ASP Trip 2024

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ASP Trip – June 15 through June 22, 2024

John Zelman, Laura Antonelli, Jasmine Briggs, Juan Camacho, Maeve Churchill, Kate Curran, Will Curran, Mauro Hernandez Castro, Paola Hernandez Castro, Kai Hill, Jessica Liang, Diego Lopez, Adam Manzke, Katelyn Manzke, Peter Manzke, Gil Ramierez, & Irma Solarzano.

Friday, June 21, 2024

I think today was the hottest day so far. What’s difficult is that while we get up early, breakfast takes a while so does packing up. The drive is a long one, so we end up starting work around 9:30 or 10:00, just as the heat is building.
What’s really important about our last day is that no one was seriously hurt all week. We also accomplished our jobs. Crew #1 installed siding on most of the back of the home we were working on. That’s important because next week the volunteers are installing a porch and wheelchair ramp, which can’t go up until the siding is installed. Virgil and Mary Lou will have a new safe way to get in and out of their home. By the time to summer is over, the new insulation, siding, and roof will cut their electricity bills in half.

There are two rituals that end our week at ASP. One is for our individual crews, and one is for all the volunteers from all of the churches here. First all the volunteers sit in a big circle and each volunteer describes how the week was impactful.

After that, we participate in our own closure ritual. Each crew sits together, and the first person draws a cross necklace from a bag. On the necklace is the name of one crew member. That first person then talks about how much he or she enjoyed working with the person whose name was on the necklace. Then we pass it around and all of us praise that person. My personal way to go about this is to explain how I see God in that person. It’s a beautiful and moving way to end our week.

We depart tomorrow morning, bright and early for the long drive home.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Thursday can be a tough day mentally on an ASP trip. We’ve had several days of hard work in the heat, and we know that we need to keep going. The picnic today will help a lot. Our fellow volunteers from Sheboygan brought Johnsonville Brats for the picnic. We’ve been with them before, and they do this for us each year.

It’s stunningly beautiful here. When you wake early enough, you walk through a thick morning mist and watch it slowly dissolve as the sun rises. The hills, mountains, valleys, and “hollers” that we drive through each day to get to our worksite are the beautiful magnet that draws and keeps people here.
Below is a short time lapse video of our daily morning drive. It’s a 15 mile drive that takes about 35 minutes. My skills as a videographer are not fabulous, but you get an idea of what we see daily. We counted family cemeteries along our route yesterday. There were ten very small family burial grounds, most about 100-150 square yards. They are beautiful and well tended with flowers. Family is an important part of living here in Appalachia. People want to stay near their family support system. I’m often asked why the people who live here don’t just move to a place where there are more opportunities. Those cemeteries help to answer that question. Further, anlmost all of the families I’ve worked with own their homes and own the land. That property has been in the family for generations. Moving just isn’t an option either, when the entire family income is only $1500 per month. The founder of ASP Tex Evans said that we are here to help people just the way they are and where they are. That’s the magnet that draws me to service in Appalachia.

Click Here for Today’s Video

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

So what does our daily schedule look like here on an ASP trip?

Our day begins at 7:15 am when we are awoken by really loud music.
We have 15 minutes to get to morning devotional. This morning was led by our group.
After that we have a hot breakfast. Then we prepare for work. That means making our lunches and gathering tools, supplies, and building materials. We dress for work in work shoes, long pants, hats, and if we are working with fiberglass, long sleeved shirts. We are grateful that we’re not doing any fiberglass work.
We are not allowed out of our parking lot until we check out with a staff member with a joke. Some jokes are long and terrible, and others are short and sweet.
We head to the local IGA grocery store to buy some ice, and then we head to our work sites. One group is 15 minutes away, and the other has a 35 minute drive over mountain roads.
We work on our projects, taking frequent breaks to hydrate and keep as cool as we can.
We break for lunch, inviting the family we are working for to share our food and eat with us. We always bring enough food for the whole family.
After getting more work completed, we head back to our center. We shower, do our assigned chores to keep the center clean, and have a hot dinner. Last night was lasagna.
Around 7:30 we have evening gathering. It’s a time to engage in spiritual development, cultural awareness, and community engagement. Last night we had a bluegrass band play for us.
Finally we have a little free time, starting around 8:30. We may go out for ice cream, stay in and play games with each other or kids from other crews. Dominoes are very popular this year. We’re lucky, in that we have a full gymnasium at our center, so some of the kids play basketball and volleyball.
10:30 is quiet time, 11:00 is lights out, and then we start over again the next day.
It’s a wonderful time, and we are so very grateful for your support.



















































One of the cool traditions here on an ASP trip is the family Bible. The ASP staff purchases a Bible for each family that we serve during the summer. We are asked to write messages to the family in the margin of the Bible near a verse that is meaningful to us. Next week, that Bible gets more messages from the next crew to work on that home, and this continues all summer. At the end of the summer, the family is presented with the Bible, which now contains loving messages from the dozens of volunteers who worked on their house all summer. Below is one from Will who highlighted a verse from John, and mine which highlights one from James.












Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Wow, another hot one today, but we had a little cloud cover to cool things off a bit. Those salty snacks sure helped a lot.

Group one installed whatis called J channel to hold styrofoam insulation in place. We got some of that insulation installed too. It will certainly keep our family warmer this winter.

Group 2 did some more work removing deteriorated soffit and replacing it with vinyl.

Tonight is community night. More on that afterwards.

























Tonight we were blessed with a local bluegrass band. The leader of the band was born 70 years ago in a house one mile from where we are staying. You can’t get more authentic than that. They were an amazing group. Some of our kids had never heard a live bluegrass band before, so it was a wonderful experience for them.

Click Here for a Video of the Band!

Monday, June 17, 2024

We woke this morning to very, very loud “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen. If I donate a little cash, I get to choose the music. My mind is filled with really loud wake up music options.

We had a great morning devotional led by a youth pastor from Minnesota. After a filling hot breakfast, we loaded up the vans with our tools and headed to MaryLou and Vergil’s home. They need insulation, siding, and a new wheelchair ramp. Our task was to start that summer-long process. We demolished the existing back porch and removed gutters and other material from the structure so as to make it possible to install foam insulation and siding. The goal for the week is to finish the siding on our one side of the house, so that the crew next week can install a new porch and wheelchair ramp.

Group two is removing and replacing soffit and facia at their work site.

It’s hot. We took lots of breaks and ate lots of salty snacks. We drank lots and lots of water and Gatorade.

We’re headed out for ice cream tonight after our evening program. The kids certainly earned it today.



















Sunday, June 16, 2024

We woke up at Trinity and attended church, then drove to Salyersville. We met our fellow volunteers and had a chance to preview our work projects.



















Saturday, June 15, 2024

We had an uneventful, the best kind, of trip to Covington, KY, where we will spend the night at Trinity Episcopal Church. Dinner at a local pizza place, ice cream, and fun across the Ohio River in a riverfront park in Cincinnati.








ASP Trip Send-Off 

Saturday, June 15, 2024