Changing hearts by helping repair a home
Last year, Rhonda Peters led her youth group in a World Vision mission trip to Wallace, West Virginia. They returned for a week this summer, this time an hour east to the community of Grafton.
Her group from Bethany Presbyterian Church in Kingsport, Tennessee, improved Margaret Cook's house. They painted the roof, put in a new kitchen floor, and painted the back deck.
"The [type of] community is still the same, the people are still the same, and the love these people have shown us is still the amazing love we received in Wallace," Peters says.
She is eager to come back to Appalachia. The personal experience may change each summer, but the ease of doing a mission trip through World Vision makes it an obvious decision for her.
"All the information I need is there," Peters says. "I know that everything will be taken care of when I get here."
World Vision stresses building relationships with the families, which helped make the mission trip experience more personal and memorable. Peters' team upgraded Cook's living situation, but the relationship built between the team and homeowner was perhaps the most important improvement.
"You have to make those relationships with the family," Peters says. "You have to let them break your heart in order for this to change you."
Relationships also were built between team members. Peters says she kept noticing God's hand in what happened during the week.
In registering for the camp, "I ordered eight [team devotional guides]; I got nine. I ordered eight T-shirts and an extra one came," she says.
Peters saw it as a coincidence at the time. She had no idea that a young adult, Cameron, would be joining the team.
Cameron, who liked to make jokes and playful comments, quickly fit in. By the end of the week, Peters was calling him one of her own.
"I believe truly that it was God's providence that he was with us," she says.
Learn more about World Vision's mission trips in Appalachia and other parts of the U.S.