looking up to.

Thank God for people with visions who are willing to step out in faith and act upon them.

-Julie Wettach, Mission Worker


Trade Skill Learning from the Director’s Point of View

10 March

The Trade Skill Learning Center began early in the new year at Hosanna Industries, after many years of moving toward this goal of establishing a top-notch, reputable learning center where underprivileged people would be charitably taught how to productively work with their hands in pursuit of building a better world for others and a better life for oneself.

As we near the end of the semester 1 of a contemplated 9 semesters within a 3 year program, I believe a great deal has been learned already. Currently, our student body is comprised of 1 young man from Butler and 9 young men from Homewood.Hosanna Industries Trade skill learning center

Topics covered thus far include: Attributes of a Builder, Fundamental Builder Math including basic algebra and geometry, Carpentry Tool Familiarization and Basic Technique, Tape Measure Proficiency including fractions and decimal conversions, Fundamental Design and Drafting Methods, Scale-Model building, full-scale Basic Residential Framing, Truss Design and Proper Construction, Roof System Construction including proper bracing, Basic Electrical Theory and Practical Technique, Window and Door Installation, Insulation, Finishing, Introductory Drywall Installation and Finishing and Introductory Painting.

Throughout the term, lessons have been continuously provided with respect to safety, economy, efficiency, and high productivity.

In the little time remaining for Semester 1, we will learn: Basic Siding Installation, Roofing, Interior Trim, Flooring, and Proper Completion of a simple project.

As a practical and test stage, the students when not in the classroom setting have been building by hand and under proper supervision a small 12′ x 16′ micro-house, suitable for use as a hunting and fishing cabin, a spacious young boy’s backyard fort or a young girl’s backyard playhouse, a large tool shed or outbuilding, a writer’s retreat, etc. We intend to complete this project house by semester’s end and would like to sell it to an interested party, using proceeds to offset anticipated expenses in the second semester. If interested, please call Amy Ed at the Hosanna office 724-770-0262. image

Our country is and will be in dire need of young, strong, capable, diligent, proficient, honest, productive builders. A great future is available to the young man or woman of today who is willing to invest greatly in learning how to become tomorrow’s expert builder! Please pray that our current students may find the internal drive to commit themselves to this worthwhile goal, and that future candidates may be led to Hosanna, so that their tomorrows can be full of faith, work, and success along life’s way.

-Donn Ed, Executive Director