Bennettsville, SC – Weekly Report – Feb 10-14, 2020

February 21, 2020

This week we welcomed 10 Old Order Mennonites from Wisconsin: 8 young ladies and a middle-aged chaperone couple. The girls started out very quiet but by Wednesday were noticeably more vocal, and comfortable with teasing from some of the men, even coming out with rebuffs. A father-son team drove in from Ontario at 4 pm Sunday, and Jesse Yoder and Kelsey Friesen also appeared at that time. We have enjoyed having Jesse around again, with his roofing and crew-leading experience, and as a driver. 

We managed to sign off a number of jobs at the end of last week, so this week started out with two new places to work on, Brenda McKay’s and Linda Hurst’s. Linda received some paint, and some roof repairs, while Brenda just needed some finishing touches. Annie Mae Jackson’s place received some more work, including a lot of interior paint, some new fascia, and a frame for the air conditioner. Steve was on edge about having enough work, because we had such a powerhouse of young ladies, but everything seemed to progress satisfactorily.

By Wednesday morning we were able to move two crews in to the Miles’ house, that someone had stripped of wet walls and flooring one-and-a-half years ago. It smells mold-free and looks quite cheerful from the outside, with its tidy brick façade. New lily shoots are poking up through the muddy flood debris, and a flock of cardinals sighted in the backyard gave us joy and hope! 

On Tuesday night we had the joy of welcoming Larry Stoner and Mannie Flaud, who had been up at Bergaw NC, checking out the Amish project there. They joined us for Wednesday breakfast and were able to tell us some of what they had been doing. Steve and I got to take them for a brief visit to Sally Miles’ house, where they were able to give us some helpful advice. Meanwhile, two crews arrived to combine forces there.
As we arrived back at camp with Larry and Mannie around 8:40 a.m., we could see that Steve Campbell had already arrived with a trash-hauling trailer we had been sorely missing. Tomorrow Jesse Yoder and a couple of helpers can start picking up the trash that we

had to leave at some of the sites that are already signed off. Steve, Christa, Mannie and Steve Campbell had a good jaw session near the trash trailer, before we took leave of all three of our visitors.

Immediately on their heels came Tim Whitten, the Methodist Director of local long-term recovery. He had been quite unwell for a couple of weeks, so we were glad to finally meet him. We were able to give him copies of our weekly reports, as he was really interested in hearing our point of view. Tim told us that he has an adopted child from Haiti, who has special needs. His wife was gone that day, taking this child to doctor appointments. Tim was left to get his other two children to school before he travelled one and a half hours to be with us.

After 15 minutes Steve Nolan arrived, the Methodist Building Coordinator. He and Steve Barth disappeared then for most of the day, assessing the jobs that the Methodist case workers had cleared for action.

Jan and 4 Wisconsin volunteers stayed at David Ellerbe’s for two more days, trying to finish up the plaster and paint work still needed there. David is a very lonely, ailing man who certainly needed the encouragement we could give him. For the last year he had been sleeping in an easy chair in his sitting room, because his bedroom ceiling was so badly damaged that he was afraid it would cave in on him. Who would have imagined what a miracle a safe bedroom could be!

While waiting for paint to dry, Jan and her crew were able to start at the Harrington’s, who had a lot of damage from the storm. There was a covered back entry falling apart, where they keep a chest freezer and laundry dryer. It had to be taken down and a new one put up, which has been a challenge to align with the concrete platform without leaving a water trap. They have made good progress, though, with the help of some of the men who have come in to work on it. Inside the house, there was paneling and insulation to strip out, and ceiling area to fix. With the owner unwell, the windows and shades and are kept closed, creating a close atmosphere for those more accustomed to light and ventilation. Jan and crew have done well in spite of such challenges!

At Sally Miles’, more floor joists had to be ripped out than we first thought, but by Thursday the crew was starting to put the new flooring in. They also had to repair yet another roof leak, and tear apart a bathroom for remodeling. The previous crew had not removed all the drywall, thinking to save it, but it was easier to remove it and start over.

Elmer’s crew split off again on Thursday to start on yet another project, at Bernice Hook’s house. One of the soul-angels of the area, Bernice had already emptied her dish cabinets for us, to make our remodeling work easier. Her floor needed major work, a challenge because it involved obstructing her only route to the bathroom. On Friday we celebrated Valentine’s Day! Our fantastic Bluffton intern, Juanita, made a rice crispy cake for each person, complete with an endearing comment. 

Thanks to everyone for their service! It was an enjoyable week.


Steve and Christa, Elmer and Mary, Tom and Linda, Jan, and Brett