well, at least, probably not. But you might be able to get a saw.
After breakfast we headed out for a day with Asheville Youth Mission. About 60 people gathered for worship and mission work. Our group worked at the Veteran’s Restoration Quarters, a converted motel that serves mainly veterans who struggle with homelessness, mental health, addiction, job retention, etc. At any given time about 250 veterans live in the old motel. They eat meals together, they have a variety of services and healthcare provided, and they learn skills for jobs and for coping with life post-military service. Veterans can live there for up to 2 years, so it’s an important transitional ministry that helps those who have served our country get back on their feet. Our group worked here in 2009 as well, so it was neat to see how things have progressed in the past three years.
Where three years ago we dug flower beds and cleared brush from the woods, today there is a lovely bed of plants and a clear and beautiful meadow with a knoll built on the edge.
Today we pulled weeds (including quite a bit of poison ivy…thanks gloves!) on the knoll and re-edged the pathways with stones, to make a nice peaceful spot for reflection and outdoor chapel services.
We also ate lunch with the veterans who live at the VRQ, and got to hear some of their stories. Several in our group were touched to hear from James, Paul, and Armando about their experiences struggling with homelessness, working hard to overcome their challenges, and their positive outlooks on life. In particular James, who also calls himself “the can king,” was an inspiration. He talked a lot about his period of disillusionment with the American Dream, and then with his effort to make a better life. He recently applied for and received a grant to start an aluminum can recycling program, and he was trying to get people to participate. One of the things he said was “God did not create me to fail.” What a great attitude from someone who has seen so much and still has so many challenges to face.
Near the end of the day we noticed a tree that had been infested with what the leaders know as “bag-worm,” which eventually kills the tree and spreads to the surrounding trees as well, and we negotiated the opportunity for Hannah and Chris to put their tree-chopping skills to good use getting rid of it. An exciting end to the day!
Tonight we enjoyed baked potatoes for dinner before heading to the opening celebration of the youth conference. The auditorium was filled with 1300 people singing, clapping, and cheering—the energy was palpable and awesome, and we had a great time. We sang a wide variety of songs, we heard a preview of some amazing people who’ll be leading us this week, and John Bell had us singing in three part harmony in just a few minutes. Our youth would like to thank Pastor John for “preparing us to understand Scottish accents!” We can’t wait for what tomorrow will bring!
Excitements of the day: more tree chopping! singing at the top of our lungs with a thousand other people!
Things we learned today: we don’t really understand washing machines. All 8 of us can shower in less than an hour. how to play Phase 10. and that energizers are fun!