Saturday, April 7, 2012

West Virginia

Hi, this is Caleb.  Mom asked me to blog about my mission trip to West Virginia with the FRC youth group.

We left early last week Saturday morning and arrived at the home we lived in for a week in Northfork, West Virginia at 6:00pm.  
We stayed in this big white house.

The ministry we worked under was called Mustard Seeds and Mountains and we helped fix up peoples houses in this community of poverty near the foothills of the Appalachians.  At our orientation session on Saturday night we learned some of these facts about the county we worked in including Northfork:

--At one point it was one of the richest counties in the U.S., but is now one of the poorest.
--It once had a population of 150,000, but now has 24,000.  This is largely due to the loss of jobs with change over from man power to machine power in the mining industry.
--49% of children do not live with their biological parents
--Most people are on welfare and some may be 5th generation welfare recipients.  Recently, when a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up he responded, "I want to get a check like my Grandma."
--Many years ago Northfork was thriving community with state basketball champions many years in a row.  Now they don't even have their own school. 
--Currently in the town of Northfork the biggest employers are the Dollar Store and the Pharmacy.

The town of Northfork

The town's playground.

The house we stayed in and some other houses.

Overlooking the town of Northfork.

On Sunday, we attended Trinity Presbyterian church in Tazewell, Virginia.  The church invited us to their fellowship meal following the service and provided lots of good food. 

We worked Monday through Thursday at two different job sites.  Most of the work was painting with a few other odd jobs like replacing siding and flooring.    I worked in the house of a 46 year old lady named Renee.  She was the only one currently living in the house and had lived there since she was 12 years old.  We painted the bedrooms of her home which were in need of a new coat of paint.   Later in the week she treated us by taking us out to eat at the local cafe. 

On Friday, we visited Organ Cave in Greenbrier Valley in WV.  We sang hymns and praise songs while in the cave and taped ourselves like they recommended because of the awesome acoustics.   After stopping to eat supper we drove through the night to return home early this morning (Saturday). 

We played games every night together.

I had a great time on the trip and learned quite a bit about poverty and our view toward those that are poor.   We had teaching/orientation sessions every morning and evening with Mr. Wallace that included activities to help us understand poverty and orientate ourselves to the community we were working in.  We also took turns leading devotions at meals.   It was good to get to know the other members of the youth group better and to be challenged in ways that I can grow spiritually.   I am glad to be back home, though!

A few pictures of the amazing landscape.

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