Many of us were moving a little bit slower at the start of our third day of work, but the energy for service was still evident as we gathered for morning devotions. One of the churches from Connecticut led the devotions, but pulled together a group of musicians to help lead the music, including myself.
Today I joined Team Prince Edward as they travelled high into the hills and hollers of Appalachia. Their work site, situated on the top of a foothill, is surrounded by incredible natural beauty. The team quickly got to work on laying down the remaining lauan paneling on the kitchen floor. The work ran smoothly throughout the day with some members nailing down the flooring and others cutting and fitting the next piece. We also needed to move the refrigerator and a large hutch to clear space for the flooring. Last week an error caused a large pile of stone to be
delivered for a drainage trench when someone mistook inches for feet in the quarry order (for those who know, it was sort of the opposite of the problem Spinal Tap had when they ordered stone). Sam M. Tommy W. & Harrison C. helped load some of the stone into an ASP truck for delivery to another site. The team stopped for lunch and had a great time talking with James & Kathy, who live in the home being repaired. They told us stories of working on a chicken farm, local bluegrass musicians, and their church. As lunch ended, we fed our apple cores to Buck the horse. During the afternoon the floor tiles began to be placed and another truckload of stone was shoveled by Gillian H. and Shannon R.
The other two teams found today to be particularly challenging, even frustrating. Team Simbo continued forward on the roof, but the work is slow and difficult, especially in the heat. It is also difficult to see how the work being done will come together in a way that meets the needs of the woman they are helping. Team Agua continued hanging drywall on the ceiling, but were challenged throughout the day by the reality that the house (like many in Appalachia) is not standing straight and square, so many pieces had to be cut and trimmed repeatedly (and each time required holding the drywall up to the ceiling to see if it fit).
During the evening gathering, we focused on the realities of poverty in Appalachia. Much of what we heard resounded clearly in terms of the work we are doing, including the frustrations we are facing as we try to make repairs on homes that have such overwhelming needs that are only being addressed through a network of youth volunteers (like us). We learned about the realities that actual ASP applicants faced before applying and the hard reality that 81% of ASP applicants are turned down due to the limited resources that even an effort as large and established as ASP has to work with. When somebody remarked that it must be hard to choose which houses to repair, the expressions of sadness on the faces of the ASP staff (who made those hard decisions for this summer’s work) were quite obvious. Several of our teen participants accepted an invitation to join the ASP staff for their nightly meeting as a way to learn more about what ASP staff members do and how they can pursue becoming a staff member in the future.
The plan brewing at present is to end the evening with some more ice cream at Ma & Pa’s!