A S P… where do I begin? How did I become a part of something so much bigger than myself?
I am a rather private person. As much as I try to be present in my church community, I often find myself overwhelmed with the busyness of life, motherhood, and the demanding schedules of travel sports — in fact my family is away at a baseball tournament this weekend! My life these past few years has been complicated and hard, and faced many challenges. So why on earth would I want to add something else to my plate?
Let’s start with that tiny whisper…a recurring nudge that has been calling me to participate in a trip like ASP for a couple of years now. Just like some of you reading this today, you may recognize this nudge or that thought that pops in your head encouraging you to step up when you hear about all the ways that your church and your community need your help.
Eight months ago, shortly after arriving late to a café worship service, who knew that God would plant me in a seat beside my now very good friend, Mr. John Carns? After yet another not-so-subtle nudge from God through a side conversation between John and I in that Sunday morning service, seven months later I found myself, my son, Mason, and my daughter, Ellie on what will be the first of many ASP trips to come!
‘BE THE PEACE’ was ASP’s theme this year. How fitting since I try my best to be the peace for my loved ones, my family, my friends, my coworkers, my students and anyone for that matter, that I may come in contact with on any given day. Although at times I feel depleted, peace is something I strive to give to others always. Interestingly enough, what I realized on this amazing adventure that God had lead us too, is that I myself, was not at peace. Who knew that traveling 500 miles to help strangers while juggling life, three jobs and three kids would be how I found that peace that I needed so desperately. What I thought would simply be a trip to help a family in need and serve in the community, ended up being the experience of a lifetime. My children and I grew both individually and as a family through this. We made many new friends, including the homeowners, Ted and Shelia; forged new bonds within our church family; learned new skills; and found immense joy and fulfillment . . . all through really hard work in the sweltering heat.
I went into my ASP trip experience expecting nothing, but with the hope to make a difference in a stranger’s life. Although my children and I may have succeeded in doing just that through framing, insulation, drywall, paint, a little fellowship, love and compassion, in the end, God may have given me a greater gift than He did for Ted and Shelia. Appalachia Service Project truly transforms all and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to both be and receive PEACE.
Peacefully yours, Lauren Hebner, La Plata UMC 2019