Last week, I had the opportunity to help chaperone a group of four of CMC’s high school boys on a service-learning trip through Appalachia Build (formerly known as SWAP). We spent the week in Kimball, West Virginia building a deck with a ramp for a household that included a young man with muscular dystrophy who uses a wheelchair. It really was the perfect job for our group, both in terms of the carpentry skill-level it required and because it gave our young men an opportunity to build a relationship with a peer and learn about his life experiences. We all worked hard (digging post holes in the mountains of West Virginia is no joke…), but we were regularly reminded that relationship building was a higher priority than productivity. I was especially heartened one day at the end of our lunch break when I realized I didn’t see a couple of our kids, yet when I went to find them they were in the back chatting with the family and playing with their pets. I think we let lunch stretch out a little bit longer that day.

Throughout the week, the Appalachia Build staff led us in daily reflections and learning opportunities that focused on the theme of “The Kingdom of God.”  I’m going to reflect more deeply on these experiences and that theme in our worship service on June 23, but I wanted to give an update via the blog a little sooner for all those who were wondering how the trip went. We appreciate both your prayers and your financial support of these kinds of trips. Not only did we build relationships with those we served, but we also greatly deepened our relationships with one another.

Here is a photo of the team with the mostly finished product: