“I learned that this trip was not just about building a ramp or fixing a floor, it was about the impact we could have on the family and the family can have on us.”
“I was also way out of my comfort zone. Living and working under those conditions was made easier when I compared it to what our host family had to deal with every day. We lived and worked for just five days. Anyone can deal with five days knowing that conditions for us would be back to our normal by Sunday.”
“I've fallen in love with the little things in life and seeing something that reminds me of the mission trip floods my mind with so many memories and feelings.”
“We live with so much benefits compared to them and we complain so much more."
“This trip to Logan County, West Virginia had the 9 of us (6 youth and 3 adults) building a free-standing wheelchair ramp for a gentleman with one leg and his two adults sons. In addition to building the ramp we finished the flooring in Simon's bedroom. After putting all the furniture back into his room, Simon was then able to have his bedroom back after about 6 weeks of renovations. Simon was previously staying in the living room, a cramped space for his king sized bed. However, one of the most memorable moments for me was Simon seeing his bedroom for the first time. His comment was not "It looks beautiful. Thanks". He said in his southern drawl, "Where's my headboard?". Knowing Simon, that comment was not an ungrateful gesture. The unique spirit that Simon possesses causes him to like to bust on people as a means of expressing his love and appreciation. After all, it is awkward for someone who is living in poverty to have a new group of people coming into their home to do free labor. These are people from all walks of life. Just when Simon would get used to a group, they'd leave when their week was finished. A new group would then come strolling in on Monday. How would you express your appreciation? I truly believe that his appreciation was expressed in the picture of Jesus on a belt that he wore every day that we were there. In his head, I do believe he realized that our work was part of a bigger picture, a bigger experience, and a greater love than the hammering and drilling our human bodies are capable of.”
Today our staff liaison, J., came out to the work site to help us navigate our site problems. It was wonderful to have an expert advise us on the order of operations and great to see that some things stumped even him. But J. reminded us to do the best we can with the materials we have and that it’s ok to let go of perfection and enjoy the work. By the end of the day we had completed moving the furniture back into the master bedroom, cut and installed the deck boards on the first 5x5 and were well on our way to having the next two post holes dug and 5x5 frame built. We were in a groove-letting go and letting God helped!
This evening we returned to the center, showered, dressed and picked up our family for the picnic at Logan State Park. The center staff of four puts together a delicious dinner of hot dogs, hamburgers and all the fixings for more than 70! Each of the groups invited their families and quite a few were present. Youth played ninja, volleyball and cards. Adults from every team had a chance to socialize with all of the families. Even the deer came! What a special night!!
Fatigue set in and we found ourselves short-tempered and slow, still a little disappointed about having to dig 8 postholes instead of 4, unending leveling and planning puzzles. However, the youth buckled down and pushed through, finishing the 5x5 deck frame. The inside crew, led by Bobbie Hraba, completed laying the laminate flooring and trim-woohoo! After lunch the heavens opened and we found ourselves scrambling to collect the tools and pack them into the van. Gathering on the porch and in the house with our family offered wonderful time to bond in a way we hadn’t had an opportunity to before. Getting to know the family is as much of our mission as the work on the flooring and ramp. We left in good spirits, refreshed by the rain and our new friendships.
This evening we made some new friends at the site from a Methodist Church in Cornwall, NY and played cards until lights out.
Oh, did I mention the puppies?!
Tomorrow, 6 diocesan youth and 3 adults will be leaving for the mission trip to rural West Virginia. I am so proud of all the work these young people have done to date: prayer and devotionals, sales of stocks, phone calls and a multitude of other preparations. I'm so grateful for how they have all shown how important this kind of work is by choosing to make this mission a priority. Rather than going on vacation or sleeping in or working for extra cash, they have committed to doing hard, physical labor in a place they have never been, for people they have never met! (Can you say Evangelism?)
We humbly ask for your thoughts and prayers as we share our gifts, talents, time and treasures with others as well as experience another way to be in Christian community.
And, we'll be keeping y'all posted here as we travel!
Blessings of peace,
Missioner for Youth and Young Adults