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An Alternative Spring Break

You may have seen the title of this blog post and thought to yourself, “Cara, spring break was ages ago. Why are you just now writing about it?” And to that I would answer, spring semester was crazy busy! So now is the time!

This year, instead of the usual spring break beach trip, I felt pulled to give my time elsewhere in the form of an alternative spring break trip to Kentucky with my church at school, the UNC Newman Catholic Student Center. I spent four days working to repair a house in the hollows of Martin with Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) and I’m so glad I did — here’s a recap!

Our group left early Sunday morning and drove five and a half hours to the Christian Appalachian Project Mission Center in Paintsville, Kentucky. CAP’s mission is “building hope, transforming lives, and sharing Christ’s love through service in Appalachia.”

UNC was one of a handful of schools there to volunteer with CAP for the week. We were split up into different worksites with people from the other schools, so I got to know people from Pennsylvania, Indiana and Iowa!

We slept, ate and prayed at the mission center and we were well taken care of! A fabulous team of women called the “kitchen ladies” made the most amazing food that we looked forward to after a long day at work.

Wakeup time was 6:00 every day, followed by breakfast, devotion/prayer time and a pep talk that got us warmed up for the day. Then it was off to each of our worksites!

My team was supervised by our fearless leaders Tony and Myron, who were extremely experienced, skilled and patient with us as we learned how to use power tools (a big highlight of the week). We got to work with Angie at her house, who was the sweetest soul! She represented the love of Christ so beautifully and it was so worthwhile getting to know her and help her repair different parts of her house.

We had a lot to take on during our four days of work, and I think we accomplished a lot! During our time at Angie’s house, we hung three doors, replaced her kitchen counter, put new flooring in two rooms, leveled the foundation and flooring in her bedroom and built her new stairs off of her porch! The work was hard, but so much fun. I got to use several fun tools (a couple of saws, drills, etc.) that made me feel pretty badass (that’s the best way I can describe it, sorry!)

One of the best parts of the whole week was that the whole experience was centered around prayer. We began and ended our days at the mission center with prayer, started our work day at the site praying with Angie and finished up work each day praying before we left. That made such a big difference! To interweave God through this project allowed it to take on a deeper meaning for us — our team got closer with each other and with Angie, especially because of the conversations we had about our faith throughout the week.

I also grew closer with my UNC friends on the trip through our free time that we spent together playing games, eating authentic Kentucky barbeque and trying to win a stuffed animal from multiple claw machines (sometimes successful, sometimes not).

By the end of the week, I was exhausted — but in the best way! I’m so happy I decided to participate in this alternative spring break trip this year. It exceeded my expectations and connected me with people that I would have never met otherwise.

I am so grateful for CAP and the amazing work they do, UNC Newman for providing me the opportunity to go on this trip with my awesome friends and to God for putting me in the right place at the right time to do this!

So yes, my spring break story was slow to hit the blog — but I promise you, I’ve thought about the trip almost every day since I left Kentucky.

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