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  • Karen Oakjones-Burgess

Appalachia Reflection

On June 23rd, forty-four members of various churches in Maryland, including nine people from the Church of the Good Shepherd, ventured to Louisa, KY to work with the Appalachia Service Project (ASP). We spent a week working on various homes for families who were gracious enough to welcome us into their lives. Group leaders and teens worked together repairing and rebuilding roofs, decks, vinyl siding, adding insulation, digging drainage ditches, and building porches. It was hot, tiring, and amazing! As a first time ASP participant, I had no idea what to expect on the trip. I was told that this would be life-changing. Well, the first day and a half, all I could think was “What have I done and when will it be time to go home?” That thought quickly faded as I became more comfortable and opened my heart and mind to the people I was with that week. Our families were all so welcoming and kind and wanted to do whatever they could for us. The other group leaders were welcoming and encouraging. The cooks were so sweet and kind and helped to keep our energy up on those long days. But what really made this trip life-changing for me was the teens that went on the trip. Their attitudes, outlooks on life, and strength really helped me to power through the hard times. What they gave me was a new perspective. The way they look at the world was refreshing and encouraging. They gave a week of their summer to go to a strange place, with people they didn’t know, to do difficult physical work, and I never heard one complaint. Instead, they did everything they could for their families and encouraged each other at the worksite. This truly was a life-changing trip for me and I am so blessed to have shared this with others from our congregation, as well as the amazing people I met from other churches. I can’t wait to go next year! Who’s going with me?

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