Relationships are important and I always knew this….but ASP made me realize the importance of every relationship I have in my life. This was my favorite aspect of ASP. The relationship I made with the family I had the privilege of working with helped shape me into who I am today. It taught me to learn from every person I encounter and to appreciate the relationship we form. 

The family I had got to build a relationship last summer with were some of the most kind hearted, humble, and appreciative people. They appreciated the simplest gestures, help, conversations, and company. I learned to truly listen because everyone has a story. Every person’s story is different. As I learned to listen I became more and more interested in learning from each of them. Each story has lessons to be taught, helps teach understanding, compassion, and so much more.  

The family that my team got to work with, we quickly started to call “our family,” the homeowner wanted to help us in any way he could. Due to physical limitations he was unable to complete many of the physical tasks, but he loved to watch and provided helpful tips on how to improve our work, which my team needed. He wanted to be included in every step of the project. Although this was scary at first because I was nervous about what I would say or how I would act, I quickly learned to just be myself and listen. As the week went on we learned to laugh together, cry together, and listen to one another. He wanted to be included and accepted, which is what we all want in life 

The homeowner was so appreciative that we were helping and loved to joke around and have fun with us. He appreciated our work even when we needed to redo the work due to lack of skill. He had game shows playing while we worked and we learned to appreciate his interest and began playing along with him while the shows were on.

Developing a relationship with the family was so important because for me it allowed me to feel closer to God. It taught me that within every person’s story are laughs, love, struggles and so much more. We all come from the same family and are children of God.

The ASP experience helped teach me that one doesn’t need material things to be a “good” person, which I knew but a direct first-hand experience gave me a deeper understanding. I came home with a new attitude towards everything I did because of the attitudes “my” family helped me see. This connects to the 2020 theme “Compete, but not Finished” because although the home is improved there may be more relationships to be built and houses to repair. I have and will continue to have relationships to build and some to repair as I travel through my life.

The mission of ASP is amazing because it allows for everyone who has the privilege to participate to develop relationships and learn as they create their own chapter in their journey of life. Everyone comes home with a different experience, but I don’t know a single person I have talked about that didn’t learn and feel a stronger connection spiritually. I cannot wait until I can help another family again and build more relationships.

Paige Mikkelson, Youth Volunteer from First United Lutheran Church – Sheboygan, WI