Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chicken & Gumbo

Friday marked the completion of my first week of YouthWorks! programming in Lincoln County. WOW! It was amazing. On Sunday right before they came I was SUPER nervous but right away I connected. Some girls liked High School Musical so I KNEW I was in. :)

Sunday night went really well with Orientation and CLUB. The best part was when Lindsay and I wore beards and came out to introduce ourselves and Lincoln County. Mark has a HUGE beard so it was just funny to see us acting like him. I said to everyone, “Welcome to Lincoln County!” and then Linds goes, “Home of Abraham Lincoln!” I stopped and just went…. “No its NOT!” It was HILARIOUS, and I knew…. It was going to be a great week.

All the rest of the nights, the CLUB’s just seemed to get better and better. I was truly amazed to see God work through me. It’s hard to put it into words. My experiences and my willingness to share myself TOTALLY paid off. Through out the week I had more and more teens approach me and talk about what God was doing. There were times when I didn’t know what to say, but I tried, and I felt like that was all God was asking me to do. Take myself out of the picture and let Him work.

On Thursday, we had our final CLUB, and being up front facing the teens, I had to fight off tears. God had allowed me to get to know so many of them, and I knew that they were going to leave changed. WOW! We then did a foot washing service all to empower them to return home and serve others in their communities. I just could not thank God enough for the ways that He showed up and gave me the courage to be bold in my statements.

The teens left of Friday morning and all I was thinking was…. How can I do this week after week? This group was so great… How can we repeat? I guess that will be the challenge… we have another group coming in today. This time they are families so the programming will look a little different. I am excited to see how although the format is going to be new, God is still going to show up.

After the teens left, we all went to my new favorite place… M&R Restaurant. This is where the story began. 

Our first time in there, Lindsay asked about the special…. “What exactly is in Chicken & Gumbo?” 

Mark piped in, “Chicken….. and Gumbo.” The waitress thought this was a hoot! Her laugh filled the entire tiny restaurant. 

So, she thought about the question and said, “Well… Chicken…. And Gumbo.” Again her laugh exploded. :) Then she says, “Hold on, let me ask.” 

NO JOKE… she turns right where she is standing, and yells into the kitchen. “What’s in the Chicken and Gumbo?” The cook in the back hollers out, “Chicken and Gumbo.” 

At this point we were dying. Finally, the cook just brings some out to us to taste saying, “Just try it cause that’s WAY easier than explaining.” The experience was something else and for all these reasons, M&R Restaurant has a spot in my heart. 

Now this phrase has a whole new meaning. “Chicken & Gumbo.” :)

 The pictures are of this past weeks group, and of course, M&R Restaurant. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

WV is stealing my heart.

Well.... It is official. The teens are coming in today. Actually in about a 1/2 hour. AHH!!! All the work and prep is about to become worth it. Or so I hope. :D 

This will definitely be a short post BUT, I'll try to update later. 

This past week we had a "prep week" so it was full of cleaning, decorating, sign making, organizing, and praying for the groups about to come. I think we are actually ready for this. I will be giving my first talk tonight and each night up until Thursday. I'm just praying that it won't be me up there but instead, God speaking through me. 

This week was incredible though. We had some time to go out to some community members "Holler" and we had the BEST Chicken & Dumplings EVER! WOW! I felt like I ate a TON but nothing can replace a home cooked meal. And let me tell ya.... Lottie brought it. :D

Then I got to talk with Duane and we explored the WV hills a little. He is the one who carved me a SWEET looking walking stick and so I talked with him a lot about it. That day was probably the most beautiful day I have seen in WV and it was the most fun experience to sit out on the porch like a native West Virginian just enjoying God's creation while inside they all played the guitar and banjo. Before this trip I don't know how much that experience would have sounded appealing but here... it was a BLAST.  

In talking with Duane, he even said.... "Haley, you sure would make a fine country girl." 

Who would've thought. :D But it is official.... West Virginia is stealing my heart.

Oh yeah... and that picture.... I stuck arm and camera out the window while we were driving and that's the shot I got. Like I said... its beautiful down here. :D

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Accents, Saltines, Walking Sticks, & Midkiffs

Well, so far this summer with YouthWorks has started with a few bumps and bruises but through all of it, I have been blessed. On Monday May 25th, Mom and Dad dropped me off at my "RAMP" training in Philadelphia. At that point I had been feeling sick since Wednesday. So before we headed to the church, we stopped at Urgent Care. They told us to play the waiting game and that I would be better soon. Training was great, except for my eating habits. My stomach just couldn't handle anything so I lived off 8 saltines and deluted Gatorade/Powerade for 2 days. Like my mom always says.... "It was just a 'lose weight' opportunity."

Training was fun because I was met a lot of people and just got a chance to learn about the summer to come. One of my friends I made, Stockton, was SO sweet. She's from North Carolina so her accent was the cutest thing EVER! I was practicing all week and basically stopped everything to listen when she was talking. She's going to be in Niagara Falls this summer so I think it will be awesome for the teens when they come and hear her. It was just awesome because even though I wasn't feeling well, we were able to have fun, laugh a lot, and I was blessed by her amazing heart.

Finally on Friday, I was still sick. Saltines and applesauce weren't cutting it SO I headed to the ER. After 2 IV's, watching the Lakers make it into the NBA finals, and having a little alone time for the first time all week, they sent me back to play the waiting again. I had been dehydrated though so I was feeling a lot better to just get some fluid in me again. So Saturday morning at 1:00 I left the hospital and by 8:00 the next day my team and I were driving down to where I'm currently at. Hamlin, West Virginia.

Although I wasn't feeling too well let me tell you.... IT IS BEAUTIFUL DOWN HERE! I never knew I was such a country girl but I am just LOVING it! :D

Well on Saturday night we pulled in to our new home, the Hamlin Fire Hall. It is the old elementary school and we came in on BINGO night. Every Thursday and Saturday night they fill the cafeteria for BINGO so it was fun to see community members right from the start. We met Joe who is a fire fighter really taking care of us, and he showed us all around. When we arrived there was a Tornado Warning (I know Mom~ "low levels of rotation") and Joe mentioned that the roof needed a little repair. We headed into the "girls sleeping room" and saw that water was coming out of the light and all down one wall. WOW! At first I was really overwhelmed by our site but now that we have attacked it with bleach water and scrubbed like its nobody's business, things are looking better. We have been really working on drying it all out and killing the mold but thankfully we have the rest of this week to prep, and then an additional week right before the teens come.

Sunday started with us heading out to the Trinity United Methodist Church. There are 2 Methodist Churches here in the small town of Hamlin. Population is 1100 but down the road there's Central Methodist and Trinity United. The Pastor is the same for both and when we met her she said that she drives from her house to Central, then directly to Trinity and then home and her odometer doesn't even read 1/2 mile. :) I loved it. Down here everyone is familiar with YouthWorks so we are automatically accepted. It was so fun because it seemed like immediately I had gained a whole slew of Grandparents. It was May 31st that day, the last Sunday of the month which is apparently when they celebrate the May birthdays. So on the 1st Sunday being in West Virginia, I ended up getting sung Happy Birthday to in the front of the Church. SO... they know how to win me over I guess. :D

Monday was GREAT too! I was feeling a lot better and it was time to get rolling with our massive checklist. Well I called my first community contacts Duane and Michael Midkiff. They are AMAZING! I don't have time to talk all about it but Michael is a "Clogger" and he will be leading our Monday night activity with the youth. We headed to see one of his practices and he taught us a routine. Yeah... that's right. I am now an official WV Clogger. :)

After clogging practice we headed to the Midkiff Hollow and met Duane and the boys Mother. This woman truly has a heart of gold. We had pizza around the bon fire and got to hear about how Duane like carving walking sticks. Who knew it but pretty soon Duane came out of his house with handcarved walking sticks for each of us. I was blown away. They are BEAUTIFUL! I took a picture so I'll try to get it up soon. It is awesome! I told him my Dad would be jealous but I'd hold onto it really tight. :D

Well It's time to get back to the checklist. We have to work really hard right now and then we will be heading to Logan, WV for a practice week with teens. I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the summer. If I've been learning anything down here so far, it is to enjoy life's little blessings.

OHH!!! And John set up our address to receive mail. And if you know me, you KNOW how much I love snail mail. At school I'm pretty sure I check my mail 2-3 times a day... Just in case. :)

So here it is~ You can just put

Haley Church in care of YouthWorks
P.O. Box 612
Hamlin, WV 25523

In my devotions I read these verses and although they have been some of my favorite, I remembered just how much I love them:

Lamentations 3:24-25

"I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;"

God Bless