Making the A-Team: Potomac Highlands mission group serves family in Rainelle


By Vickie Skavenski, Potomac Highlands District Mission Team

“Lord, I Asked You to Send the A-Team…But I think you inadvertently sent me the Geriatric Team.”

Undoubtedly this thought passed through West Virginia United Methodist Church Disaster Recovery Construction Superintendent Buck Edwards’ mind when he looked at the Potomac Highlands District Mission Team that showed up at the beautiful Rainelle United Methodist Church on Sunday, July 21.

Now I’m not saying that we were all older—let’s just say that many of us were retired. However, as we know, the Lord moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform, right?

Our team included District Superintendent Scott Ferguson, Harold George (Bloop), Gary and Celesta Miller, Jacob Sherman (Gary and Celesta’s grandson), Heather and Jim Rogers, Rick Freeman (who drove from Moorefield to Rainelle and back each day), David Mathias, Tom Mathias, Mike and Lorna Judy, Mike Lambert, Ann Bennett, and Vickie Skavenski.

With heartfelt passion, Buck told us that we would be working on a house for a young military family, and after pizza, he took us to see what needed to be done.

We stayed that week in the church, which had been built in 1912 from local chestnut lumber. Rooms for sleep and showers were on the third floor, 60 steps away from the kitchen and hall where we had meals and met for fellowship, card games, and our nightly devotions. Cots were supplied along with some air mattresses and everything went well except that there were some strange noises coming from the sleeping area at night!

The first day Buck took us to the family’s house, where he outlined what needed to be done. After that, he took Scott and Bloop to the hardware store so that they could meet the owner and be able to pick up supplies as we needed them. Then he headed to Richwood where he had other mission groups either working or scheduled to arrive.

We started painting, putting up trim, doing touch-up painting, installing and sanding drywall, washing windows, scrubbing floors, installing aluminum trim around the garage opening, filling holes with wood putty, applying polyurethane to wall trim, putting a Hoosier cabinet back together, and taking pictures of what we were doing so that our wonderful cook, Celesta, could look at them when we returned each evening.

On Tuesday morning, Buck told us that if we were not careful, we would work ourselves out of a job. After that, he pretty much left us to work on our own and we joked that “The Buck doesn’t stop here anymore.”

We were not all experts, but we each had strengths that allowed us to form a strong team, and with God’s help we were dedicated to getting things done because we had met the family—Justin, Shania, Christopher (who loves Paw Patrol) and Madeline, who is a princess.

We just wanted to get everything finished so that they could move into the house that they had bought three days before Rainelle flooded. Justin is in the National Guard and the week before we began working on his house, he was hauling gravel to repair roads from recent flooding around Harman and Job. (Remember how the Lord moves…)

We had originally planned to work from 8am-5pm each day, but suddenly we were finished with breakfast and on the road by 7:30, and we were calling Celesta to say we wouldn’t make dinner until around 6:30. While preparing us three meals a day, Celesta was also our liaison to the church community. Through her we met the pastor, the church secretary, JP (the official mission group photographer and IT guy), and members of the choir.

On Wednesday evening we invited the family and church members to join us for Gary’s pulled pork, the secretary’s fresh corn, and Celesta’s frozen peanut butter pie. It was a wonderful way to spend our last evening, and it was made even better when we went up to the sanctuary with JP and the choir and watched the movie Breakthrough. Tears, tissues, and more peanut butter pie were shared by all.

Thursday morning came and we knew we would soon be going home, but we wanted to get as much done as possible. Many of us wanted to stay another day, and we recently learned that Mike Lambert had prayed to the Lord about us leaving unfinished work. The Lord told him that we had accomplished what had been asked of us, and that it was time to leave so that someone else could work too. That helps with that feeling of not getting the entire project finished.

Before we left on Thursday, Scott led us in Communion and Celesta gave us bag lunches for the road. We were sore, tired from sleeping on the floor, and pleased with what we had accomplished.

Mostly, though, we had bonded together as the PHD Mission Team. It is a true blessing to be able to help others, but as you do, you find that you receive a huge blessing in return. We are already thinking about next steps, perhaps by doing some local work days in Randolph County and Hardy County as Weekend Warriors.

When we said goodbye to Buck, he told us that we were welcome to come work with him anytime, anywhere…so I guess that eventually the Lord did give that A-Team blessing not only to Buck and the family, but also to each of the members of the PHD Team.