One little boy that lived in the house would come out just about every day and hang out with us. He took a particular liking to Jimmy. The girls also made a big deal about him so he was enjoying all of the attention. While we were working on his house one day someone from the water or electric company stopped by when the family was not home. He told us to tell them that they were there to shut off their electric/water unless they paid their bill immediately. We were shocked at hearing this.
Another person was this older West Virginian lady named Patty. She made a huge impression on me. From all appearances she looked like the kind of person whom you would not give the time of day. She lived in a trailer that was recently condemned until Youthworks fixed it up enough so that it wouldn't get destroyed. She had a very thick West Virginia accent so you really had to pay attention to catch everything. But through getting to know her the Lord convicted me in a lot of ways. He taught me that appearances in many instances mean absolutely nothing. Patty had a house that she stored stuff that she collected that could help other people. It was called the Jesus house. The outside of the house was painted a funky purple with all kinds of spiritual murals and Bible verses painted all over it. She saw this as her mission to give to others in need. The irony here was she was in every definition of the phrase on of those "persons in need". The fact is though, she had a deep faith and knew that her spiritual gifts were to give and be hospitable. Every day she would provide food for our lunches despite the fact that we had sack lunches with us! She wanted to make home cooked meals for us just about every day. On the last day, she cooked a huge chicken dinner for us and stuffed us like pigs. I tried to tell her midway through the week that this was unnecessary and that we are here to help and assist her and her neighborhood but she continued to want to give from the goodness of her heart. The issue that plagued me here was how in the world did she have the money to feed us anything. I found out later that she spends a part of her day collecting metal to turn it in for money so she has enough to give to others. I was humbled.
We also had quite an adventure going white water rafting on our last day before we headed back. At the tail end of our rafting trip I had one of my girls go into a asthma attack that for the most part began paralyzing her. At that moment I realized one of the weaknesses of cell phones. My phone was back up at the lodge and I had no way to get to it because I needed to jump in the ambulance with my teen. Unfortunately I decided at the beginning of the rafting trip not to wear a shirt. Another decision I could do nothing about once I jumped into the ambulance with just a wet bathing suit on. Once we got the the hospital my teenager got the attention she needed to feel better. But then I began to wrestle with how to get a hold of the rest of my team. Because of cell phones, I have never memorized any ones phone numbers because I just have to look up their name and press the green button. So I went through the process of using the antique called a phone book and tried to locate the rafting company where the rest of my team was so that I could tell them which hospital I was at and have them come get us. It was a little frustrating realizing how much we are tied to our technology.
Overall our teens did another amazing job working hard and relating and ministering to people in a rural setting. This was my first Summer where we focused on doing mission trips to rural areas. Rural poverty was much more different than urban poverty. I wrestled with why some of these people didn't just move far away from here and move to a spot that is a little bit more civilized and active. But for many of these people this is all they know and this has been where their family has always lived. This town did not have a local Walmart (40 minutes away) or even a movie theatre. When I ask one of the local teenager what they did for fun around here the activity at the top of the list was hunting.
Our teens also did an amazing job getting to know the other youth groups that were with us and really warming up to the Youthworks staff, especially this one dude named Alex. He was very outgoing and extremely relational with the teens.