Love Thy Neighbor

by Charlotte Long, Youth Ministries

Believe it or not, the 2017 High School Service Trip planning has been in the works since September!

              "You don't have to be a Master Carpenter; your Master is the Carpenter."
                                                       Ruth, ASP Volunteer for over 20 years

This year, we will be travelling with the same organization as the last 3 years - Appalachian Service Project, or, more fondly, ASP. ASP has been in the Appalachian Mountains since the 1970's, giving them a deep respect and connection to the culture and the people who call it home.  When I was in High School, I travelled with my Youth Group on the ASP trip every summer.  These trips instilled in our group a fierce love of the country, the desire to actively assist those less fortunate, and the ability to see strangers from very different backgrounds as nothing less than our brothers and sisters in Christ.

What is it to love a neighbor? It is such a dense question. It is so hard and yet it is such a simple instruction that Jesus gives us. My mother, a sometimes mystic and my greatest teacher of Love, often says that she is not interested in the explainable about God. She is only interested in the feelings she gets during Holy Times of her life. Once it is explained, something of the truth goes out of it, although it is honorable to explain.  The funny thing is, she is also a true student: an academic and a scholar of spiritual thought. But when it comes down to it, she doesn't care what the word for "it" is. She cares about the undefinable, the unimaginable expansiveness that somehow we can feel in our little bodies. She feels it during Holy Week, she says. And she feels it on ASP.
It is that deep, sparkly kind of contentment, a continuous flow in and out, that is already present in talking to God right now. Even if you don't always believe in God in the first place.

The week-long trip is centered around teams of 5 to 7 who together with ASP staff work on repairs or rebuilding of a family's home. We eat, worship, sleep next to and reflect with the young adults running the program, as well as much larger groups from different Christian denominations from around the United States.  It is some of the hardest work any of us have ever had to do; it is frustrating and rewarding all at once.  When a cool breeze blows or the most basic lunch sandwiches are eaten, it can make the meaning of Grace instantly clear to a 17-year-old who couldn't have told you a thing about it before.

But we can't make all this happen without you!! The trip is JUNE 10th to JUNE 17th, 2017. This year we are travelling to TENNESSEE.

Any teenagers in High School can attend! Be ready to learn to use a hammer; see the stunning mountains and rolling green hills; meet incredible families from Appalachia and other kids from around the country! Explore your relationship with service, God and the world. Hang out with cool adults (like me!) and make something spectacular.

DID I MENTION DAIRY QUEEN TRIPS EVERY NIGHT? Yeah, it doesn't get much better than this.