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  • Writer's picturetony

Constructing H.O.P.E.

I hope you don't mind a more personal story, but this speaks to our emotional and spiritual survival during the last couple of years.

Susan and I are part of a group from our Church to serve at CAMP HOPE (Christian Appalachian Mountain Project Helping Other People Enthusiastically; ). For a week every summer. our Church (and there are numerous Churches involved), sends three teams of high school students and adult supervisors to make repairs and improvements for homeowners that cannot physically or financially do them on their own. Projects can include painting, landscaping, flooring, roofing, cement work, or building handicap ramps, porches, or additions to houses. The work is centered around Cumberland, MD, and all teams live in residence at Frostburg University. To support the week of work, this is a year-round activity of fundraising, local smaller projects, and planning. Beyond the projects, skills learned, and fellowship, this is one of the most personal, satisfying, and humbling activities that we are involved in.

Like everything else, the CAMP HOPE world turned upside-down and sideways for 2020 and 2021. Below is a letter I sent to our congregation after the decision was made to cancel the projects in 2020. Things are looking positive for projects to resume in the Summer of 2022.


To get ready for one of our family self-isolation projects, I was cleaning out my tool belt and came across a crumpled scrap of paper from last year’s CAMP HOPE Project.

We were replacing an old and dangerous front porch railing as part of the project. I had not done anything like this in years, so our Team Leader Mike G sketched out a simple plan. As he explained it to me, we confused each other, but it was close enough to get started. Of course, I turned it into a geometry problem, because I know more about geometry than about construction. So I added more numbers and pencil scratches to the plan. And when I explained it to Jacob (who is a very handy young man), more numbers and lines were added, plus a way to reuse the measurements for each section (where each section was different sized). And then we translated our confusing scrap of a plan into pencil lines and Xs on pieces of wood, which were cut, screwed, and assembled by a constantly changing team that also included William, Katie, Cole, Chris, and maybe even Susan. At any given step, we knew roughly what we were trying to do, but not exactly sure how to get there. So we adjusted to whatever conditions we found, helped each other out in a hundred different ways, and took an occasional break to scratch our heads and make sure we were on track to get the job done.

Sound familiar? Does this sound like all of our lives during these crazy times? We wish we knew the plan and all of the next steps, and we could sit back and relax knowing how it will all work out. But that’s not how life works - today, or ever.

However, we can manage the day-to-day if we keep the big picture in mind. In this CAMP HOPE example, every morning Mike took time to gather the team to remind ourselves of our real purpose - not to repair buildings, but to deliver service and hope to some of God’s children in need. When you have the truly big picture in your heart and your mind - AND you adjust to conditions, help each other out, and take a break to reflect (pray) and make sure you are on track, then you know that despite some unexpected conditions and mis-measured pieces, it will be all right.

We recently got the news that CAMP HOPE for 2020 will not be the same event that we have been supporting for years. So it’s time to take out our draft plan, scratch our heads to add some more ideas and pencil marks, and adjust it with whatever we need to do to accomplish the big picture goal of service.

A big "Thank You" to everyone who supports and participates in CAMP HOME, directly and indirectly. This work, and the many other ministries of Ebenezer, will be needed more than ever in the coming months and years.



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