It was the summer 2008 and I was so excited for my third Reach Workcamp. Upon arriving in Greenup, Kentucky, I quickly learned that I had been placed in a double crew. I had only attended Reach as a senior high camper once before and my crew was composed of just seven people. This time I would be working in a crew almost double that size. I had two initial thoughts – I was going to make twice as many friends and we were going to be working twice as hard. I was not afraid of hard work and I certainly knew that Reach demanded a lot from its campers, but nothing could have prepared me for the project ahead.
We arrived on Monday to an old, run down house that had already been stripped of its insides. There was a plethora of tasks on our to-do list, some of which I had never even done before: scraping, priming, painting, insulating, dry walling, installing ceiling tiles, carpeting – the list went on and on. We were told that the expectation wasn’t that we would finish all of the tasks, but that we would get as much done as possible.
We got to the dirty work right away. We were the first crew to leave the school every morning and the last crew to return every evening. We even had people volunteer to stay late, just to make sure that we were getting as much done as possible. We stopped briefly for devotions and lunch in the middle of the day, but someone was always doing something.
On Wednesday morning, we had an unexpected visit from a neighbor down the street. The neighbor, a senior in high school, asked if there was anything that she could do to help. Over the next few days, she did small – yet important – tasks around the house and bonded with a few of the crew members.
By Thursday and Friday, extra crews starting coming to our worksite after they had finished their projects early. By Friday, we must have had 50 something teenagers and adults working on the house, scrambling to get the last minute projects done. The neighbor who came to help us quietly excused herself in the morning and returned with sheets, a pillow, and a comforter – we quickly realized that our elderly neighbor had been sleeping on her couch because she could’t assemble her bed and she didn’t have anything to put on it.
By the end of the day, there were still a few spots to be painted and holes to be patched, but we were able to give our neighbor the simplest of gifts that she thought was out of reach for her – a warm and cozy bed. I will never forget the look of gratitude on her face when she walked in the door and saw her bedroom set up with a poster of pictures and notes from our crews.
I have had many God moments in my 18 years, but this one stands out from all of the rest. I witnessed teenagers accomplish more renovation and construction in five days than some professionals could in a matter of months. My week in Greenup is a constant reminder of my many blessings from God and how I can do such small things to give back in the name of Christ. I offer this story up to anyone seeking inspiration, because crews 19 and 34 are truly an example that anything is possible when He is on your side.
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