Monday, October 31, 2016

Mission Trip to Clendenin, West Virginia

Last week, Ian and I had the opportunity to travel to Clendenin, West Virginia with a work team from Burt Avenue Wesleyan Church in Coshocton. Although the timing of the trip was not convenient (we are preparing to move to North Carolina), Ian expressed interest in participating and I wanted to be supportive of his desire to serve. I'm glad we decided to go!

We spent four days installing new drywall for a woman named Barbara, whose mobile home was destroyed by the recent flooding in Clendenin. She came into possession of another home, but that house had been damaged by the flood as well. Previous volunteers had cleaned up debris from the flood and cut off about four feet of drywall that had been damaged. Our job was to splice in new drywall, and to tape, mud and sand as much as possible.

Among other skills, Ian learned to cut openings for switches and outlets.

Before too long, he could measure and cut all by himself.

It was almost unbelievable that the relatively mild river flowing through Clendenin could rise to high enough levels to cause such damage. The normal level of the river is more than twenty feet below street level, but during the flood the water level rose about seven feet above the street, as shown in the photo below.

The water level can still be seen on this storefront window.
Many houses had been cleaned up, but some were still in very rough shape.

It was a privilege to spend a few days serving Barb, helping her establish her new home in Clendenin. I also enjoyed working alongside Ian, serving together. I was extremely proud of Ian: how hard he worked, how much he learned (by the second or third day he could measure, cut and hang sections of drywall on his own), and how he stepped outside his comfort zone to connect with the rest of the team.

Ian and I spent much of our time working on drywall in the bathroom.

We enjoyed spending time together, as well as working with the Burt Avenue team, some of whom are pictured below. Even though our family is in "full-time" mission service, it was nice to do something different, meeting a tangible need for someone who desperately needed our help.

Spank is cutting a sheet of drywall.
Austin was the resident "mudder", covering the screws used to hang the drywall.

Mike Garrett (who also serves with MMS Aviation) was our primary "mudder".

Austin, Tammy and Spank enjoy a donut break.

The multi-talented Pastor Rod Uhlig, cutting a sheet of drywall.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Home at Last!

After eight days stranded in Kansas and two days of driving, we finally arrived home early Sunday morning! We attempted to leave Kansas last Wednesday evening, but the new engine in our Vibe stopped running before we got on the interstate. By early Thursday afternoon, the mechanic had the problem figured out and we were on the road again. 

Everything was going smoothly until we heard a "pop" from the trailer. Fortunately we were very close to the hotel in Salina, Kansas where we were going to sleep that evening. When we got out of the car and looked at the trailer, Tara and I started laughing hysterically. What else could we do?

This is what we saw when we got out and looked at the trailer. The leaf spring had broken, allowing the wheel to rub through the fender. At this point, all we could do was laugh—otherwise we might cry!

The last thing we needed was another delay. But we were safe and had a functional vehicle this time! In the morning I located a Tractor Supply and a Lowe's, and got to work replacing the broken leaf spring on the trailer. It took longer than I hoped, as I ran into some unexpected snags, but by mid-afternoon Friday the trailer was rolling again and we were on our way.

Out with the old, in with the new!
After one more hotel stop, dinner with friends in Indianapolis, and a final push through midnight, we arrived home! It never felt to good to drive into Coshocton!

This has been a long trip, and one that we won't soon forget. We are thankful that even through trials and hardships the Lord has been with us, providing our needs every step of the way. Friends and family have responded with incredible love and generosity over the past couple weeks, supporting us spiritually, emotionally and financially.

At some point, I will share some photos of the time we spent out west. Until now, the first three weeks of our trip have been overshadowed by the events of the last two weeks, but we don't want to forget about the incredible beauty of God's creation that we experienced on this trip. Until next time, goodbye!