Tuesday, August 14, 2012

webster springs

As promised last December, we took a group back to West Virginia to serve the community of Webster Springs.  It made for a busy July with hubby away in Nicaragua and me leaving for this outreach only three days after his return.  I found it funny that Managua had better phone reception than where we were in West Virginia.  We were pretty remote, which made every day an adventure.    

The team was 27 members strong.  I drove the BattleKat with three passengers and a trunk strategically packed with luggage and facial supplies.  We had cars, vans, and a big trailer in tow.  To and from our destination, our caravan drove along some beautiful stretches of highway and through several hairy storms.  I found myself pressed up against my steering wheel (more than once) with the wipers on full blast, straining to see through sheets of rain.

Our lodging was in a big cabin at Camp Caesar where we shared grounds with a collection of band camps, a 4H group, and two rogue bears.  Yes, bears.  One of our teammates came very close to meeting one of them during her early morning coffee-time on the front porch.  That's one way to wake up!

We were led by a wonderful couple, Rodney & Wendy Good, who took care of all of the logistics, so each team member could focus on their area of service (what a blessing!).  We had a sports camp team for the kids, a construction team building a dormitory for volunteer groups (like ours), and our Spa Team (haircuts, nail services, and facials).  The first day and the last day were slow, but the second day was packed to the gills with families to feed, kids to play with, and clients to pamper.  I gave over 20 facials the second day, and at least as many hugs.

Gary and Lily Melton (pictured above) run the Mountain Marketplace Mission.  They serve the community through food donations, clothing, chapel services, and other resources.  They are in their 70s and have no plans of retiring any time soon.  The Mission was our hub for three days.  The facility itself is an old converted house with living quarters upstairs.  The food pantry is quaint, but loaded with goods supplied by churches, individuals, and businesses across the region.  The Meltons give what they have.  All of it.  The chapel is a room with chartreuse-colored pews, Baptist hymnals in every row, and Gaither-style music playing in stereo.

Many of the families we met in Webster Springs were without running water in their homes.  Their faces wore deep lines, their teeth were few, they spoke in southern-style accents and they walked with weary steps.  We heard countless tales of grandparents raising grandkids because their own children were in jail, and stories about generations of disease and broken homes.  What a pleasure it was to give them relief for an afternoon.  While it didn't change their living situation, we did give them a few minutes of rest.

Since we blew a fuse every time we plugged in our spa equipment, we had to be resourceful.  We ended up getting our electricity from a generator and water from a garden hose.

My two favorite clients were a gal named Karen and another named Becky.  Karen was an older woman with skin that was partially bandaged, bruised, and was literally falling off of her in some spots. The skin on her face seemed unfazed, but her arms and legs made me catch my breath.  I asked her if she had a medical condition and she said it was from over-use of medications throughout her life.  It looked terribly painful, which made my heart hurt for her.  I imagine this must be an affliction similar to what Jesus encountered in his day with the lepers and outcasts.

After I gave her a facial treatment, I knelt in front of her with cotton balls I had soaked with vitamin E oil.  I dabbed her wounds and massaged the oil in to areas of her skin that remained in tact.  I fought tears, as I told her she was beautiful, and she was loved.

Becky was my last client.  She was young and very shaky.  It took a couple of our ladies to help her in and out of my chair.  Once she was settled, I introduced myself and asked her if shaking was a medical condition or if she was nervous.  She replied, "I was born nervous."  I smiled and went through the facial as she kept shaking.  Becky didn't say a whole lot, but when she did speak it was simple and thoughtful.

Earlier that day, we had two other gals with birthdays.  When I found out, I made a big deal about it and had everyone within earshot sing them the birthday song as wildly and loudly as possible.  Towards the end of Becky's facial, she asked me about the birthdays.  I commented about our crazy singing, to which she told me her birthday was in June.  I asked her if she would like us to sing her the birthday song.  She said, "That'd be nice."  We sang just as wildly and loudly as before, and her shaking calmed to a still.  

You can hear these and other stories on our church website.  Go to the video archives and find July 29th - Youth Sunday.

What a privilege it is to do the Lord's work.  To be His hands and heart and use our creativity and skills to show His love to people in need is the best thing ever.  It doesn't take much to make someone feel special.  I hope it's a lesson I'm always learning.

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