Over the last several years, Lewiston, Maine—located 45 minutes north of Portland—has received an influx of immigrant families from war-torn countries in Africa, including the Congo, Angola, Djibouti, and Somalia. But the adjustment has been more difficult than expected, igniting racial tension between locals and incoming refugee families. Many of the immigrant and refugee families are devout Muslims, which adds another layer of diversity as the community works to unite and move forward.
As your team serves on your Maine mission trip, you’ll partner alongside The Root Cellar in Lewiston to show neighbors they are valued, loved, and welcomed in the community. You’ll be an extension of ongoing ministries, specifically reaching children and their families and getting a more holistic picture of urban missions in this unique setting.
Will you boldly serve across cultural and religious barriers, helping neighbors who are far from home feel welcome and loved?
Lewiston is the second largest city in Maine, located about 40-45 minutes north of Portland. In 1999, the United States government began preparations to resettle an estimated 12,000 refugees from the Bantu minority ethnic group in Somalia to select cities throughout the United States. Most of the early arrivals in the United States settled in Clarkston, Georgia, a city adjacent to Atlanta. However, they were mostly assigned to low rent, poverty-stricken inner city areas, so many began to look to resettle elsewhere in the U.S. Word soon spread that Lewiston had a low crime rate, good schools and cheap housing. Somalis subsequently began a secondary migration from other states to the former mill town, and after 2005, many Bantus followed suit.
Lewiston's roots are deep in farming but as water power began to become a source of income in the early to mid 19th century and then subsequently the town began using the river to transport logs.
Maine became a state in 1820 and Portland was named its capital. It served as capital to Maine for 12 years before Augusta was named the capital of Maine in 1832. In 1853 The Grand Trunk Railway was completed which connected Lewiston to much of Maine and the surrounding Canadian territories.
Maine is known for its pine trees, hydroelectric power, spring water, and its delicious seafood (the lobster especially!) and Lewiston is no different. It is surrounded by rich forrest areas.
Lewiston's summer temperatures range from the low fifties to the high seventies with July being its warmest month. The humidity index is generally high because of its coastal region. Maine sees an average of 3-4 inches of rain a month, and its residents see sun about 60% of the time.
The large influx of refugees in the 1990s has created a culture within a culture in the neighborhoods where the refugees dwell. Refugees resettled in Lewiston have stayed true to their roots and tend to not become "Americanized" as quickly as some refugees. Since Lewiston is not an overly large city it lends to refugees not needing to assimilate as much into the American culture.
Lewiston has been a location that, for many years, has been easily bypassed be travelers and thus has created a community that has struggled to feel important and valued. Similar to Portland, this city received an influx of immigrant families, but the community in Lewiston had a harder time welcoming them into the community for various reasons. With the abrupt addition of refugees into the community, tension between the white community and the black community developed. It is something that continues to present itself as the community works to move forward.
Families are placed in Lewiston through Catholic Charities and other organizations as the needs arise. The kids have assimilated very well into the American culture as their minds usually have an easier time in accepting new things. They generally speak English and are in school. The parents, however, have had a much harder time assimilating into the culture due to language barriers and financial struggles. Because of this, you will see a large gap between the parents & the kids as far as their assimilation process. Often, the kids have a hard time learning how to read because their parents cannot read or write English, so the Root Cellar has language programs because the parents aren't able to help them read.
We work with many refugees with all different backgrounds. The main population we work with are Somali & Bantu. They either have no religious affiliation or they are Christian. The Somali community are almost all Muslim, but for the most part are open to the helping hands of those who come to serve.
In this community, connecting with the local children through children's ministry is an important part of what we do each day. Teams coming to this community must expect to participate in Kids Club. Experience Mission will provide the curriculum for your teams use. This Kids Club curriculum will be sent out to Team Leaders in the spring via email. Your team may be asked to participate in multiple Kids Clubs and avenues of ministering to children.
Teams will be responsible to bring the craft supplies needed for their specific crafts and should budget appropriately. While we do our best to make sure the craft materials are cost effective, teams may feel free to augment any materials to make them more suitable to their budget. Experience Mission will supply scissors, staplers, paper hole punches and rulers. There are plenty of opportunities to connect with the local children through games like soccer or Frisbee. Tuck in a hackysack, football or jump rope as they are sure to come in handy.
Your time in Lewiston will be spent partnering with local ministries to serve refugees and others in the community through social outreach programs. Potential projects include kid's club, park ministry to all ages, service projects, home visits, potential serving of meals or simply spending time with people. This is a very relationally based location where the heart of all these activities is to make connections with the community in order to show them the love of Christ. Many of the activities involve kids so come ready to interact with these children and let them invite you into their lives and hearts.
*Experience Mission works closely with local leaders to identify work projects and ministry opportunities that address authentic needs within the community. We ask that you come with a servant's heart and willingness to adapt to the unique qualities represented in each location. Opportunities can vary significantly from one week to the next. Your team may work at one location or serve at multiple locations each day. Due to the changing needs of our community partners, we cannot confirm your specific activities until your team arrives.
Each morning, there is time set aside for devotions and quiet time. Experience Mission has devotionals/journals that are available for purchase or teams can supply their own. This is a valuable time and we strongly encourage everyone to spend it with God journaling their thoughts and experiences as the days unfold.
Our staff will lead a time of debriefing and a short devotional in the evening (what we call "Evening Gathering") and it is always a great addition to have musical worship. Our programming does not include musical worship as we can't guarantee that our our staff will have this ability. Please let us know if you have anyone who sings or plays guitar on your trip so that we can help to coordinate the musical aspect of worship when able. If teams aren't able to help in the area of music, it may not be a part of the trip.
AVERAGE DAILY SCHEDULE
3:00-6:00 pm Groups Arrive
5:00 - Leader's Meeting
6:00 - Dinner
7:00 - Orientation Meeting
7:45 - Team Time (a time for your group alone)
10:30 - Lights Out
7:15 - Breakfast
7:45 - Devotions and Quiet Time
8:15 - Group Prayer
8:30 - 3:30 Ministry & Work Sites
4:00 - Possible Park Ministry
5:00 - Leaders meeting
5:30 - Dinner
6:30 - Evening gathering (as a whole group)
7:15 - Team time
8:00 - Showers at YMCA
10:30 - Lights Out
7:00 - Breakfast
7:30 - Cleanup/ Packing
9:00 - Pictures and Good-Byes
Your team will be sleeping on the floor of the community building so team members should plan to bring a small air mattress (single bed air mattresses are best as the space is limited) or a mat to sleep on. The temperatures can get cool in the evening so light bedding or a sleeping bag and a pillow are ideal.
There are showers at the community building.
There will be bathrooms at the place you stay. Most work sites will have bathrooms. On the occasion that there are no facilities where you are working, teams will need to take breaks midday to use a public restroom.
There is running water. Teams will have access to it where they are staying, and at most work sites. Teams should plan to bring refillable water bottles to stay hydrated at work sites.
There is electricity in that will be available where teams stay as well as at most work sites.
Lewiston in general is a safe area. The facilities where you stay will be locked throughout the night and Experience Mission Staff members will do a sweep to make sure the facilities are secure before retiring for the evening. You do see minor petty theft in the area. We recommend teams leave all valuables (smart phones, computers, jewelry, etc) at home. In the case that a team does bring some valuables, the best way to keep them safe is to store them in their locked vehicle during the day.
Your filling, healthy, tasty meals will be prepared by local workers and EM staff members. Some meals will be eaten with your team while others will be eaten with community members and the refugees.
Your teams transportation to, from and while in Lewiston is not covered. You will need your vehicles throughout the entire week to transport your team to various locations for work and ministry. While some service opportunities are very close by, your team will need to be prepared to drive up to 45 minutes each day. Please plan and budget for this accordingly.
If you're interested in bringing your group on a mission trip, fill out this quick interest form! Our staff will be in touch with you shortly to help answer your questions. Also, many questions about trips to this community are answered under Mission Trip Details & Logistics above.
Experience Mission has specific policies regarding registration and withdrawal. Please refer to the document below for specifics.
All volunteers on a week-long EM mission trip must be part of a team of at least six (6) people, with at least one team member age 21 or older to serve as the Team Leader. Not part of a group? All young adults ages 18-30 are eligible to apply for EMís IMMERSION program.
EM's Health & Safety plan provides the following:
Staff certification: All Summer Staff are certified in First Aid and CPR.
Medical kits: Medical kits that include first-aid supplies for general accidents and ailments are provided for each site. In international locations, we will also carry a Trauma Kit or First Responder Kit. In these remote locations we will have medications like Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Benadryl and Imodium on hand. We make these available to adult team leaders for their sole discretionary use with their team members. EM Staff will not dispense any medications. In our domestic and international locations, we ask that teams supply their own medications like Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Benadryl and Imodium as they deem necessary.
Emergency response plan: Based on the severity of each emergency, EM has a plan for appropriate response.
- If a team member becomes seriously ill, they will be taken to a local doctor to receive appropriate medical attention and medications. If they are a minor, their Team Leader along with our staff will accompany them to the clinic. If needed, their parents will be contacted. Their recovery will be carefully monitored by our staff.
- If there is an accident that requires a doctor, but is not life threatening and does not have the potential to cause permanent damage, Experience Mission staff will locate the Team Leader, contact parents or guardians (providing the injured is a minor) and provide safe but quick transportation to a local clinic.
- In the event that an accident occurs which is life threatening or has the potential for permanent damage, emergency medical care will be secured and arraignments will be made if necessary, to transport the injured person to the United States as quickly as possible providing they are serving in one of our International locations. In our domestic locations, local 911 services will be contacted immediately. The family will be contacted immediately to assist in guidance for appropriate response.
All medical care is the sole responsibility of the team member. Experience Mission requires every team member to be covered by domestic medical insurance and recommends that team members traveling abroad carry additional international travel insurance to cover any medical needs their domestic medical insurance may not cover.
Mission Trips involve many details, and we know you probably have a few questions about EM mission trips.
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Your online account will allow you to access donation receipts and allocation information. After you complete your donation, a temporary username and password will be emailed to you.
You must have a group size of at least 10 members to join this trip. Please view the Small Team trips or call our Servicing Department for more options at 888-475-6414.
For most trips, you must have a group size of at least 10 members. Please view the Small Teams tab on each Community page or call our Servicing Department for more options at 888-475-6414.