At 5:00 AM on Saturday, June 13, fourteen youth and three adults met at First Presbyterian Church to embark on a week long mission trip to West Virginia. After prayer and encouragement from our pastor, Steven Koski, we climbed into three vehicles and headed to the Portland Airport.
It was a fairly quiet ride to the airport and the folks at the United Airlines counter were extremely helpful in getting us all checked in quickly and headed through security. We breezed through security with only one of our group getting a “random” security screening. (watch out for all those teenagers in tie-dye!) After finding our gate we split up looking for food (the adults were in desperate need of coffee). At 11:00 AM we boarded our flight bound for Chicago. The flight was uneventful, it was one of our youth’s first time on a plane (you’ll have to ask her yourself what she thought). We landed in Chicago, and like a herd of tie-dyed cattle we found our next gate before splitting up for another food run. (Be sure to ask Sandy about the noise at the gate :-))
Things seemed to be going great…then we landed in Charleston, WV where we were met by my parents and sister with a “Welcome to WV” sign, homemade cookies, and milk. Unfortunately, over half our bags did not meet us there. Ten of our seventeen travelers did not get their bags, apparently they were still sitting on the tarmac in Chicago. But God was on our side…my sister, with her new skills as a travel agent, got all of our baggage information and began talking to the airline tracking down our luggage and getting us toiletries (did you know that the airlines will give you toiletry packs if your bags don’t show up? I didn’t); my mother and father went back to their house to get all the sleeping bags, towels, blankets, and pillows they could find; and we traveled 45 minutes to Montgomery Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, WV.
After settling down and getting a little organized we finally got to bed about 1:00 AM EST.
Sunday morning we worshiped with the folks at Montgomery Presbyterian, I was able to participate a little and even got to slip in the phrase “startle us” (which I and our youth got a kick out of…want to know more? Come to Sunday morning worship at Bend FP). Sunday afternoon was spent in the Charleston Mall and exploring the streets of downtown Charleston. We also went back to the airport where we saw the most beautiful site that most of us had seen in a while…OUR BAGS MADE IT! My sister loaded her jeep with our bags and we headed back to Montgomery, Sandy’s car stopped at the grocery store to pick up supplies, and we made a detour on the way to see my old house.
On Monday, we started work. Rachael took her group of five youth to work on a Habitat for Humanity house and the rest of us went to Kathy’s house in Boomer, WV (about ten minutes from Montgomery). The Habitat folks got to work putting up shelves and putting the finishing touches on the house while the family worked with them side by side. We took over Kathy’s house: loading up a dumpster with trash from the basement, painting the peaks of the roof, painting the living room walls, stippling (this was a new word for me) the ceiling in the living room, gushing over Alexa Marie (Kathy’s granddaughter), scraping trim, and cleaning. It was a good hard day of work to get us off to a good start.
Monday night, I got a surprise…my roommate from seminary came to join us in our work.
Tuesday, two of our senior guys stayed back and helped with “Tuesday Church” (a hospitality ministry for Montgomery Presbyterian…look for another post soon about this) and the rest of us went to our respective sites. About an hour after getting to our sites, two of the girls on the Habitat site were just sitting around so they called me…Joan (Director of WVMAW) and her husband Tim (Site Supervisor) rounded them up and found work for them. That day we were spread all over, but diligently working.
Tuesday afternoon we decided to tear the roof off of Kathy’s back porch. In a matter of three hours our group tore off the existing roof, replaced rotted out boards, replaced the fascia boards, put down felt paper, and haul all of the trash to the dumpster. It was pretty impressive! It was a hard day, but we knew that on Wednesday we would have a “day off”.
Wednesday was our “FUN DAY”! We decided to whitewater raft the Lower New River (we went with North American River Runners…a company I would recommend to anyone). I have rafted that stretch of river about 20 times and was looking forward to sharing the fun with these youth from Oregon. The water was a little above normal, (about 4 feet) which is a great level to run the rapids. The first half of the day was kind of slow with only one “big” rapid named “Surprise”. One of the boats on our trip (the only boat that we weren’t in) flipped! Which sounds scary but if you’re going to flip your boat that’s just about the best place to do it. After a wonderful lunch along the river bank, we headed into the teeth of the river. There were definitely some scary moments (be sure to ask the youth about this), but at the end of the day everyone was happy, safe, and only a little sunburned.
We closed out our “FUN DAY” with a home cooked meal at my parent’s house in Charleston. It was good to be home, and I only got a little ribbing about the embarrassing pictures of my growing up on the walls from the youth. When we returned to the church in Montgomery we were exhausted and went to bed quickly.
Thursday was the hottest and most humid day of the week (90+ with 80%+ humidity). It did not however effect our level of work. The group at Kathy’s house shingled the roof, others painted trim and underneath the porches, others painted the foundation, painted the ceiling in the dining room and began work cleaning and painting the kitchen, and rotated doing “baby” duty. We sent two folks to Habitat and they put together and installed appliances, and prepared the house for its final touches.
As we left the work site on Thursday Kathy asked us if we would like some homemade pizza. We all said “sure!” and looked forward to another home cooked meal (which was much more appetizing than another day of granola bars and pb&j for lunch).
Friday was our last day of work. The Habitat folks went to their site for a couple of hours to clean, then came to help us at Kathy’s. We worked hard and had THE MOST AMAZING PIZZA OF ALL TIME!!! Kathy made the dough from scratch, grated the cheese, cut the vegetables, and baked it all while we worked inside to finish up the cleaning and painting. It was quite a gift for us to be able to share in Kathy’s “holiday family meal”. Her daughter told us she only makes the pizza during the holidays, so for her to share that with us was one of the more gracious things I saw on our mission trip.
By the time we finished working, the Habitat House needed carpet and was ready to move in; Kathy’s house got new paint on the living room walls, the ceilings of the kitchen and dining room, the trim downstairs, the front and back porch, most of the trim outside, and the foundation; scrubbed walls; new back porch roof; ceiling fan in the living room; and a new vanity in the bathroom.
Friday night we had some local cuisine, we went to Tudor’s Biscuit World (ask the youth about their experience), and had our final devotion (which took 5 hours) that was a heartfelt, emotional, moving, loving, gracious experience hearing how each member of the group had effected each individual on the trip. We finally got to bed around 1:00 AM (well some of us!)
At 3:15 AM we started packing my sister’s jeep (she had driven down the night before) and loaded up the vehicles. We left Montgomery Presbyterian Church at 4:00 AM EST. Our flight left the Charleston Airport at 6:00 AM EST and we landed in Chicago at 6:15 CST. After a four hour layover we took off at 10:00 AM and landed in Portland around 12:20 PM PST, ALL OR BAGS MADE IT, our three drivers met us and we loaded up our bags to head home. After a quick stop at Burgerville in Gresham the last vehicle pulled into the parking lot of First Presbyterian Church at about 5:30 PM PST (8:30 PM EST).
It was a great trip, we have an amazing group of youth who are loving, caring, role models for not only the youth, but our entire community. We are blessed to have such a wonderful piece of the body of Christ in our congregation.
One of the youth set up a photobucket account that is ever growing take a look at all that we did: