Monday, September 30, 2013

A Love "Mission" in Morgan County

I am a mom of four living in Morgan County, WV.  Last week, while having dinner with some other mom friends from the middle school cross country team after a meet, I heard a very special story.  "Wouldn't it be nice to hear some 'good' news for a change?" we talked.  Well... listen to this.

Although only 100 miles west of Washington, DC, Morgan County is situated in a remote part of the world, sometimes as seemingly far away as a distant planet.  Our "WV Hills" in Morgan County feature large mountain ridges, winding streams, and acres of wild forest.  With a total population of only 17,535, it's communities are a diverse spectrum of families, similar to any small town, USA.  People here are proud and passionate.

Recently, Morgan County has been the center of some very negative news concerning the fall of the county school levy, a 50+ year local property tax which generates $5 million annually.  A terrible division has developed within the community.  Social networks like Facebook have exploded with heated debate over the children's future.
Not only divided by the huge 2,618 foot Cacapon Mountain range, the towns of Berkeley Springs and Paw Paw are equally as different as the residents opinions on the school levy.  Local folks are angry, upset, and worried about the future of public education in our small county.

But human needs remain the same.
"Let us not love with words or speech
but with actions and truth" 1John3:18

And in order for children and families to succeed, many require that their basic needs are met, not just adequate nourishment, but also safe homes and equally as important...knowing that someone cares.

It was at this hectic dinner that I was blessed to hear about the efforts of Mrs. Brenda Bailey, Mission Team Leader from First UM Church in Berkeley Springs, who organized the first ever "Paw Paw Mission Trip" for Saturday, September 28th. This busy mom coordinated an effort to unify this rural area through something so simple....random acts of kindness.  

Ava Slavinsky, only 5 years old, working hard!
Through word of mouth, Mrs. Bailey located 12 families in Paw Paw, WV, with needs.  From home improvements, handicap accessible ramps, to light construction, 125 volunteers traveled to Paw Paw early Saturday to build, paint, and assist their neighbors across the mountain.  The mission ended in a community children's Vacation Bible School and picnic.

Free Family Goodie Baskets
Sound like a heart warming story?  Then talk to Brenda.  For an event she first thought that only a few would participate, she had 12 complete crews consisting of families ranging in age from 5 to 75 that traveled some 35 miles over Cacapon Mountain to Paw Paw.   Brenda also shared about the mountain of goods gathered.  "The room was so filled with items I never expected...it brought tears to my eyes," said Brenda.  In addition to pictured here, the crews took building supplies, paint buckets, equipment, lumber, furniture, and more!

Listening to the outcome of the "Mission in Morgan County" at First UM Church and to see another busy mom manage to coordinate such tremendous efforts really restores my belief in this special community.  It shows us that people, regardless of their own hardships and differences, really can "love their neighbor" (see Matthew 22:40).

In closing, please take a sec and listen to this song.  For me, it summed up what happened in Paw Paw this weekend in the "Mission" in Morgan County.  You'll be blessed To Believe... and maybe share God's love.

To Believe "...that we'll see in one another the loving image of You."

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