A couple weeks ago I went on the Appalachia Service Project (ASP). It was an amazing and rewarding experience. I had not heard of ASP until I started at my placement site and up until recently I did not know much about it. ASP is a service opportunity across five states, there are various projects but during the summer the primary projects are construction on homes. Metropolitan Memorial’s youth go on an ASP experience once a year and this year I was able to attend.
At the beginning of the week I had no idea what to expect, and after the first couple of days I realized I loved the experience. My love for the experience stemmed from a few things:
- Every step of ASP felt like fellowship. The youth got to know each other better, the adults learned ways in which to encourage the youth to believe in their abilities, and together we all got to know the families that we were working with.
- Youth empowerment is one of the main goals of Metropolitan Memorial’s ASP experience, and I got to see that in action. There were challenges, and sacrifices; there were achievements, and personal and group victories.
- The ASP experience was, for me, joy-filled. There was a restaurant, Ma and Pa’s at which we spent almost every night. On the second night we went to Ma and Pa’s and was able to dance and sing with persons from the town. Toward the end of the week we went to a park and enjoyed a picnic for the ASP crews and the homeowners, this offered a great opportunity to further connect with people and enjoy the beauty of Virginia.
These three aspects of the ASP experience were beautiful to be a part of and to witness.
I heard many times ASP called, “A relational ministry with construction on the side.” I was struck during the week with how much the tenets of ASP remind me of the tenets of Generation Transformation such as, “‘Engage. Connect. Grow.,’ or,’ ministry with, not to or for.'” I felt engaged by the work we were all doing together. The only way the projects would be done successfully is if we all worked together, with the youth making choices and plans along the way. I felt connected to the families we were working with during the times when we would stop our work and just chat together for a while, or when a family member would give us freeze pops on our way out at the end of the day. I sensed growth in seeing the youth dynamically ask questions and come to realizations through the entire experience.
The ASP experience was a great way to spend a week during the summer months, I feel grateful for the time there and all that was learned.
GMF US-2, Class of 2016-2018
Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church