Appalachia Mission brings tears of joy

Appalachia+Mission+brings+tears+of+joy+

Sarah Henni

The Appalachia missionaries stand as one to better the lives of the community.

Mikela Mollanazar, Achona Staff

Every year Mission Service Week brings time of sisterhood and service. This year Appalachian missionaries took part in the active remodeling of the home of Miss Vicky Alexander, whose has lived alone in the poor areas of Appalachia all her life and whose health necessitates help from others.

The trip to Appalachia included 18 Holy Names girls facing a long mission, tight quarters, thunder storms and much more, all to remodel the home of someone truly deserving.  The Appalachia Mission trip began on Sunday, March 11, when the 21 Academy missionaries arrived prompt to the airport at 4:50 am. The group included 18 students and their three chaperones, Mrs. Edna Swafford, Mrs. Solveig Ruppel ’83, and Mrs. Maureen Raimo.  The journey began, first, with a plane to Charlotte, North Carolina, then a second flight into Roanoke, Virginia, and finally a three-hour car ride to the service center in Pipestem, West Virginia.

In order to make things more efficient the girls divided into groups of six, each headed by the three mission leaders – Sarah Henni, Tyler Ruppel, and Chandler Cartwright. Each group was responsible for different shifts of cooking, cleaning, and prayer services

Once organized, the girls began their repair of Miss Vicky’s house. First students prepared the house for a fresh coat of paint, scanning walls low and high with scrappers to remove off old, rotted, and peeling paint. Once the house was rid of old paint, the girls applied a fresh coat of tan finishing it with a brown trim. The girls worked in the inside as well, repairing, and replacing the kitchen floor and cabinets. Once completed, they added a fresh coat of paint to tie together the whole kitchen.

A thunder storm halted work, while lightning struck Vicky’s house blowing out her television and microwave. Then work became twice as hard as the girls were forced to work around the muddy hills that caused unstable grounds for painters in ladders.

Despite these problems, the girls accomplished their goal and completed the house by Friday. Vicky was so overwhelmed with happiness that she shed tears of joy, making the missionaries feel compassion and love for her. The last day on the site was the saddest for the group as they said their final goodbyes to Vicky, someone who they would never forget.

Determined to immerse themselves in the mission trip experience and bond as sisters, the Holy Names girls willingly sacrificed their normal routines. The girls slept in crowded cabins, had no air conditioning, and faced limited showering allowing the girls to grow closer.

Sophomore Mary-Kate Michalak did not mind the sacrifice. “Sharing bedrooms and learning how to work together in the cabin showed us what sister hood was all about.”

Sophomore Hannah Crall felt the mission trip was prosperous because of the experience it taught her. “Traveling to Appalachia was truly an amazing experience. It opened my eyes, made me realize how many people need our help, and has inspired me to continue to serve others in any way I can.”