DENVILLE, NJ-- For the Appalachia Service Project (ASP) team of Denville Community Church, their relationship building and home repair mission trip started off with a bang. On July 4 the team gathered at 6 a.m. to load up tools, supplies and gear for a week long mission trip that would take them to Jonesville, VA. After a rousing rendition of “If you’re happy and you know it!” the team loaded into the vans and made their trek to Jonesville.

The team spent the day traveling and ended their day in Wytheville, VA, two short hours away from their destination. They enjoyed the 4th of July with the locals and watched a beautiful display of fireworks. After worshipping with a local host church the next day, the team made its way to Jonesville where they were greeted by a seasoned staff who were ready to engage the group in team assignments for the week.

The ASP staff used Monopoly street names to name their projects this year. The center, where the team was based for the week, could accommodate 120 volunteers. Denville’s 42 volunteers gave them a domineering presence at the center. The group was divided into 6 work crews of 7 people, each responsible for one or more street names or home-repair projects. The teams at the center also took turns doing chores like washing dinner dishes, morning devotions, cleaning bathrooms, tidying up the “Porch”, lunch prep and many more.

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Each day the teams gathered up tools and supplies needed for the day and headed out to their assigned project(s) to complete repairs that included installation of roofs, porches, retaining walls, floor repairs, window caulking, painting, and underpinning.  At the end of each day after dinner, the teams enjoyed an Evening Gathering of song, cultural awareness, self-examination, and spiritual enlightenment.

By the end of the week, the teams had completed their assigned projects and more. After building wonderful relationships with the families, it was very difficult to say goodbye. The Priscilla Quilters from the church have always helped in making those goodbyes special. They make a dozen or more quilts each year for the teams to share with the families they are serving. This makes for a special time and a beautiful way to say goodbye.

Friday evening at the center, the teams have a Circle Share reflecting on the past week of service. This is an emotional and heartfelt expression of the work performed and relationships made. At the heart of this sharing is the fulfillment of ASP’s mission: to be a Christian ministry, open to all people, that inspires hope and service through volunteer home repair in Central Appalachia. 

The team headed back to Denville on Saturday. Along the way they stopped at Skyline Caverns to take in a bit of fun and stretching their legs. The team was welcomed back home the next day during the Sunday morning worship service. To a thunderous applause and cheers of “They’ll Know We are Christians by our Love”, the team rejoined the church having represented it very well in Virginia.

Four team members, Tori and Holly Isza and Daniel and Brent Perrault shared with the congregation just a few highlights of the trip. Everyone watched a 10 minute video, created by volunteer Kati Eggert, that captured pictures of the week’s activities.

As the video played, a special tribute was presented to Doug Gabel, ASP Team Leader who celebrated his 20th year of service this year. Because of Doug’s love of ASP and Mountain Dew soda, each team member presented him with a can of Mountain Dew soda and a hug to say thank you. At the conclusion of the video, the team began the unpacking process and then proceeded home to take a hot shower and a well-deserved nap.