This trip was my first year going on ASP. I was nervous, to say the least. I had gone to the monthly meetings, the retreat, and to Labor Day and none of it was really convincing. Everyone has always talked of this feeling, like no other, that they felt from ASP and I was yet to feel it. Then the trip came. We packed 64 people, all in search of God and in search of love, into 8 vans and headed down to North Carolina. A lot of hours passed, a lot of food eaten, songs sung, and conversation exchanged. Then we got there. The Smoky Mountains carry a misty magic that words can do justice. They have this mystery about them that, right away, you know is hiding something that your life needs. On the
worksite, we did insulation, drywall, and something with air vents that, truthfully, I still don't understand. Though we traveled to Appalachia for construction, we stayed for the relationships. The people in Appalachia are filled with so much love, love that we all spread upon return home. They have so little, but it's all they need, and they're beyond thankful for it. The people down in North Carolina taught me that life is not numbers in a bank account, the place you live, or the circumstances you were born into. Life is what you make of it, and with so little, they still look at their lives and smile. Little did we know, while we were busy getting lost upon windy backroads, we were actually getting found; because somewhere over the mountains and under the fog we found the meaning of life and of the trip: to love- to love like the families we served and to love like the mountains and to love like God loves us.
I was dragged to the first ASP meeting by my friend whose mom forced her to go. I didn’t really want to come but I wasn’t really given a choice so I went. It was very nerve-wracking at first because I knew exactly 5 people out of a group of 64 and I have always been a very shy person around people I don’t know. But as the meetings went on I started to get to know people better and I became for comfortable in the new environment and everyone made it so easy, too. They were all so nice.
Still a little hesitant around the group, I was concerned about the spring retreat, but it turned out I had nothing to worry about
because that’s when we all started to really connect once we found out our groups for the summer trip. We got to know a little bit about each other and I realized we were going to have so much fun on the trip.
As many others before me have said, “The trip gives you this feeling that you can’t really explain to others who haven’t been on it because you have to experience it for yourself." Everyone has their own feelings and thoughts on the trip but mine revolved my God sighting. I wasn’t sure how to take it in at the moment but it made me realize how I believed I was truly meant to go on this trip and help our homeowner Geanice. When Geanice got out of her car that first day when she turned to look at me, I was hit with the realization that this woman shared a striking resemblance to my grandmother who had passed away when I was younger. I know Geanice isn’t my grandmother, but her eyes held the same warmth and loving gaze as my grandmother had before she died and her plump cheeks and open arms made me even more willing than I was before to help her and do whatever she needed. This woman, who I had never met in my life, had a presence that made me want to run up her as if she was my grandmother standing right there in front of my eyes again happy and healthy and smiling down at me. So when Geanice asked for us to give her hugs I was
shocked at the suddenness for she had just met us but also so thankful that I was able to hug her. Seeing this woman who looked like my grandmother made me realise that if I hadn’t been forced to go to that first meeting, I never would have been able to see my grandma’s face again and I never would have been able to help this kind woman gain custody of her grandkids and ensure that they might be able to have a home that was warmer, safer, and drier. On the last day on the site, my group watched as Geanice danced on her porch after it was finished and I knew that my grandma was smiling down on me that day; that she was happy I went on this trip and that felt really fulfilling for me. It
felt so amazing that out of so many ASP applicants that Geanice was chosen and out of eight groups, mine got Geanice. It just felt meant to be. I know I might not get the same experience the next time on this year's trip but I know that I want to continue going till I can’t go anymore because the satisfaction of helping someone is so fulfilling and doing it with amazing people makes it so much better. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Hi. My name is Alvin, and this was my third year doing ASP. I will first be talking to you about the work we did, our homeowner, and then just things that happened during the week. Our main project during the week was roofing. I haven’t done roofing prior to this year but I knew both Tom and Monica had last year, so not getting the roof done because we didn’t know what we were gonna do wasn’t a concern of mine. I found out we were doing roofing on Sunday when Kiley, Monica, and I went on the home visit, and part of me was scared but also relieved. If you know me you know I don’t like heights or snakes so when I heard roofing, I already knew this week was going to be interesting; but then I was like “hey” if I’m high up then the snakes won’t get me. Lucky for me neither was a problem during the week because the home was not that high and we didn’t run into any snakes, but I was still concerned about it till the end of the week. Especially after our homeowner, Teresa, told me the story of her run in with a snake coming down a tree back when her kids were young, and I was thinking to myself I’ve been standing under trees for shade this whole time, but I’m pretty sure she got a kick out of seeing me scared so that was that.
Going back to the roof, which was always a good 10 degrees hotter than the outside temperature, as well as having the constant buzzing of red and black wasps around, our group through all the sweat and laughs of the week, finished the roof on Friday leaving only the drip edge that had to be added due to another group forgetting and adding rake trim to a side.
The frustrations that occurred throughout the week, the scratches while cutting, the spider, the cat pee, were all worth it in the end as that feeling of fulfilment filled within all of us as we did as much as we could each and every day to make Teresa’s home warmer, safer, and drier.
On Friday morning when we got to Teresa’s home we were surprised to see her not there. Turns out she was making homemade ice-cream for us, and to make it taste even better she went to the store to get the good cream for us, spending her own time and money on something that she didn’t have to; but did, just for us. Just as everyone was finishing up their ice-cream I very randomly and awkwardly asked Bella “hey you wanna help me get something out of the van?” It was our gift for Teresa, a wicker bench with some cushions for her newly built porch. When we brought it in to show her, her face lit up like I have never seen the whole week. It was just a bench to me or anybody else, but to her it already had so much value that it almost brought her to tears. When we were leaving her home that day the last thing I remember seeing was Teresa, sitting on bench that we just gave her, turned around and waving till we left. Its moments like that, our daily 11:11s, ice cream and Walmart runs; random guys like Charlie helping the center staff when our tin went flying off the top of their van during delivery, and the countless number of blessings we receive from random people at rest stops and hotels that made this trip truly incredible.
With all that’s happened I cant wait to return next year.
Last year I remember begging my mom not to sign me up for ASP. I was very shy and I didn’t want to have to talk in front of anyone or leave home for ten whole days to do something I’ve never done before. But now I couldn’t imagine my life without doing ASP. I loved every second of the trip and am so glad that I was able to meet so many amazing people, like our homeowner, Diane, her granddaughter Lydia, and their three dogs Murphy, Cindy, and Happy. From the second we stepped into their home I felt welcomed, every morning we were greeted by the same warm smiles. During our breaks we would all listen to Diane’s stories about her family as she showed us pictures. Lydia would come in to check on our work and start mud fights with us. By the end of the day, our faces were completely covered. When it came time to leave on Friday we were all super upset. I never thought it would be so hard to leave, even though we only knew each other for five days. But I will never forget them and the wonderful storyies and laughs that they shared with us throughout the week. Arriving back home Sunday, I had no clue what to do; I knew I didn’t want to be on my phone or watch TV, I just wanted to be back in North Carolina surrounded by my friends. I wanted to be able to gaze at the stars after going out for ice cream, sing along to wagon wheel on full volume, and be able to make giant slime bubbles with Lydia. Even though the trip is over, I’m so glad that I was able to go and I know that next year will be just as life changing.
This was my second year doing ASP and I am so happy and blessed to say that this year completely surpassed my goal of wanting an amazing trip, in so many ways. Coming into a new year of ASP I can say that I was still, somehow, very nervous about coming back. I was nervous because last year was such an unforgettable and amazing trip that I became scared that I wasn’t going to have that same experience and impact this year. I was also nervous because I knew that I was going to have to very much face my fear of bugs, spiders, wasps, and hornets. But I was soon
going to find out that I had absolutely nothing to worry about and that I was going to have an experience that I would never be able to forget because of so many reasons. Before the trip my team didn’t really talk that much but that really did change so much by the Friday afternoon of when we left for the trip. We seriously all clicked so quickly and I knew at the beginning of the trip that we were all going to have an amazing time together. Throughout the trip we started figuring out that we all had so many similar things in common whether that was being terrified of roller coasters, going through very similar experiences, liking the same music, liking the same type of clothing, etc, etc. So that made us even closer. We ended up all spending a lot of time talking and spending time together throughout the trip and we made so many unforgettable memories with each other. I even bought a journal from Walmart in North Carolina because I didn’t want to forget a single inside joke or memory that my team made (because there we’re a lot). We also made so many memories while we were on the worksite or while talking to our homeowner Teresa. We had to build a tin roof in a span of five days and we were all super excited to start. We started as soon as we could and we ended up working so efficiently that we were like “yea we’re
totally gonna finish this roof by Thursday.” We ended up making a really close goal to that and we ended up finishing the roof by Friday early morning and we were all so so incredibly proud of it. We signed the tin roof and we all had ginormous smiles on our faces. We finished that roof because we would never stop making each other laugh and smile and because we kept on encouraging and telling each other to “persevere” even when we were tired, and hot. Another huge thing that kept us all going was our homeowner Teresa. Seeing her smile every day whenever we told her that we were going to finish the roof and it is going well always made our day and helped us push even harder to finish that roof. She had so much kindness and love in her heart. She cared for every single one of us. I miss our conversations that we all had with her every day during lunch. I loved
listening to all of her stories about her family and her husband. On the last day of the trip when we gave her her present, which was an outdoor sofa, she almost cried and was so beyond happy to see it. We all made an amazing connection with her. I will never forget Teresa. This trip was seriously unforgettable and is very indescribable. I had a perfect year and I couldn’t have asked for a better second year. I’m excited to come back next year and experience it all over again.
B rad Hostetler
Adaptable. Adaptable is the word engraved into my ASP 2018 bracelet. It’s the word I wanted to emphasize on my trip this year because everyone who’s ever been on an ASP trip knows not everything always goes to plan. For example, a trip to Dollywood amusement park. Ride the rides during the day and then at night all meet up again to watch the fireworks. For the most part everything went as planned until it was almost time for fireworks. Joe, Oscar, Riley and I decided to go on one more roller coaster before heading back for fireworks. Instead we got stuck at the top of the roller coaster during the fireworks show and missed everything but it is a memory I will never forget. as sunday came and we got to the center, I learned that Nate, lindsey and I were going to be going on the home visit. We met Carolyn, she was a bedridden woman, but she was beyond sweet and caring. We also met her daughter Michelle. We learned we’d be finishing the roofing and installing a new wall and some cabinets. We arrived at the site monday morning and greeted Carolyn and we all got together and said a prayer. As we started to work in the kitchen we realized there was a little bit of water damage, so things would not be going as planned. We ended up removing the flooring in the kitchen and all the way into the
living room. We didn’t let this discourage us. We pushed and kept working, talking to michelle the daughter and Michella the granddaughter we learned that Michella was going to be going to a college visit and that the grandmother Carolyn was going to be moved to a care facility. When we got to the site the next morning, we were informed that carolyn had a panick attack and ended up having a stroke and had been hospitalized. The next day came and we finished up the work on the house. Later that we decided as a group to go and visit her in the hospital. We prayed with her and sung her this little light of mine. The family members in the room were all so thankful and happy that we were there and as we were leaving there was a green tag on the back of the hospital door and at that moment I knew that our team was supposed to be there that week to help support the family, adapt to the circumstances ,and give them all our love, prayers, and support.
Hi my name is Annicka and this was my first year of ASP. Throughout the year I had a lot of doubts about going on ASP. Even the week before we left I still didn't know if this was right for me. It wasn't until we loaded into the van at 3:30 in the morning when I realized I was ready to face this project head on. A few months before the trip my old best friends left me, which was one of the hardest things in my life. Ever since then I've been unhappy and sad and thought that things would never get better. Clearly I was wrong. When I went on ASP, all my problems went away and I was happy all the time. Even though people
think I'm always dancing and singing, before this trip I would never just start dancing in front of people who I barely knew. Throughout the week, I made bonds with people who I never thought I would and realized how much I have compared to other people. On the worksite everyday we would eat lunch with our homeowner, Theresa, and on the first day eating with her, something came up about Sonic peanut butter shakes. Immediately I said that they were my favorite kind of shake and then she proceeded to tell me that those shakes were her son's favorite as well. Her son was in the military and passed away a few years ago. This was one of the most touching moments of the trip because I felt very connected with our homeowner and it all happened so fast. Everyday I felt more and more comfortable with the people that I worked with and hung out with at night time. I can honestly say that this trip was life changing in a way I can't even describe. From meeting people and feeling like I've known them my whole life, to the rewarding feeling of putting the last screw on our roof, this week is one that I will never forget. I can not wait until our next meeting where I'll say, “Hi my name is Annicka and this is my second year of ASP.”