I enjoyed this trip very much and I am very glad to be on this trip. I learned a lot. I not only gained friendship but also learned a lot of skills during this trip. I also studied Building Skills and Team Works. During this trip, I met gentle and friendly teachers, cheerful and sunny friends and very friendly house owners.I have often felt the Lord’s presence on this journey. To guide me when I am in trouble, to encourage me when I fail, to give me courage when I face challenges. Even this trip is only a short 6 days, but in these 6 days I have learned far more than 6 days of knowledge.These six days will be a very unforgettable time for me, even I was a little uncomfortable at the beginning. Because this was my second year in the United States, and soon after I joined the church, then the epidemic was start. So I didn’t get to know everyone very well, but this trip made me know more about the people I had met before and the people I hadn’t met before. Because my English is not that good, sometimes I do not understand what are they chatting about, but they will try their best to explain to me. And very friendly and take care of me, let me not feel lonely and lonely. Because we are all Christians, we love each other and help each other. We try our best to help others when they are in trouble. So I felt enjoyed after the second day of this trip. God let us meet and know each other, so I think it is a kind of fate.It was really nice to know our nice and friendly home owner. When we were working, he often sit in his front door and watch us. He often ask me do I need to use the bathroom or eat an ice-cream. I remember one day his son came and he said to his son I always said they were the best people in the world. When I heard that, I was very touched, I think it’s really happy to serve others. We get what others need, and we are able to help others. Even though the power may be small, it grows bigger and stronger when many of us get together.
I think this trip is very meaningful, because such activities are not so many in life. But such activities allow us to have new experiences, make new friends, learn how to serve others and feel the power of a team.
Finally, I want to say thank you to all my teachers and friends during this trip. Every teacher has giving and dedication a lot, some teachers delay their work to take care of us , and teachers for us to drive for eight hours. So I want to say thank you for your hard work. It’s because of you that we have such a great trip.
When I was at ASP I felt very close to God. I felt close to God and in many ways one of the ways was just growing closer to all the other members of the youth group and making new friends from different youth groups. Another way I felt close to God was on the last day we screwed in our last board and you got to look back and just see all the progress that we made. Lastly, God helped me by healing all my cuts and bruises very quickly so I could be all ready to work the next day. God help all of us during this service trip and I think he especially helped Mr. James. Mr. James kept on saying that no one else has ever helped him how we are helping him now. Mr. James lives alone and I think that ASP is giving him the best thing to happen to him in a while. Hopefully soon I will be able to go back to ASP and maybe see Mr. James’s house after it has been completed. Thank you for letting me go on this trip it was a life-changing experience.
During our evening gatherings we also heard stories about people that live in central Appalachia. We heard personal stories about what food insecurity is like and how it impacts real people and families. Hearing these stories helped me gain a purpose for my service at ASP and made me realize how widespread the issue of food insecurity really is in America.
Our home owner Mr. James also told us stories. He told us about his life as a pastor and about his wife and children. He told us that he had never had someone help him in the way that we were helping him. His stories made the group want to work harder for a man that was always giving all he could and seemed to get nothing in return. We would sit on his porch with him and swap stories during our breaks. These stories help all of us form a deeper connection with Mr. James. Now, rather than having Mr. James be a passing face in our lives. He has forever made an impact and we will never forget him or his stories.
Every person has a story that they can tell you. All you have to do is ask. The best way to connect with people is to share a piece of your life and they will share a piece of their own. During this trip I learned the impact that a story can have and how it can bring people together. Swapping stories has allowed me to form lasting connections with people who were strangers just a week before.
Another major takeaway from this trip has been the new friendships I’ve made. I was super nervous going into this because – while I knew the people going – I wasn’t sure how close some of us were after a year and a half of quarantining, and with some people, I just wasn’t close to at all. But as the week progressed, we all just kind of clicked, even though we’re all in different grades, and different friend groups outside of church. We came together as a group, for Mr. James and each other, and it was so much fun. It was fun staying in an elementary school six hours away from home, working nearly seven hours a day, and sleeping on an air mattress that deflated each night while I slept. So, I just want to say: Stephanie, Carsey, Lauren, Ava, Carrie, Allie, Judy, Carol, Matt, Ethan, Charlie, William, James, Chauncey, Mr. James and Maggie – thank you, and I can’t wait for our next adventure.
Judy Ozone (Adult Leader)
In serving one person, we were all served. The homeowner is a pastor who made the work that we did feel like an exchange of blessings more than anything else. Each of us took time to speak with him and each gleaned a bit of his history. He wore his 91 years well (as well did Maggie the African Grey parrot wear her 50 years).
The power of a group can do so much, for everyone. Seven days together allowed us to develop an ease and respect that can only happen in close quarters in which we all must rely on each other. We had the luxury of time to observe and appreciate each other’s gifts and quirks. I could see that everybody grew in skill, friendship, and faith.
We thought deeply about what God provides, how we can make small but positive changes in the world and focus on what really inspires and motivates us. Listening to and experiencing other views gets us out of our too-small spheres and reminds us of the breadth and depth of our world.
And all together we made a new friend who will forever stay in our hearts.
As some of you who know me might know, I’m not the most religious nor connected to the church and this made it difficult for me to relate to a lot of the discussion happening throughout the week. That being said, I am still incredibly grateful for whatever brought me on this trip; whether it be God, fate, or maybe just nagging parents. I believe that this trip gave our youth important time to connect, religiously and non-religiously, and learn more about each other naturally throughout the course of the week. Additionally, this trip made me realize that my church community isn’t all about scripture passages and singing hymns together; I can choose which aspects of the community I am more involved with. Of course, I could not have realized this without some help from everyone in our youth group! A friend of mine from our youth group mentioned that after a little while of bonding, our group “clicked and I couldn’t agree more! I felt as if our group had a spider web of connections and friendship that allowed each one of us to connect equally with the rest. There were no stereotypical “cliques” or social groups that I often find really hard to escape. For me, this was a fresh breath of air and allowed me to learn more about everyone in our group: our plans for the future, our thoughts about the changing world, and especially our shared love for the cotton eye joe:) From there, the web only grew stronger and wider.
One thing our youth group consistently did on the trip was share a “God moment” from the day at evening discussion. The first time, I freaked out, thinking I had to come up with an extravagant epiphany from my day as my answer. However, I slowly came around to realize that a “God moment” could be anything. It could be a moment where I felt myself smiling during an evening discussion, felt peaceful around my friends, or even when I was eating a pb&j sandwich after a long, hot day of work. But they didn’t end when we left ASP, my “God moment” from that final day was after we all arrived back at the church, when no one was rushed to go home. In my eyes, I saw a change in the energy of our group from start to finish. Every individual in our group had brought a unique energy to the group setting during the week, which made everyone truly wonderful and exciting to be around! We genuinely connected, and this only contributed to the morale of our group! I applaud each and every person in our youth group for being such great people! I look forward to the next trip!
After this past year of being inside and essentially in solitude, I forgot how much I enjoy being around people. And I honestly thought I was fine, and I was fine, but fine was all I was. Going on this trip made me happier than I’ve been in awhile. I felt wanted and needed on this trip, my friends even fought over who would have me on the car ride on the way home! I was reminded of the feeling of togetherness, acceptance, and love the youth group provides. During breaks I found myself wanting to talk to people, my new friends, rather than having some alone time.
I met new people on this trip that welcomed me with kindness. Mr. James frequently passed out water and handed out treats. He was always checking up on us to make sure we had everything. I met churches from North Carolina and Texas who we played 9-square with where trash talk was apparent but I know it came from a good place. It must have as Texas gave us Pizza later in the week. I met Chauncey and Stephanie, who both provided some first-aid care to my various cuts and bug bites resulting from these games. In addition, I reconnected with old friends in the youth group. I reconnected with Carrie, a friend I made in confirmation, and Carsey who I have not seen in person in too long. Ultimately, not only did my friends and I serve Mr. James but he also served us. He reminded me of people’s kindness and brought the youth group together.
I had known most people going in to ASP yet I couldn’t confidently say that I was friends with them. During the week though we grew closer and closer until it felt that we had been friends for years. I’m hoping I will get to hang out with the other people from this group either in or out of church. I learned so much from our group, Army Bob (a floater), and the entire experience. On the first few days I was so caught up in the work I didn’t have any time to be with James. And I was determined to change that. So the next day I went to work knowing that I would try my best to talk with James and also if I’m lucky, his 50 year old talking bird. So when the time came I sat next to him on his porch and talked. The feeling was indescribable when he expressed how thankful he was for us helping him. He was a pastor and 93, however he still said he had never been helped like this before. Next time I go to ASP I want to make sure that I continue to try and connect with my homeowners because that in itself is doing just as much good as rebuilding their house. To sum it up, all the relationships I formed and work I got done, made all of the hot work in the sun worth it and I cannot wait to go next year.
Carol Frenkel (Adult Leader)
Our work through Appalachian Service Project was for an elderly gentleman, James, in Tennessee. Mr. James was a former Pentecostal pastor who spent his life serving others. We did work rebuilding his access ramp and working on replacing his roof. He was the kindest man who was so grateful for our work and our companionship. He told us that no one had ever done anything like this for him and he didn’t think anyone cared. He often sat outside or walked around his yard as we worked. He chatted with us and even wanted to help us. Mr. James constantly offered us his hospitality, bringing us sodas, water, popcorn, offering the use of his bathroom, or to come into his house for a cup of coffee. While we initially only thought of what we were doing for him, he shared with us all that he had. Through his friendship and hospitality, he gave to us from his heart and his home. He was a joy to be around and I will cherish the time we had with him.
Chauncey Liffiton (Adult Leader)
When I was younger, I would go on one or two of these mission trips a year with Scott or Karen. So, it was exciting to come back as a youth leader but also nerve-wracking because I had never been a leader in this capacity. Matt, Carol, and Judy showed me the ropes, and after the first day, it all became second nature. The biggest surprise from this trip that I enjoyed the most was getting to spend one-on-one time with each of the youths and getting to know them as individuals. Each had a story; each had a solid view of what we were doing and how we needed to accomplish our collective goals. The determination and solidarity I felt from them were overwhelming.
The community that BHPC is cultivating in this crop is so light and warm that I could not help but love each one of them. This brings me to think about how thankful I am to BHPC for allowing me to be a part of this trip, to meet these sprouting youths (ducklings), and to spend time enjoying the community that I had been missing out on for so long.
I would like to reward ten thousand points to everyone that went on this trip, those that supported us going, and those that we were able to support us by our dedication to service. I also cannot wait to enjoy more time with the BHPC community in the coming years.