Update March 31st, 2019
The team assembled today via car, air travel and UBER at the First United Methodist Church here in Mauriceville/Orange County. Kay and Bruce drove in yesterday and prepared the lodging for us by cleaning the church’s auxiliary building which is used for lodging for visiting relief teams. Tom and Dick arrived in their vehicle from Houston and Rose drove in this afternoon after being on the road for a couple of days. Carol, Michele, Al and Susie finally arrived about 5:30 PM. We all set up our cots and mattresses, we ate a delicious evening meal and then had out team meeting to prepare for tomorrow. Although several members of the team have an idea of what to expect, many of us are facing tomorrow uncertain as to what is in store for us.
Today’s highlight was the UBER drive from the airport to Orange with our new friend Travis (our driver). He shared his Hurricane Harvey experience with us as we drove through the neighborhoods and small towns that were flooded 18 month ago. We were in awe and humbled to hear his story of survival throughout the storm. He was living at his grandparents home in Vidor and had to search for clean water and food for them during the three day ordeal. He described wading and swimming through raw sewage, diesel and other toxic matter in order to help them make it until the emergency rescue people arrived to assist them to safety. His story brought us an example of a life experience that none of us could ever imagine living through and we had a refreshed perspective on life and our purpose here.
We head to bed with excitement for our adventure that begins tomorrow, knowing that God will lead us in ways unknown to us!
April 1st, 2019
We began today practicing flexibility!! The first home we planned on working on today already had a team from Michigan there! So we headed down the highway to meet the family and learn about the home that we will be focusing on this week.
Our new family was extremely grateful for our presence-even before we did anything! As with most people here, they were easily persuaded to share their story. During the storm, the kitchen was flooded up above the countertops and then sustained more water damage higher to the upper cupboards from the “wakes” created by the ongoing weather and people in motorboats cruising by the house. They said it was like being in the middle of a lake on a windy day. Their perseverance and acceptance of their situation is remarkable.
The first day on the job is always interesting and today was no different. We assessed what we hoped to accomplish for the day: remove the old door frames and prepare the doors for hanging and begin working on laying the vinyl floor.
Whew! What a day for being flexible, patient, creative and, of course, maintaining a sense of humor! We ran into challenges all day long and worked through them as a team with problem solving and persistence.
The highlight of the day was hearing our family’s story. Not only about what happened during the storm but their experiences living with the aftermath the past 18 months. We are once again reminded of the many blessings we have in our own lives and how we are working to be a blessing in theirs.
April 2nd, 2019
Productivity is the word for the day!!We arrived at our work site today to learn that we needed to re-do the kitchen floor we had worked on yesterday! Yikes! Rose and Tom worked with our construction supervisor Jessica to set us up for the day and then we took off! Kay and Susie helped Tom and Rose in the kitchen and dining area (moving a two ton “ice box” around our floor work!) while Bruce, Carol and Michelle nearly completed the first bedroom flooring. Al and Dick drove around southern Texas picking up more supplies and renting/returning tools. They rented a floor grinder to help level the floor to make the flooring project a bit smoother.Working a little later than usual today we feel like we are finally making good progress. Our family is thrilled to see their home slowly coming together again and they are enjoying talking to us about where their furniture will go back in and how they will decorate soon.Tomorrow we will work on more flooring, hang some doors and install trim. We head to bed exhausted and know that the work we did today encouraged both our family and our team. Only yesterday the focus of our family was around their stories of the storm and the hassles ever since and then today we heard excitement for the future and their new life in their newly remodeled home! Praise God!
April 3rd, 2019
Our team got our first South Texas treat of a box of donuts from our family today! Donut shops are everywhere-there is the Happy Donut Shop, 888 Donuts, Kim’s Donut Place, the Donut Palace, Shipley Donuts, Dunking Donuts, Fresh N Best and Warren’s DO-Nuts to name a few…
A little slower day today with less to show for our efforts (maybe was the donuts?) yet a strong realization of the power and necessity of the team working together. In particular, the door hanging project presented a huge challenge which required several people contributing to the success of it being completed by the end of the day. Perseverance and patience (and the You Tube video) played key roles with this door today! As the week progresses, people are finding their niche and are able to do new things such as hanging doors, preparing floors and nailing trim. There was a lot of groundwork accomplished today for us to work on two rooms tomorrow.
Our family/home owners continue to be excited about moving back into their newly remodeled home and enjoying the fruits of our labor. The refrigerator has moved back into its place and the kitchen is finally looking close to being complete! We are not sure what we will be able to fully complete by Friday yet we are determined to get as much completed as we can.
April 4th, 2019
Three Things to ponder about Day 5
1. Have you ever see a garage floor sweat?Texas humidity gave us an interesting lesson in moisture management today as the outside temperature rose and the water on our flooring materials had to be wiped off frequently! Our family turned on the air conditioning for us changing conditions for the better and allowed us to work with fewer issues. Evidently, it is the case that one of the changes that our family has noticed since Hurricane Harvey is that the garage floor “sweats” when the weather becomes warm.2. How is a family selected for Disaster Ministries volunteer assistance?The Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has a Disaster Ministry sponsored by UMCOR. Our friend Jessica is employed by this organization and she selects families for assistance, coordinates all the volunteers and is the construction supervisor. She stops by a few times a day to check on us and assists with all of our needs.3. Did we eats donuts today?The team all has sore bodies and tired minds this evening due to a tremendously busy day! All members were engaged with construction activities that allowed us to get more flooring down, doors hung and trim installed. Our family is beyond thrilled with how the house is coming together. We all feel they are like family now and we feel just as pleased with the progress we are seeing. True, we have had some ups and downs the past couple of days…yet.. another box of donuts powered us through!We go to bed tonight with grateful hearts for the many blessings we have and the ability to share with others. May our work continue to shine His Light as we prepare for the last day of our mission week.
April 5th, 2019
The team worked hard on the last day of our mission trip to get as much done on the house as possible. Bruce, Al and Carol hung three more doors and the rest of the crew focused on finishing the floor. We got close…and it was decided that Bruce and Kay would return for a couple of hours on Saturday to finish the master bedroom.
Of course, there are still plenty of things that need to be completed yet we know we did enough to make a difference not only with the physical improvement of the home but in the hearts of our family. They were beginning to clean and work on small projects that we hope indicated a positive change of disposition.
And to wrap up our Texas experience we’ll say “See y’all later!”