Hi, my name is Amy, but if you know me at the mission you probably know me as Amy Lee. I am a born Pittsburgher, fluent yinzer and Willie’s mom. One of my favorite questions is, how did you become a mission worker?
Short answer: God and my big brother Dave.
I could stop there but God gave me a pretty good story so stick with me! Born and raised in a small coal mining town I knew that there were needy people, just unaware until my 20’s of how much need there really was. I left the Burgh for several years – I went searching for my calling in life. Little did I know that it would take thousands of miles and too many addresses to recall to bring me back home. In 2000, my brother Dave and now sister-in-law Teresa, were visiting me out west and were planning an April 2001 wedding. While talking with him, he suggested that I arrive a few weeks early to help build a few homes in one week. After chuckling and explaining to him what he already knew about my non-existent skill set, I tried to decline. He assured me I would be fine. He insisted in his own way that I needed to be a part of this. So it was April 8th that Willie and I arrived at Morledge Chapel for orientation and followed a centipede line of cars full of strangers from all over the country and several green trucks to a place called New Castle. First observations of New Castle, not so new. Second observation, we are all cramming into a church basement, except for Willie (he would guard the truck).
The week is a bit of a blur and I’ll explain that soon. I remember being a part of it, but not quite certain what I was doing except walking a lot, there was a lot of walking. You do a lot of walking when you are geared up with your Hosanna nail sack and volunteer tape measure and some kind person asks you to find a 2″ x 4″ for them and you haven’t a clue that what they are really wanted was a 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ board. (Insert laugh here). Yeah, lots of walking but far more kindness and love than walking.
All I really knew was that when Good Friday rolled around there were plants, porches, people and brand new homes! Really this is what my brother and all these green shirted men and women and all these 7-70 year old volunteers were a part of, oh and I was too? I couldn’t believe it! No, seriously, I couldn’t.
After searching for some menial job for my six month stint in Pittsburgh all the meanwhile volunteering for about a month and nobody hiring me or interviewing me I realized it was a big neon sign that had an arrow pointing to hosanna industries. Convincing myself that there was really nothing for me to do or be helpful with(remember the 2″x4″ story from above), I got a little bit of a spiritual kick.
See, we helped a family during the volunteer month that lived very close to where I grew up. I couldn’t understand why we would be there. That’s when it hit me, these are my neighbors, these are all of our neighbors. It’s not about what you don’t know as much as it is knowing that you are called to do what you are doing. I love people, I love helping people, I love variety.
My plan: 6 months in Pittsburgh for family weddings, then add another 6 months to help my brother build his home. . After a year I looked back and realized that during April 8th – April 13th 2001 it wasn’t a blur at all – it was transformation. It just took a little long to clear up the blur.
The story hasn’t ended… Continually I’m reminded of the blessing and responsibility we have to be a blessing to another… I continue to meet a volunteer whose life has been changed by learning something new or a family whose life is changed and full of hope because of a new modest ho,e that strangers built, and I continue to meet that elderly widow whose life is blessed by someone simply caring.
So how did I become a mission worker? God used my brother Dave.
-Amy Lee Firek, mission worker