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Putting love to work
Smyrna Presbyterian Mission Camp repairs homes in need

Over 150 volunteers bared the heat this week and helped those in need of everything from complete repairs on their houses to just a quick sprucing up.

Smyrna Presbyterian Church held their 10th annual Mission Work Camp last Monday through Thursday with volunteers coming from churches as far as Clearwater, Fla. and New Orleans to help out those participating from here in Conyers.

One such distant traveler is youth volunteer, Emily Rowle of Brandon, Fla.

"I got involved because everybody talked about it at church and said it was a really good experience to have, so I got really interested," Rowle said. "This is my second time coming here and I love it."

Young workers like Rowle formed groups of about a dozen youth volunteers with adult leaders helping them learn how to use the tools, teaching them general handyman repairs and leading devotions during lunches at the work site.

Days at the camp, headquartered at Smyrna campground, began with breakfast before the groups depart to one of 17 sights the groups worked on this year.

They spent their days making repairs to houses that were suggested to event coordinator Brad Cavender by programs such as the Rockdale Senior Service Center, Rockdale Emergency Relief and other church members who know people who need help keeping their house up.

"We do this once a year for four days of the week," Cavender said. "Just to help people for whatever reason that cannot afford or cannot physically do their own repairs or hire someone to have it done at this time."

Rowle and her team helped out with a house owned by one such person who couldn't keep up with repairs on her own after her husband passed away and she had a knee replacement surgery.

They worked all week putting up a new screen on her porch, hung bi-folding doors, replaced locks, sanded and repainted her front doors, repainted ceilings, cleaned the gutters and even planted bright, colorful roses by her front door.

"That was very sweet," the resident said. "They've just gone around and done all kinds of repair work that I've been unable to do. It's been such a blessing because my house has been neglected for the last couple of years and I didn't know how I was going to accomplish this stuff."

The group accomplished it under the guidance of their adult team leader Michael Perez from New Orleans.

"She's widowed and has hard time of getting some of these projects done without her husband," Perez said. "We arrived and we spent the week helping her catch up."

In the middle of the day the groups took a break from the work for lunch, along with half the reason they came to the camp, to hear God's message. The groups did devotional studies each day, reading and hearing scriptures from the Bible.

The devotions spoke both to the camp's attendees and the people they were helping.

"I was never really strong in my church since I've been here, but it's really been inspirational to hear them about their beliefs," said the resident of the house Perez and Rowle was working on. "It's been such a blessing. It's unbelievable."

After lunch the groups went back to work before heading back to Smyrna Presbyterian where they have dinner with everyone in camp, night-time worship, sing songs and then have a sermon each night.

"That's really uplifting, and it gets you ready for the next day," Rowle said.

The group proved their readiness by completing all 15 of the houses Cavender had selected for the week, and fixing/cleaning up an additional two.

"It's a village that handles this, really," Cavender said. "We're very pleased with the mission we undertake each year and what we can get accomplished."