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Monday, July 17, 2006

Mission Trip: First Day on the Job…

I am writing this post at 6am while sitting on a hot splintery red bench at a homeless work farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It is already at least 80 degrees and is going to get up to 100+ today. I can see the house we are going to work on down the path (you can see a photo to the right.)

We drove in yesterday from Alexandria with 11 Middle School kids and 5 advisors. It is a much smaller group of kids this year than past years for this trip, a few years ago we had over 20 kids ready for work.

For the past five years I have put aside a week of my vacation time from work and headed out to the middle of nowhere with a bunch of Middle School kids from my church. Jennifer thinks I am insane because they are Middle School kids and I am living like someone on the show Survivor. I think I might be crazy, but I do get a lot out of this week every year and hope I can continue this until Dryver is in Middle School, though it does take a lot these days with so much going on.

In past years we have headed to Marion, Virginia to work on rebuilding poor and elderly homes. Last year we headed to Atlantic City to work in the poorest areas of the city and help feed and shelter the homeless. This year we traveled about three hours to Earlville, Maryland and are living on a farm that has been set-up for families that have become homeless.

This farm, known as The Meeting Ground, shelters about 40 people, including kids as young as Dryver and Stryde, and single and married parents. Most of the people living here are down on their luck and have lost everything. They lost their homes and were living on the street or in their cars. They are very thankful to be living here and work hard to be a part of the farm. The stories are amazing and I will share some of these in my blog on later postings. I am taking many photos also as the farm is beautiful and the people are even more beautiful and caring. I will post the photos when I get back home on Friday as there is no way to download them while I am here, unless I do a MacGyver type set-up.

These experiences provide me so much on so many levels. The experience with the homeless families, working with the kids, and even getting some experience building and repairing homes. Today, our first day on the job, we are planning on tearing down an old building from the top down. We are pulling each beam, board, wall stud, and nail out of this large 7 room home until it is just a pile of dirt. It is fun, but sad also to see such an old building being torn down. We need to be extra careful as this job has a lot of old boards and rusty nails. It should be fun as long as the kids take it seriously and also treat the work with respect. I love these trips and am finally going to share some of these experiences on my blog.

Every year my Dad has been really proud and I would sit up at night when I was visiting and tell him about the trips. He always told me to keep a journal of these experiences so when I got old and senile I would remember these times. I also think the journal is important for Dryver and Stryde to see what kind of dad they had when they are older.

So here it is. I am in the middle of nowhere. It is 85 degrees according to the thermometer on the barn (already up 5 degrees from when I started writing), and I am writing my blog. I have to get the kids up and get them going. It is going to be a busy day. I am going to write everyday this week about our experiences and keep track of the learning experiences and also tell you about what we see and do. It is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lives, and I hope these posts will inspire you to sign-up to help those in most need.

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