blog.2 Appalachia porch

Reciprocity of the porch


One summer in Appalachia, I learned two life lessons. I was on staff with the Appalachian Service Project and my role  was to meet with elderly community members and define what home repair projects our teams might do.  ‘Grandma’ needed a light in her hallway. She lived alone and often felt scared at night.  It was an easy fix. A new light fixture – wall switches and we finished in a few hours.

‘Grandma’ invited my wife and I to go to church with her on Sunday. She told us she would be waiting for us on her front porch at 8:20am.  And waiting she was. She was dressed in her finest dress and hat. After church she invited us in for dinner. The beans she had snapped during the week, the cured ham from the smoke house and the collard greens made it a meal fit for a king and in her mind for someone who just fixed the hallway light.

Well-intentioned missionary teams need to make reciprocity an important part of their mindset. Our materialism often leads us to believe that mission success is based on the achievement of some task, rather than the relationships created. That summer I learned the importance of one’s word and although I thought the ham was too expensive of a gift, I learned to be gracious and just say thank you.


I am thankful that grandma gave me the greatest gift that summer.


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