ASP 2013: FANG
As I reflect on our week in Leslie, KY with 43 amazing members of the FUMC ASP team, I am overcome with emotions. I was honored to serve on Team Fang with Jim Bain, Jeb Baird, Andrew Bice, Sarah Franklin, Alexis Goldhagen, and Christian Boldin. All of our team members have been to ASP at least one year, so our jobs of replacing joist and building a 10 x 5 front porch and a 5 x 5 back porch were within our skill level with Captain Jim’s leadership, expertise, and patience. Our construction work was basically uneventful, with the exception of some rain delays and the late arrival of some supplies. However, in all things there is good, and we used both of these obstacles to spend time with our homeowner, Mr. S. I have never met someone who was so grateful to have the companionship of 7 hot, muddy people who continuously trekked in and out of his home. Each day, he and his beautiful dog, Bear, were waiting at the door when we arrived. Although each of us has wonderful animals at home, we all agreed that there was just something special about Bear. Mr. S. shared that Bear has provided companionship and much joy during a very difficult time of his life. Bear quickly won our hearts as he watched us work from a window in an adjacent abandoned home that Mr. S. grew up in. Mr. S. has carpentry skills and worked with us periodically during the day when he felt able. He eagerly looked forward to the picnic and attended with his sister and brother-in-law. Although he said he had never danced, he was delighted when Sarah invited him to hit the dance floor with her that night. One of our most cherished memories happened on Thursday, July 4, during a lunchtime rain. We all climbed into the van and headed UP, WAY UP into the mountains, with Mr. S. navigating as Mr. Jim drove. What an adventure that was! We were blessed with an expanse of beautiful mountain scenery and even visited a deserted coal mine.
After our adventure on Thursday, we were a little behind on Friday morning, but we each agreed we would not leave until our work for Mr. S. was complete. Although we knew that we had a long day of work ahead, no one on our team seemed to mind. I think we were all dreading the moment when we would have to say good-bye to our new friend. Throughout the day, Mr. S. would appear, calling each of us inside to pick out a DVD from his collection of westerns and historical movies. Around 5:30 pm, we did finish our work. Certainly, there were a few imperfections, but Mr. S. said the porches were beautiful. As we prepared to leave, Mr. S. said he appreciated the work, but he was most grateful for the friendships that he had made with each of us during the week and would cherish them always. It was really hard to drive away that day, and we all agreed, Mr. S. and Bear had forever made an imprint on our hearts.
The ASP experience extends past the work with our team and allows for friends and church members to get to know each other in new ways. Although many of the adults obviously had some (or many!) aches and pains after hard workdays and sleeping on cots and air mattresses for a week, seeing love in action through our youth and each other is a priceless experience. These youth are a remarkably caring group who exhibit maturity beyond their years as they work long hours in conditions that present many challenges both physically and emotionally. Time and again this past week, I had adults from Kentucky express disbelief that so many of our kids would choose to spend a week of their summer working with ASP. I was even asked if we paid them to come! On the contrary, they beg to come on this adventure. And, even if they are not aware, they already know some of the most important lessons in life…that it is through giving that true fulfillment is found.