As I am here in West Virginia I have had the pleasure of working with 4 other interns and Megan has a blog with some very insightful information. Check out her blog here
I am really unsure as to where to start, so bear with me. This is a blog I created in order to share what God is teaching, and challenging me with throughout this next summer. This summer I am going to be heading out to a small, rural town in Southern West Virginia in a town called Northfork. A little bit about this community that I will be serving and working alongside.
- Population- 429, with 173 households, and 108 families.
- Median Income for a household- $16,544
- the Per Capita Income- $ 10,001– this number represents the income per person instead of the household
- By the year 1990, McDowell County ( The county in which Northfork is in) the poverty rate was the highest for any county in West Virginia, and 50.3 % of all children were below the poverty line.
- The largest private employer in the county, Wal-Mart, closed in 2016. Putting 140 people out of jobs.
- In 2015 McDowell county had the highest rate of drug-induced deaths of any county in the United States.
- The average rate in the US was 14.7 per 100,000 people
- McDowell County had 141 per 100,000 people
- There is more improvement being done on the tourist areas of this region.
I understand that is this is a lot of statistics to take in. Just take a second and think about your own communities, and the area in which you live in. Though this region appears to be hurting in every aspect, there is hurt in every community, it comes out or stays hidden in different ways. There is no region that is safe from hurt and heartache.
I know everybody is probably wondering how in the world did I stumble across this small town across the country from where I live…. I have been wondering the same thing.
It all started my freshman year at Bethel University when in my Introduction to Sociology class I watched a documentary on the Appalachian Region. I could not believe that people were living this way in our developed United States. Since watching that documentary I was not be able to shake hurt of Appalachia from my mind. I then started to look at different areas of ministry that I could get involved with, and eventually spend a summer internship out in Appalachia was the ultimate goal.
I began my mission of finding a mission in this area that I really know and understand nothing about. I was able to gain a contact that significantly helped to understand the Appalachian Region. With more and more understanding I began to fall in love with Appalachia, without ever being out there. God had significantly worked in my heart to love on people that I did not even know their names or who they are.
By this time I had this love, and my one contact person fell through and was unable to help. So I really no idea what to do. I was stuck. Questions such as: where am I going to stay, how can I afford to spend a whole summer not getting paid, what am I going to do about food, why do I love this region so much, am I crazy for wanting to run to this place I know very little about? With all these questions, and more racing in my head it deemed impossible that I would be able to serve in this community.
But do not worry the story does not stop there!!
I was walking through Bethel one day, and to my belief saw a poster with big letters APPALACHIA. Underneath described a missions trip that Bethel was hosting, this trip was sending students who wanted to serve in Appalachia over Spring Break. Needless to say my application for that trip was turned in by the end of the night. Can we just take a brief moment and thank God for his faithfulness through this process. I was frustrated and not understanding why God wanted me to love this area to much. The day after my one contact had told me they could not help me anymore I saw this poster. It still gives me chills thinking about it. But God’s greatness does not end there either!!
In order to go on this trip the members needed to do interviews with the team leads of the trip. During my interview I expressed that I had been trying and trying to go to the Appalachian region but continually failing to find ways to do so. My amazing team leads then looked at me and said the exact words of “you know that the place we are going to be serving at has summer internships for college students.”
The story continues to me applying for the internship and getting it. Remember all those doubtful questions I had when God had first started to prepare my heart? Everyone of them was answered!
- Where will I live?- The organization has free housing for its interns
- How can I afford not to be paid- the organization has a small stipend given to its interns at the end of the summer.
- What about food?- the organization gives its interns free food over the course of the summer.
I know I am really having a hard time still believing it myself. God is so good.
Long story short. This summer I am going to be heading out to this region that God has placed me in, and placed in my heart. I am so excited to be using this blog to share a snippet of my experiences with everyone. Please reach out to me if you have any questions… also I love talking about it, so I am welcoming any type of conversation.
On a side note. I went out there and served over spring break, and fell in love with the community even more than before. I will share into that experience in my next few blogs.
Thank you for reading.