This year’s team consisted of Kim Albert, Kelly and Lance Chappell, Wayne Davis, James Edmunds, Mike, Michaela, and Maelyn Freshour, Robert Guthrie, Russell and Marilyn Lee, Matthew and Teresa Lee, and Larry McPeters. As always, we saw each person’s special gifts revealed as God worked through us in this mission.
The first job we knew about before we left. In the summer of 2017 we helped Jim remove the last few items from his family home before it was demolished. Our construction supervisor, Buck, told me that he was really looking forward to our group coming because he knew we had a plumber and he needed to get the plumbing finished in Jim’s new house. Robert was not totally excited about spending all week doing the same work he does every day, but God had this plan for him, and he, along with the help of Wayne and Teresa, completed the job. They also did some electrical work to install lights in the basement – their special skills were in Richwood exactly when they were needed.
On a side note, Marilyn and Kim were shopping for groceries on Monday, and Kim was wearing the “Richwood Strong” t-shirt given to her by the team last year. It caught the eye of an older couple, and after striking up a conversation it turned out that she was the sister of Jim, and our group was working on her family home site, the house she grew up in. Kim showed her pictures taken last year, just before the house was demolished, and she exclaimed, “That was my Mama’s house!”
The second job was rebuilding a garage just up the street from Jim’s house. Robin, the homeowner, was so grateful for our presence. She helped when she could, provided the team with refreshments and cold water, and shared photos and stories of her experience with the disaster. The biggest focus here was getting the roof on, and Larry directed this operation with Lance as his #1 helper. God created this opportunity for Larry to share skills with the younger folks, as he taught Lance the fine points of putting on a tin roof, and gave Michaela and Maelyn their first taste of operating power tools! Mike was at work on this job, watching his girls grow in service, and Russell was a part of this crew, too.
The third job was another God-send. We were already slated to continue installing vinyl siding on Harold’s house, but the week before we arrived Harold fell and broke his hip. So now he also needed a ramp to access his home. James and Kelly eagerly took on this job, even though neither of them had ever built a ramp before. They were completely blessed by the idea of doing this service for this man, even though we never met him. We heard marvelous testaments to Harold’s Christian character from many sources. One of our mealtime devotions was about building character through adversity; we don’t think for one minute that Harold needed any characterbuilding, but God used Harold’s adversity as an opportunity to build character in some of our group.
Matthew and Kim chipped away at the siding on Harold’s house and pump house all week. There was a group of inexperienced young people from Lumberton, NC, who needed work, and Buck asked if we could help him by leading them. So Matthew spent several days teaching the finer points of installing siding and providing a meaningful work experience to these folks. His gift of teaching was certainly put into use!
The final project was Harold’s greenhouse. It may not seem like a greenhouse is such an important thing to rebuild, but Harold’s was washed away in the flood and his garden is extremely important to him, as he grows vegetables to give away to the needy. James, Mike, and Russell worked on the greenhouse, with help from Michaela and Maelyn, and they succeeded in putting on the roof and installing some siding.
Marilyn was challenged with the task of playing house-mom to our group without a designated helper. Cooking and cleaning up after this bunch is no easy task! She planned breakfast, put out fixings for us to prepare bag lunches, got our water coolers ready, had dinner going when we got back from working, and sometimes even had appetizers or desserts planned! God provided pleasant spirits for each of our team members and there was always someone helping with the preparation and clean up of each meal.
Throughout the week we were also treated to opportunities to enjoy God’s beautiful creation. We appreciated the cool evening temps and clear skies with a corn hole tournament outside the church where we were staying. Case manager, Grace, brought each team donuts Thursday morning. Buck invited us down to the banks of the North Fork of the Cherry River for an evening complete with a bonfire and s’mores. The team at Harold’s house spent Friday afternoon break in the river.
The bottom line is that we returned home with an amazing sense of awe at what God can do when He calls His people to service. He showed older folks that they’ve “still got it!” He showed younger folks the possibilities. He spoke through each of us as we shared devotions. He used us as examples, and helped us each learn new things.
And, “May Jesus Christ be praised!”