Serving Homeowners in Houston
Thank you for your prayers and support for our recent trip to the Houston area. We felt the support and were encouraged to bring our energy and joy to serve those in need. I would like to share some of our experiences down there and what we learned as a result.
Keep in mind, that we went down fully aware that the job would be much too big for any of us to have a huge effect in terms of repair. That is why I encouraged our team as we engaged with our hands and feet to remember that the greatest service we could do for the homeowners with which we worked would be to bring joy and strength. We emphasized conversation and prayer with the homeowners through the process, and we often found quiet moments to pray with them at the end of the projects. I am happy to report that our prayers, as well as our physical labor, were well received and greatly appreciated.
Let me tell you a little about our work:
As we arrived in our first neighborhood we began to notice that most of the homes were well along in the process. There were piles and piles of debris along the roads. And even though we were outside, the air gave a very musty and mildew-like stench—like when you have left your clothes in the washer too long. Since our job was to find those homeowners that were ill-equipped to keep up the pace, we looked for yards that had very little debris along the curb. This would be a sign that they had a lot more work to do. And given the heat and moisture in their homes, if the damaged material inside were not removed and the home able to dry out, mold could set in and people would suffer long-term effects.
So once we found homes and people in need, we set about to “muck.” This meant removing destroyed furniture, knocking out drywall and insulation, and clearing out any flooring that was damaged. Most of the homes were relatively dry two weeks after the hurricane, but not all of them, so this meant working in dark, dank and sometimes wet conditions. We wore masks, safety glasses, work gloves, and high boots. We also carried with us hammers, crow bars, small sledge hammers and lots and lots of trash bags. And working from 9am until 5pm those days meant that there were lots of trash bags to fill! To finish the job meant that each home was stripped down to its studs on the inside and all of the furniture and stuff put out to the curb to be picked up for trash. It was grueling work, but there was a certain satisfaction in cleaning out someone’s home that had been nearly destroyed by feet of water. They could at least start over.
As I wrote above, we prayed quite a bit while there trying to uplift the spirits of the homeowners and encourage them to not grow weary. I kept remembering these words by the Apostle Paul, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” And often, when we were able to gather around them to pray and talk about the work we were able to do and the work we were unable to get to, invariably, they were brought to joyful tears by our willingness to come and do what we could. It felt like we were reaping a harvest of good will and healed souls. It was truly humbling for me, knowing how little this hurricane effected us way up here in Dallas, and how easy it was for me to spend some time over the course of those days to do a little physical labor.
I am happy to report that most of the homes and businesses down there are recovering. And although much is improved in the Houston area there is still a long road ahead for many families and businesses. But praise God, there was so much joy by those people we encountered in the Houston area. Even those hardest hit were encouraged and quick to smile. This especially was a visible and present reminder of where joy comes from — or rather, where it does not. It does not come from material wealth, or physical well-being, or even a roof over our heads. Real, lasting joy comes from God. And His joy gives us strength. Please be praying for the people of the Gulf Coast and the Houston area to know God, to feel His strength, and be over-joyed by that experience.
Thank you again for your support and prayers. If you would like to know how to continue to help, feel free to reach out to the church office.
Rev. Mark Walz