Hello and happy Monday! Week 2 of ASP volunteers is officially upon us, and I am so excited to be traveling to Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee counties this week. We will visit the centers and worksites and connect with homeowners, volunteers, and the staff.  

Last week was a jampacked first week of traveling and documenting ASP’s summer repairs. We started in Harlan, KY where we spent a couple days. We got our first volunteer interviews of the summer and ate some of the best pizza I’ve ever had at The Portal Pizzeria before making our way to Perry County, KY. There, we explored the beautiful mountainside as we traveled between worksites, enjoyed spending time with the staff and volunteers at the weekly cookout, and went to the county fair. We even stopped on the way home to take in a beautiful sunset. Friday morning, we headed on to Johnson City, TN to meet with our amazing boss before heading back to Jonesville, VA (our home base) for a couple nights.  

If there’s one word I could use to describe last week’s adventures (and there are a lot of options to choose from), it would have to be unexpected. The first week of home repair is usually one of the toughest. Starting out, the staffers and volunteers went in, expecting the projects to be relatively straight forward. They thought they had their plans all figured out for how the repairs would go, how much they would cost, and about how long each one would take. However, as the first volunteers began undoing the previously laid materials and flooring, they uncovered that some of the necessary structural elements of the homes were not in safe condition. These hidden features presented new challenges that neither the staff nor volunteers were expecting, throwing a wrench into their original plans.  

Taylor and I also faced some bumps in the road—both figuratively and literally (as we were leaving a homeowner’s driveway). We traveled to counties this week that didn’t have the best cell service, if any at all. Given that our job revolves a lot around social media and using the internet, the lack of signal definitely made working a little complicated at times. Thanks to the centers’ Wi-Fi and some creative thinking, we were able to overcome those obstacles to get our work for the week done and most of our content posted.  

The hiccups we all ran into the first week were definitely unexpected, and for some, likely unwanted. However, I think that perfectly depicts how life tends to go. We make our plans for one way—typically the way that would make us the happiest and our lives the easiest—yet things somehow end up going in a completely different direction, usually in a way that is very unexpected. 

Proverbs 19:21 explains these circumstances, stating, “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”  Even though we don’t see what is happening beneath what we are currently facing, there is a greater purpose for it all. The problems that arise and challenges we face usually come to build up good qualities within us. They can strengthen us and grow us in patience, courage, and kindness (which we have especially been focusing on this summer).  

The staff and volunteers were able to come together in brainstorming and problem solving to find safe and effective methods for fixing the structural issues that previously complicated the repairs.  It was fulfilling to see the progress volunteers made through the week, overcoming the initial obstacles and successfully completing their projects. 

This first week of traveling through ASP’s service counties has given me much insight as to the attributes I hope to grow in and portray to others. I aspire to be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and persistent in prayer,” just as we are called to be in Romans 12:12. I want to hope for the best outcome, knowing that God has good plans for me and my life. I want to have patience, even when life goes every way but how I planned. I want to persistently spend time with God, as I know He, alone, refreshes my soul. 

I want to end with a challenge for you today. Though it can be hard to face uncertain circumstances, no matter what area of life they might be in, it is so important to take advantage of the struggles. Allow them to grow your dependance upon God, as well as your faith in Him. We are called to trust Him in every situation and through all of life’s ups and downs. Trust and believe that He is working. He is molding us.  He is making a way, even in the unexpected.  

Talk soon! 

Sarah Brassfield

Story Gathering Intern