Every year for the past decade the saints at the First U.P. Church of Crafton Heights have sent a team of adults to Texas as a part of our attempt to better relate to the national and global church, to build community in our own body, and to offer some assistance to those who have been struck by disaster. This week I will attempt to tell some part of our story as we seek to make our world smaller and our lives bigger through service and learning.
The first day of a construction/service trip is often slow to get going, as we’ve got to get the lay of the land in terms of the tasks that are in front of us, the tools at our disposal, the personnel we have on hand, and the constraints or opportunities any of those afford to us. Today it felt as though we launched with lightning speed!
We’ve been invited to help a homeowner recover from some pretty intense flooding that hit this area last year. This part of Texas is flat – I mean, FLAT. And we are essentially at sea level, even though we are so far inland. That means that when an area gets hit by a hard, heavy rain, it can take some time for the water to get anywhere. As a result, homes that are built on a slab are at risk of flooding. Such was the case in the property we went to today.
The remedy for this kind of flooding is to remove the bottom two feet or so of drywall so as to reduce the likelihood of mold or mildew setting in and causing long-term damage to either the home or its inhabitants. Some of our group spent much of the day measuring and cutting through drywall and trim in order to accomplish this. The rest of the team was sent up top, to remove the shingles from the roof as we anticipate replacing it later in the week.
It was a great first day of labor, and a better first day of coming together as a team and a community. There was a lot of laughter and encouragement; some of us (I’m looking at you, Karen!) faced our fears and scaled new heights – literally – in order to work on the roof. All of us enjoyed a delicious lunch of “Grandma’s sloppy joe” and, my personal favorite, GRAPEFRUIT PIE! We first had this southern delicacy years ago, and my friend Martha made TWO of these treats for the group, along with a couple of blackberry pies. If I was on my game, you’d see a picture of us, and these pies, and there would be lots of smiling involved… but the truth is that I was so engaged with visiting, listening to stories, and, well, eating that I didn’t get any. I’m sorry about that, because those are shots I’d like to have some day, and maybe you’d like to see them.
We are eager to get back out there tomorrow and discover what is waiting for us on site and in our lives. Until then, we are deeply grateful for the chances we’ve been given to be here and to be together. Here are a few images from our day…