Thursday, December 13, 2012

endurance


"Say the word snicker doodle in a funny accent."  
"What kind of music do you like?"  
"What was your favorite class in school?"
"Who is your coolest ancestor?"
"Have you seen the new Twilight movie?"

These were just some of the things that eleven year-old Kaitlyn talked about on our road trip to Cowen, WV.  This was also the girl who told me (about a hundred times that week) that she was "so excited" to go on her first missions trip with us.  Her enthusiasm was so cute!  Also sitting in our backseat were fifteen year-old, Amber, and 22 year-old, Chloe.  Two weeks ago, the five of us, along with 27 other volunteers, caravanned to West Virginia for our third outreach to the community of Webster Springs.  


Last year, I collected friendship bracelets from around the country in preparation for our inaugural trip.  Seven months after that, we went back to the area for two additional days and provided them with food, manual labor, and spa services.  It was a poignant mission during those months, but even more so this time around, since we've come to recognize some of the families and they us.  I'm already getting excited about our fourth trip next summer.  The more we go, the deeper my heart loves the place and its people.

For this visit, we partnered with two Lutheran churches from Massillon, OH, and hosted a Christmas party, complete with party food, decorations, presents, and entertainment.  We planned the show this time, which included games, interactive songs, dancing, a skit, a message by Pastor Chip, and 44 hand chimes that we played as we sang Christmas carols together.









We had a full house.  It was good, noisy fun!

Along with pre-arranged gifts for the kids, we had an abundance of donated stuffed animals, clothing and crafts.  We also prepared 500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that got packed in to 500 lunch sacks, along with fruit and snack items.  We wanted to be sure each family had enough food to feed their household that day.








Singing assembly line!  We hollered out every showtune, Disney theme song, and Christmas carol we could think of (in 3-part harmony) to help our sandwich-making project go by faster.




Our guests came empty-handed and left overflowing.

Before the party started, some of us went to Gary & Lily's Mission to see how the volunteer dorm was coming along and to drop off donated items for their warehouse.  What a timely gift it was to bring them a rental truck full of drugstore items.  Our guys filled their empty warehouse floor-to-ceiling with goods, including pink Snuggies.  It was a joy to see just how far along the dormitory has come.  It has walls and windows now!






Even in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (Webster Springs endured three feet of snow in one day, downed trees, and a month without power!), this community is surviving and finding hope in a barren place.  Their stories were emotional and their faces weathered, but nothing seemed to break their resolve.

God bless them, every one. 

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