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La Grange, TX – Weekly Report – Jan 7-11, 2019

January 18, 2019

The More I Learn 

Bryan Sutton is best known in acoustic music circles for his amazing guitar playing.  He won a Grammy in 2007 for his recording with legendary Doc Watson.  Since growing up in a family band called the Pisgah Pickers, he has expanded his abilities and now includes song writing in his resume of musical accomplishments.  I heard him perform this song at the Walnut Valley Festival in Kansas.

These scrapes, and scars reveal to me, all the highs and lows, and the in betweens.
Sometimes I fly, sometimes fall, reminds me that I don’t know it all.
But the more I learn, the more I yearn for just one more page to turn.
The more I learn, the more I learn that I’ve sure got a lot more to learn

Each week on a Mennonite Disaster Service project is another page and another opportunity to learn.  The first week of 2019 in La Grange, Texas was no exception.

It began late Sunday afternoon, when, out of an expected 24, we had only one weekly volunteer from Toronto arrive at Camp Lost Pines.   Several efforts to contact the remaining group of 23 were not fruitful.  By 7:00 p.m., we were thinking we might have a very slim crew to start the New Year.  Fortunately, some phone calls came in and finally both of the wayward van loads of volunteers from Kentucky showed up after 9:00 p.m.  The lesson learned was to trust common sense more than doggedly following GPS instructions.

Monday started out much more reliably, although the recurring dilemma of “foundation not completed” required some flexible crew assignments.  Instead of framing up our 5th house that day, that crew installed the foundation skirting and moisture barrier under our first two houses.  Once done, the houses for Ms. Eloise and Ms. Sandra looked much more complete.  The lesson learned is about going with whatever God gives us to do.

Other volunteers worked diligently inside on painting, flooring, cabinets, trim and more to move our first house closer to being ready for the dedication scheduled for January 23.  At the second house, drywall taping and mudding progressed to the point of being ready for priming.  Installing porch and stair hand rails also helped to get those houses closer to being ready for dedication and move-in.  The lesson learned is that each small task is one step closer to completion and each is important.

At Ms. Valerie’s house, the work was less noticeable from the outside, but was critical for getting the home completed.  The wires, boxes, panel and junctions that make up the electrical rough-in were put in place.  The lesson learned here is that the installer needs to know how each space in the house will be used.  Locating switches and receptacles properly so they are at hand when you need them can make a house a joy to live in or a source of constant frustration.

At the house for Mr. Americo and Ms. Rosa, the lesson was about taking the time to do a job well.  In addition to hanging drywall on the inside of the house, the volunteers working there spent a lot of time outside of the house to redo or improve on the efforts of prior volunteers.  Careful caulking and touch-up painting of siding and trim are skills that directly affect the final appearance of the house.  By the end of the week, the apricot and red painted surfaces were really looking good.

When we finally got to start our 5th house, we learned that a group of motivated volunteers can almost get as much framing done in three days as other crews take five days to accomplish.  From slab foundation on Wednesday morning to “dried-in” with windows and doors installed by the end of Friday, the house for Mr. Fransico and Ms. Lorena took shape quickly.  Several community people were amazed at how suddenly a new home can appear.

Other lessons learned during the week revolved around how good singing sounds when bouncing off the concrete ceiling, walls and floor of the dining room, how easy it is for a truck load of trusses to get stuck, and how quickly a production line of 6 women can get a load of dishes washed, rinsed, sanitized and stacked.

In Fayette County, La Grange, Texas, we have turned the page onto another week. We are ready for more to learn, because “the more I learn, the more I learn that I’ve sure got a lot more to learn.”

Andrew, Anne, David, Dan, Daniel, Elsie, Ellen, Louise, Henry and Carl