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La Grange, TX – Weekly Report – Mar 18-22, 2019

March 28, 2019

The MDS base for the La Grange response is Camp Lost Pines.  The camp dining building sits on a ridge in the pine trees… the better to see sunrises and sunsets.  Every sunrise is a wonderful event, however clear mornings do not produce spectacular sunrises. You need clouds for those.

The most spectacular last week occurred when a layer of clouds reached eastward almost to the horizon, but not quite.  As the sun came up, it illuminated the underside of the cloud cover in an array of pinks, golds, and oranges.  For about fifteen minutes, everyone in the dining room watched in awe and took photos through the pines.  Then, it was gone.  The sun angle was higher than the clouds and there was just gray, but we remembered the light.

In life, spectacular events tend to happen when the light of God illuminates our grayest days.  When everything is going well, it is easy to take God for granted.  By contrast, amidst the gray, a blast of colorful, heavenly light reminds us that God is with us.  When helping a community recover from a disaster, there are lots of gray days.  Encouragement comes from knowing God’s love continues to shine above the despair. 

At an MDS project, the arrival on Sunday of new volunteers is like the start of a new day.  When new volunteers arrive with experience, needed skills, and enthusiasm for the work, it is like one of those special sunrises.  The splash of colors that I can see during introductions is often breathtaking. Even with deadlines and difficult tasks ahead, there is the promise of sunlight.

The new volunteers for last week consisted of two men from Manitoba, and a group of seventeen from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  This was the fourteenth MDS trip for the church group from Pennsylvania. From the 18 year old to the 83 year old, they came with experience and a commitment to accomplish God’s plan for the week.  The electrician and plumber were answers to prayers. The carpenters ensured no woodwork would feel abandoned.  The two from Manitoba were first time MDS volunteers and, like most farmers and retired firefighters, were accomplished at many tasks.  So, the week started off like a bright sunrise, with promise and high expectations.

The house in the pines was indeed ready for dedication on Wednesday afternoon.  Extra coats of paint to doors and trim were done.  The remaining electrical and plumbing connections were sorted out, while ceiling fans and lights were installed.  Then the really good part came with the dedication.  Mr. Herman and Ms. Carolyn are both deaf, using American Sign Language to communicate. Their favorite translator assisted by relaying the words of the dedication and their expressions of thanks.  The overflow crowd attending were able to see as well as hear the joyous words used on the day.

We held a second dedication for the week on Saturday.  The short term volunteers missed this one, but the long termers surrounded the family with love, hugs and words of blessings.  It was good to visit with the children and see their excitement over their new bedrooms.  Moving in was delayed until the final inspection is completed.  The work and prayers of the volunteers have ushered in a new day of hope for this family.

We also ventured out to shine some light into a new client’s gray days.  The work was cleaning out a home not lived in since Harvey.  The gray included a recent cancer diagnosis for the husband, to go along the chronic respiratory illness the wife endures. The crew sorted out lots of dirty, old things, and wiped down and vacuumed the log walls and beams supporting the ceiling, eliminating 18 months of dust.  By the end of the day, the client was able to enter the house without respiratory stress.  Although it was a difficult day, the crew was blessed by the happy response of the client.

Two other jobs continued for clients who had relocated from where the flood destroyed their homes.  Siding and window work on an older home, plus rough in of electrical and plumbing on a new home were finished by the end of the week.  These clients are not yet at the point where the gray despair is driven away, but the light provided by the volunteers boosted their hopes significantly.

We have only one week of sunrises remaining for MDS here in La Grange.  A new group arrives on Sunday, and we look forward to their bright colors continuing to drive the gray away.

From La Grange, Fayette County, Texas
Connie, Lillian, Judy, Larry, Willie, David, Tom, Phil and Carl