Staci and I just got back from a week long mission trip in Huntsville, TX. For those of you who aren’t familiar with U.M. Army, the trip consists of putting students into small groups of about 4-6 with an adult. The teams are then sent out to do work on different people’s houses. Many of these people that the students work for do not have the means to be able to pay for the work that needs to be done to their house.
This week I had 9 students in my group. It was an extra large group because we were really hurting for adults this week. My group had the oppurtunity to work for a lady we’ll call Ms. Sara. Our project was to build a new front, 8×8, covered porch, as well as a 4×8, back porch.
It was a tough week. We had record setting heat, and not a lot of time to get a whole lot of work done. Not to mention that, although I do have remodeling experience, I have never built anything from the ground up. But it was awesome to see how God worked through our group as well as the whole UM Army group throughout the week. And it is cool to think that I now have the know-how to do some pretty awesome building projects.
Monday was a tough day. We ended the day not having completed much except for putting a few really deep holes in the ground (that had turned out to be in the wrong places), and built the beginning of a porch frame that was the wrong size. Our group finished the day extremely defeated. But God lifted our spirits on Tuesday as we finished the day having our 4 corner posts set as well as the beginning of our deck. The highlight of our group’s week (except for finishing the deck) came Tuesday afternoon. At this point, we had our 4 main corner posts in as well as our frame and cross braces. Everything had 5 screws in it and was ready to go… well, ready except that we had forgotten to check if the door would open once we put the decking on. I asked, very reluctantly, for a deck board that we could place across our frame. I placed the deck board, reached for the door, pressed the handle, and began to pull… Time stopped… My heart stopped… it, it, it, IT WORKED! The door swung open with about a half inch of clearing! We cheered! But the test wasn’t over yet. I moved the deck board over to double check the door. It swung closed! WOOHOO! After making so many mistakes and having so many defeats within the first two days, this was definitely what our group needed. Tuesday ended with a make-shift deck and stairs that just allowed Ms. Sara to get in and out of her house. Tuesday complete.
Wednesday we began hot and early in the morning. We all decided that we needed to at least have the deck mostly complete and the stairs in so that Ms. Sara could easily get in and out of her house. So with our spirits much higher, and a goal to reach in mind, we began hard at work. As we tried to dig in for the stairs we hit a big problem (pun intended). Ms. Sara’s yard was covered in all kinds of crazy tree roots. We’d dig for a few inches and hit a root. We’d eventually break through after 10 to 15 minutes of beating it with a shovel or pickax. Then we’d dig another couple of inches and hit another root.
We figured ways around the roots and continued to work and work:
Finally by the end of the day, this is what we had:
We were almost finished. Thursday would bring us to the final sawing down of the 4×4 posts, finishing the handrails, and puting on the roof; all pretty daunting tasks. We began slowly as we hit another snag. Our circular saw decided it didn’t want to cut anything anymore. We changed the blade and still nothing. Luckily our Color Group Leader had an extra with him that we were able to use that day. The afternoon capped of with a visit from my Pastor and his wife, as well as our UM Army director, and others from the group as we wrapped up the roofing job. This is what it lookied like as we finished Thursday:
So Here’s a nice before and after shot (ps.. the before shot is just of the staircase that used to be in front of Ms. Sara’s house. I took the picture of it once we had already moved it.)
Now Ms. Sara can easily get in and out of her house and even set a chair out on her deck and enjoy the cool evenings and breezy mornings.
Oh and I can’t forget the awesome job on the back porch that half our team did. Before, there was nothing. After, there was this:
The truth is, this picture doesn’t really do the justice of the difficulty of this project because of the steep grade on the backside of the house that you can’t really see in this picture.
Anyway, my group knocked this one out of the park and finished the week by painting up this blue house on Friday:
I’m really proud to have been the leader of group “Yellow – S”!!!
I also had the opportunity to speak Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights as well as lead worship on Thursday. It was such an awesome experience and it was awesome to see all the work that God had done through the week. It really is too bad that we have to wait a-whole-nother year until the next trip. But Staci and I leave soon for our Big House trip with our middle school students which will be a lot similar, but on a lot smaller scale.
It’s awesome to see so many students doing so much for the good of others and connecting with each other and connecting with Christ.