Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In the Mountains of Kentucky

1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us to do everything for the Glory of God. Well, yesterday I got the chance to get a little muddy, wet, cold, and stinky! AND I can say that I enjoyed every minute of it. I was working with a group to clean up a site where the roof had been replaced. So all of the shingles, plywood, tar paper, and aluminum were on the ground. We had plastic we would throw these on and tie up to throw in the truck. It rained the entire time we were there and I'm pretty sure Donna (our vans name) smelled something gross when we got back. This house we were working at was situated back in the hills, there was an older lady there and what looked to be her daughter brought her child over and they sat on the porch as we worked. As we finished loading the truck for the day they were asking to keep the scrap tin and aluminum, anything they could use in the future or take to scrap for cash.
Being back in the hills is a majestic place to be. You can see mountains all around you, everyone seemed to know everyone, and they all worked together. I could see this sense of community when the father of the child took over a pot to either get water or boil it at the neighbors house to fix the son a bottle. That neighbor could have easily turned him away but instead she welcomed him in.

As the day went on and we cleared the stuff from in front of the house, the rain picked up but so did my energy. By the time we made it to the dump I was on a mission and was tossing Rusty bags to throw off the truck. We were working together for the common good of another family. This small task I was able to be a part of really made me feel like I was doing something that mattered.

While I sit and wait on grades to come in, I can't help but to feel as if they are insignificant to the work I have the opportunity to do here. This work is done to give back to an area that has given so much to me. I love the mountains, I love Kentucky, and I love the people here in Appalachia. This trip has just begun and can feel my spirits lifted, knowing that people who need help are getting it, and that people do care.

I also got to speak with the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hazard, we are staying at their mission cottage and while getting the password to the internet we got to talking about Hazard and the sense of community the people have. She has been here 9 years and says that people think she's crazy, but she is serving the God who has called her to be here and work here. The church is starting renovation in August to better accommodate the groups that come in to work with HDA (housing Development Alliance) since they use their facilities. What a wonderful way to serve not only the community in Hazard by allowing people to stay there, but providing an opportunity for all to see the work of God in those who give of themselves to do things in the area.

I hope I have many opportunities to come back and serve the area.

We will be working on a new construction the rest of the week, and I look forward to seeing the progress we make, to God be the Glory!
Peace from the misty mountains of Kentucky!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My thoughts and feelings as I reflect on a tragedy....

On Tuesday morning when I saw the news of the mine explosion in West Virginia that left 25 dead, 2 hospitalized, and 4 more missing, my heart broke and I couldn't help but think of the community that is left mourning the loss of loved ones. The families who wait to hear if there loved ones are alive or if they too will be planning a funeral service in the next few days. The more I read on this tragedy the angrier I become, not only at Massey Energy and Don Blankenship, but at myself, at the world. We forget that each and every time we flick on the lights, plug in our computers, charge our phones, and make ourselves a cup of coffee, we produce a need for more coal. We put the demand on the companies to produce the product, at all cost. It is sad that it takes a tragedy, that it takes 25 men losing their lives in order for us to wake up and realize how corrupt things really are. It is sad that we are not more willing to stand up for our neighbors, for our brothers (and sisters) who work in the mines daily. Maybe this will not only be a wake up call for the mining companies and the regulators, but maybe, just maybe, it will be a wake up call for all of us. Maybe we will start to be more involved in holding people accountable for keeping miners safe, maybe we will start to care about those who provide the source of our comfort... While playing my flute this weekend I came across a hymn that pretty much summed up my feelings, and it is definitely my prayer as we work towards a world where we all work together in achieving justice, peace, and love. O For A World O for a world where everyone respects each others ways, where love is lived and all is done with justice and with praise. O for a world where goods are shared and misery relieved, where truth is spoken, children spared, equality achieved. We welcome one world family and struggle with each choice that opens us to unity and gives our vision voice. The poor are rich, the weak are strong, the foolish ones are wise. Tell all who mourn: outcasts belong, who perishes will rise. O for a world preparing for God’s glorious reign of peace, where time and tears will be no more and all but love will cease. Keeping all miners and their families in my prayers...One thing is for sure...I left more of my heart in Appalachia than I thought I did...but putting together the prayer service for this afternoon really helped me process the situation and center myself in God's word instead of in the things the news has been posting. So I leave with the scriptures from the prayer service... Why should we care? 1 Peter 3:8-9 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called-that you might be a blessing. What does scripture say about tragedies? Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away while no one understands. For the righteous are taken away from calamity and they enter into peace; those who walk uprightly will rest on their couches. Psalm 126:5-6 May those who sow tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves. Where is God in this? Lamentations 31:32-33 Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone. Psalm 125:1-2 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time on and forevermore. And lastly our favorite, Isaiah 54:10 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.