The West Virginia team returned on Sunday evening after an amazing five days working and living and having fun together in the town of Philippi. Here’s a report from Liz Gray, Restoration’s outreach coordinator and — as it turns out — Bananagrams player extraordinaire. Come to our outreach fun night tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6:30 to hear more stories and see more great pictures!
Thank you so much for praying for the whole team over the last five days. We had a simply amazing time. World Servants (who organized the trip) did SUCH a good job of helping both those who came and those who hosted to have a positive experience; and our home-grown leader — Ian Hassell — was hugely helpful as a motivator, encourager, and guide as he exhorted us to keep looking for God in all we did.
A lot of ground work had been done with the hosts — so although we were working on their properties in a variety of ways, there was a strong sense that they were intentionally working too…
Firstly: to enable us to have a worthwhile experience in learning skills and doing things that were new to us (whether using power tools, putting up a roof, insulating a house). They relished the opportunity to teach and explain things which they were clearly expert at, but where they needed the additional manpower to simply get a job done. They had the ability to complete all the tasks we completed but definitely needed many hands to make them happen! There was a strong sense of helping people to achieve their dreams…whether to become more self-sufficient in food production for their extended families, keeping warm in winter or building opportunities for community gatherings. And perhaps, to fulfill some of our dreams too — to serve, but also to experience a different way of life, and to get to play with petrol-driven weed-whackers, chainsaws, nailguns, gravel dump trucks, chicken poop, wiring, insulation, roof rafters….
Secondly: they were keen that we should have a positive experience as a team: there was plenty of time for us to eat, play and talk together — and we did have a fabulous time doing all those things! Personally, I relished the opportunity to get to know some Restoration/Falls Church people better: life seems full at times, and it was such a treat to just have a little bit more freedom to have longer conversations with different people who I have not had the chance to spend time with before.
Thirdly: engaging with the Chestnut Ridge community. We were allowed insights into some difficult life situations… But were also excited and encouraged by the response of the community and the church to attempt to bring God into these hurt places. The strength of commitment to community was evident and powerful.
We were allowed to see into the lives of people who live and think just a little bit differently to us. I sometimes think that the whole world is like a faint pencil outline and as we meet and experience and learn to love different people God colors in sections — so we can begin to see a little more from their perspective. I love the way that different communities and cultures all see God from a slightly different angle and therefore, we have so much to learn from (and teach) each other from our personal understanding of God and community.
Finally, thank you too for prayers for safety and good travel, etc. Despite small children chopping down trees with one and two handled saws, lots of working with insulation and poison ivy, and driving home on crowded roads, all were kept safe.
As we meditated on a daily basis on what we were learning about God and about ourselves — we were all challenged to think and grow and pray and learn and love more….
It was a VERY good trip.