Tuesday, July 23, 2013

West Virginia Mission Trip

I have been away for a while.  My daughter and I just got back from a church mission trip to West Virginia.  Honestly, I was not looking forward to this trip at all.  I have medical issues that had my husband very worried about me the whole time I was gone and I was a little concerned myself that I would not be able to handle the heat, the hard work, the long days, the 13 and 1/2 hours of driving to get there and 14 1/2 hours to get back home.
This was my co-driver.  Good thing we had a GPS with us. he he he  Only kidding. He only slept when he wasn't driving.

I have never met anyone that truly lives off the land. The family we were helping this week does just this.    They eat what they can hunt whether it be deer, rabbit, or even squirrels.  They can and preserve their own vegetables that they have grown in their garden.  They raise chickens for the fresh eggs. 

And they appreciate everything they have.  Unlike my teens, they do not cast anything to the side.  Everything is well taken care of, cared for even, nothing goes to the trash if another use can be found for it.

What we did for this family seems so small in comparison to some of the other crews that were working for the same organization.  On the last day we drove around and saw some of the jobs being done at other locations.  The Community Center was being expanded and updated,

a couple of homes were getting decks built, a new house was being totally built from the ground up. 

What we did was finish an addition that was started 2 years ago until the family ran out of funds to buy anymore stock.  We simply went in and finished what they had started to give the parents their own bedroom and their daughter a bedroom, as well.  This is the first time the daughter has EVER had her own room. 

When I say we simply finished what they had already started.  It was not that simple.  There were 3 adult volunteers and 9 students ranging in age from 11 to 17.  Out of the 11 of us, my daughter and I probably had the most building experience only because my husband has had his own construction business for the past 25 years.  So some of that knowledge wore off on us.  They others did not even know how to hammer a nail, let alone installing OSB, insulating or cutting wood. The photo below is where we were working all week.

We had no one assigned to us to give us guidance because the home owner was expected to be there.  He was called to work, so Dani, the coordinator for the program, stayed with us and assigned us all jobs and got us going.  She is one tough cookie.  Or as my daughter called her, a slave driver.  I truly admired her, though.  She knew she only had us for 4 days and she wanted to get as much as she could from us while we were there.  So she did not take kindly to water breaks or any complaining at all from any of us.

The first day I was to run the painting crew.  Three of us primed all the OSB that was on hand and laid it out everywhere and anywhere we could find space to dry.  In the 95 degree weather, that did not take long at all.

While we were outside, there were two crews working inside.  One crew was putting up insulation in the ceiling.  The older, fiberglass, ITCHY, kind of insulation.  These guys were scratching themselves for the rest of the week.  The third crew was cutting OSB board to put on the ceiling and the walls.  I do not understand why the home owner wanted to use OSB (partical board)  It is very heavy, not water-resistant, has a very textured effect to it because of how it is made.  It was also 5/8" thick while the screws we were using looked to be only 11/4 inch so there is not much holding these boards into the ceiling or walls.  But this is what the home owner wanted, so this is what we worked with.  It is difficult enough putting sheetrock or drywall on ceilings just because it is awkward to try holding these board up over your head while someone screws it in.  OSB is even more difficult just because of the weight of it.  We had 6 people holding these boards while two people screwed it in  place.
Then there are seams that are left exposed with OSB board that you would not have with drywall.  But anyway.  We insulated the walls next.  This was the newer soft insulation that does not get itchy, so it was much easier to work with.  Once this was done we put up the walls and were able to start painting.  Kayla's room is painted in two shades of purple.  It looked great and she was so happy to see her room all painted in the colors she asked for.  Mom and Dad got a soft rose color on their walls with white ceilings in both rooms.
I would have liked to have gotten to the point of helping them move their furniture in and have the rooms completely done but we ran out of time.  I think all that was left was to let the paint on the walls dry,  hook up the ceiling lights, and add any trim work.  Plus to add doors but we did not have any doors to install otherwise these might have gotten done, as well.
This is a photo of the front of the house with Karen, my new friend, and Pastor John from the church we went with.
And this is the crew that did all the work along with Karen and Kayla in the front and center of the photo.  I am so thankful for meeting them and helping them with their project. 

It was so hot while we were there.  The living conditions for us were not the best. We had a shower trailer with 7 stalls, but only 5 working showers.  The students got timed, 7 minutes to enter, get undressed, shower, dry off and dress again.

Here the boys waiting for their turn in the showers,  The next photo is the outside of the shower trailer and then the inside.
 Our meals were provided 45 minutes away from where we were sleeping.  And there was no drinking water where we ate so we had to bring coolers full of water from the church we were staying at.

The girls in our group were all together in a bunk room.  8 girls with all their stuff.  The room was so warm when they closed the door.  We kept trying to tell them to keep it open to get air but they wanted their privacy.  The left is a photo from about the 2nd or 3rd day and the next one is once they packed up to head home.
We were officially woken up at 6 every morning.  Myself and Jennifer shared a room that was the storage room from the overflow of luggage from other groups so I woke every morning starting around 4 am while people came in with flashlights looking for things.  We never got a minute of free time.  Worship took place every evening from 8:30 until 10:30 then we had our own Church worship time for another half hour and lights out was exactly at 11:00 every night.  I was over-tired the whole week, my legs were in pain every night to the point I was in tears by Thursday night.
We are home now and back into our regular routines.  With time to reflect on the whole week.  I have no regrets!!  We met and became friends with a wonderful woman and her daughter.  We learned to appreciate all the little things we take for granted every day after hearing how tough some of these families have it in the area we were in.

And here are our new friends, Karen and her daughter, Kayla.  They are what made this whole trip worth it.  They were so welcoming, friendly, giving, caring people that welcomed us into their homes and their hearts right from the first day we met. 

It was exhausting, hot, long hours spent in a van everyday, thirsty all week long, not much sleep each night,  but yes I would do it all over again if asked.

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