Monday, June 22, 2009

Hinton, Day One: Inside Jokes start here.

Today was our first day at the site. It was an especially expectant day, since we have the blessing of knowing the family with whom we are working. After rain woke us, spacing itself through the sun that rose on Lake Chatuge, we had breakfast and got the tools ready and loaded for our drive into Murphy, NC. As we pulled into the Day family property, Annie and W.L. greeted us with smiles and open arms. They welcomed us into their home, which went through significant improvements last summer. The last time our group saw it, Annie and W.L. were without a bathtub, walls, power, and water. They were also just moments away from giving up on all hope when we met them.

But, this summer, it was as if the light couldn’t keep from shining from them. They were happy, familiar, and warm. The tentativeness felt more like the first few moments at your grandmother’s house, rather than entering into a stranger’s home. We had literally seen them at their worst – their lives were in shambles, their health was shaky, their family was broken, and their home was ripped apart. Today, we enjoyed time with them in a clean, orderly space that was cool and pleasant. Annie praised the improvements, saying that her home was warm in the winter and cold in the summer. Their granddaughters were there, looking disinterested and bored until a van full of youth showed up and suddenly, there was laughter and welcome. They showed us their rooms, and even better, their new kittens, just born in early May. Like most things for the Day family, even the kittens were going to have a lifetime struggle. The three we met were small, scrappy and one of them (Lucky) was missing its back feet. Another (Trouble), however, had 7 toes on each of its back feet. The third (Feisty) was adored by all the girls and she might wind up in our van on the way home. We figured that the litter got the proper amount of toes, they just didn’t get distributed evenly. Another of God’s strange little jokes.

We spent the first hour reconnecting with this family and hearing about their year. When we headed to their son’s home, we were all ready to dive in and get to work. Jackson led the delegation to the worksite to do some construction, and proceeded to serve as principal tool-fetcher and flashlight holder. He asked good questions and was a tremendous help and source of energy. Joseph and Ben got to work on measuring and prepping plywood for floors, Margaret and Jacob took measurements and drew a floorplan of the front of the house, and Tori and Perry became best friends with the Day’s granddaughters as they scraped paint of a dresser and talked about school and boys and the things that girls tend to like. Cooper served as entertainment. It was a good day.

We spent another lovely evening on the front porch, recounting our day and discovering all the things that we like to laugh and sing about. This meant a lot of inside jokes, mainly about llamas. We had to come up with a group name (“Epic Humpback Whales”), which, when announced, was welcomed with an Awkward Silence (which I argued would make a GREAT group name. But I digress…). We also invented a game, which involved light-up Frisbees and simultaneous text messaging. You know, that’s what the kids are into these days.

It was a good day, and really, any day that ends with ice cream and rockers overlooking a lake with good friends can’t be so bad.

Tomorrow… Who knows? Our theme is about ending poverty one nail at a time, so hopefully, we can put one more nail into this epidemic.

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