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ASP 2013 Reflection - Julia Bingaman

July 10, 2013

This was my first year being able to participate in ASP and it was an experience that I will never forget. I have wanted to go on this trip ever since I knew about it as a little kid. I remember sitting in church when I was little and listening to some of the other youth come and talk about their experiences on ASP, and now I get to do that! Now that I got to experience it for myself, it was way different than I expected. The conditions that the people have to live in are devastating and it really made me realize everything that I take for granted. We stayed at Tazewell Middle School with four other churches and slept on the gym floor. It was a lot of fun to interact and get to know the other churches throughout the week. There were many different work crews and each was assigned to work on one house for the week. My work crew had Alex, Paul, Jake, and our two awesome group leaders, Mike and Kathy.

On Sunday night, Mike and I went on the family visit, which is where two members of each crew go and meet the family and find out what we would be fixing before working on their house for the week. When we got there, I was so happy because our family had three kids and a little puppy that was so cute!

I feel like the bond that we created with our family was just as important as the work we finished on their house. I wish we could have stayed longer especially because I never wanted to leave the family. Every day, the two little kids, RJ and Dean would run up to our van and greet us when we got to their house. They also had an older brother named Kagan who was always outside shooting his basketball. They were always outside playing with all the other neighborhood kids and they were like one big family. These were probably the cutest kids ever and they were super funny.

My crew had 3 main projects to work on the house. The roof was leaky so we had to seal the roof. Also, we installed drywall to the inside to prevent further leaks through the sealing. And lastly, the bathroom floor was unfinished. That floor was possibly the most frustrating project I have ever worked on but, at the end of the week, my crew and I were all able to look back at that floor and say “we did that.” It was such a relief to have finished that floor, especially because of how bad Belinda wanted it finished.

It was a little bit of a difficulty for me to see what these people have to live with every day and how thankful they really are for even the little things. One thing that really inspired me that week was a little boy named Israel. Israel lived around the corner where another crew helped to fix up his family’s home. However, he wasn’t like the rest of the kids. Israel had muscular dystrophy (or MD) and he wasn’t expected to live past 12. But he didn’t let this stop him from making the best of the time that he had. His friends treated him like he was just a normal kid like them which I thought that was pretty awesome. Israel’s mom, Angel, was very close friends with Belinda, who was the mom of our family and she often came up to our house and talked to us. It was amazing how thankful she was for us and what we were doing. She was just trying to make the best for her son as he struggled through this disease.

Every night back at the center, we would have dinner and then have an evening gathering led by the remarkable staff with prayer and an activity. The staff at the center were just so fun and motivational. Anyway, so Friday night, evening gathering was held outside where everybody sat in a giant circle and we each went around and shared our “God moment” of the week. This was a time where you could share about where you saw God in your work or felt his presence at any time throughout the week. My God moment really spread throughout the entire week because I feel like God was really calling me to go on this trip. It wasn’t just me wanting to go, but it was God putting me in the position to serve. I saw God in our family and how special and appreciative they were. I also saw God in Israel and all of his inspiration. If I had to pick one specific God moment, it would be when we were all crammed in Belinda’s house on a rainy day and Angel was talking to us. I remember her saying “Y’all have no idea how much this means to me…” and she began tearing up a little bit. This really touched me because it kind of felt like the work was moving really slow and we weren’t getting much done on the house but when you hear something like that it lifts your spirits and makes you realize that you actually are making a difference.

I always knew there was need, but I guess I didn’t fully understand the need until I saw it in Virginia. The families there were very appreciative of every little thing and they didn’t take anything for granted. The living conditions that they had to deal with made me realize how lucky I was to have everything that I do. Overall, this experience was a life changing experience for me and I definitely took something out of it.

I want to say thanks to my group members for making my first year of ASP a great one! I couldn’t have done it without them! Alex, Paul, Jake, and I, I feel like we worked really well together and accomplished a lot at the end of the week! Special thanks to Kathy for being so motivating and encouraging and always making sure I had enough water. Kathy always had a song for everything… just sayin. And thanks to Mike for being awesome and teaching me how to use power tools. Thanks Papa Joe and Laura for driving us safely! Lastly, I want to thank my mom and nana for being my prayer partners for the week. I looked forward to prayer partner bags every night.

As many of you know, the theme for the week was “Radical Reversal” and what makes one great is to serve others, not to be served. This theme was definitely present throughout the week. Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

~ Julia Bingaman

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