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Marianna, FL – Weekly Report – Jan 6-10-2020

January 14, 2020

Julie Miller is another one of those singer-songwriters who cut their professional teeth in Austin, Texas.  Some of her songs are about broken people who find a way toward wholeness.  Since this describes much of our relationship with Jesus Christ, those songs often find their way into Christian settings.  I learned of By Way of Sorrow when our good friend, Lauren, performed it during some home music sessions in Waco, Austin, and other places.

It talks of the promise of eventually gathering at “love’s table” and being able “lay your burden down”.  In a region that is 15 months beyond the arrival of Hurricane Michael, many people are still dealing with losses the winds caused and the burden of getting back to normal.

You’ve been taken by the wind                 You have known the kiss of sorrows
Doors that would not let you in                Outcast and a stranger
You have come by way of sorrow           you have come by way of tears
But you’ll reach your destiny                    come to find you all these years

The work of Mennonite Disaster Service resumed for 2020 in Jackson and Calhoun counties of northern Florida after a 3 week break for Christmas and the New Year.  New Long Term volunteers from Ontario, Alberta, Pennsylvania and Michigan arrived, got acquainted with the area and settled into their quarters here at Rivertown Community Church.  The cooks figured out how they were going to feed 40 people at each meal.  This group included people with multiple service terms with MDS and with no prior MDS experience.  They quickly formed into the team that God wants here for January.

The first short term volunteers for 2020 arrived on Sunday afternoon in a bus and van from Pennsylvania.  The group of 21 from Union County, PA and 7 from Lancaster County, PA were mostly younger adults and youth.  The average age was pretty low, but energy levels were high and we looked forward to a productive and fun week.

All the nights that joy has slept                 will awake to days of laughter
Gone the tears that you have wept            You’ll dance in freedom ever after
You have come by way of sorrow           you have come by way of tears
But you’ll reach your destiny                    You will lay your burden down

There were some disappointments to start the week, as we learned the two promised foundations for new houses were not ready yet.

As a result, those crews were detoured into jobs MDS might not normally take on.  One entailed cleaning out the old ceiling in a local church that got very wet when the high winds damaged the old roof.  There was a new roof on the church, so everything was now dry, and with a lot of people to work on that second floor, work progressed very well.  After the old tiles were removed and placed in the dump trailer, new insulation was placed, and then gypsum board was hung on the ceiling framing.  By the end of the week, the ceiling was ready for finishing. 

The other detour was to the local food pantry building where about half of the space had been repaired, but the second half needed framing for a new ceiling.  Having capable volunteers and experienced crew leaders enabled that space to be framed out and is now ready for drywall.

We still had work from jobs started before the break, so Ms. Bobbie and Ms. Leverne each had a full crew working toward getting drywall mudding and sanding done.  Sure enough, by the end of the week, drywall primer was being applied after the “Light of Truth” was used to verify the jobs were done well.

Another small interior job from before Christmas was resumed, and we now hope there will be no interruptions in restoring the second bathroom in that house.

We also had a metal roofing job that rains prevented us from doing before Christmas, so a crew went there on Monday morning.  The client was there, and since he had done some roofing work, he pitched in with the crew. By the end of the day, the crew leader was calling to say they would need a new job for Tuesday.  Celebration and thanks were lifted at the first completed job of 2020.

On Wednesday, we did start the floor framing and walls of the first new house, and that work progressed well.  Progress outpaced material deliveries, which added to a bit of disappointment.  The client family, however, was overjoyed at the events of the week and provided lunch for the crew on Friday.

As we move through the next weeks of 2020, we hope we can see progress in moving families from loss to a point where they are home and relieved of the burdens of the past 15 months.

From Marianna Florida, Jackson and Calhoun Counties
Ellen, Louise, Andrew, Bob, Henry, Janey, Leo, Mim, Daniel, Elsie, Laura, and Carl