In August, 2011, 15 members from St. James UCC, in Limerick, PA packed up to venture out on a mission trip to help those in need of a willing hand in Keokee, VA. On the trip there were 5 adult chaperons and 10 youth. It took them numerous months and a large amount of fundraisers and support from the church, and their families and friends in order to raise enough money to pay for travel expenses, food, and supplies for the trip. Some of the fundraisers held included dinners, bake sales, donation collections at the fourth of July, and donations for yard work.
The trip down to Keokee, VA took two days. After the first day the St James ASP team stopped to rest in a hotel for the night. While in the hotel the group discussed their plans for the trip and was informed of what to expect. The group was also asked to share with each other what their personal expectations of the trip were and what they believed a skill was that they possessed and would be able to utilize on the trip. Some of the responses were that they wanted to see a difference in the people they were going to help by the end of the week, others said they hoped to learn more skills on the work site, and some simply stated that they just wanted to know what it was like to give to someone without the hopes of something in return. When asked for their skills some responded that they believed they were “people persons” and enjoyed learning of the backgrounds of the people they would be assisting, others stated that they believed they were leaders and had hopes to assist those in the group to become leaders as well, and a few saw themselves as comics and hoped to help in keep up the moral of the group.
When the group arrived in Keokee, they were greeted by the leaders of the center as well as the members of another church which they would be living and working with while on their trip. During the week the groups were split up into smaller groups containing seven people. The groups were then assigned different tasks at several different houses. Some of the tasks included; painting, flooring, plumbing, roofing, installing trim, doors, and downspouts, and redoing walls and bathrooms. Though there were many tasks to be completed the members of the groups worked together to get all of them completed. At times there would be bumps in the road and things would not work as planned but through the power of team work the jobs were completed and the families were left with safer and drier homes.
There were many things learned while on the trip; new skills both personally and physically, greater appreciation for what we have, and the simple joys of the little things in life. Another thing that was learned was the idea of acceptance. The idea that even if things don’t always goes as we plan, that as long as they are moving forward in a positive manner that should be good enough. The group was taught by those that they help that best way to live your life is to keep your head up no matter what and to take life as it comes, bumps and all.