Bennettsville, SC – Weekly Report – Feb 3-7, 2020

February 11, 2020

This week Steve and Christa Barth transitioned in to replace Michele WhiteEagle and Marv Rohrer-Meck. Tom and Linda Leckie took over the cooking from Darlene Rohrer-Meck. Jan Joyce and Brett Sorgen also arrived to be crew leaders for the next month.

Sunday afternoon a group of 7 arrived from around Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and 7 more from Manitoba. Both crews are mostly older people, well-experienced at living exuberantly and thus a great joy to be with. Our dynamite crew has completed five houses with two more started!

At Ethel Freeman’s, Jan’s crew tore out some damaged patches, redid the bathroom, and painted some places. By Thursday they were done. 

At Nancy Davis’s house, led by Brett, the source of a strong mold smell was discovered after layers of old tile were removed from the sitting room floor, to reveal rotting floor and joists. Some guys had fun trying to paint stucco ceiling, ‘mountain ranges,’ as they called them.  There was also a large closet that needed a lot of work. Repairs in that house wrapped up today, Friday. On Saturday, Steve and Christa stopped there to have Nancy sign off the job. She led us SO proudly through her newly finished rooms.

Elmer and Mary Friesen continued their faithful service leading a third crew, who have been helping Warren and Julia Drake with a larger project in their house, which was in very bad shape. They had to replace most flooring and repair most ceilings and are still at it. Warren and Julia are partially disabled and are so grateful for each little bit of progress. 

On Wednesday we made a fourth small crew to start on Brenda McKay’s house. Julia Buchanan also had some smaller repairs done and has signed off her job card. Annie Mae Jackson’s house has also been started, with most ceilings receiving one coat of kilz, and soffit and fascia repairs underway.

On Wednesday as well, Steve Barth and Michele WhiteEagle met with Steve Nolan, the UMCOR liaison, to discuss progress and visit more job sites that we can tackle. That evening, Steve Nolan joined us for dinner and told a little of all the storms this area has suffered in the last few years, and the accumulative effect on the people here. He has been able to use every penny of donations he has received, and there are still roofs covered with only tarps, over several counties.

On Friday morning at devotions, Pastor Andrew Wiens of Nordheim Mennonite Church in Winnipegosis, MB, asked for highlights of the week. The ones I remember were: the emotions shown by recipients of our work, laughter at our meals and everywhere we went, the unity of teamwork, and a toilet sagging sideways before we started a bathroom repair! This week’s team was just a really harmonious combination, with LOTS of laughter.

This coming week will see a continuation of jobs signed on last week. We are nervous about having enough work flow, since we have to wait ‘til Wednesday to sign on more jobs. We have 8 young farm ladies from Wisconsin, who tend to work very efficiently and finish tasks quickly!

Meanwhile the Pee Dee River has again reached moderate flood stage today. Thankfully it is expected to recede by tomorrow, without causing further damage. These people have been through so much in the last several years. In spite of their misfortune, we notice how laid-back and seemingly peaceful everything is here, and how the people always have time to help us, or just talk. The faith of the older ones is a touching witness. One woman even has a prayer room in her trailer home, which we helped her fix up as part of general repairs to her house.

Thanks to everyone for their service.


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