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I was excited – and admittedly a little anxious – to be a part of the first group traveling to Robbinsville as part of Trinity’s Appalachian Regional Ministry. I wasn’t sure what to expect or what I’d be doing, but I knew I had a strong desire to be part of this outreach to our neighbors in the mountains.

Two separate projects were underway when we got there – a Manna food truck had just delivered a load of fresh produce and volunteers were beginning to box it up for people to pick up and take home, and inside, a meal was being prepared that would feed upwards to 200 people that evening.

I was fortunate to have been able to work on both projects during the course of our day there. Outside in the brisk air, I joined other local volunteers headed by Pastor Eric from the Methodist church in boxing up the produce as cars began to line up for distribution. I enjoyed that, but what I really enjoyed was helping to load the vehicles and getting at least a brief chance to talk to those receiving the boxes, sharing smiles, Christmas greetings and blessings. My body got a workout, but my spirit was energized.

After that distribution was completed, I had the chance to help in the preparation of the evening meal.

Spaghetti sauce and no-bake cookies were already well underway, but I got to chop up and sauté onions and peppers and help out in any other way that was needed. Besides the actual food prep, I really enjoyed talking with Michelle, the pastor of the little community church where all this was taking place. She is a warm, wise woman totally dedicated to helping to meet the needs of her mountain home. I learned a lot about this area that I had never been to before and about their great many needs and hardships. I also learned about and experienced the great community support of both church members and other volunteers while working both inside and out. I felt such a sense of Gospel community where everyone was just helping each other out in the place they lived and called home.

It was, simply, a great day. I was happy to be a small part of that caring community, and I look forward to forging real relationships there in the future.

—Susan Edwards


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