Today was a Bee-U-Ti-Full day! Sunny, bright, and in the low 70’s! Our fellow workers came in today and after everyone was settled, we had our first meeting where we go over whats-what at the project (laundry, mail, trash – you know, the practical stuff), and then we spent some time getting to know each other. Both of the other couples are from Minnesota, two were teachers, one was a nurse and one was a road engineer. I love that we get to meet folks from all over the country and from all different kinds of walks of life. One of the couples expressed how one of the best part of being a SOWER was the instant community that happens at our projects. And I can only agree – I have met some amazing folks and have formed life-long friendships with folks that I would never have met if it weren’t for this SOWER path that we are following.
Last month we had an especially unique (for us, anyway) opportunity to work with the NCCC team that was working for 12 weeks at AppleTree Educational Center. These 9 young adults (18-24 year old) arrived when we did and were housed in our “Orchard” neighborhood. Jayne and I worked with them in the library,
and the guys worked with them in the renovations of the building.
We also saw them working with the kids at the daycare and school and even painting murals on one of the center’s walls.
They worked into the evening at the Boys and Girls Club in town and played hard on the weekends, hiking the nearby mountains, and generally kicking back after the busy week. We loved having them in the neighborhood, and on our last Sunday we gathered together for a final meal before we SOWERS all went our separate ways. Here we are (well, most of us anyway) squinting into the sunshine after we’d filled up on hot dogs and hamburgers and chocolate cake!
They certainly added some sparkle to the month and we’re going to miss those kiddos. But this month promises to be full of sparkle too! I just met the 2 year old who lives in one of houses on our campus. 🙂
Like I said, meeting folks – old and young – is one of the best parts of being a SOWER!
We’re getting settled at UIM, our February SOWER project, but let’s back up just a bit.
We had a good drive over from New Mexico. The wind had died down and the sun was shining brightly.
We spent the night at a rest stop with about 60 miles to do in the morning,
and then we tried to wait until the rush hour traffic had settled down before we journeyed into the city.
We didn’t miss it all
but my excellent driver got us through city traffic with no problem (and only a few white knuckles on my part) and we are safely parked in our spot for the next three+ weeks.
It’s been 6 years since we’ve worked a SOWER project in Arizona – and it’s been never since we’ve been in the Phoenix area (except maybe to drive through). But this month and next we’ll be hanging out in this neck of the woods. This month we’re at UIM (United Indian Missions) in Glendale and next month we’ll be at Standing Stones in Wickenburg (about 60 miles NW of Phoenix).
I’m not sure exactly what we’ll be working on this month, but I know we’re pretty happy to be here!
As we wrap up another SOWER month, I thought I’d share a bit about the ministry where we’ve been working – Apple Tree Education Center.
What started out as much needed day-care center in 1999 has grown to an full early childhood center, with care from birth through age 5, including a Pre-K program and after school care. In addition, they have opened a Christian school (K-12), a Boys and Girls Club in the center of town, and a home visitation program that supports families with children from prenatal care through age 3 with individualized assistance from early childhood experts. Truth or Consequences (more on the town at a later date) is quite the artsy-touristy town, but it is a not a wealthy community by any stretch of the imagination (almost a quarter of the population is beneath the poverty line). The impact that Apple Tree is making on the community is huge, and we were privileged to serve here!
So what did we do?
Well, there were three of us ladies working this month, and while Billie manned the front desk, Jayne & I tackled some behind scenes, good old fashioned grunt work. Like straightening out a well used supply closet –
It took us a couple of days (and those teachers may never find their ‘stuff’ again), but we got the job done!
Once we got that closet and a second one all tidied up, we moved on to the library. In the weeks before we arrived the library had been emptied of books and shelves and new carpet was laid. The shelves were re-installed and our job was to re-shelve the books. It was a pretty huge job that was made a bit more manageable with the help from the NCCC Team.
I confess it was fun looking through all the books and getting them all organized (well, more or less) and it was a delight to leave it all tidy and clean (with the exception of the boxes at the rear that were headed to the book graveyard)-
So while we were trying to figure out just where to put “Where the Wild Things Are”, the men were tackling quite a larger problem across the street.
The main building at The Orchard.
When this property was purchased it was a derelict motel unit of some nature. This property is being re-purposed as housing for volunteers, interns and staff. Currently it has 10 RV sites, and several individual housing units. The building in the center is the last piece of the puzzle. And the guys (along with that great NCCC team) have been working on getting it closer to completion. Oh, it still has a long way to go, but in the time we’ve been here, it’s gone from floor joists –
to walls up and wiring done.
Even though our time here is just about up, another group of SOWERS will be arriving next week, and will begin where we’ve left off.
And that, dear friends, is the beauty of our SOWER work! We don’t always get to see a job right to completion, but we always rest in the knowledge of others will follow. God never leaves his work undone!
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:4-6
If you’d like to know more about Apple Tree Educational Center and the impact it is having on the T or C community, you can visit their website HERE!
If you’d like to more about the NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) and the great work they do to strengthen communities, check out their website HERE! We really enjoyed working along side these young people!
And of course, if you’d like to see a couple more project pictures – you can check them out HERE!
Thanks for stopping by!