Covenant United Methodist Church

Changing Lives with Jesus

Reflections of our 2014 Appalachia Service Project Mission Trip

July 13, 2014

Last Sunday, our team of volunteers sat in the sanctuary of Asbury United Methodist Church in Harrisonburg Virginia for their 8:30 am worship service.  Just in case you don't know, we usually travel half way home on Saturday, take an overnight rest stop at a church whose congregation is generous enough to accomodate us, then travel the rest of the way home on Sunday.  This worship service was the last activity that our entire team would do together.  Their associate Pastor, Bob Talbott, started on his sermon “A Different kind of Pep Talk” with scripture readings which included Matthew 10:verse 16. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” As he repeated the first part, “I am sending you out like sheep...”, a tingling shot up and down my spine.  I was amazed.  Almost in disbelief.  I felt like yelling “This is awesome!”.  However, being quite sure Pastor Talbot wouldn't appreaciate such an outburst, I contained myself.

You see, back in January, we started our journey toward our 2014 Appalachia Service Project mission trip with the theme for the summer program - “Apostello” - Life on Purpose.  “Apostello” is the Greek word meaning “to send”, specifically to send someone off or away to something.  As we worked toward our week of service in Watauga County, North Carolina, we have had numerous discussions about “Apostello” and what it means to be sent and what that means to live “life on purpose”.

Two weeks ago, we arrived at our destination - Watauga County, just outside of Boone,  North Carolina, where we would spend the week helping to improve living conditions for families – not just in Watauga County, but also just over the state line in Johnson County Tennessee.  During this week many of us learned what it means to be sent - often out of your comfort zone - often into new realizations.  We learned about living, not for yourself, but for someone else - that you just might have something special to offer that can make you part of something much bigger than yourself - that God offers his grace and love, and, beyond loving Him, wants you to love your neighbor.  Even when that person might be a stranger - a stranger who lives differently than you do.

So, when I heard Pastor Talbott's words at the end of our week, they spoke to me.  To have his message fall right in line with what we have been about for the past six months – could not be mere coincidence.  I was convinced that we were right where God wanted us to be.  That we had indeed been sent.  Sent by Him.  And sent for Him.

Please read some of our volunteer's reflections of our week in Watauga County.  You may find more thoughts about being sent and why we are sent.

~ Greg Corner, Team Leader


Recently I participated in my first ASP trip. Before the trip, I have to admit I was a little nervous. I was not sure what to expect. I was unsure what my project would be, and who I would be working with. Also, to top it all off, I do not go to this church and I didn’t really know many people in the group that I was traveling with. Despite, all these uncertainties, I was excited to get to experience something that I had never done before and to help others less fortunate than myself.

My name is Lisa, and this was my first year participating in the Appalachia Service Project.  In my life, I’ve never gone any further south in the country than maybe Delaware, so the only thing I really knew about the North Carolina and Tennessee was what stereotypes led me to believe. However, of course, stereotypes are never completely true.

This year, the ASP team traveled to Watauga County North Carolina. Although our center was in Watauga, our family's home was actually in Tennessee, about 20 minutes from the center. Our work team was called the Geoducks, (pronounced Gooeyducks) and I had the privilege of working with Pete, Laura, Claire and Kristen. To quote Pete, our crew was "Quacktastic".

If you don't know me I am Jake Plank or as the people from the center did sometimes call me, Jake from State Farm.  So this past week has been a great ride, one I will never forget.  The fact is that this was one of the greatest weeks of my life.  Why it came to be was the purpose for me being here and going on that trip.

ApostelloCheck out the ASP 2014 Picture Album

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