This week 12 youth and four adult leaders from St. Alban’s have worked in Greeneville, Tennessee. We have been working with Appalachian Service Project (ASP), an organization that has helped tens of thousands of residents in the poorest counties in our country, helping to fix and repair homes. You can visit ASP’s website to learn all about the 40+ year history of ASP: http://www.asphome.org.
This week our group has been divided into two teams and both teams have been tasked to repair tin roofs. Each team works with a different family and we have all grown close with the two families we are serving this week. I’ve had the pleasure of co-leading a team of six youth with Diana Gustafson and the 8 of us have laughed together, gotten filthy dirty together, and have worked…you guessed it–together. Rich Jensen and Bob Witten are the co-leaders of the other team from St. Alban’s and they have had a similarly wonderful experience serving with our youth.
One of the things that has struck many of the youth is that such abject poverty exists less than a day’s car ride from where they live. For many this is the first time they have seen poverty of this nature and extent–or have had the opportunity to do something directly and permanently about how another fellow human being lives.
ASP places high emphasis on our forming relationships with the families we serve. Several of the youth who were on the ASP Mission Trip last year have remembered the families they served last year, commenting on how they will never forget the week they spent in service to that particular family.
Each work team has a name assigned by the ASP staff. This year our group’s name is “Brazilian Cherry Pancakes.” While I am not exactly sure WHY that is our name, within 24 hours of arriving one of the youth pointed out that our group’s initials are “BCP.” God works in mysterious ways indeed. So, I will close this Daily Cup “from the road,” with a quote from the BCP that has been stuck in my head all week here in Greeneville, TN. The quote comes from the questions asked in the examination portion of our baptismal covenant. “Will you strive for peace and justice and respect the dignity of every human being?” Here, in rural Tennessee, I can say that we have indeed.
With a thankful heart and in Christ’s name,