Workfest 2012: Day Six

So, that was our unusal Workfest. We did not build house or repair them, we tore them down. We burned them, we stood by and supported folks who had lost so much.

We also made new freinds. Our sutdents got to know one another. They got to know their working team members. They got to learn some new skills.

Hopefully they also learned something a bout themselves and what they had to offer. They learned a little about being servants and about being humble.

Workfest 2012, it was a very good week.

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Workfest 2012: Day Five

Our last day of work  brought our team to yet another site. That is not surprising; there was no shortage of destruction.  So we tore down structures, sifted through debris and made a way for larger machinery to get access to the structure. It was a good day of work.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Five and a New Site

Our final dinner together was a traditional Thanksgiving meal complete with all the fixins. It was great and the sense of camaraderie was evident.


USF-Workfest 2012: A Thanksgiving Meal


USF-Workfest 2012: The Black Team Giving Thanks

Normally we would eat our meals with the families we worked with all week. That clearly did not happen this week. Additionally, the week usually ends with a talent contest. While that did not occur two teams went out of their way to fill the void!

USF-Workfest 2012: The Green Team


USF-Workfest 2012:The Yellow Team

However, the real highlight (after the meal itself) was the song put on by the kitchen crew. They were so much fun.

USF-Workfest 2012: The Kitchen Crew

So, that was the end of the work week. People broke into their school teams and had time for reflection. People began to pack up. Others exchanged contact info and hugs and yet others hung out talking late into the evening. It is difficult to let go of a good thing!



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Workfest 2012: Day Four

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Four, Bringing Down the House

Day four found us up early and at our respective worksites. The Black Team spent the day tearing down a house so that the base could be cleaned and a new home started. It was hard work. Everything, absolutely everything had to be removed. There were piles for wood, bricks, items that could be burned and others to be hauled out. It was loud, hot but also important. We could see the difference we were making, we were changing landscapes.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Four, Bringing Down the House II

Each day we broke for lunch. Just to sit with peers and break bread and share stories was uplifting. For some teams with was also an additional time of devotions and/or sharing one’s faith journeys.

USF-Workfest 2012: The Past Makes Room for the Future

Next to the house we were working on was a creek that was full of debris. It also needed to be cleared if the folks around here were to avoid flooding. So, our teams cleared the waterways while trying to avoid unnecessary contact with the water.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Four in the Fields

Across the road from the house was a field that was full of downed trees, debris and garbage. It was our job to also clean that area. All of the jobs looked overwhelming in the beginning and all of them were completed in anywhere from a few hours to two days.

USF-Workfest 2012: The Bonfire!

Finally it was time to go back to Camp Caleb. We cleaned up, enjoyed dinner and devotions. It was free time so many folks went into town. It was also the night of the Bonfire. It was a time of laughter, singing, sharing and camaraderie under the stars. It was a great way to end a busy day.

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Workfest 2012: Day Three, an Evening of Bluegrass

The evening was special. The local bluegrass band, “8 Miles from Nowhere” gave a concert. The students sang, danced, played and had an all around great time.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Three: 8 Miles from Nowhere

USF-Workfest 2012: Y’all Get Up Now and Dance

Some of the songs were clogging dance numbers, some folksy and some sang of the faith of the South.

USF-Workfest 2012: “I’ll Fly Away”

The first time our folks got to volunteer was a little embarrassing. The howling you hear during the chorus is me, I have to remember the camera has a speaker!

USF-Workfest 2012: The Volunteers Do Us Proud!

We also got to celebrate Jess’s birthday. It was fun to see our school support and celebrate one of our own. It was even better to see the whole Workfest team share in the fun.

USF-Workfest 2012: Jess Has a Birthday!

The students volunteered to sing with the band. That was fun because these were students having fun, not artists auditioning for a part. Just fun, no pressure!

USF-Workfest 2012: “I’m Ready, Hallelujah!”

It was a great evening. Some focus left early to prepare for leading worship. Others stayed after to play games or to reflect on the day. It was a memorable way to end a day of hard but meaningful work.

USF-Workfest 2012: CAP’s Got Talent

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Workfest 2012: Day Three

Day three was one of concentrated effort. We had two sites. I was surprised at how much can get done, so quickly, with so many people working for free. I think we could have made a pyramid, however, this week our job was to tear down, not build up.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Three, Site One

The first site required a lot of removing brush that was blocking a creek/road. What was incredible was that this large home had only minimal dame while behind it the winds had knocked over trees. I was also surprised to watch cars drive in the creek using it as a driveway to their home.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day three, Site Two

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USF-Workfest 2012: Day Two

Workfest days start early. We are on the road by 8 A.M. That means dressing, showers, breakfast and then devotions before getting into the vans. Mondays are the days we start to know our teams. We do not work with our school teams but with teams made up of various school volunteers. Pam and I were on the Black Team. Looking back I feel fortunate to be a member of such a hard working and supportive team.

Our first worksite was sobering. The drive to the site was a ride through disaster. Each turn in the road revealed a different vista of destruction and loss. Towns were ripped apart, homes in the hills and hollows were flattened, people spoke quietly of community members who did not survive. Our first site was a brick home that still stood but which had everything in it destroyed. The  roof had been sucked off and the tornado destroyed a life time of memories.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Two: Black Team’s First Work Site

Our job was to remove all of the damaged material so that it could be carted off.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Two: Working Inside and Out

As we worked it was eerie to see the sky by looking where the roof should have been. We removed clothing, wiring, furniture and mementoes. For the most part we worked in silence.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Two: Yep, Doctor Lord is Working!

I like to say we all worked hard and in fact everyone did. That included Dr. Lord. However, I took a lot of video so while the rest of the team was sweating I was recording.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Two: Collecting Personal Treasures

Throughout the week the students would find photographs of infants, diplomas, plaques that reminded them that this did not happen to people in the news. The precious memories reminded us that this disaster happened to very real people.

We had a nice surprise our first day out. We were invited by the local Free Will Baptist Church to a warm lunch. Chile, sandwiches, beans and desert tasted like a feast after such sobering work. Aftrwards we moved on to our second work site.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Two, Site Two

The seond site was further in the country. We again put branches and trees in piles to be removed. We also collected bent metal. The houses, creeks and fields all needed our attention. It was amazing how quickly a group of laborers could clean up a site.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Two, Site Three

Our third site was a home that was basically intact. However, the trees around the house had been ravaged. Our job was to remove branches that blocked a stream and burn the rubbish.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day Two: Clearing the Ford

Clearing the ford behind the home was important. The ford also served as a  road for the neighbors car. Numerous times we would see a car driving through the water. We had to remove the branches so the ford did not flood.

USF-Workfest 2012:Day Two: A New Friend

In between the tree removal, the burning and the cutting we found a friend. We found a large spider minding it’s own business. It was a nice distraction!


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USF-Workfest 2012: Day One

I always look forward to spring break at the University of Saint Francis. That is the time for alternative spring breaks, a time for service. Two years ago I took students to Emmaus Ministries in Chicago. Emmaus is an urban ministry that works with homeless men involved in prostitution. Our students were surprised at how quickly they were able to relate to care about the men.

This year I again participated in Christian Appalachian Project’s Workfest in Eastern Kentucky.  This was my fourth time to Eastern Kentucy and our school’s fifth trip to Workfest. My fellow team leader was Dr. Pam Lord. It was doctor Lord’s fifth time to Workfest.  I honestly think that Pam and I make a great team. We respect one another. We give each other space while listening and supporting each other. We are fun. However, as much as I like us I was blown away by the caliber of students we had with us., They were off the chain!

The student team consisted of: Meghan Seals a Business major , Ariel Quickery a  Biology and , pre-med major, Jessica Heulsman a Biology, pre-P.A. student, and Kendra Kremer from the  Nursing, BSN program. We also had the three Elizabeths: Elizabeth Swaggart from Elementary Education, Elizabeth Prombo from Exercise Science and finally Elizabeth Lichtenwalter a  Biology, Pre-med major. This was a team who did not initially know one another. However hey quickly became a cohesive and highly productive team.

To break up the drive we stopped at the Natural Bridge State park in Kentucky. The hike was beautiful.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day One, On to Natural Bridge

The hike was important  because our mission this year was different. Instead of building or repairing home we would be responding to the devastation of two days of tornadoes. The hike was a differesion. The hike helped us focus on a new environment. The hike helped us play with one another before starting a week of serious service.

USF-Workfest 2012: Day One: Walking Up and Up!

So we walked around the increasingly green woods. We hiked in areas of cliffs, valleys and overhangs. 

USF-Workfest 2012: Day One: Almost at the Top of the Natural Bridge

The students also began to get to know us. Laughter, sweat, and natural beauty have a way of bringing a team together.

The students also began to get to know us. Laughter, sweat, and natural beauty have a way of bringing a team together.

USF-Workfest 2012: Hiking at Natural Bridge State Park

Finally we reached the top and sat looking at the other hill tops, the valleys and the sky. After a peaceful rest it was time to descend and begin our final drive to Camp Caleb and Workfest 2012.

USF-Workfest 2012: Oh What a Special Place

Our day ended with our group photos. With our first meal and with meeting the other eight universities at Camp Caleb. We were in Eastern Kentucky and we were ready. What we found out was that all of us would be responding to the devastation. We would be cleaning up destroyed homes so home owners could begin to re build. It would be a hard, long but good week.


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So I have to st…

So I have to start a new blog. Not because I have a new muse or because the original one is defunct. I guess as I got close to 50,000 hits the old one just got too cluttered. It uploads slowly, the counter is not working and I can not make necessary layout corrections. That includes paragraphs, spacing and titles. So, what is to be done?

Simple, welcome to “alongthepaths” It will have the same focus: all things Franciscan, inter-faith dialog, support of creation, peace-making and sharing the journey. To be sure I am way behind in my blogging. I am still adding video from early fall. I need to get caught up before the journeys of summer.

This blog will be more of a vlog with the focus on visual communication over written communication. That is for two reasons. One, I am determined to learn how to make at least one good video! Two, I do not often have the time to put my thoughts down in words.

So let us begin. My first post is on my visit to Chicago in September. I spent a couple of days at Emmaus Ministries meeting with Dr. Glenn Miles of LOVE 146. Glenn had arrived from Cambodia and was on his way to Nebraska to present at the conference. He took the opportunity to observe the work of Emmaus Ministries.

I took the opportunity to visit with my Kaio friends, get coffee at JPUSA and talk to Glenn about an article I was writing. We also worked on planning some talks I will be giving this summer.

I also got to show off my home town to Glenn. That included taking him to the Vietnamese Buddhist Temple, the American Indian Center, the bank used in Johnny Depp’s FBI movie and finally a tour of the Center on Halsted.

Public Enemies  Movie CLIP – The Bank’s Money (2009) HD

We did a lot in a short period of time. While we were busy planning and observing Joshua Kent, my old Kaio roomie was busy preparing a meal for us. He took two and a half days to prepare a wonderful meal. The food was fantastic, the presentation elegant and the company fantastic. It was a short but very pleasant visit to Chicago.

Joshua Kent’s Evening in Five Parts

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