Youth Service Trip to West Virginia
Sunday July 8
We all met around 8 o’clock Saturday morning. We packed the two vans and took a group photo up at the entrance of the church. After, we departed for our long 9 hour journey to Hagerstown, Maryland. While in the car, we played catchphrase, listened to music, and enjoyed each other’s company. At 1 we stopped for lunch. At the rest stop we met a friendly cat named Forest Gump who was on a leash. We then switched up vans and hung out with some new people. Many of us got in some more z’s and rested up while we could. We finally made it to Maryland at 7. Our hosts greeted us at the church before we headed out for dinner at UNOs. After dinner, we joined in a circle and reflected on our day, the highs and lows, and discussed our hopes and fears going into this trip. Then we wrote our covenant and finished with a song and prayer.
Today we were all woken up by Tracy’s smiling face and warm, “Good Morning!” Groggily we all packed up our bags and got dressed for another travel day. Lunch and breakfast was sprawled out on two tables ready to be packed and eaten. Sandwiches were made and chips we packed, along with some healthy fruit, of course. Breakfast consisted of cereals, bagels, fruits, and oj. After, we all went on a walk to a pond down the road from the church. Then we joined the church service, at 9:30, that consisted of singing and being welcomed by the community.
We arrived in Pipestem, West Virginia around 5 after a 6 hour car ride. Crystal and Tim greeted us at ASFC and gave us a tour of the place. We then unpacked and settled in to our spacious cabins. The property consists of 65 acres, 4 cabins, a playground, a library, and an incredible view of the mountains. We’ve been able to play some frisbee and enjoy the view with the time we have before dinner. Team 2 is cooking tacos for dinner and team 3 is preparing for worship tonight. We are all very eager for this week.
Tuesday July 10
Today we woke up early and had breakfast together. Then we made our way to the work site after stopping at Lowe’s to pick up supplies. When we arrived at the work site we were greeted by the many dogs the Reed family has. The dogs Shep, Junior, and Gezabelle have started to warm up to use and no longer bark at us. Gezabelle is the friendliest dog and she follows the little girl Cazmerra around. Cazmerra is 3 1/2 and she is turning 4 this sunday. She’s very friendly and loves playing games with all of us. Today I was able to talk to with Betty, the woman who owns the house, and she told us about her life. She shared how she wished she listened to her parents when she was younger, and that she took better care of herself. She was very nice and grateful that we were helping her family because she is to weak to do the work herself. We were able to finished the floor and put up one wall of the new room we are building. The room will eventually be Cazmerra’s bedroom. After we left the work site we went to get frozen custard and it was very delicious! Then we got back to the folklife center and had a pasta dinner. After that a local man named Jimmy Costa played us a couple of songs on his banjos and told us the history behind the songs and the instruments. He had one banjo that was made in the 1850s. Next we had worship and talked about what we are grateful for and about the different values between us and the people here. Lastly to end the night we had bonfire and looked at stars. We had a very full and fun day and we are all looking forward to seeing the final product of the room we are building!
Thursday July 12
Struggling with the slightly slanted roof, the construction team was determined to do as much as we could in three hours. We worked hard with the thought of the waterfall we were going to later in our minds. We worked hard for an amazing reward of refreshing water.
Nadia Lucero Ramos
Yesterday was a pretty great day. We started off with some work like usual (Check out Nadia’s post!) before starting our afternoon of fun. We headed over to a magnificent waterfall to take a dip in the water. We hopped on in and swam to the falls. A certain member of the youth group (Carter Anderson) discovered a large rock underneath of the falling water and climbed up, allowing him to be the coolest person there. After that, the mission trip group headed over to a gondola that lead down the side of a mountain and over a river. Many people visited the gift shop and the ice cream shop to spend their parent’s money. We also swung on the swings, climbed on the playground, and skipped rocks. Next, we visited a campsite where Team 3 made delicious burgers, hotdogs, and veggie burgers. After a filling meal, the entirety of the mission trip played a intense game of capture the flag. Finally, we headed back to the cabins and did our worship ceremony. We ended our day with s’mores by the fire, kindly made by our new friend, Greg. We all headed off to bed to get some rest for our final day of work.
Monday July 9
Today was our first day of work and it went well! Greg gave us a rundown of what we could expect at our jobs and after that we all made a trip to Lowe’s for supplies. After, we were given the pleasure to introduce ourselves to the friendly and hospitable family of the house we are working on. To start the workday, a couple of youth and I sorted through many metal sheets in search of finding some that were in a reusable condition after Greg asked us if we would. Greg is an extremely knowledgeable and kind person who guided our crew every step of the way today. Later we ate lunch and listened to music while the family dogs watched closely in envy. The next job on the list was to paint the house in black and white stripes. Sadly, our work was interrupted by wasps upset over the new paint job on their home, so we cleared out for about ten minutes and then got right back to work. At the moment, some are relaxing around our beautiful campus and some are making pancakes for dinner. All in all, it appears that we have tough work ahead of us this week that can be achieved by our group of hard workers.
Wednesday July 11
Today was a very successful day! First we woke up bright and early to eat breakfast together in the dining room. After packing up our lunches we got in the vans and headed to Lowe’s to pick up some more wood for our project. When we arrived at the Reed’s house the dogs barked per usual, but settled down after a few minutes of getting used to us. Right away a group of us started painting a second coat of black over the stripes and on the metal part of the house. The construction group headed around back to the addition and were able to put up a third wall and door by the end of the day.
I was also lucky to spend a lot of time with Jake and run around with her for a good portion of the day. She helped paint some of the walls which we loved as well. Along with Jake, I spoke with Betty who taught us many valuable life lessons and told us stories about her past. Speaking with her showed me what a kind and intelligent lady she is. She has so much love for her family and it really shows in the way she speaks about them. Today we made great progress and I can’t wait for tomorrow’s day of work!
The night we were to remember with thread bracelets was magical. The spirit of the speaker, Paul, was with me as he informed us all about he dangers of mountain destruction and our opportunities. I’m very grateful for Paul and the night’s stars for beaming light into our hearts.
Nadia Lucero Ramos