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My FLOORishing Enthusiasm to Give Back

by Tess Pounds, a senior at Wissahickon H.S. and involved in ministry at Sanctuary Church.

My knees ached from kneeling as I drilled each screw neatly into place. The sweltering heat of July stifled my breathing inside the stuffy trailer and I longed for a break. I fought through the heat and pain, telling myself that at least someone less fortunate was benefiting from my discomfort. It was day four of my church’s mission trip to New Castle, PA and although I was sleep-deprived and in desperate need of a shower, there was something satisfying about the work I was doing. New Castle, a small town about an hour outside of Pittsburgh once had a booming economy, but over the years it had become extremely impoverished. I traveled there with my church for a week of repairing houses, expecting nothing more than to do just that.

My group was assigned to a trailer owned by a couple named Dave and Lainey. Dave was diagnosed with bone cancer and Lainey had difficulties walking, due to a recent knee surgery. As if their medical conditions were not strenuous enough, Dave and Lainey’s home was rather unsafe. Their washing machine had been leaking so much that the floor underneath it rotted away, creating a giant hole in the floor. To prevent themselves from falling through the floor, they had placed down a flimsy wooden board to walk across. My job was to tear up the rotted floor and replace it so that they had a sturdy surface on which to walk.

By the end of the week, all the projects were complete and most importantly, Dave and Lainey were able to move around their home safely. What amazed me the most (other than my ability to install new flooring like a pro) was the gratitude they showed. They told me again and again how long they had been searching for someone to help them. Lainey approached me at the end of the week and told me that by coming to make the repairs, we had answered her and Dave’s prayers. Although it was my third mission trip, it was not until that moment that I realized that I had done so much more than just fix someone’s floor. Obviously the new floor made their lives much easier, but for the first time, I began to see the bigger picture. Not only had I made someone’s home safer, but I had also given them hope that times were getting better. It finally hit me: it is impossible for someone to get back up on their feet if they do not have a floor to stand on. Witnessing Dave and Lainey’s optimistic viewpoints was inspiring and I was overjoyed to see that I had made such a big impact on their lives.

The feeling I got after helping Dave and Lainey made me want to continue helping others. I realized that I did not have to go on a week-long trip five hours away if I wanted to help someone. I loved that mission trip and I will without a doubt go on many more in the future, but with what I’ve discovered about myself, I learned that I can also help people in my everyday life. Knowing I’ve helped someone—even if it is a small favor—is a wondrous feeling. Things that had once seemed insignificant, like driving a friend to school and volunteering at my church each week, were leaving a positive impact on others. Thanks to that mission trip, I now go out of my way to help people in my life because I know that even small gestures can go a long way. Not only did I repair Dave and Lainey’s floor that week, but I also repaired their sense of hope and discovered my own desire to help others. My encounter with Dave and Lainey brought me to the realization that I have the power to positively impact others on a daily basis.

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