Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ike Day 75 - Thanksgiving

We returned home last evening after spending a great week as a family in Texas. Denise and the kids were able to help serve over 125 families on Tuesday's food distribution. We also had a donation for Thanksgiving baskets for Galveston Bible Church members, and extras to enable them to bless a friend or neighbor. Our family along with the Watterson's helped distribute these as well. I was able to get several more rebuilding projects lined up for the coming weeks, and continue to respond to request for clean up.

On the way home, we took the ferry across to the Bolivar Peninsula. This was my first trip to this devastated area. It was a good preparation for Thanksgiving Day. Below we have attached some pictures of what things look like there. In many respects, it looked like areas we saw in Galveston only days after the storm, except this is now 2-1/2 months later. Debris was strewn everywhere. Broken houses. Cars buried in sand.

Below is an email

I got yesterday from a Bolivar resident:

"The people in PortBolivar have been put on the end of the list for everything. Most of the people that live there are older folks such as my mom. A lot of the folks didn't have insurance or had very little. My mom's home still sits full of appliances, and ruined furniture. The local Government has told folks over there that they can not repair their homes unless they raise them from 14-18 feet. Folks such as my mom can not climb stairs such as this and since they own the property in Bolivar they are being forced to leave and find other means of survival.

FEMA has helped to some extent those who DIDN'T have insurance, but those who had some insurance such as my

mom....FEMA won't help until insurance has settled and then I feel won't help anyway. My mom lived 57 years in her home with my dad who just passed away in March. She is now forced to make a decision to demolish the home because it would be too expensive to repair and impossible for her to live in at the requirement for elevation. She says she is to old to continue to run from hurricanes.

My home was also flooded in Galveston. I rented a 4 bedroom home there for me and my 2 grown sons. The cost of rental property in the area as I am sure you are aware of is Out of Reach.

If you can take a visit to Port Bolivar and see what I am talking about. Port Bolivar is right after you get off the ferry. Crystal Beach and Gilchrist is further up the road. All of these areas need help."

Seeing this yesterday made our Thanksgiving so much more real today. God has blessed us and given us the opportunity to be part of His work in making an eternal difference in people's lives. We have much to be thankful for. As we went around the table today, the kids said it best, " We are thankful for our family and our friends". Amen.

Please consider how you can make a difference in TX and LA. Pray. Give. Serve. (Click these links for more info).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ike Day 70

The past two weekends have been very busy with volunteers on Saturdays topping 120. Amen! Keep praying for God to bring workers, there are so many hurting people unsure of where to turn.

This past week, a team from Lakewood EFC, MN, Joe from Dallas and Justin from Friendswood Community invested in finishing Ms Robbie's roof, and started one for Daniel and Maria. They had some insurance funds, as they were 'lucky' to have their roof leak as well a their home flood. But it was barely enough to buy the materials needed to replace their roof, much less pay a contarctor and replace all the damaged personal property. Our family was able to join in the project as well, the kids loved being up on the roof.

Today, a 16 year old from Trinity Fellowship EFC had his birthday party with his friends. He chose for his party to have his friends come with him to help finish Daniel and Mary's roof. It was so awesome to see this young leader mobilizing his friends, his dad, and even his pastor to serve this wonderful family.

We had about 50 here today. A family from Grace Bible Church in Kileen, TX came with a truck load of really nice doors for the church, and stayed to put them on. We sent our first team across the ferry to the Bolivar Peninsula today as well to remove the contents from a home. The ferry just opened this week for public access.

Grace Bible EFC continued the sheet rock hanging work that First Free Austin started on Tina's mom's house. We expect that all the mudding and sanding could be done next weekend, if we have the volunteers.

Friendswood Community cut trees, did more gutting and cleaned up another portion of the warehouse area we have to use.

This afternoon, Miss June cme over to talk more about her house. It is so hard for her to know what to do next, and who to trust, and how to go about rebuilding her home. She is such a sweet lady. Last Sunday, she hosted the team that helped her on Saturday for 'church' in her former living room, now a gutted shell. She brought out her keyboard and played hymns and songs she wrote for all to sing. Pray for her, she has no resources but a small savings and pension, and continues on in faith the God will provide what she needs. She will be evicted from her FEMA funded hotel room at the end of the month.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ike Day 63

We started a new phase of the Ike Response in Galveston about a week ago, that being the rebuilding stage. Pictured to the right is Wanda, with Lori from a team from NV.

As we gutted her home last month, we clearly felt a call to help her rebuild. As with almost all the people that we have worked for thus far, she did not have flood insurance, as her home had never seen water before. All she has is a small amount she got from FEMA. Without the volunteer help, she'd never be ableto get back in her house. She had been living in a hotel room with her kids for weeks until she recently got an apartment.

The NV team replaced her rotten subfloor and repaired rotten wall supports, leaving the home ready for wiring. Wanda has been through a lot. She has not known if she was going to still have a job, but got a call recently from her employer that she will be one of the few to be called back to work soon.

The NV team, as well as some from Grace Bible and others, have also been working on the roof replacement for Ms. Robbie. She is an elderly lady again with no insurance. Her kids are pulling together their savings to enable their mom to get out from under the blue tarps. We hope to be hanging sheet rock in her house in the next few weeks, providing we have the volunteers.

Friendswood Community Church sent teams down the last two Saturdays specifically to help with to help with outreach into the neighborhoods where we have been doing most of our gutting work. As homes get gutted, the debris get piled on the streets. The bulk of the debris is then picked up by FEMA contractors, but a lot of little debris is left behind littering the streets. The FCC teams have been bringing brooms and rakes and have been investing in the clean-up of streets. This effort has produced an outpouring of thanks from home owners who are so grateful for the help in trying to make their street look like a neighborhood again.

I saw one elderly man trying to rake all the small pieces of drywall from his yard. I quickly picked up some volunteers, and pulled up to his house. In 15 minutes the many hands made light of the work, and the older man just watched in disbelief. He asked where we were from and we shared about Galveston Bible Church, and how much God cares about him. We were able to pray for him as well. His prayer request was simply, for my neighbors to be able to come home.
Pray that prayer with us.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Beachhead

Early in the Ike response, we met Tina, and life long Galveston resident who had her home flooded and needed help in removing all of the debris. We have continued to work with Tina over the last 4 weeks, she has turned out to be such a huge blessing for establishing a ministry presence in the area between west of 50th St. This past Saturday was an amazing day of ministry. Using her home as beachhead for reaching the neighboring areas, we had about 150 people out serving at 18 different work sites.

A team from Friendswood Community Church landed on that beachhead and worked on transforming her yard by removing all the dead shrubs, and then took on sweeping the streets in the neighborhood. They met a lot of neighbors in the morning and invited them to a hot dog cookout block party we had planned for lunch. It was a blessing to see the neighborhood coming out and interacting with one another and with the teams.

We are planning a similar event this coming Saturday with another 100 plus volunteers.

I met an older lady in the neighborhood named Micky-June, who i was able to connect with 2 younger gals from Galveston Bible Church. She had a huge garage filled with water soaked smelly debris that she had been trying to clean out herself. I invited her to our hot dog lunch and gave her a ride over. She smiled and grabed my hand and said, 'I haven't had a lunch date in years'.

She told us about he fight with cancer. After several seasons of treatments, her doctor told her recently that it was time for her to make a decision to for quality of life or quantity of life. she said she decided instead to opt for a focused time of pray for healing. She told us that she is healed, and that God will either do that physically here on earth and extend her days, or will heal her when He brings her to be with him, but either way, she knows she has been healed. She had such joy amidst the struggles of life. I felt like God connected us with her so we could help her witness and love her neighbors, all of whom looked and sounded weary.

Pray for Micky-June and Tina to be used by God to spiritually transform their neighborhood.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

God's Plan

I spent Thursday with John Horst visiting job sites and moving drywall around New Orleans. We stopped at Pat's home, a lady who lost everything. We helped her apply for a grant in the spring, which she got. But then in May Red Cross announced that they were over extended and were pulling out of New Orleans, and in that process, failed to provide Pat with her funds for rebuilding. I had the blessing of telling Pat that she got the grant in the spring, and then in the summer was also provided the chance to tell her that she had nothing again. That was a hard call to make, but i told her that somehow God would provide and we would help her. So it was especially good to have teams at her house this past week beginning to serve her.

While at Pat's house, I met a young team member visiting from MN. He told me how blessed he was to be in New Orleans and how had experienced God this week. The day before, he got sick and ended up not being able to go to the work site with his team. He was feeling frustrated for not being able to work and serve as he wanted to. Later in the afternoon after resting, he was out on the front steps of the Yellow House. He greeted and engaged a man walking by in conversation, during which the man confided that he was struggling with addiction. The MN team member had also been down that road and was able to speak with understanding to the man. In the course of the conversation the man asked for what the team member had that enabled him to overcome....and a few minutes later they prayed and the man accepted Christ. The team member was then able to connect the man with Michael Robinson, the Community Development Director for Urban Impact Ministries, for follow-up and connection to the church.

Pray for the power of God to help this man overcome the things that ensnare him and the sin that entangles.