Friday, July 23, 2010

Rich: As we close out our ninth week in N.O., some reflections on what has made our summer special. We have been blessed to interact with many wonderful Christians, who have similar faith journeys, yet have arrived here from different circumstances. The group this past week was from Aylmer, Ontario. Their family stories were migrations from Russia, to Mexico, to Canada. Most of the group had been born in Mexico, yet the German ethnic influence was profound. Almost all were fluent in low German, and are determined to pass in on to their children.
Yet what motivated them to come to N.O. in the middle of the summer resonated with our own reasons for coming. I was impressed by the vision of the pastor, to have a MDS service possibility for the congregation twice a year. He felt that it is important to place before his congregation, the thought of "Rebuilding Hope", (an MDS slogan} regardless of your situation.
Lois: As we ate our lunch today and looked around the house, one of the short termers commented," It is amazing what you can get done in a week." We did accomplish many things this week. It is important for me to think of that instead of wishing I had finished that last bit of mudding and sanding. Several rooms were completely painted and flooring finished in 3 large rooms and tile laid in a bathroom and a laundry room. Rich and Keith also tiled around a bathtub. The women from the group all went with us and helped with mudding, taping, sanding and painting. The men from their group went to a different job site where they put on a deck entrance and siding and put in some windows and doors.
The pictures we have chosen for this week show Rich putting down bamboo flooring and me doing a job that does not usually fall under the MDS job description. The pastor, Albert, really wanted a hair cut and the cooks had their clippers along so after Albert refused to let his friend do the job I said I had given many haircuts so I would help him out. He seemed to trust me more than he trusted his friend.
And so ends a week of hard work but good fun and fellowship.

Friday, July 16, 2010

On Thursday, I was wondering what I could write that would be new and different. Basically the week was going along at a regular pace doing the same as before with a few exceptions. Then Friday morning we had a wild and wet experience. Three of us were going to assemble some kitchen cabinets here at the MDS house and then transport them to the B house on Clouet St. Well, the guy that showed us how to assemble them said it would be better take them over in the boxes and work on them in the house and then he could install them. That sounds like a very good plan - protects the finished product and takes up less space on the truck. When we left there were very dark clouds in the sky and I was worried about driving 15 minutes on Interstate 10 and making it before the rain. It has not rained here for 10 days but today it poured and made up for lost time. When I got to the house where the others were working I saw a truck close to the building and so I called Rich's phone to ask them to move the truck so we could get closer. He said, " You are where?" I said, "Here at the house." The next thing I knew I was no longer talking to anyone and Rich and Keith were racing toward our truck in the street and grabbing cabinet boxes off the back. We (three of us) jumped out and helped lug these boxes into safe and dry shelter. Needless to say this is not what we envisioned when we thought about delivering cabinets to the work site. Five of us were soaked for a good portion of the day - I'm sure our shoes are not dry yet. The challenge then became getting them out of wet cardboard to prevent warping,vacuuming up water that we brought in to the house. It was a new and "exciting" experience. There were jokes and comments about our appearance but soon work was going on as usual.
Work was sort of going on as usual but there was a difference. The four college students that I have talked about before are now finished with their 8 weeks and this is their last day. They are happy to be going home but we are going to miss them. They were trying to get the drywalling and mudding in a good stage for us to finish next week. We were also trying to clean out 3 of the rooms to get ready for flooring next week. I do hope that is a success story I can report about next Friday.
Some floors were done this week. The kitchen, bathroom and laundry room were tiled. Rich did some of that for the first time ever. Looks good. So this house will probably be our project for the remainder of our stay and other short term volunteers coming will be starting to put on vinyl on a new project. We hope to be able to report about that later.
The one picture shows a house we are helping only with labor as the owner has funds. We painted his unique ceiling and walls. The other picture is assembling cabinets in our wet clothes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

On Friday, July 9, at 9:30am we drove away from Mr. S's house on Eagle Street for the last working day. Karen, a short term volunteer and I spent Thursday and a couple of hours on Friday cleaning walls and floors and putting up towel racks and other miscellaneous things. The electricians were there to put up light fixtures, switches and outlets. It is starting to look like a home. The plumbers have to come and then I guess there will be an inspection. This process has been long and full of details but one step at a time and now we see the end. It is a satisfying feeling. I was very happy to meet the owner of the house this week for the first time. He seemed pleased with the progress, so I hope he can move in soon.
We joined Rich's crew at Mrs. B's house on Clouet St. All volunteers are there - short term and long term. Actually we have only 2 short termers, a mother and daughter from Manitoba here for 2 weeks and there are 12 others here considered long term. This coming week is the last week for the Hesston College and Canadian Mennonite University students. Nine of us go out on the jobs besides the project director. Two of the 12 are cooks, one is the office manager and the director's wife keeps the unit running smoothly.
At the house on Clouet St. Rich and one of the college girls cut the last piece of drywall to be put up. They won't put it up until they figure out how the moisture is getting in beside an old window. Other people have been painting, mudding drywall and sanding. Security bars have been installed on some of the windows and doors. Rich and another guy worked long hours Friday on installing a security door.
Thursday evening we had a guest for supper and she shared her story of involvement with MDS with us. They had a contractor who started building for them and then suddenly quit working on their house. They were discouraged but as they were driving in the city they saw a house being worked on with an MDS sign out front. They stopped and asked about getting help and MDS stepped right in and finished what the man had left. She was extremely grateful and overcome with emotion as she expressed her appreciation for all that was done.
We can not imagine what it is like to lose everything and then have some one help you with out taking advantage of you. She commented that Katrina was a bad thing but in a way it was a blessing. She is learning to not take anything for granted.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010
We have had a good week. One more day to spend with Sydney, Lynette and Reuben. I hope they have enjoyed it as much as we have. I am going to get Lynette to write on this blog today.
A big change for us this week was getting up one hour earlier to go to work. This was for the purpose of beating the heat. I will say it was hard at first but after learning to go to bed earlier it wasn't too bad. The irony was that this was the coolest week we have had, and the rainiest. Since Alex was in the Gulf it affected our weather very much. At the house I am working at we usually did our sawing outside but at the first of the week we had to stop work a little early because we couldn't be out there. So finally we cleaned out some junk from the neighboring apartment and made space for our saw and board painting and then things went a lot better. Kitchen cabinets are now installed and most of the floor trim and so things are looking good for a finish next week. The rain prevented Rich's crew from being on the roof except for Monday and Thursday so they worked on what drywall they could.
We spent the day Friday in Diamond, LA with Mike Wilson who had been here at NO for the first couple of weeks. Lynette will comment more on that trip.
Lynette: As we drove down the Parish towards Diamond, LA the landscape drastically changed from the New Orleans city landscape. We stayed not 200 yards from the Mississippi River and got swarmed with mosquito minutes after getting out of the vehicle. We traveled around Diamond talking to the locals and went further down towards the Gulf. After stopping at a marina we talked to a shrimp boat captain about what the oil spill has done to his business. The effects of the oil spill to the shrimpers and the people surrounding that area are greater than I had imagined. The trip was a real eye opener of how this catastrophe has effected a great deal of people.
The beginning of this week was a big change of waking up earlier and we got a fair share of hard work in the heat. Although they said the temperature dropped it still felt like an oven inside the house where we were working. I learned how to put up trim but don't think I will be hired professionally anytime soon. This trip has made me aware that even though Katrina has been over for 5 years there are still so many people in need and now with the oil spill there will be an even stronger need for housing and most of all love and support.
Lois: The speaker we had this week for Wednesday Bible Study would have emphasized this need for support. She said people may wonder why they come back. She said if you go somewhere else - especially where you are not wanted - you want to go home. They want to be where they know.
Sometimes when work on a house seems slow or I see many houses that need fixing I wonder if what I am doing makes a difference, I remember what she said, "Never take for granted what you are doing." We often pray here at the unit that our work would be a glory to God so I will end with that thought.