Marianna, FL – Weekly Report – Feb 17-21, 2020

February 26, 2020

Mustard seeds and yeast… What do they have in common? Well, first of all, Jesus uses both of these materials to explain the Kingdom of God to His followers. Second, it only takes a little of these to significantly change the mixtures in which they are used.

For many people, a sandwich is not really complete until mustard is applied. The mustard in the sandwich highlights and expands the flavors of the other ingredients. The three types of mustard seeds can be prepared into a mind boggling array of mustards you can make in your kitchen or buy from the grocery shelf. There is nothing boring about mustard.

An important part of bread making is that the yeast added to dough needs to be a fresh, live organism. The performance of yeast is affected by how it is stored and how it is added to the other ingredients that form the dough.

At the MDS response in Marianna, Florida, each week of volunteers is a unique mixture of flavors and ingredients. Some volunteers are like mustard that adds spicy flavor or like yeast that is the catalyst for texture and leavening. This week we had two unique groups of short term volunteers. One was a group of students from Conrad Grebel University in Ontario and one was a group of MDS veterans from Nebraska. These groups provided the flavors, spice and leavening that yielded a very robust week of work accomplished, topped off with lively evenings.

At the house being restored for Chrystal and Harold, the energy was strong all week. Interior painting was completed and the flooring was finished in the final hours of work on Friday. The crew received a rich blessing as Chrystal shed tears of joy upon seeing the colors and flooring she had selected come to life. Crew leader Mike was pleased with the way his young crew was able to figure out the cuts and notches needed to fit the flooring around and through doorways.

At our new build for Aprille and Charles, the crew was challenged to get the interior ceilings and walls all painted by the end of the week. Challenge accepted and accomplished! A second coat on the walls was needed to provide full coverage, but by the end of Friday the major painting was behind them, and Crew leader Leroy was looking forward to starting the flooring on Monday.

At Ms. Patricia’s new build, the week was basically devoted to mudding and mudding. After the crew watched the MDS Drywall Finishing video, they went to work. Mixing the mud is not unlike mixing bread dough… not too wet, not too stiff, no clumps, and a nice “feel” to the mix. The video and prep work enabled good progress for the taping, 1st fill, and 2nd fill steps of the process. Having Larry from Nebraska serving as crew leader provided the leavening that enabled the young crew to rise to the occasion and accomplish very good work on this house.
At our third new build, Ms. Vivian, on nice days, sits in a lawn chair outside their temporary RV house and keeps a close eye on progress. This crew, led by Bob, was a mix of students and one “old” 29 year old from Nebraska. The first two days of work were spent on several small, needed details. Then on Wednesday, the inspector gave his approval on the framing inspection and the work really took off. House wrap,
windows and entry doors were installed in record time, and exterior siding was beginning by the end of the week. Ms. Vivian joined us for supper on Tuesday and gave all of our volunteers a sense of what it was like to live through a major hurricane. With trees down on all of the roads, it was not until the 6th day after Michael that they were able to travel a few blocks to see the remains of their home which had been hit by three fallen trees.

At our fourth new house, Ms. Theresa kept up her reputation as a hugger of volunteers. The joy she and Mr. Eddie express is a boost to the MDS crew. Crew leader Dick wisely let Marvin organize the work being done on the house. Having passed the strapping inspection, the crew accepted the challenge of getting the house ready for framing inspection by the end of the week. The task was accomplished easily, despite the rain that seems to be scheduled for each Thursday in Jackson and Calhoun counties.

One of the week’s highlights was due to another challenge. In prior years some Canadian Mennonite University students had given their job reports in song. I challenged this group to do the same for Thursday after supper. Not wanting their rival school to outdo them, they accepted the challenge and began scripting the lyrics, selecting the music, and planning the choreography. The anticipation was great as Thursday approached, and once word got out, some local folks decided they needed to witness the performance. The report was a big success with all of the jobs covered and celebrated, resulting in a standing ovation from the audience.

So, another week has gone by; another week of flavors and textures provided by the MDS volunteers; and another week of seeing a different aspect of the Kingdom of God. We are blessed to be another week closer to getting these clients back into a home.

From Marianna, Florida; Jackson and Calhoun Counties Edith, Mike, Evie, Bob, Doreen, Leroy, Sharon, Dick, Joanna, Will, and Carl