Saturday, June 27, 2015

Only 2 Hours Away

"Only 2 hours away..."

That phrase was repeated over and over this week. In Fairmont, West Virginia, we served amazing families who live extremely different lives from us in Wexford, PA. We left Fairmont at 9am this morning and pulled into church at 10:45. In that short 1 hour & 45 minutes we left behind poverty and entered comfort and ease. It's almost unfathomable. 

But we know a God who doesn't leave people to fend for themselves. We know a God who cares deeply for the needs of hurting people. We know a God who loves this world unconditionally, and that includes both Fairmont and Wexford. 

This week we got to see God's transforming love and power firsthand. Through you, your prayers, calls and texts, and many other ways you supported the Appalachia team. Through your teenagers, who loved and served faithfully & joyfully. Through the families who welcomed us, whose kindness and joy despite hard circumstances taught us about what truly matters in life. Through the unity we experienced on our team. And through the miraculous completion of each project. 

God is good. 

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask  or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21). 

Thank you so much for your constant prayers! Thank you for helping make this week happen. 

Joel, Janna, Jake & Sam led us in worship each night.

Squad 1

Squad 2

Squad 3
Squad 4

All the girls after church at Fountain of Life on Wednesday.

The whole team at Fountain of Life Church on Wednesday.

In Christ,
Appalachia Mission Team

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Halfway There

We’re past the halfway point. 3 workdays down, 3 days until we come home. What a week it already has been!

It was a very busy day on all of our projects. We were able to finish one project at a family’s home. We repaired the ceilings and walls in the living room and master bedroom, and patched leaks in the roof. We are hoping to be able to do extra work on the project on Friday! The other projects are nearing completion and everyone is working hard to make that happen. They’re putting finishing touches on drywall and additions to get ready to prime and paint.

Last night we were challenged to watch for Jesus through the humility and service of teammates. The squad in the picture below has decided to not take the day off tomorrow in order to get more work done on their family's home. Why? Because they love this family with the love of Jesus and want to serve them as best as they possibly can.
"in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests" (Philippians 2:3-4).

When there's a box, climb in it :)

As we wait for drywall to be measured and cut or for paint to dry, the team has been getting creative with downtime. Some students grabbed the kids of the families whose homes we’re working on to play games, to talk to them and love and care for these sweet children. Others worked alongside the kids, painting and cleaning. 

The depths of the relationships the team has already built with these families became evident tonight when we went to church at Fountain of Life. As the families we’re serving entered, one by one, their children found various students from our church and sat with them. During the worship service one little girl, 6 years old, sat with Lydia & Maddie. There was a time where they opened the front to anyone who wanted to come forward to pray. This little girl turned to Lydia & Maddie and said, “Well, are we going up front?” So together they did just that.

Here they are.
Brooke & Jessica with a young girl from the family they're serving  

Words fail to describe the beauty of God’s presence during the service and throughout this week. Tonight was special. As a community of people who love Jesus from West Virginia and Pennsylvania, we united to praise God and come before Him in prayer. Thank you for your prayers for us. Thank you for your support that got your kids on this trip. We are only brushing the surface of understanding how God will use this trip to change the lives of your kids, of this team, and these families. 

In Christ,

Appalachia Mission Team

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

God is Surprising

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Every evening our team meets together to spend some time reflecting on the day. We give everyone the opportunity to share their experiences that day and Joel and a few students (go Janna, Sam, and Jake!) lead us in worship. Before we close out the night, we pose a question from Scripture to the students for the next day. Last night, we looked at John 4 where Jesus healed an official's son. 

“'Go,' Jesus replied, 'your son will live.' The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living" (John‬ ‭4‬:‭50-51‬).

Jesus spoke. The boy was healed. I don't know about you, but that is surprising to me. Our God, is a God of surprises. He works in unbelievable and unexpected ways. He works miracles. And we saw that today.

For a bunch of newbies to home renovation, so much is getting done. Across four projects, our four groups (we fondly call "Squadrons") are working hard. Walls are being rebuilt. Collapsed ceilings are being restored. Kitchens are getting makeovers. And most importantly, in two days, our team is quickly building relationships with the families we're serving. Real relationships. The work sites were filled with laughter today. 

God is surprising. 

At the risk of being a little long tonight...can we share one more story?

In a culture where gossip is labeled humorous and hurtful words are praised, your teens aren't having it. They won't give in to that. They fought it tonight and God's kingdom shone brightly. A group of six girls grabbed Erin Blechman and asked if they could pray for one another. What did they pray for? Unity and growth. Support and love for one another. They represented different grades, schools and personalities. In Christ, they are united. 

And God isn't done growing this team in unity and love. The picture above is an encouragement wall. 
It's already getting filled with notes of encouragement for every member of our team. 

God is surprising.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Day 1

Hello everyone!

Work day number one is in the bag. 

Monday always starts off slow while everyone gets organized, meets the families whose homes we will work on, and runs back to the room for the fifth time to grab another forgotten item. (Yeah, those work gloves you carefully packed for them). But, even though it started slow and your kids were dragged out of bed at 6:45am on a summer day, we were so impressed to hear no complaints! 

We were able to head to our work sites around 9:30am. Our team split into 4 different projects for the week, each at a home in the community. 

We tackled roofing, electrical work, sink repairs, drywall, and painting, lots of painting. Here are some pictures of the team absolutely crushing it at their projects today. 

Last night, Adam challenged the team with our theme verse: "Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing." (John‬ ‭14‬:‭12‬).

He encouraged them to be on the lookout today for how Jesus is at work in their team members' lives. Our hope is that teens would take the time to open their eyes and watch Jesus working through the lives of their friends and peers. There is something about getting away from home, being outside of our comfort zones, and serving others that frees us to see Jesus moving. To see the kind of wonderfully compassionate and individually attentive God He is. 

And God moved!!! The biggest way we saw that was in the joy, enthusiasm and patience that everyone had as they dove into work and started building relationships with the families we are serving. It was an awesome day and we are so excited to see how God will surprise us tomorrow. 

In Christ,
Appalachia Mission Team

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Appalachia 2015!

And we're off!

We left right after church, but not before we took advantage of a quick photo opp.

We just got back on the road after stopping for lunch at Moe's. 

And that was a perfect time for van selfies :)

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. We can't wait to see what God is going to do this week!

In Christ,
Appalachia Team 2015