I would rate this morning as one greatest of my life and that is saying a lot because we got up at 6AM after sleeping all night on army cots, had to put away all the cots before 7AM, and all this after driving ten hours the day before. That is all the complaining you will see for the rest of the entry though because today was SO amazing.
We had to get up so early so that we could set up the tables, eat breakfast and prepare for Sunday school at the church. We split into small groups and all of us got to work with a class of students, some were with babies, others with pre teens, some were with the adult class as well. I decided to work with the teen group along with Miriam, Marjorie, Brian and Pastor Drew. We met about 6 teens and went over a Bible passage with them about the tabernacle, a perfect connection with my Old Testament class! After Sunday school we went to service at the church which is Pentecostal. Most of us had been to Catholic Mass before and some had been to different services but no one in our group had seen anything like this before. The service opened with Jay, Pastor Drew’s son who is only a few years older than most of us, singing (in his amazing voice) a welcoming song that had everyone in the congregation singing and dancing. Now when I say singing and dancing, I mean SINGING AND DANCING. By the end, Jay would sing “What is the highest praise?” at the top of his lungs to which we would reply “HALLELUJAH!” and it was at this point that the group from Boston College arrived. If we were overwhelmed, they must have had it ten times worse but they were troopers and by the end they were singing with the rest of us. There were passages from the Bible and more songs (including one that a few members of the group were singing last night, they all got up on stage for an encore performance) and then Pastor Drew gave a sermon that made every volunteer feel like they were the only person in the room. He talked about his initial amazement that 30 plus students truly wanted to spend their Spring Break in Waverly as opposed to Florida or some tropical island. He then talked about our own personal journeys and that by coming here we showed that we have the potential for greatness. In probably the most poignant moment he looked at everyone and said “You have greatness in you” and then told us to turn to our neighbor and tell them the same thing. It was really moving; I often feel like in this day and age we focus on the negatives, we’re not smart enough, pretty enough, or wealthy enough, but we have to focus on what we are good at and how we can improve the world with those skills. Having someone say “you have greatness in you” is a jump start for better things in my opinion and Pastor Drew’s sermon basically epitomized the Appalachia program for me.
Tomorrow is our first day of real work, hopefully the so called “snow storm” won’t be more than a few inches!