Days 5: Bitter and Sweet – by Christina Hay
Friday was a day of bitter and sweet for our teams. It is sad to see this opportunity end but we also look forward to getting home to missed loved ones and our comfy beds.
We traveled later this morning to avoid the traffic. We arrived at the houses with the owners ready and waiting. They have been staying at a hotel and wanted to be there for our arrival. They are so happy that we are there. Apparently most groups do not want to tackle this neighborhood because of the red tape you need to plow through to actually get in there. Other groups have actually come to these homes, taken one look, and never come back.
The drywalling continued in both homes. There are four teens from Ohio who speed through quickly and efficiently. The window installation was also complete. Greg went with a group of men to Home Depot to pick up kitchen cabinets with a counter to install in one of the homes. The homeowner who went with them seemed pretty disappointed that the cabinets weren’t for his home.
As work was being completed, our crew found that we had extra sheetrock to bless someone else with. There was a gentleman walking towards his backyard that was asked. He didn’t need any but he had just spoken to a friend who was heading to the Home Depot to purchase some. He planned to get ten sheets…the exact number we had! Providential timing! How cool is that! 😎
Many hugs and group prayers were given as we wrapped everything up at the end of the day. It isn’t a finished job with paint, floors or carpet but the houses are warmer with the walls built on the inside. We are trusting that God will provide the funds or more worker bees to help.
We all were treated to dinner by some of the relief administrators. Texas BBQ and pecan pie was had by all. We shared our thoughts and the ways God has blessed us on this trip. I cannot stress enough how neat it was to be with 20 other people. The group worked so well together and some deep friendships will continue.
Two more examples of God’s great timing came out during the dinner conversation. The Ohio team must stay until Sunday morning due to a cancelled flight. They have decided to go back to the home that didn’t get kitchen cabinets to install some for them. We were also told that God brought our team of 26 at the perfect time. If we had come earlier they wouldn’t have had enough work prepared for all of us. Everyone in our group had just enough to do each day. Praise God!
We are grateful for all of the support that was given to our small crew of six. We were happy to be able to spread your caring contributions to the hurricane victims in Houston through hands -on labor. They were so blessed and you were a big part of it.
Days 3 and 4: Being a Team – by Christina Hay
Our team, the Ohio team and Penn Valley team of 26 people continued to minister in homes. We have been reminded each day that getting the job done is a wonderful thing but ministering to the homeowners is our top priority. Each of us have been encouraged to pray with them. We desire God to touch their hearts as we touch their homes.
Painting and clean-up continue to progress at the new home we have been assigned. A family member shared videos with us of him and a friend driving by this same house in a boat. He also shared a video showing the water in the house. It was sad to see dining room chairs floating and the water level up to the mantle of the fireplace. So much destruction and frustration.
We have heard that a team of Amish women from Ohio will be coming tomorrow to learn how to tape up the Tyvek paper since we have just about finished the painting. Everyone is doing what they can.
The progress on second house is just amazing. Two days ago you could walk in and see any team member you were looking for almost immediately. Now you need to travel from room to room just to locate them. I think the inspector is quite pleased.
I apologize for not getting pictures of all the GCWV peeps at work. The houses are now a half a block away from each other instead of two doors apart. We think we brought the Pennsylvania weather with us. It was very chilly and it rained all day long! Charlie and Craig are working with the drywall crew. John Heffley and Greg have been handling plumbing jobs in some other locations. John Schroeder and I have been painting.
Trash bags of dirty laundry were gathered today from each cabin. One lady from our team (not me) ministered to us by washing and folding all the clothes 🙂
We’ve learned to be flexible to the extreme. Some days our van is loaded to the max with faces that are unfamiliar to you, but very familiar to us. We fit well in our rental van, but if the need arises we will squeeze more in!
Thank you for your continued prayers. We heard rumor that we may be moving to the other neighborhood tomorrow. This is would be lower income families that also need help. Pray that God would give the relief team leaders guidance to find prospect families in need. Show them where He wants the team to be.
…And be sure to ask Greg about his hunt for Orka whales!
Day 3: Taco Tuesday – by Christina Hay
This morning we were treated to breakfast by our relief coordinator, Josh Wilson. Breakfast tacos! Yummy! He shared what has been happening since the hurricane, how he got involved with the relief program, and answered some of the questions we had. There are 1400 houses in the neighborhood we are working in. 1000 of them were flooded when water in a local reservoir was released.
The drywall and spackling are done in the young mother’s home! A lot of work, but so satisfying! Drywall has begun in the next house. The owner has become the inspector. He has lived in this house for forty years. He wants his home back in the proper condition. Who can blame him?
All three teams have blended well and span across the places where they are needed. One gentleman from Penn Valley Grace Brethren Church has been laying tile for the past three days in several homes.
Today we had our first peek at the next project. The house belongs to a paraplegic man who was formally a carpenter. He had built all his kitchen cabinets and was devastated when they had to be trashed. His house was gutted by a group of fraternity boys who were here volunteering last week. The pile that came out of his house sits behind these two team members hard at work to clean a drain of another neighbor.
Our next phase of work will begin with the electrician on the team and other competent volunteers changing out all the electrical outlets and light switches. It would be great if he could get the power working in the house as well. Having power would make a world of difference. Even basic lighting helps!
There is a wall that is absolutely horrendous. Apparently, a professional crew will come fix that this week. ALL of the wood in the house will need a coat of Kills Latex paint, each stud on all sides! It’s still early in the week–I am optimistic that we can get the job done with this crew of worker bees. 🐝
We had a very humorous trip to the grocery store this evening. I really wanted to shoot a video of the “boys” from Willow Valley during that time just to make you laugh. Our different personalities make this trip fun. It is great getting to know each other better.
Pray for the awesome group of servants living in Houston who have helped and are helping the so many hurting people in their time of need. They have coordinated so much for so many. Satan is trying to attack them as this good work is being done.
Day 2: Home For Christmas
We had devotions this morning with the two groups from other Grace Brethren churches. It was a short, inspirational, encouraging word about loving God first and from that, loving others.
Then we headed out! All of us went to the same houses that the team worked on the previous day. We can’t get there until eight because the owners need to meet us to let us in. One is a young mother, one is out-of-town (a friend comes to stay while we are there), and the third house we are working on is owned by an older gentleman.
Drywall is the main objective in two of the houses. Since one house is brick, it needed to be prepped before the drywalling could begin. The prep was completed today; sheet rock hanging will begin tomorrow.
The house of the young mother has most of the drywall up, so spackling began today. There is speculation that we might start working on a fourth house tomorrow. With 26 people working hard together, it’s getting done!
Please pray for endurance for all of us. We aren’t “spring chickens” and the work is hard. Various members from both teams have struggled with some minor stomach issues, too, so that isn’t fun. We all want to see progress for these homeowners. Occupancy before Christmas would be great! Apparently, after January, mortgages will be due again. The grace period is over and people need to get on with their lives.
By the way, we figured out why the chicken crossed the road…to get a toothbrush!!
Day 1: Making Connections – by Christina Hay
We arrived safely on Saturday afternoon. After our arrival, we took a brief driving tour of Houston on our way to the compound where we will be staying. We have cabins with cots and nice bathrooms. I am sharing a cabin with two young women from the Ashland, Ohio Grace Brethren Church. There are also two ladies and a teen from the Penn Valley Grace Brethren Church in Telford, Pennsylvania. Our gentlemen are staying in their own leaky cabin (We had some rain on Sunday).
We attended the 9:45 service at Bayou City Fellowship, which is literally a stone’s throw from our living quarters. Bayou City is our partner church in the Houston relief effort. It was a very nice service and the pastor gave a great illustration about dealing with sin.
We were hoping to catch up with our relief work contact at the service, but we found out that he attends another branch of the church. Charlie was able to contact him later and found out that we will start our week working with the group from the Ashland church. This is great news – one the men from Ashland was here about six weeks ago. He is very familiar with the work.
Later on Sunday, we found out that their crew was actually out working that very afternoon! So…we jumped in the van to seek them out. We have seen that only portions of large neighborhoods have been hit. The damaged homes are in groups and the devastation is real.
The group from Ashland was working on three houses that are in different stages of repair. All the materials and tools are provided, so we just had to walk in and start learning what to do. Mostly we are seeing homes with no inside walls. Just studs. So there is insulation to be hung, cracks to foam, tyvek paper and boards to hang, and finally the drywall.
Bayou City Fellowship was having what they call a Core Night for potential members with fajitas for dinner that evening, so we signed up to attend. Free food is always a good thing. 😊 We were able to actually sit at tables to eat! Since Saturday afternoon we’ve been roughing it on the cots. There are no chairs or tables to be found in the cabins, so the cots have been multi-purposed.
Oh! We got to meet an owner of one of the houses today. She was a young mom who was very thankful for the help. She commented that the crew made great progress on Sunday. Monday our work begins!