Jul 06

We Discover Our Own Lives and Our Own Happiness

As we lose ourselves in the service of others we discover our own lives and our own happiness.  -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Since we finished up our site yesterday, today we had a new site. We worked in Rockview putting aluminum roof coating onto a gentleman’s trailer. While the job was pretty simple and straightforward, we had a wonderful time meeting and getting to know the home owner. He had many stories to share and kept us entertained the whole day as did his dog Snoopy, who accidentally got some roof coating on him too. Guess he wanted to be a part of the action : )

Since it is Friday and the group will be leaving tomorrow, for dinner we had leftovers and got to relieve all the wonderful meals from the week. And let me tell you, it was just as good the second time around.

After dinner we had our closing reflection, looking back at the week and our experiences. A big shout out to the volunteers this week. Although it was a small group, we were able to accomplish quite a bit and were able to share wonderful community times together. Thank you for choosing to be a part of it and continuing your journey with the PVs!

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Jul 05

Happy 4th of July

Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.

-Pope John Paul II

We started the day finishing up at the site in Bud. We were only there an hour, but by the time we left the new floor was down and cleaned, and the bedroom ceiling was painted. We had a wonderful time working there, it was a great way to kick off the program.

After a quick stop back at The Way we headed out for an adventure in Fayetteville, “The coolest small town in the country” as the sign says. We first stopped at the New River Gorge Bridge overlook and visitors center and took in the views. After that we went into Fayetteville proper and had lunch at the Cathedral Cafe, a cute locally own breakfast and lunch place that uses locally grown food. Once our bellies were full we headed out for our planned hike that started nearby. We took the Kaymoor Miners Trail that dropped down around 500 feet in a half mile to where the Kaymoor mine shaft was. The mine last operated in the 60’s but many of the structures and the tipple is still in place.  We explored around that area before it was time for our grueling hike back up to the top. You might think at that point that the day was done, but no there is still more. After arriving back at The Way we took showers and rested for a bit before heading into Mullens for their 1st annual 4th of July parade. There were lots of firetrucks and ambulances and a few bike riders and people in convertibles. It was a nice parade and was well attended.

After coming back from the parade we started dinner, which was a typical 4th of July feast. Burgers (again donated by our butcher), baked beans, watermelon, chips…

Since it is a holiday and there wasn’t a ton to reflect on, we didn’t have reflection, but instead watched the movie The Way about one man’s pilgrimage to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela on the Camino trail. It is beautiful movie and since one of the volunteers here just did this pilgrimage in the fall, it added an extra special element hearing about his experience.

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Jul 04

If You Can Learn a Simple Trick

If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.  -Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)

Today the group spent time working on the inside of the house up in Bud. They were able to straighten back door and to install a lock on it and install a new door knob on one of the bedroom doors. The crew also put down the underlayment down in the bathroom that week’s group cut. It was kind of a big life sized puzzle (with a key to help : ) ) After that was down it was time for the tile’s. The new light colored tiles really brighten the room up. With the new floor the door needed to be shaved down so it can swing freely now and close all the way. The bedroom was prepped and is ready for the ceiling to be painted tomorrow.  It should be a quick day painting the ceiling and visiting with the family.

Our gourmet meals continued tonight with a pot roast, rolls and a side of pineapple. The beef for the pot roast was donated by our favorite PV butcher and brought down from Minnesota. Thanks Leo!

Reflection tonight was about volunteering and what the spark was that led us each into volunteering. It was interesting to hear the stories and the motivation. Quotes from St. Vincent dePaul were also shared as inspiration.

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Jul 03

There Is No Greater Joy

There is no greater job, nor greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone’s life.  -Mary Rose McGeady

Defying expectations, the crew finished up the ramp in Bud today. We thought it might not be done until the end of week, so we were pleasantly surprised with how quick everything came together. This was truly a joint project between week one and week two PVs and wouldn’t be finished without everyone’s blood, sweat and tears. Tomorrow the group will move inside to finish up those projects.

For dinner tonight we a salad and garlic cheese bread appetizer followed by home made pizza, one with marinara sauce and one with alfredo sauce. As I said before, we are eating well this week : )

Since we have a smaller group and we have to be creative for reflection. The group decided to watch a documentary about the drug problems that are plaguing our country that focuses on the efforts of three women — a fire chief, a judge and a missionary — who are battling West Virginia’s opioid epidemic. The documentary was nominated for an Acadamy Award when it came out and is available on Netflix. After watching we had a nice discussion about the issue. Obviously we did not come up with a solution, but the documentary shared some hope and inspiration to help change the current situation.

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Jul 02

When You Learn

When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” –Maya Angelou

Week two is officially underway! Volunteers arrived yesterday evening just in time share a meal together. After a quick reorientation we had our official welcome and start to the week with the PV Commissioning Service.

You will notice when you look at pictures from this week that the group is on the smaller side this week, which happens often during fourth of July week. While we may be small in numbers, we make up for in heart and hard work. Evidence of that today in how much was done at the ramp site in Bud. This week’s volunteers took up right where last weeks volunteers ended. This week’s weather looks like it might be a little wet at times, so we decided to focus on the ramp while there is dry weather and if rains move in to the inside and do the work that needs to be completed there. You will see from the pictures that the crew made a ton of progress today getting most of the decking down and starting on the handrails.

Tonight’s dinner was fantastic. One of the volunteer’s that is here loves to cook and planned a menu for 4 of the nights this week. If tonight is any indication we will be having some great meals. Tonight we had grilled pork, grilled asparagus and fried rice. It was delicious and made up for the hour it took to assemble the small, portable grill that we picked up today : )  For dessert we had a strawberry cookie bar, also very good.

Reflection tonight focused on Thomas Merton’s Pilgrims Prayer and how at times in our lives we are like pilgrims and other times we are more like tourists. The general consensus, the more we are like pilgrims the better the outcome.

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Jun 29

Helping Others

In helping others, we shall help ourselves for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.  -Flora Edwards

Friday’s are always a little bittersweet. The week of volunteering comes to end, there is a good tired that everyone feels. Maybe a little sunburned….Friday’s are also always a little extra busy.

A group went to Energy Express again and helped with reading to the kids and just playing with them. It was great to have PV kids go and join with the local kids for so many days this week. New friendships were formed, lessons were learned and most importantly a lot of fun was had. After lunch, the group joined up with the rest of the PVs at the home repair site.

It was another great day at the site as most of the framing of the ramp is done and some of the decking. The bathroom floor is also all fixed and ready for new tile. It is kind of cool that these volunteers will pass the torch to next week’s volunteers to finish up the job. The PV Community stays connected in so many different ways.

We wrapped up the jobsite a little early both because it was getting really hot and because we wanted to be able to send a group to Glen Rogers Manor and give time for visiting.  There ended up being 38 people who played Banana Bingo with the volunteers. We definitely did not bring enough bananas, who would have know??? Everyone had fun playing and singing the “Bingo” Song.

A couple of volunteers also went to visit the home where they spent their time last summer. They wanted to stop in to say “hi” and just see how she was doing. I don’t know who was happier to see each other : )  Building and maintaining relationships is such a big part of the PVs and visiting is such a great way to do this.

Since it Friday, we had leftovers for dinner. We were able to relive all the wonderful food we had all week. Even after eating there were still leftovers!

Also since it is Friday, after checking in and sharing about the jobsites, we have our closing reflection service. It is a wonderful chance to look back on the week and think of all the wonderful experiences we had and memories that were made.

Thank you to all the volunteers who were with us this week. A extra thank you for helping move and set everything up for the rest of the volunteers this summer. You have left your mark in such a wonderful way.

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Jun 28

Service Doesn’t Have To Be Big..

Service doesn’t have to be big and grandiose to be meaningful and make a difference. 

-Cheryl A. Esplin

Today ended up being the warmest day so far this summer, hitting ninety degrees by the afternoon. We were back at the home repair site in Bud today continuing on the ramp and fixing the floor in the bathroom. Such great progress was made that an afternoon trip to the local DQ was in order : )

While everyone ended up at the home repair site, in the morning a group of four volunteers went to Energy Express and worked with kids in attendance. They had a great time.

Tonight we had breakfast for dinner. This is a 20+ year tradition for the first week men PVs to cook this meal. Tonight the dinner included pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage. I mean who doesn’t like pancakes?!?

Reflection tonight was about compassion and the idea of building partnership with others. It was chance to really think about what we are doing and the importance of building relationships and partnerships and its importance.

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Jun 27

To Lose Yourself…

To lose yourself in righteous service to others can lift your sights and get your mind off personal problems, or at least put them in proper focus.   -Ezra Taft Benson

Today we sent our first group of volunteers to the Energy Express Program in Mullens. As per their website, “Energy Express is an award-winning, 8-week, summer reading and nutrition program for children living in West Virginia’s rural and low-income communities.  With Energy Express, more than 3,000 children statewide gain or maintain reading levels during summer months through creative, colorful and captivating uses of art, drama and vocabulary. Our program also provides children with two nutritious meals each day during the program, helping to ensure our youths are fed each day even after the school year comes to an end.”  The Energy Express program in Mullens has been very welcoming to the PVs whenever we have PVs who would like to go and help out. Today’s volunteers helped in the classrooms, working mostly with kids ages 5-7.

The rest of the group went back to the home repair site in Bud. They made a lot of progress with the beginning section of the ramp and inside getting electric outlets and switches working again. The home owners have been having to use a lamp in their bathroom for quite awhile and now can just switch a light on. In addition to all this work, we were able to make two trips to county dump to haul away the old back deck that was torn down yesterday.

Tonight in the PV house it was Taco Night which is always a good night. Lots of options to create each person’s “perfect taco.” For dessert we had jello, Oreos and several different cake options. (Can you tell desserts are a big part of the PV dinner.)

For reflection tonight we were asked to reflect on our routines. First, sharing something that we miss that is part of our daily routine back home.  And then on the heals of that, share something that we are enjoying about the routine of PV life.  In the middle of reflection we had a wonderful “interruption,” a visit from one of our longtime friends, Maragret and her daughter Genieva. Maragret shared with the volunteers the story of her life as well as a song. It was a wonderful surprise that made the night extra special.

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Jun 26

A Life of Significance

A life of significance is about serving those who need your gifts, your leadership, your purpose.    – Kevin Hall

This morning crews headed out to two different sites. One group went to the Itmann Food Bank in Mullens to continue to paint the floor. By lunchtime they made a lot of progress so that after lunch they were able to finish, other than a small strip leading from the door to one of the bathrooms. Why, you may wonder would leave this last strip unpainted? Well the PVs are doing an emergency plumbing fix for a leaky pipe this afternoon… no job is too small!!!

The other group of volunteers went to our home repair site in Bud that we started this spring with Northern Illinois University. We will be at this site for several days, but today’s group did a great job starting up for the summer. Part of the group were tasked with removing an old, collapsing back porch to that we can replace it with a small platform and ramp. The home owner has some health problems that make climbing the steep front steps difficult. (In all honesty, we all have a hard time climbing those steps.) Not only will the ramp help with accessibility into the house, at the moment they do not have a safe second exit from the house in case of emergency.  The destruction went great even when they had to remove a “tree” that was in their way. Why all of this was happening, volunteers worked around front to shore up the steps to make them safer to use and replaced the front door that was rusting. The lumber is set to be delivered early in the morning (thanks Priddys!) so we should be off and running with the ramp tomorrow.

After a long hard day, we were all ready for dinner! Tonight we were treated to shepard’s pie, both a traditional one and a veggie one. Served alongside the shepard’s pie we had salad and homemade cookies.  I am loving the run of comfort foods we are having each night!

Reflection tonight focused on the starfish parable and helping in any little way we can. Everyone shared an experience from their day when someone made a difference to them or when they made a difference to someone else.

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Jun 25

We Are All Connected

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday evening, volunteers arrived ready to get to work! After a communal dinner, we gathered together to get to know each other a little better and finished the night with the traditional PV Commissioning Service. If you have ever volunteered with the PVs at any of our locations you are probably familiar with the Commissioning Service. It is a way to prepare and focus ourselves on the week ahead and bring into focus into the service we are beginning. It is a tie that binds all PVs wherever they serve.

Today being the first day of the program, the volunteers helped us to move tools and housewares up from our storage in Pineville to The Way and then helped to organize all these items. Because of all their hard work today, the rest of the summer program will run a little smoother. Their work will affect each volunteer that comes later, connecting us all together as a community. Everyone helped with the move, but then those that weren’t organizing went to the Itmann Food Bank to help paint their floors. The Food Bank sees a lot of traffic each month during distribution day and the floors take a bit of a beating. Periodically they need to be resurfaced with heavy duty anti-slip paint. This past spring the NIU students did half of the food bank and then today the summer volunteers worked to complete it. Another wonderful example of the connectedness of all PVs.

After a hard day’s work, we were all looking forward to our dinner which tonight was tuna noodle casserole, salad and homemade apple cake. It was a wonderful and comforting meal.

For reflection tonight we took time to think about how we are each coming down with our own gifts and talents to share and while we are all different, we come together as one to serve together. We went around the circle and share our “new and good” from the day, a good ol’PV tradition  : )