I put the “can” in American. – Duncan Cheney

Duncan at work.

Well I’m not in Kansas anymore, believe you me, but I know that it’s meant to be. This summer I applied to the Young Adult Volunteer program with one destination in mind: New Orleans. I fell in love with the city when I went on a mission trip a few summers ago and didn’t want to leave. Since then I have been searching for my place in the world. I attended Wichita State for a year, which was an educational experience in several aspects, but when I heard about the Young Adult Volunteer program and their focus on service and spiritual development, I was sold.

Originally, I’m from Fort Scott, Kansas, a town of about 9,000 in southeast Kansas. I was raised in the First Presbyterian Church in Fort Scott and have found tremendous support though the congregation and my youth pastor and dear friend, Treva Williams. For the past five years Treva, a crew of others and I have made various summer mission trips ranging from a downtown Denver homeless ministry, to building homes in the slums of Juarez, Mexico, Hurricane Katrina recovery in New Orleans and to the Eastern Kentucky Appalachian Project. More recently we helped those in poverty in my hometown with much needed home repairs. The commitment to serve has been a staple in my spiritual foundation that has put a unique perspective in my mind and has given me a more realistic view on life. Only through the Presbyterian Church, have I been able to pull off all of the service projects on my résumé. I owe them more than I can offer to repay the gifts I have received.

In past month, I have been training with other construction assistants at Project Homecoming. We’ve been learning the in’s and out’s of making a structurally sound home, which is a skill that will last a lifetime. The staff at Project Homecoming is amazing. Our construction managers really know what they’re doing and have a variety of backgrounds and experience that really make a well-rounded team. You can really tell that everyone has been called to serve the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. From all across America, the staff at Project Homecoming has been extremely friendly and helpful and has already made me feel right at home.

In the past year, I’ve realized that actions really do speak louder than words. The best way I’ve found to grow close to God and to stay connected is by getting out of myself and into His work and His will. In the up-coming year, I’ll be given a chance to do that daily, by lending a hand to my neighbor in need or a shoulder to cry on to a neighbor who still suffers. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to serve the Presbytery through two organized and generous organizations like Project Homecoming and the Young Adult Volunteer program. I feel as though I’ve just found the tip of an iceberg and am really looking forward towards the next year in Louisiana. – Sept. 2009Duncan & Steve from Washington

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