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Let Go and Let God

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by Abe Hartzler Abe is a member of the 2017 EM Summer Staff in McDowell County, West Virginia.

We are now three weeks into the summer and its hard to believe. Days are long but somehow still seem to go by fast. A typical day involves waking up around 6am, grabbing a bagel and coffee, then hitting the road to get to the hardware store to get supplies for the day. Most of my time is spent driving to different work sites, and after the past week of sunny weather my left arm has the trucker’s tan to show for it.

Our summer was kicked off here at the School for Life in Gary, WV, with two weeks of back to back mission teams. Our volunteers spanned from Washington State to New Jersey, and from 19 to 70 years old. The beginning of the second week was pretty trying. There were quite a few moments in which I felt overwhelmed and wasn’t quite sure how I was going to accomplish everything I needed to that day, and was probably starting to show it. Just when I needed it, many friends and community members gave me encouragement and reassurance, making sure I knew that it wasn’t by my own effort that things would work out, but by God’s. My motto for the week became:

“Let go and let God.”

This simple change in thought turned frantic morning runs to the hardware store into prayerful alone time with God, which is something I’m really starting to value. I have quiet time to watch the sun rise through the foggy mountains in the mornings as I talk to God. The alone time has been rejuvenating and has done a lot to help me form a relationship with Him and to start my mornings off well. Through the past two weeks, we have been welcomed into at least 18 different households, doing everything from sorting through trash to installing entire roofs. With God’s help we were able to get through the craziness.

Through all the work and busyness, I can’t say enough how wonderful and uplifting the people here in Gary are. From my coworkers decorating my tool room to surprise me to my friends at the hardware store giving me a Gatoraid on the house when I came in looking exhausted, these small gestures and kind encouraging words have been such a blessing.

Finally, I’d like to share a story from my favorite of all our projects we worked on this week...

During my first day here in Gary, I was introduced to a man named Pete who lived in the community a Havaco, a small town 15 minutes from the school where we're staying. Pete made his living driving a truck for years, but while on the road a year ago, he became very sick. He attempted to stick it out but eventually had to go to the hospital where it was found out that he had a severe infection, which led to the doctors amputating part of his foot and eventually the whole lower half of his leg.

After this surgery, Pete returned home, but has since been unable to go any further than his porch because he couldn’t get down his steps. Thankfully, a skilled group of volunteers was able to give Pete his freedom back, and built him one heck of a wheelchair ramp.

Throughout the project, Pete could be seen inching closer to his porch railing, watching as it progressed until the moment came when he could finally be outside. The smile on Pete’s face was so genuine and full of gratitude, as the volunteers used their gifts to give him something we take for granted every day. On May 31st, Pete finally got to leave his home for the first time since September.

Appalachia Mission Trips

Learn more about mission trips to McDowell County, West Virginia!


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