Youth Service Trip to Kentucky:
For more than 10 years, the Hancock Youth Group (HYG) has been traveling to the Appalachian Mountains to build and repair homes for people in need. Our youth spend a week with Housing Oriented Ministries Established for Service (H.O.M.E.S., Inc) in Neon, Kentucky, painting, renovating, landscaping, roofing, hauling, building for some of the poorest people in our country. This week of service is the highlight of the year for HYG. It offers our youth a new perspective of the world around them and renewed gratitude for what they have been given.
Good gravy!! Just one more day until the final chapter of my Neon, Kentucky book begins!!! I think by my extensive use of exclamation points, you can tell that I am super excited!!!!!!!!! Just think that in a little more than 24 hours, you will be seeing a juxtaposition in climate, and the enthralling Appalachian mountains will be creeping into view. – Chris Appelman
An HYG Faith Story: I have experienced going to Kentucky, which is definitely an important part of my faith journey and life. The first time I went to Kentucky, I was not very connected with HYG, and as the trip went went on, I found my place in the group. I did not understand at first how the people we met in Kentucky could make do with what they had, but they use each other and the community and church to find joy and satisfaction. Building homes and connecting with the people at First Church of Neon was amazing. The service trip to Neon has helped me to think of others when I am feeling sorry for myself.
Why should the kids have all the fun? Each year, we strive to offer an adult mission trip where we can serve people in need, build bonds of friendship, and reflect on our faith together. We have partnered with Fuller Center for Housing in Shreveport, Louisana and Southern New Jersey, Appalachian Folklife Center in West Virginia, and Maine Seacoast Mission in Cherryfield Maine.
In 2012, eleven members of Hancock traveled to Tabernacle NJ to work with the local affiliate of the Fuller Center there. They blogged about their experiences along the way, and you can read all about it here.
Every year, the Fuller Center For Housing celebrates the memory of its founder, Millard Fuller with a Legacy Build. In April 2013, the annual build was held in Atlantic City, rehabbing 22 houses that were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Eleven Hancock members joined about 250 other volunteers for a very full week of building. Read about our adventures in our blog.
International Service Trips:
Honduras Reflection: For two years whenever the question arose of whether I was going to sign up for the service trip to Honduras, I would politely dodge answering it. What was really going on was that I was a white middle-aged gal from the suburbs that lived in a sanitized comfort zone which did not include rural Honduras. My fears of the unfamiliar, the uncomfortable, and the different made me reflexively say “no.” I had gotten very good at saying “no.” As I allowed more and more voice to those fears, the space left for me in my comfort zone got smaller and smaller. what got me to reconsider Honduras was the power of an anecdote shared by one of the people who had gone the prior year. The story pierced the resoluteness of my ‘no.’
When the Hancock group arrived in Piedras Negras the second year, they were warmly greeted by various families. One woman got very emotional, embraced Hancock members and in Spanish said: ‘You did not forget us! You did not forget us!’ I understood that the Sustainable Harvest International families knew that Hancock was committed to fund the field extensionists, training and the tools for the term of SHI’s work in their community. But what was a new revelation to me was the depth of this woman’s appreciation for the personal connection. It mattered that Hancock came to work with them and for them. I think she was telling us that by Hancock members caring enough to return, that meant she was important…this woman was no longer invisible. She mattered. And that was a powerful call to me. In comparison, my personal objections were insignificant and it was worth reconsidering why I was saying “no.” In time, I signed up, and now I am so grateful for the richness of my experience.
I learned the power of facing up to fears. I can’t let my fears hold me back from experiences that I believe in and which have the opportunity to enrich my life and that of others. I knew that SHI was empowering the families with whom they work, but what was unexpected was how reciprocal that empowering proved to be. I ended my week on that service trip on a high–feeling freer than I had for years and very appreciative of Hancock’s role in that personal revelation!
A Faith Story by Amy Swanson