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Reflecting on Salkehatchie Summer Service

by Elizabeth Hilliard

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Elizabeth Hilliard attended her first Salkehatchie Camp in Huntersville NC in 2006. She and her family attend McMannen United Methodist Church in Durham, NC. At the conclusion of last year's camp Elizabeth wrote this article for her church's newsletter. She's allowed us to reproduce it here.

This year was my first year at Huntersville Salkehatchie. Before I went to Salkehatchie I was very excited about going but I was not exactly sure what to expect. Many of the people in my youth group that had already gone to Salkehatchie tried to explain to me what Salkehatchie was and what you did there. I found out that at Salkehatchie you were put on teams and those teams worked on renovating a house all week. They told me about all of the friends they had made there, and how they had all gotten closer to God during that week. They told me it was hard work but it was worth it. So when I arrived at Huntersville with the rest of my youth group on Saturday, I was excited about all of the new experiences that I would endure in the next week.

"There were many challenges that were faced during the week, but those challenges just made each team stronger."

Elizabeth Hilliard

On Saturday afternoon when we had the tour of the houses for some unexplainable reason I was really drawn to work for Mr. Berry and work on his home. So, on Sunday morning I was extremely excited when I found out that I was on the Berry site. Then I knew that God wanted me to work on that site in his name.

On Monday morning Mr. Berry told our site leader, Bill, that he had bought some snacks and drinks for us. He had already put a case of water bottles and some sodas in the refrigerator for us, so that they would be cold when we needed a drink later on that day. Mr. Berry bought those snacks for us even though we knew that he did not have a lot of money to spend. We came to his house to serve him, but in return he also served us.

Mr. Berry's roof needed to be re-shingled, he needed a shower installed in his bathroom, new cabinets were needed in the kitchen, and we decided to build him a wrap around deck. I knew that there was a lot of hard work to be done but I was ready! After our first day of work we had removed the shingles from the roof, re-shingled half of the roof and tar papered the other half. We demolished a bathroom wall and we started to build another wall that we moved out further, to create a larger bathroom. We had also started to take the kitchen apart. All of the teams had made a lot of progress in their first day of work.

Digging some post holes

Mr. Berry participated in devotions with my team every morning then he had to go to work, and he would return right before we had to pack up and leave. Each day when he came home from work he was ecstatic about the work that we had done. We were disappointed that we did not get to spend a lot of quality time together with Mr. Berry because he had to work, but the time that we did spend with him was treasured. Mr. Berry was always very appreciative of the work that we had done on his house. The ear to ear grin on his face each day made all the hard work that we had done worth it.

There were many challenges that were faced during the week, but those challenges just made each team stronger. At the beginning of the week we were on sites, and we worked with our team on our site for our homeowner. But by the end of the week we were families that had worked on a home all week long for our deserving homeowner that had become a part of our family forever. By Friday afternoon the houses looked amazing! When we went on the completed house tour you could see the pride on each team member's face when they talked about what they had accomplished that week. All of the homeowners were so grateful for what had been done to their homes, and also for the new friendships that they had made.

Salkehatchie is an awesome life changing experience not only for the homeowners, but also for the workers, and for anyone else who is involved. God fulfills you through your service to those who are needier than yourself. Salkehatchie is a humbling experience that makes you realize the important things in life. I am now more grateful for every blessing that God has given me. Because of Salkehatchie I will never forget the experiences I had, the friendships I made, and our amazing Lord.