A new roof—and relationships—for Poling family

Story & photos by Kylie Layman, Intern

Jennifer Poling reached out to God while lying in the hospital in a full body cast.

"I said, 'Help me—make me strong enough to do this,' and He did," she recalls. "He gave me everything I asked for."

Gunnar, Jennifer, and Jenna Poling welcomed the help of a mission team from California.

Gunnar, Jennifer, and Jenna Poling welcomed the help of a mission team from California.

Poling had been in a serious car accident when she was 28 weeks pregnant with Jenna. Doctors gave Jenna a 5 percent chance of survival. They also told Poling that she wouldn’t be able to go back to work.

That was 13 years ago. Jenna is now a beautiful, healthy girl, and Poling works as a nurse at a hospital in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

Poling lives in the neighboring county in Belington with Jenna and son Gunnar, 17. Her husband died from complications with his lifelong battle with diabetes in July 2012.

It wasn't long after his death that the roof started leaking. Community members did their best to offer help with home improvements, but no one had the experience to fix the leaky roof.

Pastor Richard Chambers of Belington Nazarene Church knew about the problem. He encouraged Poling to apply for help from World Vision's mission trip program.

Poling is familiar with the World Vision Storehouse in Philippi, West Virginia, and would stop in to look for a replacement for her front door. She had no idea that World Vision held mission trips throughout the summer.

Volunteer Gary Geis (left) taught roof repairs to Gunnar, who enjoyed the relationship with the mission team.

Volunteer Gary Geis (left) taught roof repairs to Gunnar, who enjoyed the relationship with the mission team.

A family group from California was assigned to repair Poling's roof. Tom Burchell, Gary Geis, and Matt McGrain led the roofing project. Other family members came to help where needed.

"I've been amazed by these people," Poling says. "They took to the kids right away. They started working with Gunnar and showing him things."

Gunnar was surprised that the mission team was so relational. "I was expecting a group of people who did their stuff and left, but it seems that everyone wants to make friends more," he says.

Poling was amazed that her son got on the roof. Gunnar told her everything he was learning and how excited he was for the team to come back each day.

"I think it gave him a little bit of ownership, being able to help on the roof," says Poling. "The whole time they were up there, he was up there."

Poling shares her story with tears in her eyes, touched by the mission team's effort to emotionally connect with her family—and for giving a much-needed dose of love and encouragement.

 

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