I recently joined a group of 14 from The Cove Church in Mooresville on a mission trip to one of the poorest counties in the nation, McDowell County in West Virginia.
The trip is one of two annual visits the church makes to this area to help residents with various home repair projects, while spreading the word and love of Christ.
The Cove Church, 197 Langtree Road, first started going to McDowell County in the spring of 2005.
Ronnie Mangum, a Cove Church member, has been going on the trip since 2006. "The Cove's goal in going to West Virginia is to spread the love of God in the area through teaming with the local mission to repair damaged homes and [by] spending time to build lasting relationships with the homeowners," said Mangum.
The Cove group works with The Community Crossing, established in the early 1990s by the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Amber Krynock, Community Crossing website coordinator and wife of operations manager Nathan Krynock, said the goal of The Community Crossing is "to be a light of Christ to the community. We desire more to do home-repair and introduce families to the 'carpenter of their hearts' than to just do house repair."
"Roofs will eventually leak again and paint will peel, but an encounter with Christ can change a home and a family forever."
Amber Krynock said the mission has hundreds of volunteer groups come during the summer to work on low income homes, mission facilities and community projects.
Mangum says the projects the Cove groups have worked on include roofing, plumbing, framing, siding, flooring and painting.
Mangum was hooked on his first trip. After spending time repairing a leaking roof and installing a new kitchen floor for a family, it was the unplanned part of the trip that became the most special.
After the mother mentioned to one of the team members that their daughter wouldn't often stay in her room at night, they looked and found a filthy room and a mattress that smelled like urine.
The team members bought her a mattress and bedding, as well as a vacuum and cleaned the room.
When they returned later in the year, they found the father had cleaned the yard, planted grass and started painting.
"I learned then that all some people need, not just in West Virginia but everywhere, is a little hope, a little love and a little pride to get things turned around," said Mangum.