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It is spring in Texas! The local people are happy for the rain they have received these past several weeks which results in lush green undergrowth and flowers that are so very colorful. The locals are also thankful for the wildlife they are seeing, which many thought would have been destroyed after the fire. We also know they are grateful for MDS being in their midst.
Our volunteers this week included a family of six from Lancaster, PA, and a group of 15 from Central Mennonite Church, Archbold, OH. All the teams worked extremely hard. Ms. Hilary’s house was pressure packed; - it needed to be ready for the dedication on Saturday. It was a team effort to get the electrical and plumbing finished and the house detailed for the celebration.
At Ms. Robin’s house the volunteers dug, framed and poured 15 footings in 80 degree weather.
One team reported each day about the progress they made with drywalling, taping and sanding in Mr. Eugene’s house. Some of the volunteers reported to have larger muscles at the end of the week.
Mr. Juan and Ms. Michelle’s house was also looking much different by the end of the week. All of the taping, sanding and painting was completed. Mr. Juan and Ms. Michelle’s daughter choose a very colorful room which they painted themselves; hot pink, bright yellow, purple and lime green. Mr. Juan invited all the volunteers over for Friday lunch. This was his way to say thank you to the volunteers that are working on the house. On Wed. night the family came over for dinner and told their story. The following is an account of what happened to them with the fire of 2011.
Beauty Can Arise in Loss – Written by Tasha Landis, Volunteer
Though they prepared for just a normal Labor Day weekend celebration with family and friends, Mr. Juan and Ms. Michelle and their daughter, however, experienced something far that. On Sept. 4, 2012, a powerful forest fire quickly destroyed millions of acres in Bastrop, TX. With flames reaching up to one hundred feet and heat measured anywhere between 4000-5000 degrees, the quick moving fire, stretching thirty-two miles long and sixteen miles wide, completely ruined anything in its path. Luckily Mr. Juan, Ms. Michelle, and their daughter, Miss Sugar, had more of a warning than most people as they received texts and calls from friends. But with only fifteen minutes of a warning to grab personal items, load up the car, and drive far away from the approaching fire, the family left a lot behind. Miss Sugar immediately grabbed her Bible and her mother’s Bible, while Michelle grabbed a few articles of clothing for the family. They also managed to take all of their dogs with them. The family said that when they looked around, all they saw was a red sky in every direction. Because the heat was so intense they could feel the heat coming off of the highway and their vehicle, even though they were not in the fire
After fleeing from their house and the fire, they bounced around from friends’ houses, the shelter, and hotels. After two weeks of jumping around from place to place, the family finally traveled back to their house. But after coming back they realized that their house was entirely destroyed. Even two weeks after the fire, hot spots were found around their property, which had to be put out from the water left over in Sugar’s pool since there was no water access available. Lots of other families experienced the same tragedy as this family. People had to put down a majority of their animals because many were injured from the fire and few were able to be saved because the families barely had fifteen minutes to leave and could not quickly load up the trailers.
But with the fire, Mr. Juan mentions how beauty can still arise. Roses, blue bonnets, and other flowers have come back and blossomed more this spring than in the past years. The fire brought out flowers that were very rare before. Even some of the oak, hickory, and cedar trees are coming back to life, even though they were assumed to be completely dead. During this difficult time of tragedy, Mr. Juan and Ms. Michelle decided to stay in Bastrop even when many people, whose houses were also destroyed, left the area. With MDS’s help, this family will be able to walk into their newly finished house. All through the process, Mr. Juan has been an eager and hard worker, spending time working during the day with the crew and also working when the crew is not there. Mr. Juan and Ms. Michelle and their daughter are excited to move back into their house and top be able to get back into a normal routine.
Long-term Volunteers: Anne and Roger Friesen, Flo and Bill Thiessen, Mike Plett and Lydia and Peter Schroeder
MDS volunteers are known for repairing and rebuilding homes damaged by disasters. But it takes more than construction skills to serve with MDS. During the time that you serve as a volunteer, you will learn that MDS also restores lives.
Your contribution will help to connect volunteers with disaster survivors who need assistance on their path to recovery. MDS depends on the support of people who believe that disaster response is an important part of helping those who are in need.
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