“A tired volunteer is a happy volunteer!” ~ (Fr. Ralph Beiting)
After a 5:30am wake-up call, we ventured out into the dense morning fog of the mountain to go to 7am Mass. As we were leaving the mountain side property we spotted three baby deer prancing around their mother. Nature is so beautiful! When we got to St. Jude Church in Louisa, we were happy to see tall Fr. Mike presiding at Mass again. For the last couple of years we have so enjoyed his insight when preaching the Gospel. He did not fail us. He talked about all of us wanting signs to confirm our faith. He said that we just have to look to the Eucharist. Christ is right there. We receive Him when we receive Eucharist and He is in us. If we look in the mirror, we see the sign. We see the presence of God. Therefore, we can quit looking for signs and be the sign. We can do that through daily small acts of kindness, through the way we treat those we serve.
After Mass we headed to the Point of Hope, the new headquarter of the Fr. Beiting Appalachian Mission Center since having to give up the large warehouse/office center that had been home for the last several years. There, Cindy and Dominic Capria, the administrators of the program, did our orientation for our mission week. Joining us was a youth group from Immaculate Conception parish in Douglasville, PA. With them was their pastor and a couple of adult chaperones. After a prayer for all vocations we all introduced ourselves and announced what we would be the patron saint of this week. Some were patrons of baking, joking, eating, working and so forth. As things got a little more serious we were again reminded to be the presence of God. Cindy then talked about the local culture. She said that in general only about 10% of Kentucky’s population is Catholic and only about 1-2% of Louisa is Catholic. However, it is a very Christian culture. They consciously live to get to heaven. Although much of the population is poor, they are very humble and happy with what they do have, and appreciate any help they are given.
After our meeting everyone received their assignments. We broke into small groups and were brought to the homes we will be working on this week with the supplies we will need. By 9:30am we were all beginning our jobs. Bob, Dan T, Joan, Connie and Dylan went to Teena’s home to replace some windows. This job was more difficult than anticipated because the size of the replacement windows was not the same as the existing windows. Teena and one of her daughters are hearing impaired, but communicated very well with our team.
Rocky, Cameron, Kitty and Ashley went to Barbara’s home to replace a set of steps with a deck and a wheelchair ramp. Barbara cares for her elderly, sick husband. Their grandson, Bentley, excitedly watched the progress of this team
Dan H, Joe, Sheryl and Renee’ went to Nancy’s home to pull out rotting foundation and flooring in a dining room and replace it with treated new wood. Nancy was very hospitable even though she is very fatigued from chemotherapy to treat Leukemia. Some family members stopped by to check on her while we worked. All of our teams worked very hard, in very hot weather, to get a good start on their projects.
After a dinner of grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, the team gathered for evening prayers. We shared an active discussion on trying to walk humbly with Christ. We are learning so much about each other while we grow in faith and friendship.