Hello, everyone, and happy Monday! I hope you have all had an amazing past week! 

If I’m being completely transparent, I had no clue what I wanted to write about for this week’s blog post. I wrestled between several ideas but none of the options ever felt completely right. As I pulled up to the porch Friday evening after load-up day concluded, it finally clicked.  

Friday, May 31, 2024: 

As I’m writing this post, I am sitting on the now-empty porch– which was once full of laughter and devos and songs and smiles– but now it is filled with solitude. The peaceful sound of birds chirping fills the atmosphere as though nothing has changed. Yet in the past 12 hours, everything I had previously known of the porch has been turned on its head and transformed into the complete opposite.  

Today was load up day in Johnson City, Tennessee. Today, I said goodbye to the people who have surrounded me the past 12 days (and I promise 12 days at training seems much longer than 12 days anywhere else). I had known for a while now that today would be the day we would all go our separate ways– each staff to their assigned county and Taylor and I back to Jonesville for the weekend to get ready for the week ahead. Yet I don’t think I was actually prepared for the radical change that would be evident upon my arrival back at the training center just a few short hours ago.  

As we pulled up the hill, there were no longer people waving or hammocks hanging or staffers lounging around on the porch. The view we were met with was nothing like the ones we have seen every previous time we had returned to the hill from our daily travels. Instead, we were greeted with barren rocking chairs and the memories of training that had quickly faded away but still held firm in whispers of the wind and the melody of birds chirping. 

Though today was full of bittersweet goodbyes, as we sent all the staffers to their counties, I know that it was necessary in order to pave the way for so many beautiful new hellos that are about to take place in the lives of ASP staff members as they meet homeowners and build relationships in their respective communities.  

Ephesians 3:11 states, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Though our time for ASP summer staff training has officially come and gone, it is now when the staffers will spend time preparing their centers for summer volunteers, as well as prepare their hearts, minds, and bodies for all this summer will bring. 

I just want to give you the reminder today that though life may bring bittersweet endings, it also brings beautiful new beginnings. Every painful goodbye is just the opening of space for a sweet new hello to enter your life. Though I will miss the environment and energy the porch held during training, I am so thrilled to experience the uniqueness and charm as we travel to each county, and as their staff leads volunteers in bettering the lives of Appalachian homeowners. Here’s to hellos but also to goodbyes– as you can’t have one without the other. Sometimes it is in uncomfortable moments of change that we are encouraged to grow and stretch the most. 

I aspire to be accepting of all the twists, turns, changes, hellos, and goodbyes this life brings, even when it’s hard, trusting that it is all part of God’s beautiful plan. Believe me when I say this– God is in both the hellos and the goodbyes. 

Talk soon! 


Sarah Brassfield

Story Gathering Intern