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Texas has a lot of song birds. Each dawn we are fortunate to hear the birds’ songs, each one marking their territory. Once these sounds subside, you can hear the "hoots" from the Great Horned Owl. Their hoot is a three-hoot call! Are they calling for volunteers here in Bastrop?
We do know that Rosedale Bible College, OH, heard God’s call to come to Bastrop, and we were blessed with seven men and 11 women from the college. Many of these young people spoke about how thankful they were for the opportunity to serve in this capacity and learn new skills. The following are the houses they were working on this week together with their talented crew leaders:
At Ms. Michelle and Mr. Juan’s house the crew hung doors, painted and trimmed doors and windows, prepared the sub-floor for flooring and the kitchen cupboards were installed. Light fixtures were also installed. Mr. Juan loves to prepare a lunch each week for the volunteers. This is his way to say thank you to the volunteers that are working on their house. This week he cooked hamburgers in his smoker and baked a dish with green jalapeno peppers filled cheese and bacon. Ymmmm.
Mr. Eugene was thrilled to have his walls mudded and sanded and now the walls are ready for paint.
Ms. Robin’s house saw the most changes. Fifteen peers were placed, floor joists and sub-flooring was put down. Three walls were framed and placed.
Although Ms. Hillary’s house was finished, there were a few items that needed to be tweaked. She was moving into her house this past weekend.
On Wednesday night Ms. Jody and her 90-year-old mother came down to sing and tell us her story about the fire of September, 2011.
Finding Hope in the Midst of Ashes – written by Heidi Burns from Rosedale Bible College
Wearing our MDS t-shirts with the slogan “Rebuilding Hope” in bold letters across the back, we arrived in Bastrop, TX. For many of us this was a first-time experience serving with MDS. We knew that we would be helping to rebuild homes destroyed by the wildfire last summer, and somehow in doing that, we would also be helping to rebuild hope in this devastated community. By the time that we had worked for three days on the various sites assigned to us, we heard several stories from those who had been impacted by the fire. So when we gathered to hear Ms. Jody and Ms. Ruth share their story, I think we all expected another pretty hopeless tale.
We were to find that not all hope had burned in that atrocious fire. In fact, for these two women, the fire had only served to burn away those things in which they might have been placing false hope, leaving them with the only true hope, Jesus.
Imagine being given only two-and-a-half hours to evacuate your house. You have an almost 90-year-old mother, and she wants to bring her pictures, her dog, her quilt, and her clothes. Once you have all that packed, you only have enough time to grab a week’s worth of work uniforms and your computer. You get to your evacuation spot only to find that you have been given one of the last rooms available. This relief is short-lived as it is infested with cockroaches. Though you are unaware of it at the time, this will be your home for thirteen days.
During that time, one evening you will find yourself standing on the balcony of your room looking out over the fire. Everywhere you look, fire is all you see. Between you and the place you are staying, only the Colorado River spans the gap. Of course, it is farther away than that, but with the intensity of the wind and heat, distance is impossible to decipher. Once the fire has burned out, you desperately plead to go see if your home is still standing. You are forbidden by the authorities, and are told that your home has burned to the ground. Your mother’s little trailer is the only building left standing. In fact, it “looks like it was protected by the Hand of God,” but you were left with nothing. If this was your story, what would you do?
This was the story that Ms. Jody shared with us, but she did not share it to receive pity. Instead, as she told her story, she continually praised God for His goodness to her and her mother in the midst of the devastation. Losing almost all they had in material goods, it was their relationship with Jesus that gave and continues to give them hope to this day. It was this hope that enabled them to come and encourage us. Not only did Ms. Jody share her story with us, but she also sang some beautiful songs and accompanied herself on the keyboard. They were songs that God had given her in the midst of hard times throughout her life. It was a blessing to all of us to see that not all of those in Bastrop, TX, who lost property had lost hope. Ms. Jody and Ms. Ruth found hope in the midst of ashes, a hope that can never be destroyed.
Long-term Volunteers: Anne and Roger Friesen, Flo and Bill Thiessen, 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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