Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wrapping Up

Intro (Nikki)

My sincerest apologies for the final blog of 2016 being posted so late. As you will read below, the last 24 hours of ASE are packed full to the brim, as everyone realizes that it is their last moments together with this particular group of people. This is followed by the long trek home, during which the youth write their last blog. After some dinner and catching up at home, I literally fell asleep with the computer in my lap attempting to proof and post the blog. The third time I woke up like that, I just put the computer down and gave myself over to sleep.

Solomon

The last day on the worksite was a bit of a slow day, but we got a lot of time to talk and bond so it was a good day! We did some final touch up work on getting the dirt on top of the trenches instead of on top of the ground next to the trench. We reseeded the ground with some grass seed and picked out all of the rocks and chunks of sod to help even out the dirt piles. After we got out all of the rocks and seeded the trenches, we just had to connect the septic tank to the septic field. The connection was mostly dug out by the end of Monday, so we just had to put the pipe in and bury it. We buried most of the connection, but we were having some trouble making the connection at the septic tank because of the angle of the pipe, so there was several hours where there was a few people working and the rest of us were sitting in the shade drinking plenty of water. So we made use of the time by napping, decorating and signing rocks to take home as mementos, and drawing on each other with Sharpie markers. I got to bust up the old clay pipe and the cement around it with the big pry bar, which was fun because I got to smash stuff with what’s basically a big metal spear! I also mixed and spread cement for the first time! On a less exciting note, I also spent a good 15 minutes or so with my face directly over the opening to the septic tank so that I could hold the tube on the inside.

After the work day, we had lunch with our homeowner at a local restaurant, where we all tried fried okra, most of us for the first time. It was pretty delicious! After lunch, we went to sliding rock, which is a huge naturally occurring water slide! We did bring our swimsuits, but we weren’t sure if we would be allowed to go in the water because of storms, so we went down to go to the bathroom and look at it. So we were already down there by the time we were allowed to go in and our suits were waaaaaay back up at the van, so we just went in our workclothes. So I did go down sliding rock in dirty jeans. Not great for swimming, but it was awesome!

We finally wrapped up with community life and worship. I found out my Secret Servant was Ethan, another servant who’s been here all 4 years with me! It was pretty awesome! He knows me well and I think I’ve gotten the most personal gifts this year. We ended with our traditional worship service and washing of one another’s feet, a potent reminder that we are called to serve and do even the most humble of tasks. I stayed up all night playing cards with some of those whom I spent the most time with this year. We played a few good rounds of One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which gets reaaaally interesting at 2 in the morning! We also played some classics like spoons, crazy eights, and Capitalism. The night went by far too quickly. It was hard to see everyone leave, especially knowing that some of those who have been with me all four of my years here may not come back, even if I manage to come for a 5th year. It’s hard to see people cry, especially those who are normally tough or jovial. The leaders shepherded us into the vans before too long and stopped us from dragging things out too painfully long, but it was hard. I truly hope to do a better job of staying in contact with my brothers and sisters this time around.

No matter what happens in the future, these four years of fellowship and service have been a blessing in my life. God has taught me so very much about myself and Himself in my four years of high school and Appalachian Servant Event has been a huge part of that. It’s changed me in ways that I would have trouble describing. Nowhere else have I learned to open up and step outside of my comfort zones so quickly. Very few other places have been as loving and helpful when I do step outside my comfort zone. ASE is so very unique. You arrive (at least on your first trip) as complete strangers, and after ten days are passed, you leave as family. Thanks be to God!

Vici


Yesterday was the last day of ASE. No one could believe it. Sometimes there would just be silences in conversation; everyone thinking about the morning when we would have to say goodbye.

At my site we finished at around 10:30 am. After we changed and said goodbye to our amazing home owner we went to a waterfall. We kind of had to hike to it, but it was amazing. We got to climb up higher on the waterfall. After it started getting too chilly, we headed back to the vans. Good thing too because we could hear a lightning storm. When we got back to the church we took showers, ate dinner, and played some games. After games we found out who our secret servants were. Then we had our last worship service together. When all that was done we went into the gym to do talent shows. Everyone who participated did really good. Then we got free time until 1 in the gym but after 1 the all nighter was moved into the cafeteria. I slept and then a friend woke me up and we talked for awhile. I was a little irritated because I couldn't sleep after that so I wandered around till I got tired and laid down again. I was woken up again at 6 and we all had to clean up. We all started saying goodbyes and people cried. Everyone started really crying when we went outside and said goodbye one more time. It was really sad I'm hoping that people will stay in contact with me.

I can't tell you how good of an experience that was. You have to go yourself in order to understand it. I really wish more people got to experience it. I'm hoping to go next year if God blesses me with me with the opportunity again. Thank you for taking the time to read all of our journals about our travels. May God bless you.

Laura


We finished the bridge Tuesday. By the end of the workday, only a couple of us were actually still working on it. The others were sitting in the shade of the tent. To be fair, there wasn't much to do by the end. Dennis, Davis, Adam, and I pounded in the final nail in turns. We invited everyone else, but they preferred sitting. We then took a bunch of pictures, and called it a day. Our homeowner came out and said he really liked all the work we had done which was very good considering he had complained about us a few days previous.
We planned to carve our names into the bridge, but then we realized we didn't want to take the time. We then drove into hot springs to visit the site four of our group members served with last year. She remembered PK, Dennis, Adam, and Davis (who actually was not there), but didn't remember Andrew (which Andrew said was probably for the best). She was so excited to see us and wanted to make us lunch, but unfortunately we couldn't stay.
When we got back, we packed everything up to put in the vans. Solomon, Ethan, and I finished our final project for the last chapel. We had our last community life event which was a memory game. I had a lot more fun once I understood that it was a competition between boys and girls. The girls lost, however, because too many people just didn't care about winning.
It was then time to reveal our secret servants. Patrick was shocked that I was his secret servant; he expected it to be someone who knew him better because I was uncanny at guessing things he would like. My secret servant was Heather, which was sort of expected. I was a bit sad that despite the presence of nine cats on my secret servant bag, I didn't get a single cat in my bag. But overall, she did a great job of picking out things I liked. It was kind of funny to watch people guess. Some were so sure it was one person and then were extremely wrong.
We then had our last worship service. It was quite beautiful really. We had it in a circle in the cafeteria, and we sang lots of hymns. During part of the service, we washed each other's feet. It was a very powerful moment, and it didn't tickle as much as I expected. We also served each other communion, which was also very moving. I wouldn't have believed it at the beginning, but those 50 people really did end up being some of my best friends.
During the sermon, all the groups did the presentations we made. Some of the groups did weird skits or PowerPoint things. Some were significantly better than others. One group actually had a really funny and also meaningful skit. Our group went last, and ours ended up being awesome. Solomon's beat boxing was superb and Ethan and I pulled off some of our best rapping. We christened our group White Lightening (yes because we're white), and several people asked when our record was dropping, so we really could have a career if college doesn't work out.
After the service, we had a talent show. Some of the talents were a bit iffy, but a couple people were very impressive. We then began the lock-in by playing gym sports. I had lots of fun showing off by dominating lightening. It was super great until my shoulder popped out. I kind of stood there for a while with my arm above my head while everyone grimaced at me. Finally it went back in, and I lapsed into peculiar fits of laughter and was sentenced to sit in a corner of the dining room with an ice pack.
Soon enough everyone else left the gym, and my group of friends joined me in playing werewolf. We played for several hours, and then a smaller group of us moved into the kitchen to play. This was probably bad seeing as that's where all the snacks were. We played some more werewolf, then we played spoons, then we played capitalism, and we finished with some crazy eights. The whole night was extremely fun. We played some Pentatonix on Cameron's speaker and Solomon, Anna, and I sang along exuberantly. We played lots of Christmas songs, which put everyone in a peculiar mood.
At about six, we were shocked by the fact that the night was over, and it was nearly time to go home. I have never given so many sincere, powerful hugs in my life. Even people I barely got a chance to meet hugged me like a family member they were never going to see again. I wasn't surprised that I didn't end up crying, but I came very close when people like Dennis and Ben sobbed into my shoulder. I made Davis and Cameron promise to keep me informed on the cat cafe, and if I don't come back next year, I assured them I would visit to see the cafe. I said goodbye to Andrew last, and that hug made me the saddest. It still surprises me that he became such an important friend in such a short time.
I basically slept the entire drive until we got about three hours from Michigan when Mrs. Spangler declared she was going to fall asleep of one of us didn't come sit next to her to talk. She Vici, and I discussed the trip and all our favorite parts. I really hope I can come back next year; this has honestly been one of my favorite weeks of my entire life. The people I met will forever be special to me, and I won't forget all the lessons I've learned.

Nikki


This was my tenth year at ASE. In ten years, there was only one that I was not on a septic site. This year, I helped make the pipe connections for the first time ever! I have always known that this is a challenging task, so was not at all surprised when we discovered the 90 degree connector we planned to use coming out of the tank was just not going to cut it. It looked good when we dry fit, but once we started gluing the pipes into place, it just was not getting a solid connection. SO, we had to cut off the already glued angle and start that little, last part over. The 45 was not enough, the 90 was too much, and now our long pipe to the drain field was just a little shorter. After some discussion and laying out a few options, we ended up with a 45 coming from the tank, a short connector pipe, and a 30. Perfect! Too bad we didn’t figure it out the first time around. Once we finished that up, the hole needed to be filled and seeded, then we were on our way.

We had noticed a little place call Juke Box Junction Soda Shoppe on our way in Tuesday morning and had decided to treat the kids to lunch there. Our homeowner came along to have a soda and visit with us. It was a good visit. He asked how we got involved. All he really knew was that he had called the county and then Rich (our most awesome contact and advocate for septic work) showed up, then Rich and Tommy, then the next thing he knew we all were there. I was able to share with him how septic projects are a hallmark of this particular servant event and are getting harder to find. While that is a good thing, it will be a sad day for us when we can’t find a septic site. His phone call to the county, and the particular time it happened, was an answer to our prayers every bit as much as our work at his home was an answer to his prayers.

I could go on with my reflections but I really must get this posted and move back into ‘real life’ and my day job, where they are waiting for me to get numbers done for the ordo.

Blessings to all! We will be back with you next July!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday

Dennis

Hello everyone, today was a really good day I'm apprehensive about tonight though. Tonight is typically the night where the reality that this event is ending really sets in, and you realize that the second family which you have built is soon to be separated from each other. I honestly feel as if tonight is the best and worst night of this event because I Love knowing that the people who have changed me over the past weeks have also been changed and affected by me. I will miss everyone dearly and I always know that these are friends who if I meet or need them in thefuture, I can rely on them. Thank you so much for allowing me to have this opportunity once more you guys are amazing.

Laura

We finally finished the roof today. It was quite a satisfying feeling. We felt really good until we realized we had to fix the back yard which was no fun at all. We moved the dirt so that the yard was once again flat, and then we planted grass plants. All in all, we had a decent morning.
My group then joined the bridge crew. We made lots of progress, but it was kind of annoying because we had to share the power tools. But finally the bridge planks have been laid, and all we have left is to finish the bumpers on the sides and to construct a railing.
We had some funny moments today; Sydney tripped into the creek while carrying bamboo branches through it. Andrew refused to leave his "white collar job" on the roof, so he sat at the top of the roof until Adam used his adult voice at which time Andrew sort of scooted on his butt all the way down the roof with an extremely constipated look on his face. We had to fill in the gaps between the bridge and the ground, and Tom bought us some bags of rock. PK sent the kids to bring the rocks over, but no one knew they were 700lbs each until we noticed Dennis feebly whimpering. The sight of Dennis whimpering is goofy in itself seeing as Dennis is extremely strong and looks very intimidating, but it was especially funny to hear him explain to us that 700+700=1400. Then he tried to do more math by estimating how many of our crew would total 1400lbs.
I also got to spend some quality time with Andrew while the two of us threw rocks from the backyard into the creek. We had a very nice theological discussion for a while, then we laughed a lot at his inability to skip rocks.
Basically the morning was exhausting yet enjoyable as usual, but the evening activities were great. I played lots of One Night Ultimate, so that was really fun. I also finally showed An Engineer's Guide to Cats to Davis and Cameron, both of whom enjoyed it immensely. They in turn introduced me to Dear Kitten, a different series of cat videos. I also discovered that somehow Solomon had managed to be my friend for years without watching An Engineer's Guide to Cats, but now he has watched it; our friendship is saved.
Now I'm going to put this away before evening activities.
Well now I have a terrible headache, so this will be short.
During community life, I consistently rekt Dan in chair basketball.
In spiritual life, Solomon, Ethan, and I wrote a sick rap that we will perform tomorrow.
I don't remember much of worship, but we sang the doxology, which made me very happy.

Vici

Today was just a finishing up work day. My site ended up staying till around 6 so we could finish up our flooring and trim. At the end of the day we pretty much had out ending service. Even though it's not the last day everyone was crying pretty bad. Everyone comforted each other. Tomorrow is going to be rough. We will get through it together though.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday

Vici

On Sunday we had church and Bible study that took up our whole morning. We had pictures to take after all the church services with our shirts. But before we took pictures and ate lunch we met Pastor Budtke. He was one of the pastors that started ASE and he is a wonderful man. I was so blessed to meet him and have him talk to us. I pray to God that if it is in His plan I will get to see him again. After we ate lunch we had river rafting. We got all our stuff together and went out to the place that we start at. After we went through instructions and got our gear we got on a bus that took us to the river. When we got there we got into groups and went out. I'm pretty tired and I'm not sure exactly what to tell u but it was fun and my boat guide was pretty funny. It was my first time so I really enjoyed it and would love to go out again. When we got back we ate dinner and did group activities and worship. Tomorrow we get to get up at 6:15 so we can head off and finish up work sites. I honestly can't believe that we have only 2 days left. I miss home but I'm not sure how I will feel leaving my new family. I might not get a chance to see them again, but I hope God will stay with them and keep them on the right path.

Laura


So yesterday Solomon and I looked through all the Easter hymns and talked about how much we wanted to sing them, then today we sang two Easter hymns in church! God is so cool. Some people gave extremely moving testimonies during the services as well, so the whole morning was excellent. I really enjoy listening to what other people got out of the experience because it's different for everyone.
After church we went white water rafting which was not nearly as exciting as I was hoping it would be, but I really liked the group of people I was with. And we got to jump off a rather big rock, so that's cool. We had to keep on the lookout for beaver sharks, however, and the threat of imminent danger made the trip more thrilling.
After rafting we had the typical games and bible study. We played some dodgeball variations, and although the first one was peculiar, poorly explained, and designed to make everyone look like a fool, the second was quite fun, and I actually ended up winning the second round.
For bible study, we drew some more pictures. Our pictures were really not that good, but we sure had lots of fun. We basically drew a story into both pictures, and in the end, each story was so intricate that we filled the page with people and scenery.
For partner praying, I prayed with Sydney, one of my three partners in roofing. We talked about how much we're going to miss each other and how sad it is that we all live so far away. It really kind of hit today that I might never see these people again, and that's a very sad thought.
Our end of the day service was a bit lacking as we sang one rather empty song. But it's still a very powerful feeling to kneel next to your friends and pray silently together.
Today Cameron told me that Asheville is adding a cat café where you'll be able to pet kitties while eating food. So not only do I want to come back to see all the amazing people, I want to come back to see the cat café.
Also, I always feel like this journal is some message to a friend, and I sometimes get a weird feeling of disappointment when I don't see a message back, and then I remember that this isn't going to anyone in particular. I like to pretend lots of people read this though, and when anyone asks me what I'm typing, I tell them I'm writing to my fans. So thanks for reading, fans.

Nikki

Hay fans! Did you know you can send the group email at OurSaviorASE@gmail.com 

I did not get my sleep-in this weekend since we went out to the work site Saturday.  Then last night I stayed up late with some of the youth.  They were working on their testimonies and I was doing payroll - the one day job task I still have to handle while I am here.  So I am super tired and must be quick so that I can still function tomorrow.  

It was a fabulous weekend full of group fun, relationship building, and spiritual growth.  I almost didn't go rafting because I have 'stuff' to do.  I am glad that I did.  I had a good time and enjoyed being on the water.  I really need to get on the water more.  Having grown up on a lake, I miss it.  Night all!

Solomon

Well we had a full weekend indeed! Friday we got a lot of work done on the worksite as we finished leveling some of the trenches. We finally got some serious rain now; unfortunately, once the trench is level we don’t want to get it wet! So we were working full speed trying to beat the rain. It started as a sprinkle, but as we were frantically digging to try and lay the piping, we could see the sheet of pouring rain advancing on us! We managed to get a trench and a half of piping laid before the rain got to us, and we covered it with enough dirt that the rain wouldn’t damage it. Friday evening we had an early dinner (delicious as always) and headed out to Fletcher Feed and Seed, a local venue where we got to enjoy some bluegrass music and some clogging! There were a few differences from last year. This year there was a lot more clogging and only one partner dance (which was perfectly fine by me) and they also had our group come up and sing while the band was taking a break. I wouldn’t have minded, only I didn’t know what we were singing until we started singing it and I didn’t exactly know all the words. So that was interesting. I do immensely enjoy bluegrass music though and there was a lady who taught us how to clog! So it was a fun time. I did go up and try clogging a couple times and I think I was getting close to doing something that vaguely resembled clogging! Afterwards we headed out to Sonic, where we enjoyed milkshakes and some card games!
Saturday, a couple of the groups went out to their worksites. My group also went to our worksite, but I didn’t go to the worksite. Instead I slept in until roughly 12:15. By the time I woke up, there were only about 5 people at the church and everyone else was at worksites or Starbucks. So the people left taught me a new game called Town of Salem that’s very enjoyable and includes aspects of Mafia and One Night Ultimate Werewolf. All of these are games that basically involve trying to find the bad guys before they can kill the good guys. After lunch, we headed into downtown Asheville, where we wandered around for awhile. We saw a couple cool street artists and wall paintings. We also got to eat at the Mellow Mushroom, a delicious pizza place with very creative artwork! We then stopped at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, which had all sorts of cool food and drink (and some hot ones too)! I ended up getting a strawberry buttermilk milkshake! It was delicious! We went from there to Shindig on the Green, where we enjoyed some more local music while playing a new card game I learned called Capitalism! I also learned how to make some pretty cool braids!
Sunday we woke up and attended the 8:30 worship service and sang and gave testimonies at all three of the services. We got some PIZZA for lunch and were visited by Pastor Budtke who helped start ASE. Afterwards, we got to go white water rafting on the French Broad River. This year, the water was high enough that we got to jump of off jump rock and we got to swim over one of the rapids! It was pretty awesome! We got back and we played monarch dodgeball, which is a type of free-for-all dodgeball. I managed to make it pretty close to the end by employing stealth tactics such as walking around in the center with all the people that had already been hit and were on the monarch’s team and leaning on the bleachers and blending in with the bystanders. It usually worked out pretty well until they made us raise our hands to see who was still in. It was a fun, full weekend and I can’t wait to get back to work on the site!

P.S. we did play trash can Thursday night and I won the second game!

Saturday

Laura

Our site leader decided he wanted us to work on the site today, so some of us volunteered to go out. I chose to go (despite the sensible part of me telling me I need sleep) because I really want to be there whenever we work on the roof now. And I especially want to be there to finish the roof, which we would've done today had we not run out of shingles. I really truly appreciate everyone in our group, the roofers in particular. I'm really going to miss them. It also started pouring today, but we've come to expect that. Afterward, a very nice old neighbor couple gave us $200 and told us to go buy ourselves a nice lunch. The gesture was greatly appreciated, and we went to a nice little restaurant in Hot Springs. The food was not excellent, but I guess the small town diner experience is worth it.
After we got back from lunch, I played lots of card games with some cool kids which was really fun. Davis taught us a new game called Capitalism that he and his friends made up which was really fun. I just remembered I didn't show him An Engineer's Guide to Cats. What a disappointment. Tomorrow.
We went to Shindig on the Green today. It was really mediocre, but we played more card games and walked around to cool shops. We ate at The Mellow Mushroom, a hippie restaurant featuring delicious pizza. The interior was decorated with some very odd murals and sculptures. That experience combined with the peculiarly dressed individuals we saw walking in the city have convinced me that Asheville would be a pretty cool place to live.
We had "ask the pastor" today, where the three pastors answered questions we had previously written and placed in boxes. For some questions, they gave very satisfactory answers, but for others there was much left for thought. Some people put in joke questions which I thought was kind of funny, but then those who put them in loudly complained that the pastors weren't answering the good ones. And that kind of made me sad. But I guess not everyone takes things seriously.
I just reread what I wrote, and I am realizing that I do not write very coherently at night when I'm exhausted. But I don't super want to fix anything. So, sorry about that.
I really like Easter hymns. We should make it a tradition to sing Easter hymns like every week. Because Easter is what it's all about really.
I was really excited for church tomorrow. But then I found out we're taking pictures afterward. I am less excited about church now. Hopefully we sing lots of cool hymns.

Vici

Today I volunteered to help site 4 which was the septic site. So for those who might not know its a lot of digging. We also happen to be in North Carolina so everything below grass is clay. It was interesting. I wouldn't call it fun. It was hard work and it rained twice. Although we finished burying just about everything. We really helped that site out so I'm glad I was able to help. After we took a shower we went into downtown Asheville and ate at the Mellow Mushroom. It's a pizza place and it was actually very good. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. Then we went to Shindig on the Green. I don't think kids really actually what'd it. We all walked around in town, would go back for a break, ask pastors and leaders if we could keep walking, and or grab more people. It was pretty fun. We came back did some worship and ate some tacos. Everyone is trying to avoid the fact that we leave Wednesday. It will be weird going back home after being with everyone for almost 2 weeks.

Dennis

Hey guys, today was a good day. We went to the work site at 8:30am wooooohhhh!!! Since it was a Saturday we volunteered for it and we worked our butts off, and helped the trench site finish up some of the necessary work they needed to do before the forecasted rain coming this week. I am glad that I came out to help it was a lot of fun and I got to spend time with my best buds digging. After we were done with work we got to shower and then traveled to downtown Asheville, the annual Shindig on the Greene, and also Mellow Mushroom. An amazing pizza restaurant in the center of Asheville that serves some of the hands down best pizza I have ever had. Afterwards we got to explore Asheville, and I got to take some amazing pictures of the murals and sights which decorated the majority of street corners. We also afterwards got to ask the pastors some very interesting questions and received some very interesting answers, I had a lot of fun today and I just pray that tomorrow will be better.

Friday

Laura

Today will be short because it's already way after midnight and I have to get up at seven.
Today was basically the same as yesterday; lethargic roofing, more bonding, lots of rain…
We also went to Feed and Seed which is a place for NC natives to dance to bluegrass music. It was really pretty cool; I learned to clog. Then we went to Sonic and had milkshakes.
Today I met someone who wants to be an engineer who also likes cats. Tomorrow I shall show him "An Engineer's Guide to Cats" to see if he is one of my own.

Vici


Friday we finished painting and spackling rooms. Now we are working on flooring and trim. The living room still had painting I think but we r only doing a corner so it won't take long. That night we went to the Feed and Seed. I still don't understand exactly what it was but there was a live band playing folk music and there was dancing. It was so much fun. One of the girls from North Carolina taught me how to do one of the dances it was awesome. Then when the band took a break we were asked to sing at half time which we did. Afterwards there was a very old lady that asked if we would all hug her. So all of us went up and hugged her. When I got there she hugged me and was crying and said we need more kids like us and how happy we made her. That lady will forever stay in my heart. That moment was just absolutely amazing.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Thursday - I Think?

Solomon

It finally rained at the work site! When we started working this morning, the soil was nice and soft! I was a little muddy and sticky in places, but I’ll take that over dry, hard rock any day of the week! I felt a little less productive today because I was doing a lot of measuring depth with the laser level. It’s a pretty cool tool and it needed to be done, but it doesn’t feel like I’m doing as much as when I’m actually doing physical labor. We’re getting to the point where we’re scraping the walls and the bottom to get the proper depth and the proper width. It’s a lot slower work than when we start out and don’t need to worry about going too deep. Because if we take too big of a section of the trench too deep, then the whole trench has to go down to that depth to make it level. For little divots, we can just fill back in with the extra clay, so we make sure to measure frequently. To make things a little less boring for myself, I found myself a trench buddy! You see, there was a lot of worms since it had just rained, so I carried around one on my shoulder or neck for most of the day! His name was Frank. I lost him a couple times, so I ended up with Frank the 7th, who died a tragic death due to overheating in the sun. I was tired of losing Frank, so I put him in a bottle full of dirt, but the inside of the bottle was hotter than I realized. Also, it didn’t really have air holes. But the lid wasn’t really on, so I think it was mostly the heat thing. I finally get to wash all my dirty clothes today too! It’s an exciting time, because my work clothes are pretty disgustingly smelly. I’ve also been told we’re playing trash can tonight for our community life game, which is probably my favorite game we play! I’m looking forward to it! Word has also gotten around that I can braid hair, so I’ve been doing a lot of that for people in the mornings. I’m getting a lot better! Hopefully, I can also get a little more sleep tonight since I’m writing my journal early too! Waking up this morning was pretty rough.

God’s Blessings

------

Laura

Today began with a nice morning on the site. Once again, I was with the roof crew. We have quite a bit of fun because it's extremely easy to make fun of Andrew. Today we named all the hammers and Andrew had them all talk to each other. We became fatigued quicker than usual, and we had to motivate ourselves by taking videos of us working and putting them into fast motion.
My wasp stings have started swelling up, but they don't hurt, so I don't super mind.
At lunch we had these super cool states and capitols graham cracker things, and Michigan was on the pack along with Florida and Alaska, so clearly we're one of the best states. I now dearly miss my Scrambled States of America game.
We had to cut the day short due to rain. It would kind of suck to slip off the roof. When we were waiting in the car we found a nugget of gold in the form of a DVD, "The Wubulous World of Doctor Suess." Sadly, our luck failed and the DVD player determined that we had a "bad disc," so instead we watched a chunk of copper: "Ghostbusters."
We did laundry. Now I have clean clothes.
We played trash can. I thought it was a fun game, but my poor shoulders thought otherwise. Someone went to the hospital with a possible concussion, so we're probably playing duck, duck, goose tomorrow.
Today, spiritual life was a bit silly; there wasn't a lot of time for discussion, which was unfortunate. It's that pastor syndrome of having too much to say and not enough time.
I wish we sung more hymns here. But today we sung a praise song that I actually really liked. So that's super cool.

Vici


Today on the work site we were still spackling the ceiling. Although we painted both room and the trim. We put up most of the railing outside and we have the flooring for the inside that we are going to put up soon. Today was laundry day!! I can't tell you how exciting that is here! It was pretty awesome. After dinner we did laundry. When everyone got back we played trash can. For people who don't know it's where a bunch of people connect in a circle and try to get someone to touch the can in the middle. My brother J.T. is still a legend from his time playing that game. It was super awesome and I hope we can play it again!

Nikki

The days are running together - plus if it is after midnight, it technically is not Thursday anymore.  We are all alive and well.  I must sleep and the youth have covered the highlights, so I will write more tomorrow.  Blessings to all

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wednesday aka Work Day 3

Laura

Today was a very nice day. We actually got to our site on time and started working right away for once. I had the super duper fun job of ripping nails off the roof again! My favorite! It's kind of a sad job because it takes so long, but you don't have a lot to show for it. Nails don't really have much visual effect. But during the monotony, I got to know Andrew and Anna pretty well. The past two days, I wasn't sure if I was going to like Andrew, but I have decided that I like him a lot. But I've definitely found out that the more time you spend one on one with someone, the more you like them. Most people are really great people, especially the people here. It's amazing how every single person really wants to serve so much.
We ended up having to leave our site two hours late because we have so much work today. I really don't mind though; it's kind of nice to have physically taxing work today. Exhaustion is kind of nice actually; it's relaxing. Almost as relaxing as proving trig identities.
We got back and had a nice turkey dinner with ice cream at the end.
Then I talked to some more really cool people. Then I played werewolf and BS with some more great people. This trip is fab.
For community life, we sat on laps a lot. I'm kind of appreciating the hand holding more, but lap sitting was a little much. I want to play trash can soon, but I'm not sure when we're going to do it because I think we're not playing games tomorrow due to laundry. However laundry is nice.
Spiritual life was good as usual. Having gone to Lutheran schools forever, I've become decent at interpreting scripture, and I've been unusually willing to share answers to questions. And today someone came up to me and told me they were glad I was sharing things because they thought my answers were very thoughtful. And it's great to feel appreciated.
I want to sing more hymns when we have chapel. We're singing contemporary pieces which are alright, but I really like hymns. I may suggest that.
I'm also beginning to realize how much I'm going to miss this when I get home. I hope I can go next year. I just wish I could bring my cats with me too.

Vici

So today was a slower day because all of our big work is ending. There was a team that put dry wall up in all the rooms. Then there was another team that was in charge of spackling and putting tape on the lines. The rest of us were just doing random stuff that needed to be done. Like putting on new doors and door frames. We also put up a railing to the basement. I helped sand it down real good so it was nice and smooth. Others were cementing holes in her steps outside. After we had wrapped up for the day we went to the church and took showers. I actually laid down and fell asleep for about 4 hours. No one woke me up so after we finished everything some of the moms got me left overs to eat. Then we all hang out for a little bit. Now we are all going to bed. So goodnight. God bless everyone's day.

Solomon

Today was another good day on the worksites! I continue to get more blisters daily, although some of them turned to calluses or went away, so I'm about even. The homeowner’s son, whom we haven't personally met due to some personal issues, watered our trenches for us after we left yesterday, so they were much easier to dig this morning then they have been in the past few days. My back and hands are still pretty sore, but I actually gained more energy as the day went on! Patrick and I had been joking earlier that grunting when you swing the pick is a very important part of digging, but the funny thing is, yelling and grunting at the dirt occasionally actually did make me feel more energized! There was a few exciting things that happened on the worksite today! Apart from getting my first trench down to 15 inches along the entire length, we also found several huge rocks that we got out of the trenches (Margaret from Minnesota had the biggest rock). We also had a lengthy theological discussion about witnessing and the nature of sin today at the site while we worked. It was a good time! We discussed important points and nobody got too flustered or heated. It was both refreshing and a reminder that I need to work on actually witnessing to people because talking to people that I know disagree with me is rather difficult. But they need to hear the Word of God, even if I fall flat on my face trying to give it to them. We also talked about that in our prayer partners as well. Actually initiating that conversation is incredibly difficult to do, and the direction our culture is shifting is rather disheartening and downright scary at times. Which is why encouragement from the Word and being with others who confess the truth of the Word is so important. In these dark times, Christ is all that stands between us and despair. Knowing that I am not alone, that we are not alone, is incredibly comforting. The knowledge that Christ has redeemed me and no one can snatch that away from me along with the fact that others are also fighting in this spiritual war is what allows me to keep fighting the good fight of the faith. Keep the faith brothers and sisters!

God's Blessings!

Nikki

This morning on the way out to our work site, I was hopeful that there had actually been rain, as the edges of the highway were wet. However, as we got closer, the roads got drier. When we got onto the dirt road just before our work site, the Servant Event van in front of me raised dust about as high as the van itself. Clearly it had not rained in this place last night. When we arrived at our work site we found something even better than rain. God had provided for us in another way. Our homeowner had borrowed a hose to make his longer and his adult son had come out yesterday evening and watered down our trenches as far as the hose would reach. It made a tremendous difference in our digging today and we made great progress. As Solomon mentioned, we have not had the pleasure of meeting the son. His act of kindness to us was a pretty huge deal.

We also had the septic tank pumped out so that we could see where the outlet was and start on opening that up to help determine more precisely we need to run our line from the tank to the new drain field. The inspector was out while that was happening to take a look himself (he had to stick his head in the tank – blech!) and seems pleased with our progress. We had some great discussions on the work site today, that went along well with this evening’s spiritual life. Wednesday seems to be about the right time for these discussions to start. They just get better from here, now that relationships and trust have been built. It is amazing what eating, sleeping and working together fully immersed in God’s Word can do.

Dennis


Hi everybody today is going to be a short journal entry mainly due to exhaustion. Today on my site we worked on attaching bolts to three planks of wood we laid down on the bridge. We also started nailing in the felt paper for our home owners roof, in order to ensure that, in the worst case scenario, if it rains during the night, their kitchen doesn't get flooded. We also got to meet their niece, a cute little eight year old girl named Taylor. Goodnight and thank you for your continued support

Nikki's P.S. - Woo hoo!! I am posting before midnight

Tuesday

Laura

Today we went to Lowe's and then got lost, so we ended up at the site about three hours later than normal. When we arrived, I worked on the roof which was thankfully less damaged than we feared. We had to replace a board and rip out one of the chimney tops, but the damage wasn't extreme. Basically the majority of the day was spent pulling out nails, which was very not exciting. We had some nice group bonding today; Andrew did not take well to the sun, and his excessive complaining and bold statement, "someone spray mayonnaise on my face," spurned a thrilling "would you rather?" conversation. So basically it was a pretty fun day for us despite the heat and hard work.
Possibly the greatest moment of the day for me was when we discovered several wasps' nests under the roof, and Dennis decided to spray them. After a timid first attempt, Dennis was determined to keep spraying no matter where the wasps flee. The wasps then began to fly over his head, and true to his word, he spun on the spot and sprayed maniacally into the air around him. Thankfully, he didn't get any on him, so we were safe to laugh lots and lots.
We discovered some further complications on the bridge issue, but nothing that can't be resolved. A couple of the beams have sunk down several inches into the concrete and we're not sure how to solve that.
I got a watermelon shake today. So I'm trying lots of new things down here. Still haven't gone back to see my dinosaur though.
I'm starting to really like a lot of the people I meet. This is a really cool place. I'm also learning to avoid the people who I don't like as much. And they're not that bad anyway.
One thing I'm still not super fond of is all the hand holding we do down here. Every prayer involves holding hands. I'll have to learn to enjoy it.
Today we drew a fake worldly Jesus and the true Jesus on separate posters. I always knew I would use my art talents for something one day. Naturally fake Jesus was all about cash and played the role of a cross-dressing, fairy godmotherish body builder. Real Jesus was real Jesus. We drew the cross and the sacraments and forgiveness. And of course the world because that adds to any art piece.
Also, I got my first wasp stings today. It actually doesn't hurt much at all, so it's kind of a proud moment actually. My parents recorded Laura's first steps; I'm recording Laura's first bee sting.
Also, I'm gaining a greater appreciation of Ms. Waechter's English class every day. It's really helped me look into scripture a whole lot better. However, I still haven't managed to learn to write coherent journal entries before bed time. But hey, practice makes perfect. Although to be honest I think I'm getting steadily worse. So I'll stop for now; I don't think anything else happened today anyway.

Vici

This morning my group had to go to Lowes to buy supply's for our site. Once we got back on the highway one of our vans just shut off on us. My van had to go back to the church to get someone then go back if to that van. Once we got some supply's into a different van most of us headed up to the site so we could get started on working. Normally we should get to our sites at 8, but we didn't get to the work sites until it was about 11. We still got a lot done. Just not as much as we were hoping for. And poor Steve's van is broken now.

After we got all of that figured out we all helped but up insulation. Then some others put up some of the dry wall. We also got rid of a bunch of garbage Mrs. Fox didn't want anymore and all out garbage from tearing out the ceiling. We got back and did the norm. Nothing that different happened. We all took showers, hung out, ate, and did our studies.

We are slowly getting to know our owner as we are able to sign to her and learn what she is saying. Everyone is learning a little ASL and it's pretty amazing seeing everyone try to learn how to communicate with her. Not only that but we get to work hard as a team. And some of the more new people (like myself) are learning how to do all this stuff. I put in insulation and I helped take out a door frame. This servant event just keeps getting better and better. I love the site I have and I love all the people on this trip with us and I'm more and more thankful I get to do this work every morning.

Nikki

We had a pretty good day on the septic site today. Our inspector stopped out this afternoon and was pleased with our progress and the work we have done so far. He is a new to me inspector and seems like he will be good to work with. Not as hands on as some we have had, but I have learned that is the exception and not the rule. (There are a few that actually will come out and work with us when they can, sometimes even when we are not on their case load, because they ‘get it’.) We are still praying for rain, as yesterday’s rain bypassed our site. The ground is very hard and rain would help. Shortly after we got on the freeway to come to back this afternoon, there was a great downpour, difficult to drive in, that lasted all of the way back to the showers. We will see in the morning if it also rained at our site. We ARE making good progress, yet are frustrated by the combination of rock, roots (a fun word to have everyone say in their various accents) and hard dry dirt. Really we have not had any significant rocks or roots, just lots of little pesky ones. Margaret is currently the reigning president of the rock club, with a rock approximately five fists big. Didn’t know that was a measure, did you?! I did get myself a nice mattock pick kiss on my leg from a hard bounce back when I hit one of those rocks in the side wall of our trench. Ouch! Hopefully it will not be too much trouble tomorrow. It is just at the top of my work boot - actually I think my work boot saved me from worse injury. I best be off to bed. Goodnight!

Solomon

We got a lot of work done today! I can definitely feel the soreness today! My back is really sore, as are my hands, which also happen to be covered in blisters. But I still wouldn't trade this site for any other! We're doing good work and I know God will use me in ways I don't expect and may not even realize once they're completed! The pain is worth it! We're definitely starting to bond more as a site as well. We haven't been talking a whole lot in the trenches yet, but it's early in the week. We heard about everyone's favorite movies at lunch and we sang a few songs in the afternoon while we dug (mostly Disney songs). We finally played the name game today! I only lost one of the 4 or 5 times I played! My team also got the most points in our game of hungry hungry hippo! And we finally found worms at the site today! It hasn't gotten any softer or wetter, but hopefully the pouring rain today reached the site! We really won't know until we get there tomorrow. We did make good progress today though! Patrick and I are a couple inches away from bottom along a good half of the trench and we cleaned up some of the walls so they're wide enough and actually straight! We also got shakes today and that was absolutely delicious! On another food-related note, I learned that putting Oreos in one's pocket is not exactly a good idea. I forgot it was there and I put my phone in the same pocket, so I got Oreo filling all over my phone. Hopefully it's a restful night's sleep!

God's Blessings!


Dennis

Good afternoon/night, today was a pretty ordinary day at ASE including all those things you will always remember such as, waking up at the crack of dawn and getting lost in the back roads of the mountains. We had an amazing breakfast as usual and then set off for our sites with a stop at our local Lowe's in order to pick up the necessary equipment we needed, and place an order for the lumber we need. It was on the way from the Lowe's to the site that the fun truly started. So background, our adult male leader/ driver on the van is PK (Pastor Kufaul), and he has a trusty old GPS nicknamed Homer, due to it sounding exactly like Homer Simpson. Today Homer got us travelling down a narrow one way road with a drop on the edge, surrounded by trees and no way of turning around. So we kept going on up and up the hills, around sharp bends and finally we reached the top and started travelling down the other side of the mountain. We eventually turned off the road to realize that it had taken us instead of around the mountain over the top of it. All in all it was a pretty fun day. I hope is that tomorrow is even better.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Rain, Rain, Come This Way (At night, if you please!)

Laura

Day 4: today we began work on the sites. At first we kind of just stood around baffled because we needed a plan of attack. What I mean to say is, us kids did nothing while the adults planned everything. While we waited I got to talk to our homeowner Lois, and I met her dogs: a pit bull and two Chihuahuas.

We finally decided that the most necessary repairs were to tear down and rebuild the bridge over the creek that leads to the house, to reshingle the back of the roof, and to dig a French drain in the back. I chose to work on the bridge, and it was pretty fun. It's about a 20ft drop to the creek, so the main challenge of the bridge is not falling off when screwing, sawing, and hammering. I really like all the people on my site, and I'm especially fond of the others doing the bridge. We didn't accomplish too much today, but we stripped away enough rotten wood and rusty bolts so that tomorrow our job should be easy.
No one fell in today, but we dropped lots of tools. It's kind of a funny sensation to watch the tools fall for a second or two. Joe did crack a board when walking across the bridge today, but he stayed on. It's good no one has fallen at all, but I don't pretend it wouldn't be exciting. But for now safety first.

Today we went to Kmart and the dollar store. I'm starting to doubt I'll ever get to see my dragon friend again. So sad.
I forgot what we had for dinner today, but we had this delicious ice cream cookie thing for dessert. The only sad part about that is that it's all downhill from here. Nothing compares to ice cream for dessert.
I still am not fond of the games we have to play together. However, the bible studies are starting to grow on me. We do this thing where we pray in partners after devotion, and I like it a lot. You can learn a lot about a person in five minutes.
I'm also still super fond of the little church service things we do. I just kind of wish we'd sing hymns rather than contemporary stuff. I might suggest to Steve that we do both.
I have lots more to add, but I'm getting yelled at to go to bed. So I'm going to submit to authority because otherwise I would be breaking my servant covenant thing.

Vici

Today was pretty a pretty important day. We had to get up at 6:15 so we could eat and leave for the work sites. (Anyone that knows me know it's like impossible to wake me up. Let alone at 6:15 in the morning.) Anyway I was on site one which meant I had the site that had a house leaking really bad. Once we met the home owner we got to work on tearing the ceiling and insulation out in 2 rooms and 3 closets. We also had to pull nails out of all the trim. We were given body suits, face masks, and gloves so that we wouldn't get fiberglass, mold, or dust on us too bad. The suits were very helpful.

Mrs. Fox, our home owner, is deaf. Cole, a guy on my site, and I both took ASL classes and 2 other girls know a little ASL. Me and Cole really try and help translate the best we can so we can talk to our home owner and ask her questions. She is a very sweet lady and I can't wait to get to know her more through out the week.

After all that we went to a college and took showers. When we got back to the church we ate dinner, played some games, and worshipped.

I'm really loving everything I get to do here. It's such a blessing to help these people out and to be able to worship with all the teens, adults, and pastors with us. I really love being able to do this work and I hope I can keep doing it.

Nikki

It is much easier to get journals out of the girls, because we sleep in the same room and I can remind them at bedtime. I must endeavor to remind the boys earlier in the day. Michigan did have kitchen clean up after dinner today, which consumed the most convenient time for them to journal.

Solomon and I are both on the septic site this year. It is a new drain field and not a full install. We are hand-digging 200’ of trench for the new field, 3’ wide and 18” deep on the lowest spot. Keep in mind that we are digging in the mountains, so 18” on the low side might be 36” on the high side depending on the lay of the land, since the bottom has to be level. Our inspectors are good to us, recognizing that we are hand digging, and do their best to work with the natural terrain to our benefit. This year that has given us some very curvy trenches. It has been very dry here just like at home and the digging is difficult. We had a nice thunderstorm here in Asheville tonight, so I am hopeful that we got rain out at our site as well. You can’t always tell in the mountains, because the storms often follow the ridges. In fact, we watched a storm chase the ridge and go around us this afternoon. In addition to the dry, we are running into a fair amount of tree roots and rocks. So far nothing too large, just pesky. I pray that it stays that way.

and a late addition from:

Solomon

Today was quite a day! We had our first day on the work site! It started off a bit slow because the soil where we're digging is rather rocky and has tree roots. Also it hasn't rained in months, although it's raining as I write this, so I hope that will help a little bit! Although it took us a little while to get going, we made great progress today overall! Me and my digging buddy Patrick made it about 12 inches deep through about half of our trench. I think that's about 90 square feet, give or take. I found a really cool red rock today when we were digging too! I did get several big blisters already on the first day, but it was worth it! I really enjoyed digging again! It's hard to explain how digging can be fun to people that haven't done it, but the exertion combined with a big group of people who have become family is really an enjoyable experience! we joke around a lot and talk in horrible accents (at one point today there was some sort of Irish/Minnesota hybrid accent) and really enjoy ourselves while we're working for a good cause!

As is usual with the great cooks here, we had a wonderful dinner, after which Michigan had our first clean-up duty. It was pretty painless. We also had our first K-mart run! I bought some gloves since mine had holes in them and some fun things for my secret servant, although I can't tell you what or else it wouldn't be much of a secret! The discovery of lemon Oreos did very much brighten my day as well! We played a new game in community life today that was pretty much a variant of capture the flag, only it was better because one of the teams was ninjas! All in all, it was a pretty great day!

Dennis

Hi again I'm back, today was our first work day and the people on my site spent most of it digging a trench then around midday we were told by the homeowner that the trench was too close to the house so we filled that in and began a new trench slightly further away from their house. I am working on a site where the main project is rebuilding a bridge and there are various side projects which we need to complete also such as re-shingling the roof and creating a french drain in their backyard. I really am beginning to like the people in my group I don't really have a lot of people from my church who I know or many people whom I already knew from past years so it is really fun to begin interacting and finding out everyone's story and their plans for the future and such. I had a good day today I just hope tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Just a Little Sunday Driving

Nikki

I am endeavoring to post by midnight, so this must be brief. Today was a good day of everyone getting to know each other and a very LONG drive through some very twisty mountain roads. I was one of the drivers, so while I did get to participate in some of the conversation in the car, I had to keep my mind and eyes on the road. I was ready for a big stretch and to be out of the car by the time we returned. I will let the youth fill you in on the rest.

Vici

Today we had worship through the whole morning. After we had an awesome lunch, which was ham and potatoes, we drove to all 4 sites. In all it took about 6 hours to drive to all of them and to get back. After we got back we ate dinner, which was lasagna. Then we did more worship until about 11. Now I have to go to bed Bc I have to get up at 6:15. So goodnight from me. Happy reading.

Dennis

Hi everyone, I am Dennis I know I haven't really posted anything so far but today, I will change that right this second.. Today we spent all day in the car after church traveling to the new work sites we visited some really cool places which all had amazing views I got to really interact with the rest of the youth in the Michigan groups and made some friends and some frien-emies (she knows who she is). We got to meet the majority of the people whose homes we will be working on and got a quick rundown of what jobs we are expected to complete. It was a fun drive full of talking singing and the appropriate oohs and ahhhs as we passed various scenery. When we came back we had community life and spiritual life before finding out which sites we will be working on. I got placed on a site which we have to replace a bridge so I am very excited and just a little intimidate to be facing such a big job/I am writing this as I head to bed and I should really catch some sleep so goodnight

Laura

Day three: Today we had a bible study and attended church. The church service was very nice, but I admit that I did waste some time wondering why the stained glass was orange and black. Very strange colors if you ask me. The theme of the day was "the Good Samaritan," which has always been a favorite of mine. It has a special place in my heart because it's a motivation to serve without expecting a reward, even gratitude from whoever you help. Also, I particularly enjoy the story because of a chapel my fifth grade class did where Sam, Savannah, and Jessica were the robbers who beat up Paul. What a great memory…
Anyway, we also checked out the worksites today. It was lots of driving, which is definitely not my favorite activity. I got very carsick on the way to the bridge site, but then I got to sit in the fun car. Tom told me a lot about the area since he's from NC, and he had some interesting facts and fun stories. My favorite was a story about one of his friends who got a DUI while riding a horse. Apparently he wouldn't have gotten caught had he not been riding through backyards tearing down clothes lines.
Solomon and I have been thwarted every time we try to play One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Perhaps tomorrow.
We always have good food. Super good food. Today was lasagna.
I enjoyed Bible study today a lot more than yesterday. We read all of Colossians and didn't discuss moonshine at all. We also do this thing where we buddy up and pray for each other, and I really like it.
Anyway, we got our site assignments, and I'm fixing a bridge and roof or something. Which should be fun. The only issue is that this particular site is the one high in the mountains whose roads made me sick. So pray for me, and pray for effective motion sickness pills.
I think we're going to Walmart tomorrow, so I can visit my T-rex friend. This trip is fun. Also we're showering tomorrowfor the first time in a while.

Solomon

Today we got up and got dressed and showered and went to church. Not in that order though. Wearing clothes in the shower would just be super silly. We went to church. It was a nice service with a sermon on the Good Samaritan and some good old traditional hymns! It was a little weird being in a church where everyone wasn't singing just as loud as I was! The people of Emmanuel continue to provide us with absolutely delicious food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!Tonight we had lasagna and garlic bread, with a myriad of delicious desserts!. My personal favorite was the lemon cake, although the strawberry cake was a close second!

We toured all the sites today, which amounted to about 5 or 6 hours in the car. The Michigan crew rode together (Plus Steve from Pennsylvania) and we played a few card games. I learned how to play Old Maid (I didn't lose a single game!) and played some more euchre. We also played a few games of Heads Up on Emily's phone (It's kinda like Taboo or Catchphrase). The scenery was beautiful too. I always like looking at mountains with trees!

Other than that we just listened to music and took the occasional nap, although mine was interrupted by a turn that slammed my head into the hard part of the seat belt. I also took a pretty hard fall when we were playing Kids from Mars later in the day. It's a fun game where you have to run past the two "kids from mars" and get to the other side of the gym whenever they call a color you're wearing. Anyway, it was right after dinner, so I was a little slow and I tried to cut around the kid from mars, but there was another person running in the exact opposite direction and we kinda smacked into each other. So I have a bit of a headache. So I got tagged the first round because I couldn't quite get up fast enough.



But anyway, back to the sites! So there's four sites this year. The first is a deaf lady who had a leaky roof and several of the bedrooms have extensive water damage. A previous group fixed the roof and repainted her house, so now we are going to repair the inside. The second site has a deck that is pretty close to having somebody fall through it that we're going to rebuild, plus some flooring inside. The third site has a bridge that we're rebuilding! Like for cars to drive on! A bridge! Also some roofing to be fixed. The fourth site, which is the one I was assigned to, is a septic site. We are putting in a new drainage field for the septic system. We don't have to dig a pit because their tank is working. Although it's a lot less work without a pit, it will be a little sad that we don't get to dig one. There's just something fun about standing in an eight-foot pit that you dug yourself! I also get to be on a site with my mom for the first time in four yearsand I have some old friends from previous worksites that I have the pleasure of working with again, as well as some new faces that I hope to get to know well over the coming week!





God's Blessings!

Arrival & Day 1

Saturday's blogs - a little late!

Solomon

Today was a good day. We settled in to our North Carolina home and set up everything for the other state groups to arrive. We made our secret servant bags! Mine has a fancy snowman and a fire and some decorations. Everyone got here all at once, so it was a little harder to meet all the new faces this year, but I think I got most of them! I got to teach some new people how to play spoons (although we used markers) and we played some euchre! All in all, it was a fun, laid back day of excitement and getting to see people again for the first time in a year! I'm excited to head out to the work sites tomorrow!

Nikki

Our Savior, Hartland & St Paul, Northville arrived on Friday night. We took the opportunity while on our own to go into Asheville and be adventurous. We went to drum circle & after some coaxing, all of the Our Savior youth and some of the St. Paul youth went out and danced. Then we tried out some Himalayan food at Kathmandu Café, which was a new experience for all of us. We didn’t recognize all of the food names, but we ended up all enjoying our meal, despite some hesitations. We also thoroughly enjoyed the sitar music. It was fun to take the time get know everyone from Michigan a little bit.

Saturday is always an excitement charged day as we get things ready for the arrival of the other state groups. Returning youth & adults are filled with anticipation as they await the arrival of old friends and new faces. First timers are still trying to figure what they have gotten themselves into and are often nervous to meet all the new people and try to remember 50 some new names and faces. By the end of the evening our youth were all mingling in with the others and seemed comfortable. I am looking forward to having a great week with this exceptional group of youth who want to come spend their summer serving.

Vici

Since I was in Mrs. Spangler's group, we had to come down a day early to get ready for the other groups. I was super nervous but I was also every excited. I honestly couldn't tell which I was feeling more so I just tried to calm down and be excited. On the way down it was about a 12 hour drive. We hit a big a big storm on the freeway in Kentucky. I'm sure that slowed us down for a little bit. I felt back for the guy that had a motorcycle that we passed under the bridge. And the guy that had a convertible top that was open and top was slowly closing. When we got to the Tennessee welcome center there was a bunch of Dolly Parton stuff. I thought it was funny because the last time I saw her was when I was younger watching Hannah Montana. When we actually got to Asheville, North Carolina we headed to the Emmanuel church and unpacked all our stuff and got beds set up. Once we felt we were done we went into town to see a drum circle and eat dinner.when we got to the drum circle some guy had a snake so me and some of the group went and pet it. The guy said it was a boa and his name was Big Boy. Sadly the drum circle didn't last long because it had started to rain. So we went looking for a place to eat. Most of the people wanted to try something new. So we went into a Himalayan restaurant. Me and Laura shared one of their meals. We can't remember the name but it looked like Indian curry. It was rice with a hot tomato and chicken sauce. It was surprisingly good. I also had a tea that was made with different herbs. Once that was all done we went back to the church and met up with some new people that had gotten there. After a little while we all went to bed. Then Saturday all the groups came in so it was kind of crazy for a little while. The Michigan groups went out to eat for lunch. When all the groups got settled in we all had dinner that some amazing people at this church made for us. Then when all that was done we did some really fun group games and then some kind of study time. When all that was done we went to the church to end the day with praying and praising God.

Laura

The drive down on Friday was fairly uneventful; I slept for a solid 90% of it and stared out the window for the rest. This road trip was different than any other I've ever been on because we took bathroom breaks almost every two hours. Other than that, I don't have much to say about the way down here.


When we arrived at the church, we cleaned some things I think; I don't really remember. Then we went to a drum circle in downtown Asheville. I had never been to a drum circle, so of course my expectations were shattered once we arrived. I had expected to see a circle of people playing drums, but when we got there, there was only a semicircle of drummers. While listening to the drums, we had the privilege of petting a very kind snake named Big Boy, and that was pretty cool. We then ate dinner at a Himalayan restaurant, which was probably my favorite part of the day. The food was delicious, and we were provided with a sitar player for entertainment. After the musician packed up, Solomon entertained us by finishing not only his dinner but three other dinners as well.
Then we drove home and did some things I can't remember; there was evening and there was morning, the first day…

Day two: We cleaned some more things including all the water coolers. It's amazing how dirty they were since being cleaned at the beginning of last year--foreshadowing of the dirt we can expect this week.
We made our first Walmart stop today too, and I rescued a friendly dinosaur from the underwear aisle. I planned to adopt him, but then I discovered his captors were requesting a fortune of $25 for his release, and I chose instead to leave him with a kitten I met there. Hopefully they become great friends, I will check up on him next time we go. After Walmart we at some delicious Mexican food. Even if I don't like a single thing about the rest of the trip (which isn't likely), I will definitely say the food makes it worth it.
When we returned from lunch, the other groups began to arrive. There are so many people to meet all at once, but after a day of silly games and constant introductions, I think I know about ten names. We played lots of card games because there wasn't any more cleaning to do. Everyone I've encountered has been lamentably bad at ERS, but I've enjoyed some euchre, spoons, and the classic go fish. I met a girl named Grace from Delaware who had been trained in one card game, Uno, who wanted to learn some more. Grace proved to be a quick learner and soon mastered spoons and go fish. Being a far too honest person, she struggled with BS, but you can't be good at everything. Grace is the epitome of most of the people I've met; everyone is excited to learn new things, meet new people, and serve the Lord.
After dinner we did some group activities which were probably meant to be fun but were positively alarming for those of us who are not fond of holding people we just met like babies (or riding them like broncos or carrying them like backpacks). However, I surrendered to discomfort in the name of competition. Maybe I'll undergo some huge change over this trip and suddenly enjoy surprise hugs; you never know what the lord has in store.
We then had a bible study of sorts. We watched a documentary on moonshine and marijuana featuring the voice talents of Billy Ray Cyrus. I was a bit skeptical about the Jesus connection in the whole thing, but I came to see that PJ wanted us to appreciate the region of Appalachia more. We then answered some questions about "putting on love." I've always wondered why we as Lutherans have to come up with odd phrases to try to relate to everyday life, but the message encased in the corniness was applicable. We're here to serve God, but service is not a locational occupation; rather, we are called to serve him anywhere and everywhere. I must admit, years of bible study has me sick of corn, but witnessing the tearful reactions of some of those around me has proven that preferences differ, and even biblical corniness can change lives.
After the bible study, we went into the sanctuary to sing and pray responsively. ASE has a tradition of allowing everyone to pray at the altar, a tradition which I found to be both relaxing and invigorating. It's nice to simply kneel down and speak to God, which is something I don't do nearly enough of. That's about it for day 2; hopefully I will have more exciting things to report tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Deacon's Final ASE Reflections

This time last week, our group was driving home from another great experience in Asheville, North Carolina.  It was about now that we were stopping for lunch at Chick-Fil-A in Kentucky.  This is a favorite for us since they are extremely sparse in our home State.  It was also when we had to say goodbye to our friends from Hamilton, Ohio.  Just when you thought the tears were finished before departing our gracious hosts at Emmanuel Lutheran in Asheville, a few more were shed when Ohio left the caravan, and then lastly when we separated from the Northville group just before Toledo.  It was evident that a lot of good friendships were made and reinforced during this 10+ day journey.

At the beginning of the week, I resumed my Servant Event name of DD (Deacon Dan).  I was so happy to be back amongst the great youth and their leaders and pastors.  This event is unique for a servant event, in that it has the feel of a family reunion.  I cannot recall feeling that way about the other events I have been a part of, either as a youth or an adult.  I think that is one reason our students keep asking to be a part of this project.

However, come Monday, it was time to get to work!  I was on the same site as Ben, and since he described some of our joys and struggles quite well, I will just share some broad observations from our time serving Mr. Shelton and his family.  I was extremely proud of all the youth on our site!  We got some pretty discouraging news a couple of extremely inopportune times during our week, but it was following those that I saw them dig in and get to work without complaints.  Sure there was frustration, but our students wanted to complete this job for the Shelton family.  We learned at the end of our time there that Mr. Shelton was in danger of being removed from his home if not for our work to add a new septic field.  His old field was bubbling to the surface, causing a public health problem.  Again, upon learning this, our students showed a renewed resolve to complete the task!

Near the end of the week, Paige and Solomon agreed to share their gratitude and experiences with our host church, Emmanuel.  I was proud to see their maturity in their speeches, as well as the passion of service for Christ's people.  It was a very edifying moment for me personally to watch and listen to them share their faith with the congregation.

Overall, it was another great year in Asheville!  I look forward to returning next year, again reuniting with our friends, and serving God's people in the Appalachian Mountains.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Deck is Half Done - Paige

One of the hottest days so far and we got half the deck done. Everyone was burnt and sweaty. Adam's ear are actually purple because he got so burnt. I'm not complaining because I enjoy them so much. They make being in the hot sun for 7 hours actually decent. I don't want to leave but I want to sleep in my own bed ;-) I'm happy I'm here serving the Lord. Seeing that so many teenagers can make a difference in someone's life is just unforgetable. Love and miss you fam!

Sleep on a Mountain - Paige

Another rainy day in the site yet my crew is ready to work. We got so much done once again. I love being with them because I feel like they are my family. I can tell them anything and I'm already sad thinking about leaving them. PK (Pastor Kufahl) makes its so enjoyable to be there. He makes us do hard work yet it is always fun. I never mind waking up at 6 in the morning. One bad thing that did happen though was my bed popping on one side. Its like sleeping on a mountain. Time for a new air mattress mom :)

The Floor is Done! - Solomon

We finished the floor today and it looks completely fantastic! It was also very troublesome, but we took shifts, so it wasn't all that bad. I got to know the people I was working with a little more in my down time and we talked and got some cool pictures and we got work done!
Oh, and I hooked up a sink all on my own! All in all it was a pretty good day!

Supplies Arrive - Solomon

We finally got supplies today! It was absolutely fantastic! We actually got some work done on the site, and I got to use a screw gun for the first time!
When we finally got to community life, we played an extremely intense game of trash can, and I won twice in a row! It was a lot of fun! I've never won before because There's a LOT of people at ASE. I've gotten to know all the people at my work site pretty well by now too, and it's really a blast working with them!


Another Rain Delay - Paige

On my site today I wasn't able to to much. It rained all day and there was lighting so we weren't able to do much. At 1 we eventually got to start work. My site knows how to work hard for sure. I love being here and I love everyone. I am already sad that I'm going to be leaving in a few days.

Rain Delay - Paige

Today was an amazing day at the site. Even though it rained pretty much all day we got a lot of work done. We started working at 12 because of the lighting and got as much work done. I'm so proud of the progress we have made. I also got to know Connor way more (Connor is my new best friend) I love everyone here and I'm so happy that I am able to be here with them.

Muddy Wednesday - Ben

Day three started out easy. First we bailed the water out of the ditches that was placed there by the thunderstorms. Then we began to detail and make sure the trench floors are level. It is a long process and lunch could not have come any faster. However, I must admit, the mud wars over top of the dirt piles helped speed up the time. Lunch went by fast yet I wished it hadn't because the inspector over our site informed us we had to dig another foot deep in each trench due to unforeseen complication. PERFECT! 😑 either way it had to be done and thus the second half of the day flew bye and was very productive. On to day four.

Paige Bonds With Her Work Group

Today was amazing day getting to know everyone on my site. I got to become great friends with a kid named Connor. If he wasn't on my site I wouldn't know how I could wake up every morning.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sunday, 7/12/15 - James

Good morning! Good evening! Or good afternoon, whatever it may be. Sundays are always a lil awkward at first. Everyones still getting to know each other and whatnot but it's a fun lazy day. Breakfast was early, then we had a few hours after to hang out and get to know one another some more before devotion and then the church service. After church we took a quick lunch (which was FANTASTIC as usual, the church hooks us up with some bomb meals) and then were off to see the sites. I was surprised by our sites this year. Out of four sites we only have one that is a dig site, and that's only getting the septic field replaced, no tank like we'd usually do. Another of our sites was actually in a lil town; generally they are up on the mountains. The last thing i noticed about our sites was that there didn't seem to be a whole lot of work to do there, at least as much as the previous years i've gone. I was kinda disappointed about that, but it just means we'll really be able to focus on getting a quality job done instead of rushing to finish, and that we'll be able to visit and learn things from our homeowners more. I just can't wait to get to work!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Work Day 2 - Solomon

Today is day 2 at the site!
Unfortunately our supplies ended up not coming, but it provided an excellent opportunity to get to know the people around me better. We didn't have a ton of work to do, so in our copious free time, we took pictures, played ninja, told riddles, and watched the hummingbirds.
Today in spiritual life we also got these awesome crucifix necklaces after talking about our freedom in Christ. All in all, it was more a fun than a productive day, but it was still a good day! Hopefully tomorrow is a little more productive. Pray for good weather!

Monday, 7/13/15 - Ben

Rain. Rain. Ohh, and more Rain. Today, at the worksite, it started off with a magnificent thunder storm and a lot of rain but ended in beautiful sunny (HOT) evening. Day one is done and so far our site is well on its way. Three trenches have been started and there is dirt everywhere. My Paradise. The work site group is awesome. Everyone wants to work hard and get the job done. Mr. Shelton is a great man and I admire his red  V8 Ram 2500 truck. Overall, I look forward to talking to him more through out the week and working in the dirt and clay. On to day Three.

Sunday, 7/12/15 - Ben

Yesterday was interesting. We visited all the different work sites and met the people we could possibly be working with. They all have their individual stories. There is a digging site and a site where we have to destroy and build a deck. Those two sites, to me, seem to be the two best. One involves mud and the others destruction and wood. Can't go wrong with either one. The small group session was intriguing and the video was eye opening. Overall today went well and I can't wait for the work site tomorrow. I got the digging site! Mud here I come.

Monday - 7/13/15 - Solomon

Today was the first day at the site! After some excitement getting to the site (we got slightly lost. we saw some kittens though! They were adorable!) we met the homeowners and got to know them a little bit well PC and the other adult leaders figured out an attack plan.
After that, it was a little different. This was my first year being on a construction site instead of a septic site, so it took a little bit longer to get started since we don't have our supplies yet. We took the opportunity to get to know the people we're working with and working for. It was a lot of moving things in the morning and scraping/sawing through tiles and floorboards in the early afternoon. Overall, it's been completely awesome so far!
And it seems like I've bonded with my fellow servants especially quickly this year. It's crazy how in just one or two days it can feel like you've known each other for months or years. I'm looking forward to enjoying the rest of my time working alongside my second family!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Solomon Returns!

So I haven't blogged in a while, but here's some of what's been going on. First of all, my site is progressing well. On Tuesday, we ran into lots of rock. On Wednesday however, we received a jackhammer. We also got some pry bars, which are basically heavy metal bars that you repeatedly smash against the rock. I got to use the jackhammer, which was a fun, unique, and harder than expected experience. On Thursday, we worked some more on the trenches. Finally on Friday, we put the septic tank in and started the smaller trenches for pipes. Unfortunately it was also rainy and muddy on Friday, but we persevered. In the evenings we had some very insightful and helpful conversations that struck close to home, particularly on things like lust, greed, hypocrisy and dating. I've learned a lot in the time here so far and grown closer to God.

Paige's Sunday

Today was for sure a sad yet exciting day! We spent our morning speaking about our time here and that kinda tore me apart. The white water rafting was amazing though, it was probably my favorite part of this trip. Tonight was crazy because we watched the video of all the pictures from the servant event which made my tears poor out! Thinking about the next three days is going to be rough.

Cecilia's Saturday

I had a lot of fun today! Part of the reason being because I got to sleep in, and part of it because we did so many new things. As we all shuffled into the vans I ran along a present surprise of Alexa who had driven from Maryland to come hang out with us for two days!!! I was sooooooo excited. After that we all went to an art gallery since it was raining which was nice. It was cool to do something different. Then we went with our state groups(me with Ohio because why not) to go out to eat. We decided to go to Jerusalem Garden Cafe and my gyro was very delicious! Next we headed back to the church to practice the song we'll be singing in church tomorrow and for more "ask the pastor". At the end of the day, I ended up under the kitchen sink eating a cup of ice cream.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rainy Friday - Cecilia

Today was a bit of a bummer! We woke up and it was pouring but everybody still went to their sites to check it out and see what we would be able to do but at our site there was very little if nothing to do. So we went to walk around Marshall which was pretty cool. Then we went to a park with a gazebo to eat which was probably the highlight of the day because a couple of us went on a little adventure. We went down by the river where there was a little natural beach and went in the water up to our knees and it was soooo warm and it was super pretty. The mountains were beautiful and everything! Then we came home and we couldn't go downtown because of the rain so we just stayed and hung out which actually turned out to be really fun!!

Deacon's Run-In With the Law

Today was an interesting day, to say the least.  We were unfortunately rained out of our work site the entire day!  While the other groups were digging in the mud, we were sidelined due to the nature of our project.  Left to do on our house is siding a portion of the house, laying down the vinyl flooring, painting the ceiling, finishing the drain trench, and returning the Shelton's furniture after the flooring is completed.  All of that is now held off until Monday.  It is unfortunate, but we did get some social time with our work group.

While we were sidelined and roughly an hour from the church, we decided to go to Historic Downtown Marshall.  This was a charming little town with a lot of local shops and restaurants.  Our group had a good time browsing the area and meeting the great store owners.

Now to the story leading to the title of the post.  We decided to eat lunch on "the island" where there was a covered pavilion and a dock for looking at the river.  We could not have been there any more then 5 minutes when we see a sheriff walking towards our group.  The leaders greeted the officer, and were fearful that we had made a mistake, and were going to be told to leave this lovely little oasis we found.  However, what the sheriff really wanted was to know if we were part of a recycling group responsible for doing a pick-up in the park area.  We asked if we were fine to stay, and he said it was fine.  I know, it was a little anti-climactic, but I need a catchy title.

We were also rained out of our evening social activity, so we essentially reverted back to our normal schedule, with one salivating deviation.  We went on a group-wide Sonic run for 1/2 price shakes!  I had the peanut butter and fudge, and it was great.  I will say though, if you live near a Sonic, do yourself a favor and try the chocolate jalapeno.  It is surprisingly very good (you're welcome Sonic!).  Now all that is left is to sleep in tomorrow!  This is a welcome addition to our itinerary.

Blessings,

Deacon Huth

Day 4 - Cecilia

Sooooooo today, I woke up and I actually felt pretty sore but it made me feel like I actually have muscles. Really all I did was go up on the roof and paint it and still didn't finish which is what I'll have to do tomorrow. It got pretty steamy up there! We came home like a half an hour early though because today was laundry day!!!! Now I feel like I have a whole new wardrobe to wear. Today it seemed to me like I just let it all out in spiritual life with my prayer partner. I just told her how I felt and she listened. It was nice and felt good to get stuff off of my chest. Oh and I totally thought today was Wednesday when a woke up so now it feels like the week is going by super fast! Tomorrow is already Friday!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wednesday - Cecilia

I felt like today it took me a while to wake up. It is starting to wear me out but definitely not in a bad way! Today at the work site I worked mostly in the trench. It was the first day I used a pick ax and I was intense! Haha, sparks were flying and everything. It would be a good stress reliever. As the days go on the more the family becomes involved which blows my mind. For example, Mr. Shelton just had a stroke 3 weeks ago and he tried helping is pry a boulder out from the trench. Mrs. Shelton was cracking us up. She was talking to him because he was right front and center watching us dig and she was telling him that maybe he should step back so he doesn't get hurt. He just said he's helping take out the rock. So she replied well if you got hurt at least I  wouldn't have to worry about you anymore. He is really a sweet old man. He told us "youngens" today that we can't look on the outside for beauty it's what's on the inside that matters not the statue. It was a very productive day on site and I'm looking forward to going back tomorrow.

July 15 - Paige

July 15, 2014 today I officially made new friends! I also realized that I love everybody on my site. We are all so nice to each other and act like we have known each other for years. It is awesome to be able to act myself around my new friends!

July 13 - Paige

July 13, 2014. It's Sunday and we are waking up early to go to church. It wasn't bad because I was able to take a nap in between me getting ready and going to church. I have made many new friends and they seem to be just like me, weird! We have a schedule everyday and that includes having a little church service at the end of the day, even though we went to church in the morning. This had been a great experience for me just to listen to what people have to say about God! It's been a great day today, but I can't wait for tomorrow and dig some ditches!

Day 2 - Paige

July 12, 2014. It is my second day here in North Carolina and I can't even explain how amazing it is here! I haven't gotten to know everybody but so far they have all even nice. It is a great experience that we get to go to church every night as well, and we also have a praying discussion with a partner! To me, being able to hold hands with the other servants and praying or just talking makes me feel at home. Ready for more fun times this week!