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La Grange, Texas, Weekly Report, Nov 5-9, 2018

November 19, 2018

Starting Up is Hard to Do 

Pop music star Neil Sedaka was an icon of the Bee-Bop music genre during the 1960’s.  His signature song, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” explained the hardships of a young romance coming to an end.  Millions of records were sold both times that Sedaka released recordings of the song.

As the MDS response in the town of La Grange, Fayette County, Texas, resumed at the start of November, we found that starting up is pretty hard to do as well.  The best laid plans to have multiple locations available to provide work for our crews did not come to fruition.  Rainy weather and less than ideal contractor communication seemed to be the main problems.  As a result, our initial MDS volunteer crews scrambled all week to achieve meaningful, productive work.

Fortunately, we had the ideal set of long term and short term volunteers on hand for the situation.  They hailed from Yellow Creek Mennonite Church in Goshen, the upper peninsula of Michigan and Lancaster County, PA.  All seasoned hands, they were well-motivated to make a difference in the lives of Hurricane Harvey flood survivors in Texas.

Bob and Ginny have been crew leaders in some difficult situations and are as adaptable to new approaches as any two MDS crew leaders can be.  The short term volunteers consisted of MDS veterans, with the number of prior service trips ranging from not less than 8 to over 20.  Of all the possible delays or distractions that might occur on an MDS project, these folks had already seen them.

Our problems were mostly the standard “no foundations are ready” and “rain is forecast for every day” variety of sad songs.  Led by our seasoned crew leaders, these hardy volunteers found ways to overcome problems.  Instead of waiting for a foundation to be built, they built their own foundation.  Instead of waiting for a house to be built with siding needing paint, they painted the siding without the house!

On Monday, Ms. Eloise’s home site was a muddy mess with 17 holes in the ground.  By the end of Friday, there were four walls standing upright, and 20 trusses up in the air, braced and ready for sheathing.  Ms. Eloise was thrilled to tears.  On Monday, there were two stacks of exterior siding and trim waiting to be painted at the first 2 of the 5 planned homes.  By Friday, the siding and trim for three houses had been painted and stacked, waiting for their houses to be built.

This might seem like an upside down way to build houses, and well, yes, it is.  But the Kingdom of God is sometimes called the Upside Down Kingdom, so we are feeling pretty good about the progress for the week.  Through it all, the Fayette County community became aware that “The Mennonites were Back in Town”.  There’s also a song with some lyrics like that.

From La Grange, in Fayette County, Texas
Bob Nafziger, Ginny Gibson, Brenda and Dave Nice, Laura and Carl Dube


Setting the rim
Beginning work for Ms. East
The floor system