Hello from the land of grateful teens (and adults)! (Yes Moms & Dads, I am talking about yours!) Today started out with breakfast at 7:15am…which consisted of sausage, biscuits and brown water, er….I mean gravy, fruit cocktail, cereal, donuts, milk and juice. The mess hall is a large screened in room with picnic tables inside of it. Since there are 248 ‘campers’ here, we opted to eat at the outside deck so we could be together as a group. We scarfed the food right down, picked up our coolers and water jugs for lunch and got on the road.
Our work site is in Farner, TN and it is about a 25 minute commute to get there. We drove through gorgeous mountains and a little fog. (The teens in my van were taking pictures out the window, so hopefully when we get home you will have lots of pictures to look at.)
We arrived at Aretha’s house and jumped out ready to get started. Eli is our camp counselor and he is great. He began our day with a devotional reading from the Book of Psalms, and then Laura led us in a spontaneous morning prayer; ending with ‘Big’ John praying the memorare. After that we broke into groups and went to our ‘jobs’. Today our jobs included, putting on a roof with more peak points than I could count, bleach cleaning the inside walls, caulking holes in the bathroom and kitchen, scrubbing the windows and blinds, weed whacking/clearing an acre of land, and prepping the outside of the house to be painted.
I tried to tell Eli that my teens rocked and he better come prepared with things for us to do. He said that he had a long list for the week and we will be fine. At the end of our work day, he came to me and said, “Ok, you’re right.” When I looked at him quizzically, he said that our group was the hardest working one he has ever worked with and that he had to call and find out what other things we could do for Aretha because with the exception of having to finish the roof tomorrow morning, we cleared his whole list for the week. On the plus side, Aretha is now going to have the inside and outside of her house painted, and she is thrilled.
Aretha is in her late sixties and lost her husband seven years ago. She seemed embarrassed by the state of her home, but the teens made her feel like her home was perfect. I WAS SO PROUD OF THEM! Her house is in need of major repairs. There were holes in her shower where you could see outside, the floor was so soft in some spots that she put bricks in the room to stabilize it and keep people from stepping through, and the walls, windows, and shades were so dirty that it was hard to see out of them. The teens started right in and never made her feel like this wasn’t their version of normal. There wasn’t a single complaint and no one hinted that they were grossed out….I think the best look of the day was from Christine though. We were in her kitchen caulking her back door shut (yes, I know this is ridiculous, but it is what she insisted on….I kind of feel like I sealed her fate in a fire!) and Aretha told us that the reason she wanted it sealed was because a large black snake came into her home through the cracks around the door. I think it took everything Christine had not to run screaming from the room. (She is terrified of snakes….so I dealt with that and she deals with all of the other bugs. )
We stopped for lunch and ate sandwiches, cookies, and chips under the shade of her free-standing carport. It was nice to get to socialize as a large group and hear the funny stories of the day. The teens really took charge and we made Caitlin be the ‘water’ girl. Every half hour she had to stop what she was doing and yell “WATER!” When we heard her yell, we had to stop what we were doing and take a water break. It was 91 degrees outside today and they were on the roof where it was easily 15-20 degrees hotter than that. We weren’t having anyone get dehydrated, so they did as they were told and just drank the water. (I think they just wanted to make sure I didn’t harp on them. Ha!)
We left the worksite around 3 and came back to camp to shower and cool off. It waited until we were all the way unloaded before it started to rain again. (We let the girls go shower before Christine and I headed down….they got stuck walking in the rain. Maybe it does pay to go last. Hehe!) After everyone showered, we ate dinner (bbq chx, au-graten potatoes, green beans, salad, and burgers) and then went to North Carolina to go to Walmart. (It is about 35 minutes from where we are staying…and is one of the only stores around.) I think some of the teens just went because they got to go in an air conditioned building for a little bit…did I mention it is hot and humid here?
We made it back in plenty of time for chapel and it began with ‘stretching’ exercises to get ready to sing praise. (It was so neat to see how much our teens got into it. They were at a distinct disadvantage because being the only Catholic Group here, the other religions all knew the contemporary Christian songs, and we didn’t. It sure didn’t stop them from dancing and singing along with the words on the screen though. They had the most spirit of anyone!) Counselor Danielle gave the message tonight and she talked about her past year. It was her freshman year of college and all the mistakes she made that had her turning away from God and how she needed to know who she was following. It really hit home with the graduating seniors of our group, and our small group discussion afterwards was filled with a lot of reflections on it. We ended (as always) with our Hey God’s, Yeah God’s, and Mad Props. They had a lot more to say tonight and it is exciting for me as the ‘leader’ to see them really coming together as a team. We are truly going away from the upper class and lower class students and becoming one Saint Michael Community. It makes my heart happy.
The teens told me that they appreciate their homes and families so much more after today…..I do too. Thanks for sharing your kids with me. They are fantastic and that is due to their phenomenal upbringing. Good job Moms & Dads! Until tomorrow, Blessings on your night!