Pine Ridge, SD – Weekly Report – June 17-21, 2019

July 2, 2019

(To the tune of The Sound of Silence)
Hello Pine Ridge, my old friend
We’ve come to serve with you again
Because more homes need some completing
Leakproof roofs and proper heating
And the question that was planted in our brains
Still remains
How to best serve our clients

After five weeks off, we are back and ready to continue work in South Dakota. A plethora of volunteers, more numerous than the wild dogs of Pine Ridge, traveled from the far reaches of the empire to serve in Pine Ridge this week. Germans, Pennsylvanians, Indianans, Illinoisans, Iowans, Nebraskans, Minnesotans, and Kansans alike, all descended upon the site, intent on continuing MDS’s work of rebuilding hope in the Pine Ridge community through the construction of new houses. Most of the long-term volunteers arrived over the weekend, joining Roger and Bev Claassen, who have been here the past six weeks to prepare the site for the Volunteer Center.  That task grew into a six-week job because of agonizing rain delays and various changes to the original plan.  One of those changes included spreading and leveling 133 loads of fill which was necessary because of the soil composition.  Orie Lehman brought a group from Indiana to work on the Volunteer Center, which MDS is helping provide for the Pine Ridge community. Additionally, eight Groffdale Conference ladies from Iowa joined us for the week, giving us a full and lively camp.

Work progressed well at Tammy’s house this week. Since our site was shut down for most of May and early June, some barn swallows took it upon themselves to continue building in our absence. They blessed us with around thirty mud nests, caked to the side of Tammy’s house. Our first matter of business was to remove all of these “mud huts” so that we could finish painting the house’s exterior. (Perhaps this is the first time MDS has actively sought to destroy newly built houses instead of building them). Once the house was cleaned off, volunteers finished painting the exterior, and also completed painting the interior walls and ceilings. Smaller tasks such as adjusting the size of a closet rough opening were undertaken as well during the week.

Over at Jhacie’s house, volunteers continued finishing the drywall inside. This involved completing the taping and applying all coats of mud to the seams and screw holes. By the end of the week, mudding was completed and sanding had begun. On the outside, volunteers built the front porch and installed hardiboard siding around the house. Additionally, we hand dug a massive hole, six feet deep, in our search to find the water hookup for the previous house on the property. That search is still unresolved, but hopefully with a little more digging we will be able to hook the house up to water. Two of our excellent electricians did a great job of troubleshooting electrical issues on two homes and also at the camp.

The Amish group made tremendous progress on the Volunteer Center. Over the course of the week, they dug holes and set 87 6×6 posts in the ground, providing a rough frame and foundation for the building. The largest of these posts were 28 feet tall and weighed between 200 and 300 pounds! Additionally, three plumbers from Indiana joined us midweek and completed the first part of the rough in plumbing. Though the unusual amount of rain this spring and early summer has significantly delayed our work on this building, we are optimistic about its progress and look forward to participating in its construction.

At the end of the week, we were sad to see the volunteers leave. We will miss their tremendous work ethic, cheerful singing, and friendly personalities, but we also look forward to what the next weeks hold as we continue our work here in Pine Ridge.

The Long Termers: Paul, Doug, Rita, Roger, Bev, Mim, Leo, Noah, Jesse