Red Tail-lights to Rolling Hills…

Summerville, Pennsylvania, is in the middle of nowhere; beautiful, rolling hills, nowhere. It’s a place that’s worth going to… and then going back, and then going back again, and maybe even staying for a summer, or longer.

A little over four years ago, my entire senior class (all 17 [?] of us, NCCS ’04!) went on a service trip to help the people of Living Church International and Dominion Academy, a non-denominational congregation and school. The church has roots going back 25 years, while the school is still very young. Both are growing. Over the past four years they have purchased a huge old school building and have been working ever since to remodel it. Relying on God’s providence and going with His timing, they have zero debt. [considering the magnitude of their project, and in the context of my ungergrad business student thinking, zero debt is amazing, to say the least.]

Since our senior trip, groups have continued to go back, partly to help out with whatever project is currently underway and partly just to visit the wonderful people of the community. Usually the visits are fairly short, several days, maybe a week, but a few “visitors” have taken it to the next level. Classmate Dalton Gatlin has been there since last October and will be staying at least another year, teaching, working around the school and farm, as well as participating in Pastor David’s internship program. Erik Hemingway and Matt Hall, also classmates, are participating in the internship program as well.

Seeing as such a large chunk of our class was already there, several of us back in Lansing decided that this would be a great opportunity to make a trip ourselves. After an excessive amount of facebook planning (134 thread messages, to be exact) Josh Puuri, Mike Kogut, Claire Cherniawski, and yours truly, finally managed to get ourselves organized, in a car, and on the way to Penn.

After some blinding rain, a closed McDonalds, a creepy rest-stop, lots of 3-11, a few zombie scares, and several hours of me apparently talking too much, we pulled into the Shay property, waking everyone up just long enough to unload, say a few hellos, and find our beds. The bed part was important, because, not believing in wasting time, we were all up and at ’em early the next morning. [this seems an appropriate time for me to express my undying love for caffeine]

the next few days went by really quickly and were full of lots of goodness. I am always inspired by the vision, joy, and dedication to God’s work that I see in the Shay family, as well as everyone at the school and church.
consequently, there’s a lot to say about the weekend as a whole, but here are the cliffnotes:

  • we moved/sorted scraps – drywall to old windows
  • clean, clean, clean [shopvacs are great inventions]
  • erik and josh did something that involved putting mud type stuff in-between the bricks. the technical term escapes me
  • i broke the weed whacker after about 20 seconds
  • raked stones
  • all the boys played on the scaffolding/built skylight type things
  • bailed hay [o.m.g.]
  • the boys also played on the roof/hung steel siding type things [okay, to be fair, they weren’t playing, they were truly working hard]
  • bbq/volleyball victories
  • cleaned the house with pastor karen, but, more importantly, listened to her amazing life stories
  • claire vacuumed up about a million dead bugs to the tunes of jars of clay
  • SABBATH REST – takes on a whole new meaning after hard work
  • chilled with bev and the shay kids – who seriously rock
  • bonfire
  • guitar – because claire is amazing and brought hers
  • church service marathon – catholic mass at the crack of dawn, living church bible study, and then living church service[insert correct term here]
  • good conversations with old friends
  • i was introduced to the music of RED – seriously amazing
  • on the way back to lansing, we had lunch in a jewish deli with our classmate David Van Hal, now young adult pastor at Newsong in Cleveland, plus we got to see the current church, the soon to be church/ex-fitness center, and his cubicle. all very cool.
  • i also took a lot of photos and video, which is in the editing process – coming soon!

in conclusion to this lengthy post, i’ve decided i really have no choice; Summerville, PA is one of those places that I just have to return to :o)

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