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July 23, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 19

ARTICLES

‘Work Camp changed me’

Ihad no idea what I was getting into.

As I leaned against the brick wall of William Monroe Middle School in Greene County on a Saturday evening, it hit me. I was really here.... at Work Camp.

I have no knowledge of tools. I bruise easily. I have no upper body strength, and I am naturally shy.

It seemed as if I was exactly the wrong person to be on a mission trip. I turned to my best friend, seated on the ground next to me, and said, “I’m only talking to you this week. I don’t know anyone else here, so I won’t talk to them.”

She just gave me one of her looks and said, “You’ll talk.”

She was right. I did talk.

Fortunately for me, I was assigned to a group called “Paint 2” with two talkative, friendly adult leaders. The other five teens in my crew were all very funny, chatty, cheerful, and fun.

As our crew name suggests, we painted all week. On Monday, we spackled and painted two bedrooms in our resident’s house. In addition to the bedrooms, we painted her front deck, power washed and repainted the screened-in porch, stained a wheelchair ramp, and repainted the woodwork on the front bay window.

The work passed quickly with the aid of music, lighthearted stories, and lots of laughter.

We decided to surprise our resident with a new screen door, a light fixture for one room, and curtains for the other. She was so happy and so grateful for everything we did.

We were the fourth work crew she’d had, and she said that of all of them, we were the most efficient and the nicest. It felt amazing to see her smile and to hear her compliments and thanks. I know that every one of us was proud to have brightened her home.

The evening activities were just as prominent and valuable as the work we did during the day. I met so many new people and made lifelong friends.

I met people on faith journeys similar to my own. I experienced new things that I never imagined I would, like eating dinner with a priest, and hearing all the incredible stories about other work crews and their residents.

I encountered Christ everywhere at Work Camp. I found Him in the other members of my work crew and in the new friends I made.

I saw Him through Father Sean Prince, Father Joe Goldsmith, and Father Chris Hess when they celebrated Mass.

I heard Jesus in the voices of my friends singing around me. And I met Him face-to-face at Adoration on Tuesday night.

As we were getting in the car to head back home, my best friend and I were discussing how much we wanted to stay. When I mentioned how much I’d miss the new friends I’d made, she said to me, “Now, who was it that said she wasn’t going to talk to anyone this week? Who didn’t want any new friends?”

I just laughed and said, “Work Camp changed me.”

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