It’s been over a week that I’ve been back. I apologize for the serious lack of updating the past two weeks. I actually feel pretty bad about it. Well, I’m going to make the effort to resume posting something daily or bi-daily henceforth. And warning, this post will be long….
1750mi. 8 states. 7 days.
Well, the E-town Mission was awesome. I really enjoyed it. We left, actually, during our church’s 10-year anniversary service. I felt kind of bad, initially, doing it because it means I wasn’t able to be there to clean and break down. I had to find people to cover all aspects of it in my absence. Well, from what I heard it all went good, so shoutout to Carly, Sam, and Phil for handling it all quite nicely.
We drove down there making only a few stops for food and lavatory. I think the total trip, including stops, took about 13 – 14 hours. I drove the whole way to Cherokee, NC. I’ll admit the last 2 or so hours were rough. I almost fell asleep a few times. Manny was there to keep me awake, and when he saw me veering off the road, he’d be pretty quick in asking a question or something. I suppose he wasn’t in the mood to get in an accident and die.
Anyway, we made it there around 2:30/3am and all passed out of exhaustion promptly. The next day was filled with cultural learnings of Cherokee for make benefit glorious group of The Bridge. We went on a hike up this amazing waterfall. It was really cool. And even better was that our entire team made it to the top together. Very motivating and unity-building. I have to give special shoutout to Janelle here because, as I mentioned in a previous post, I lost my mind and left my $1000 HV20 a the base of the falls while we were sclaing the mountain. I completely forgot it was there. And Janelle ran back down to rescue the camera from certain doom, as there were significant numbers of people passing by the bridge while we were up the falls. Afterwards we went to a tourist Indian Village. It’s a replica of how the Cherokee lived 200 years ago so we would be able to learn their culture and struggle and ideas and beliefs. It was pretty eye-opening. We learned a lot about these people that we would be serving in the next week.
Tuesday began the work week. We were split into two crews, one being named A and the other B. I was assigned to Crew A. We were sent to a house not-too-far from our sleeping quarters in order to do some maintenance inside. Apparently the ceilings of this house were damaged in some heavy rains of recent weeks. There were water stains all over the place. And the roof even caved in in one room. Most of the crew was assigned to sealing and repainting the ceiling and the porch. I was sent with Sarah to the caved-in roof. We were to cut it out, install a new one, spackle it, and then create a faux popcorn ceiling design to match the rest of the house. While on the subject, I must make it public that I loathe popcorn ceilings. Passionately. The entire time we were painting it, pieces would fall down on top of us and make a mess everywhere. It seemed more paint fell to the floor than stayed on the roof. But I digress. Sarah and I spent the majority of the work-time on top of a ladder making repairs to the roof and and learning the in’s and out’s of spackle. I do believe we got pretty good at it by the end of the trip. The later parts of the ceiling did come out much nicer than the former.
While we were there we had an unexpected addition to out work. It seems that the crew that was there they year before us and re-shingled the roof did a poor job of it. There was a monsterous raining while we were working and the roof began to leak pretty badly, and, lo, the ceiling in the living room collapesed while we were working alongside it. We had to run quickly, as water was pouring in the house, to cover the roof. Luckily Brandon, a worker from the organization we were there with, showed up that very instant and just happend to have a massive tarp with him. We scaled the roof and convered, practically, the entire thing as to prevent any more rain from entering the building. And so, our work there was extended another day because we had to put another new ceiling in and try to match it to the existing popcorn ceiling. It was a lot of work, but it was really fun to do. The team worked together amazingly. There were no fights the entire week. The level of teamwork and unity was astounding. Everyone did their share and helped out with whatever was needed. Sarah was our Crew Leader and did a great job motivating and encouraging and leading everyone to accomplish our goals. And I guess I should apologize for dumping copious amounts of water into her lap while on the ladder. It was completely accidental… 🙂 But the work was great. I’ve known Sarah for at least a dozen years or more and it was fun to be able to work right along side her all week. Much laughing and fun. She’s good people.
From what I hear, the other crew did an amazing job as well. They painted the complete exterior of a house… in the rain. They also completely cleaned the gym we were staying in – floors, walls, backboards, bathrooms, showers… everything. And they did an amazing job.
The entire work portion of the trip was quite inspirational. At the beginning of the trip, the woman who owned the house we were working in was quite distant to us. She wouldn’t really say anything. She stayed in her room the entire time. By the end of the trip she would hang out with us while we were working. She was talking to us. She was sharing her life. She told us of her pain and struggles. Both her and her adopted son are very sick with pretty serious illnesses. We really felt for them. And she showed emotion… completely opposite of the start of the trip. Our simple acts of painting and spackling broke down the walls and barriers and really helped us connect and show love to a soul who needed it. In the end she let us pray for her and take a picture, which I need to process and send over to her. It was a great experience.
The ministry time was great as well. Every night we gathered before bed to discuss our day and how we saw God moving in and through us. We spoke of lessons learned and what was on our minds and hearts. There were times of worship and prayer every night. I have to confess that I may have passed out during worship a once or twice throughout the week because I was so tired. But it was still good. One night I ended up talking to Jenn until 3am. I love talking to Jenn. We understand each other. We’re both thrust into this position of leadership, and yet are still trying to figure out what that exactly means and how we do it properly. We share many of the same fears and doubts and strenghts and hopes at the same time. It’s comforting to know that you’re not alone out there in your role and your thoughts… that you have friends who are going through the same things, and the fact that you can just sit and talk and share what’s on your mind and heart with someone who completely understands is an amazing thing.
After the work section was done, we drove from North Carolina to Virgina and stayed in a hotel in Richmond (beds had never felt so good). We went to King’s Dominion on Friday and spent the day in the amusement park. It was pretty nice. I got to spend the day with Michael, Romulo, Janelle, Ali, and Manny. I admit that I’m not too big a fan of amusement parks. They just don’t do it for me. I’m not really a ride person. But I went on all the roller coasters (that’s all we went to) with everyone for the simple fact that I wanted to hang out with them. I need more hang out time with friends. The glow of the computer screen, as pretty as it is with OS X on it, doesn’t compare with actual human contact. Anyway… It was a pretty good day. Quite enjoyable. After the park, we went to Cracker Barrel (thank God it wasn’t fast food again) and then into Maryland where we stayed at Janelle’s friend‘s house for the night. Thanks to the Wolff family for allowing a bunch of strangers to crash in their basement for an evening. You are braver folk than I.
On Saturday we spent the day in Washington DC. We went to the Spy Museum. It was ok, but I wasn’t too impressed. Perhaps this is due to the fact that there were about 100,000 people crammed in there like sardines. Ok, I exaggerate, but it felt like that. Then we drove around DC a bit and ended up at the Lincoln Memorial. I loved it. Lincoln, in my opinion, is the greatest President we’ve ever had. I love his story, and so this monument was right up my alley. We spent an hour or two there and then headed back home to NJ to complete our voyange.
I forgot how much fun road trips were. This is the first one we’ve done with The Bridge and I hope we can do many more in the future. I’m sure there are more stories to share. If I think of them perhaps I will post appendix posts to this one. But it is 2am and I am tired and need to sleep for work starts at 7. And so I bid you adew. Fare thee well, and may peace be with you.
If you have questions or want more, please comment me and I will share in greater detail. If you went on the trip and have a story, I’d love to hear it, also in a comment.
You can see hundreds of pictures of the E-town Mission on my Flickr account.
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