Saturday, July 24, 2010


Coming on this trip I really didn’t know what to expect.  When I heard that we were painting part of an old porch and putting up railings plus making stairs I was a little disappointed.  In all of the stories I heard before coming on ASP all the projects that had been done seemed much more meaningful than a porch.  My group was told that our homeowner Olmalene had leukemia and is in remission and gets retested next month.  Her son 49 year old Arnie has an undiagnosed bone disease that keeps him in pain.  The new porch was to be made and the floor of it painted so when it rained on it she wouldn’t slop and fall like she has in the past.  This made work seem more meaningful but it was still tedious and boring.  Instead of a mosey Monday we had a couple of  mosey days, but as the week progressed my attitude changed. 

In addition to the porch we took on under pinning in the back and got to know Olmalene and her situation better.  Raw sewage is flowing out from underneath Olmalene’s trailer making her front yard muddy and pretty smelly.  Her toilet doesn’t flush well at all and her sink backs up.  This hit me pretty hard because I am fortunate enough to have great plumbing and to find her plumbing so scary.  This really pushed me to want to make Olmalene’s port and house as beautiful as possible. 

As we were finishing the porch I could tell it would be well used by Olmalene and her two dogs when we pulled up Friday Olmalene and her dogs Spanker and Tinkerbelle were sitting on the porch relaxing in the sun, waiting for us.

Friday was the most amazing day of ASP for me because it was awesome to sit on the porch with Olmalene knowing that she loved what we had done.  I finally understood that ASP is a week reminder that everything in life is hit or miss.  Sometimes you get the more exciting jobs and some days you get the tedious stuff.  Sometimes you get the rain washing away your fresh coat of paint and some days you get sun drying it. However I am happy to say that I am no longer disappointed in my project.  I know that we have been a huge help to Olmalene by giving her something to really enjoy.  All this week I’ve heard how the theme this year is racing and everything is it or miss.  The rain washing away paint, the jobs you get but the point is to keep moving to find joy and meaning in things.  How the most important part is to finish.  In ASP and life we will hit snags in the road and fall down but we have to get up and keep moving.  Olmalene and Arnie are running hard health races but hopefully the porch will be a place where they can relax, find joy and strengthen themselves before tacking off for the finish line.

Friday, July 23, 2010

MULAN – Friday 7/23/10

We are Mulan; a team of seven!  In total we come with 10 years of experience.  Unfortunately seven years worth of that experience is in only one person – our fearless  leader, Paul.  The other six of us have experiences ranging from 2 years (Adriana, Andy, & Danielle), to “newbies” (Jenna, Katie & Zach M.).   What we lack in experience we certainly make up for in enthusiasm & determination.
We have been charged with the following duties:
  • Lay new sub-floor and carpeting in the living room
  • Repair wall panel in kitchen
But being the intrepid adventurers that we are, we also took on the following tasks:
  • Remove wall panel in the living room
  • Remove panel in the bathroom & put green board over existing doorway between the bathroom & bedroom.
  • Begin footing for front door decking

Here are a few words from Mulan…
Paul – This is a unique ASP.  I have another wonderful crew.  I have 2 excellent co-Leaders & hard working youths.  We poured piers for a front porch.  This was a new experience for me.  We were able to divide and conquer the sub-flooring in the living room & walls for the bathroom.

Adriana – Very happy to report that I am officially NOT a “newbie” this year!  But that means I will have to step up the very little “game” that I have!  We were fortunate to have most of our jobs indoors, so we were protected from the sun and rain, BUT the heat still managed to find us.  Its always a wonderful experience at ASP, but my favorite part has to be everyone coming together as a team.   Adults, teens, people who may not have had the chance to meet; maybe not even talk to each other, but they talk and plan and accomplish great things together on ASP.        

Zach M. – This was a really different experience for me, I learned a lot of construction things, while still having a lot of fun.  Flooring, the use of a Shale bar (VERY fun) and how to pour cement.  Avoid getting cement on your gloves.  You’ll thank me for that piece of information.

Jenna – My ASP experience was very exciting.  I was very surprised to see how different it is from where we live.  I had no idea that a few states away things could be so very different.  It was definitely fun to meet all these new people.

Katie – I believe that 4-Square will be an Olympic sport.  Bound Brook will field a team and Katy Goodson WILL be the Team Captain.  I learned that 3 people working in a trailer bathroom are 2 people TOO many (yes, you will thank me for that advise).

Danielle – I found this ASP easier than last year.  Less challenging would be a better word.  Maybe its because I am not a “newbie” or maybe its because I didn’t have to do any “under-pinning” this year.  This year still required a lot of effort because we still needed to get the job done OR as much as possible in this week.  I really liked the fact there were a lot of “newbies” this year.  It gave me a chance to meet new friends.

Andy – It was great seeing the expression on John’s face (our family’s son) when he talked about playing horseshoes.  I learned to tread lightly when installing sub-flooring (you WILL thank me for that piece of advice too!)    

A Haiku by Matt Crawford

Hercules is cool
Red German Shepherd, lab mix
Please, can I keep him

Yes, we have a dog named Hercules on our site – along with Sobe, Fancy, Delilah and Tiny… oh and the cats…Freedom and her three kittens.  Our house is filled with pets who are loved by their owner, Lee.  Lee is a 47 year old single homeowner.  She is in fact exactly one year and one day older than me!  We hare many interests and more than a few idiosyncrasies.

We have been working on a variety of projects on our site.  Matt, Rebecca, Leigh and Ryan have been installing a tin roof.  It has been fairly hot this week so it has not always been pleasant on a hot tin roof.  Lee, Doug and I have been working on numerous projects today we worked on insulating the kitchen.  And of course, our faithful foreman, John, has been guiding and directing all of the projects.

But the work on the site is only part of the ASP experience.  The joys for me this trip have come in watching the friendships and community form.  Our kids have been phenomenal.  They are reaching out to each other and to the kids in the other churches, and let me tell you, they know how to have fun.  There have been dodge ball tournaments, basketball and of course, four square.  They also have had profound conversations about the region, their sites and spirituality.

The adults also form a tight-knit community.  It always seems that we each find our calling – Laura Still is the go-to-girl for everything, Pamela has kept us all cracking up, Chris Anderson and Doug Flannelly – tire changers of the year, the Flannellys and the Friedrichs – with fantastic new edition Friedrich, Katie – well I guess there is no real way to describe that crazy clan.  Anyway, I looked around at dinner tonight and thought “I love these people” NO, it’s not a shock but is overwhelming just the same.

Laura Goodson

Thursday, July 22, 2010

ASP2010 Buchanan County, VA

Wednesday – Evening Gathering (EG)

Tonight’s  EG is a Prayer Walk – 6 stations each having an individual activity or prayer.  In no particular order: a Footwash station – to wash your neighbors feed, a Prayer station – to pray or contemplate, a Music station – to listen and be contemplative of the musical lyrics, a station on Buchanan county – where you can make any prayer or comment you wish, a Prayer Box – to place in what is heavy on your heart, a comment sheet bearing the quotation “There is no hope for Central Appalachia”.  We travel to one, some or all of these stations as an individual in prayer.

This can  be a pretty heavy activity.  It brings all kinds of feelings and emotions to the surface – for us to review, contemplate, reject, accept or change.  It is always an emotional time for me.  I think about my family – Sandra and JT, my family past – Mom and Dad, my siblings, my family at Bound Brook Presbyterian (BBPC), my family in youth group and my family in ASP.

I have many families this week.  My home family, my Chicago family – all of whom I miss.  I have traveled here with my family – BBPC adults and youth.  I work here giving (what little) talent I have to a family – no my family in Appalachia.  And I have an ASP family – the staff of ASP.

At the beginning of each week we have an opportunity to sign up to be “surrogate” parents for a day for the staffers.  The staffers are college students hired by ASP to manage the center.  It is strictly voluntary.  Not every day or every parent gets filled.  Usually I sign up for a day.  This week Wednesday was my Day.  Adriana singed up to be Mom.

We arranged for a little “care package” from “home” and then during the day hand out hugs and check to see if they have brushed their teeth and other parental admonitions.

It is a fun thing – but really these “kids” have arranged for our care during this week.  This center has five “staffers”, Becky, Laura, Tayli, Spencer and Kyle.  These young adults have had 2 weeks of training, a week to interview assistance applicants and decide on whom to assist and then  start receiving “volunteers”, coordinating their feeding, sleeping and working.  Each day they travel to the hardware store to keep the work going and then travel to all the work – family – sites to see how it is going and to answer questions or just to listen.

There are so many qualities that they have.  Each one is an individual – and like any family recognizes it’s differences but pulls in unison.  They bring their lives with them, but as the weeks progress they realize the love that God has and can see it in their ASP families and in the volunteers and community they are in.

Frustration is a way of life on ASP.  Dealing with those pesky human beings is always interesting.  But their challenges include the bureaucracies we have.

So what am I trying to say?  These staffers deserve our applause and support.  Even though I don’t keep in touch with all of them – thinking back they are all part of my family.

God’s blessings.


Electronics in Appalachia (or the lack thereof…)

I’m in Appalachia this week – Buchanan County, Virginia to be exact. No radio, no TV, no cell reception.
            Here is the music that fills my ears: Zach and Andy tap, tap, tapping on their “magic crowbars,” prying staples out of an old subfloor. Jenna rounds out the percussion section as she gently chisels off the old glue from the joists. Bo lends a hand thump thumping on the shale bar breaking off several pieces of long buried boulders.
            Paul is on the cement drill, long high-pitched whine as he breaks through the cement. Danielle and Katie trading places on the handsaw, slow to begin, then faster… z z z Z Z Z until the 2X2 falls with a “clack.” Cement pouring into porch supports, creating the sound of a rain stick; all pieces of the orchestra meshing together to create our symphony. Who needs an iPod?
            I have front row seats (my twelve by two wood plank resting on cinderblocks). Today I am mesmerized by my show of monarch butterflies too many to count settling in the mud. Not sure if they are drinking, eating, or just trying to cool off, maybe all three. John tells me they come to his front yard every summer (lucky). I see Puppy wanting desperately to come over but not quite sure if she should trust this stranger. She finally drinks all the water from her new Disney bowl that Danielle and Jenna bought for her. I am pretty sure she is smiling. There are orange moths and brown moths and silver moths whose wings are really periwinkle when they take flight. There are more greens on the mountain and nearby trees that could ever fit into one 64-Color Crayola box. Same for the different shades of browns that are stacked neatly in the wood pile. All first run shows here. Who needs Nat. Geo.?
            Our conversations run from leveling a post to how to apply “Liquid Nails” (in a sin wave). I listen to Jenna deep in conversation with Billie about her life and her babies. She is telling Jenna about her wish for the paint on her kitchen cabinets: “the trim will be white while the rest will be light tan.” Together they remove and paint the kitchen cabinets.
            I listen to Bo tell me “ghost stories” about his trailer. The old woman dressed in black who waits on his sofa until he finds her wedding band in the kitchen cabinet he was cleaning. He never sees her again… shivers.
            Paul is discussing the intimate details of horseshoes with John. There may be some “trash talking”, I’m not sure, but we’ll find out soon enough at the family picnic tonight.
            I’m very happy my cell is off and in the car’s glove compartment.
Adriana (Thursday evening)

“Journey to… Wal-Mart”

            Going to Wal-Mart, an ASP tradition.
            Unfortunately, it was about 45 minutes away from the center. Not knowing where we were going, we let a GPS lead us there. It took at least 45 minutes of winding roads with steep drops and no guard rails through the mountains before finally getting to a main road. The GPS then led us to some smaller roads that seemed to be a culdesac. We turned around and the GPS told us to turn right… into a CORNFIELD!!! But we could see the Wal-Mart sign, so close…
            Ignoring the GPS, we figured out our own way to Wal-Mart. Overall, it took us an hour and a half for what was supposed to be a 45 minute trip. Stocked up on food and equipped with sweatshirts (Chris drives with the windows open), we started our trip back to the center, returning at around midnight (lights out is 11 PM).

Danielle (Wednesday evening)

Day One…We’re Off to Roanoke!

One the way there, Hanna sat on the cooler and played her guitar while Dani sang!  When she was done with that we played Apples to Apples.  It was really fun.  When we got to the half way point, it was time to set ourselves up at a church in Roanoke, Virginia.  We went out to dinner at the Red Palace, a Chinese buffet.  I went with Dani, Hanna, Mr Hauer and these 2 boys: Arthur and Zack.  Zack ate THREE plates full of food.  Then we played Apples to Apples with Arthur and Zack.  We watched an intense game of 4 Square.  That was really fun to watch.  Then finally we went to sleep on the basement floor of the church.  THE BASEMENT FLOOR OF A CHURCH IS NOT VERY COMFORTABLE

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Buzz Light Year

A ditch, okay, no problem….well, after digging a 75 foot drainage ditch through the rock, shale and clay on Monday (now known as Muddy Monday) we agreed if the drainage ditch was done by end of day Tuesday we were going to Dairy Queen.  The ditch keeps filling up with water, it rains (hard), mud everywhere, one leader slides down a hill, the other leader uses his belt to pull her back up (everyone’s fine) and the ditch is completed on Tuesday.  We were all so excited as we picked and shoveled through the last section of drainage ditch.  We videotaped the water flowing through the ditch, down a hill and into a creek away from the house!!  We just helped a family stay DRIER!!  We jumped for joy and celebrated!


We are the Simba crew, consisting of four new bees.  Alexis, Tomi, Dave and Connor, with the help of 3 veterans, Kira, Andy and John O.  We have the pleasure to work for 3 ladies who are sisters that live in the house they grew up in.  We’re the third crew that has been siding their home and hopefully we’ll  be able to finish it for them.  They are very sweet, kind and generous.  Everyday at noon they make us lunch.  Our first day of work instead of having PBJ sandwiches we were served a wonderful feast, consisting of Corn on the Cob (fresh), tomatoes – yellow and green, beans, corn gravy, corn bread and fresh yellow lemonade.  The second day at lunch we had pasta, coleslaw, fruit, stuffing, RED VELVET CAKE!  and of course fresh yellow lemonade.  We have the pleasure of coming back to the center and bragging about our wonderful meals making everyone jealous, but wait, there’s more. . .  If you think having a home cooked meal everyday is great, we also get the pleasure of playing with a 4 month old puppy name Lusious, who always seems to chew his way out of his leash to come play with us.  We will keep you posted about our fun & tasty lunches J

Jasmine and Great Food


We are Jasmine (John A – Trish F – Kim h – Melissa D – Kevin J – Tyler S)  and today was a great day for fellowship, fun and accomplishment.  Our assignment was to remove steps from the back of Shak’s (our Host) trailer and build for him a landing and re-attach steps to the new landing.  Our new posts are cemented in, the new landing is framed – tomorrow decking and stairs go on.  We’ve also finished with ½ of caulking to seal up gutter leaks.  Our host Shakk is young (about the age of John A – 60 something) and just great.  He feeds us with more food than I can explain here and we just love him.  Thank you BBPC for supporting these ASP experiences.

John A

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mosey Monday (?)

First day on the job, the most interesting mosey Monday I’ve ever had on all my three years of ASP. My crew is working on a house with 4 children, a pony, chickens and at least nine dogs. We quickly learned to never leave the doors open on the vans, considering in the first 10 minutes of getting to the site, the chickens were in the vans and in Doug’s tool box.

Then later on in the day, I let the 4 year old, Jacklyn help me prime the wood. By the time we were done, she had painted the pony, and the pony had painted the dog.

Another important lesson we learned was to not feed the pony. Doug fed the pony in the beginning of the day and proceeded to leave. The pony would not leave because it wanted more food. It nibbled on Sue and touched her butt, which she thought was me at first.

Along with the many others things that went on during our day as we were leaving one of our vans took a wrong turn, and Sue and the rest of my group went the wrong way and traveled up the mountain. We eventually found them when Doug and I turned our van around and came back for them. Overall it was a great and exciting day, and I can’t wait to go back tomorrow.


PS. I wrote this and got out of my chore for the day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Here We Go -- ASP Buchanan County VA Center.

ASP is here.  Meet Friday night 7/16 at 7:00pm in the church parking lot.  Bring your luggage (not your overnight bag, not your tools).  That is anything that you will not need until we arrive at our center.

Your small overnight bag, with your toiletries, sleep clothes, change of clothes for Sunday morning, pillows and sleeping bag bring SATURDAY morning.

Bring your tools on SATURDAY.  Keep your small overnight bag including toiletries, sleeping bag, pillows

BE AT THE CHURCH AT 8:00 am  SATURDAY 11/16.  Don't forget to bring a brown paper bag lunch.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

ASP News …

· THIS SUNDAY … Church Carnival at 11:00. This is an opportunity to raise funds for ASP. We will be sponsoring a cake walk and a dunk tank. Please plan to donate a cake. Contact Tricia Flynn if you have questions at Also there will be food, games and more. This is an opportunity to get fundraising credit.

ALSO … Joan will be available on Sunday to receive paperwork and stock money. PLEASE turn in any and all stock money you have collected thus far (even if you expect to get more). There will also be a notary there to notarize paperwork for those who have not done so yet.

· July 10th … ASP Car Wash from 9-2 PM. This will also count toward fundraising credit.

· July 11th … ASP Commissioning at the 10 o’clock service. All ASP Participants are expected to be in church on Sunday to be commissioned by the church. This simply means that the group will be invited to come forward and a prayer will be said for our journey. This is a great way for the church to see the group that they are sponsoring!

You should be receiving a letter from Linda Casale soon that will include final trip details and packing suggestions. Our trip is NOT far away! Time to get excited.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

ASP Kickoff Dinner for 2010 Summer Youth Trip

Tonight is a kickoff dinner/meeting for our ASP trip this summer. We are meeting at 7pm in the cave. If you are a "newbee" then come and learn. If you are a seasoned pro, meaning you have been once, then bring something for our dinner, drinks, salad or desert.

Parking will be tight as we are an emergency shelter for the local flooding that is occurring in our area. Please use the CAVE ENTRANCE.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Home again

We returned safely to our families and friends. We arrived in Bound Brook a few minutes after 5 Saturday morning.

Thank you for all of your support and prayers.

Edgar, John, John, John and Paul.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Desde Jonesville Va

Bueno hoy es jueves 18 y ha sido una semana muy provechosa en los Apalaches.

Hemos estado trabajando en la casa de Ben & Jessi cambiado las paredes agregando isulacion y ademas reparaciones el el baƱo el cual estaba muy deteriorado.

Desde que Salimos de NJ Jhon A, Jhon C, Jhon O Paul y yo Edgar hemos viajado mas de 600 millas para traer un poco de esperanza y amor para una familia que realmente lo necesita.

Al trabajar en este projecto ASP me he podido dar cuenta cuan Bendecidos somos en NJ y que Dios tiene cuidado de nosotros ya que aqui hemos encontrado una situacion totalmente diferente ala que normalmente he visto en USA.

Estoy muy contento de poder ser parte de este proyecto y aunque hemos tenido nieve casi todos los dias y a toda hora, no nos ha impedido llevar nuestro trabajo.

Para manana viernes esperamos terminar con los trabajos de remodelacion de la cocina en la noche poder volver a casa.

Desde Virginia

Edgar Flores

Full Crew

Well, all the prayers were answered and we were a full team today. We all rose and had breakfast this morning and then traveled on to our family's home. Everyone is feeling better and should be 100% by Friday morning.

Today we moved the kitchen sink and insulated and drywalled most of the last wall in the kitchen. In the first room the rough in plumbing lines were installed for the washer, tub/shower, toilet and a sink. Tomorrow we will finish the drywalling and start on the mudding in the two rooms. Jess and Ben did a little painting in another room today also.

Well we are not the only guests today. All week we have had the center and staff pretty much to ourselves. Today a group from Virginia Tech arrived near the end of dinner and another group from High Point, NC came in a little while later. We are all gathering in the lodge. We played a few games with the VT group earlier and had a blast. A great group of people.

It seems like we just got here and tomorrow it will be time to depart. While we are looking forward to seeing our families and loved ones again it will be a sad time leaving this wonderful part of God's world.

A big thank you to you for keeping us in your hearts and supporting us in our travels.

God Bless.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 3 on the Job

Wednesday, just past the halfway mark. We are having a great time. Last night we took our staff out for dinner to a local sports eatery, The Rooster. The conversation was lively and the United States was playing Japan in the Olympics curling contest. I was very nervous for our team and I found out this morning for good reason! :)

Ok, we had a small work crew today. Two of our team were under the weather last night and needed today to rest. Please join us in prayers for their full recovery. That being said, we journeyed to our family's house and put in a full day of repair. We finished the first room yesterday for insulation and drywalling. Today we removed the wooden slats from the kitchen and insulated and drywalled one of the 2 walls we are doing. Tomorrow we anticipate completing the second wall. Our mood was good, but we missed our teammates a lot. Hopefully they will be able to join us tomorrow.

It is a beautiful part of the country here in Lee county. Every morning this week we have had fresh snow greet us, just enough to cover the driveway, a beautiful sight, but it makes for a slow drive down, and down and down the driveway. (it is steep and not straight). The drive to our family's house takes us through the valley for about 10 miles and it is scenic.

From another part of God's Country.

Love and peace.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Small Part of God's World.

Well here it is Tuesday night on our asp trip. It is easy to see how fast the week will go by. The work assignment has a lot of work to be finished but this work never seems to really be work . We all work well together, we laugh a lot and it always seems to get done. We had a great meal tonight in town with our ASP staffers as our guests. There are so many people here who need Gods help and it is good to be a small part of that help. We are enjoying wrapping up the day relaxing by the fireplace in the lodge. Good night from Jonesville Virginia

John Almendinger

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 2 -- Snow!

Well the second day of this ASP trip had something none of us have experienced during a mission trip to Appalachia but has been common all over the East this winter – SNOW! The center we stay at is on quite a hill for snowy weather. The travel down to get out to the worksite as well as what the drive back up to the center might be if the accumulation was a lot gave us great concern. But God provided a day that we were able to have a great day of work without having to worry about the weather.

Intermittent flurries mixed with sun and blue sky while inside we worked to remove the inside wall, install insulation, close up a window and put up drywall. Ben & Jess’s house at the beginning of the winter had an outer & inner wall but not a bit of insulation between the two. The difference in the temperature of the room we started in when we first got there and how felt at the end of our day was drastic. Now imagine five rooms like that. Fortunately several other groups had worked on the house before we arrived. Ben & Jess as well as the ASP staff have noticed how with each room, we are working on the third, has made a significant difference in what it takes to heat the house.

We had a great day of progress, and we are praying for God’s good weather and that we can finish the work we set out to do this week.

John O’Melia

Sunday, February 14, 2010

We have arrived

We arrived in Jonesville around 1:30 pm today, and went out to see the house we worked on last year. The Johns (A, C and O) showed me around and we met the family. It was a nice reunion. The family is healthy and warm and dry. The house looks great. They said that sometimes it seems to be almost to warm, that's how good of a job was done by the ASP volunteers. Kathleen and Rex remembered John, John, and John.

We then went up to the ASP center and met the staff, Mitch, Alex, and Christina. Christina is from Madison WI, Alex is from Morgantown PA and Mitch is from the Twin Cities area. We settled in a little and then went out to meet our family. Mitch showed us what needs to be done and we met Ben and Jess and the 2 pitbull puppies and Oscar the fish (who is an Oscar). We will be insulating and drywalling their walls.

We came back after a quick stop at Walmart and Shoe Town, for some forgotten items. Dinner was chicken, mashed potatoes, green beens and salad. Desert was some chocolate chip cookies and some delicious brownies with heart sprinkles for Valentines day.

We are relaxing in the lodge having some good conversation and an good fire by John O.

Love to all, and a Happy Valentines day to all our loved ones (yes you too!)


Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter Adult trip

On Saturday, February 13, 2 trucks, 5 individuals will begin their journey to the ASP center in Jonesville, VA. Hopefully mother nature will let us travel without incident. If all goes well and we are able we will post updates here. Check back soon.

God Bless