Houston Mission Trip 2017
October 14, 2017, 12:00 AM

Houston Mission Trip 2017

Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Mission Trip

October 5-9, 2017

18 total workers went down there. 

 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

We pulled out of FBC Friona, Texas, about 7:45am Thursday morning. It was a little rainy in Friona, but the further south we went, the less cloudy it became and we eventually got to see the sunshine, which was a wonderful sight because it has been so cloudy and rainy in Friona for the past many weeks (which is extremely rare). The road trip was smooth, and we praise the Lord for that! We made a few stops here and there for food and gas and ended up arriving at FBC Hitchcock, Texas, around 8:30pm that night.

 

 

The church is allowing us to stay in their gym/activities building which is a huge blessing for our group because it is near FBC Alta Loma where Samaritans Purse is based out of in the area.  We were all so excited to get there and so ready to get to bed.   Thank you Jesus for a safe trip!

 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Disaster relief work is dirty work. Period. And it is extremely rewarding!

Today was a blessed, exhausting, hard working, sweat soaked, heart wrenching day. After a fabulous breakfast we went to FBC Alta Loma, where Samaritans Purse is based out of in the area south of Houston. We were trained by none other than our hometown girl, Debra Cooper. It was such a joy to see the Lord using her gifts and talents leading the operation at the Samaritans Purse Disaster Relief based out of Santa Fe. She is doing an awesome job as Assistant Program Manager and we can praise the Lord for her and be very proud of her work in the Lord's ministry. Serafin Vazquez also met up with us, as he and Angelica and the kids came down to stay with her dad, who lives in the north part of Houston.

 

 

The first house we were able to go and work at was a single wide trailer home not too far from FBC Alta Loma. It was the home of Kathy, an 85-year-old elderly woman with early onset dementia. Her daughter Pam also lives with her and is Kathy's main caretaker. They were so grateful for our group coming and we were so thankful that we could go and help them. Our main task was removing the plywood and insulation barrier from underneath the trailer house.

 

 

 

Water had come up to the very top of the porch but did not go inside the house and do a lot of damage, but the underneath of this trailer house was a wreck. The group did an amazing job working hard, working together, and glorifying God as we worked. The task at hand was messy, yucky and grilling but we were able to finish in about three hours.

 

 All of the trash and debris that we collect was placed on the side the road to be collected at a later time. There are tons of piles of debris everywhere you drive around in this area. The county or city comes and remove the debris as they're able to throughout the coming months.

 

Before we left Kathy and Pam's house we did something that happens at every Samaritans Purse job site upon completion. Everyone in our group signed a Billy Graham training Bible for Kathy and Pam and before we left we were able to present the Bible to them.

 

 

They were so thankful to receive the Bible and to be blessed in this way with everyone coming to help them. It was a very moving moment as we gathered in their single wide trailer, presented the Bible and then prayed over them before we left.

  

The next home we went to work at was at a dead end street right on the edge of a bayou in a pretty secluded area. The owner of the home Mike, and his friend Lisa, had such a mess at their property. Water had come halfway up the front door and it went all throughout the house. We did a lot of work inside the house removing sheetrock and insulation and demolishing a bathroom.

 

 

We also sprayed for mold everywhere in the house that had been affected by the water.  The inside of the house is going to take a lot of work to rebuild as it

had been stripped down to the studs all over the entire first floor

r.

One of the big problems though, was that when the water got up so high and had such a strong current that it brought in tons of debris and other junk that was all over their property.

 

 

For example, right across the street on the edge of the bayou a big boat (30' houseboat) had drifted up on the bank that sits up above the bayou about 8 feet.

 

 

Our group did an amazing job taking all sorts of debris to the curb that had drifted up on his property. We piled up a ton of debris that stretched for 15 yards and was a few feet high. It was debris of every sort, tree stumps, a washer, a dryer, a freezer, insulation from the walls from the house and much more. One of Mike's extreme concerns was how long the debris would sit out in front of his house, especially since his road was off the beaten path. You wouldn't believe this though, God worked it out where Brazoria County showed up just as we were done. They showed up in three dump trucks a bucket skylift excavator thing and they loaded 3 dump trucks of debris and still have more to go by the time that we left. It was amazing to see God's timing!

 

 

 God showed Mike the love that he needed through the help of our group, and also allowing the county to show up to remove the trash. The county he lived in lives is Brazoria county and their trash guys said they are removing debris, working 6, 12 hour days, and are just now on their first round of debris removal. They plan to go over the county three times picking up debris. The stop that the Brazoria County debris revival crew had at Mike's house was not planned by Samaritans purse or us, but was just in their itinerary for debris removal, but we know that it was God who orchestrated events as we reached out to Mike. Lisa, Mike's wife, was not there because she is fully disabled and has also been battling cancer for two years. I forgot to ask them where they were living at the moment because their house was unlivable and will be until major work is done. Please pray for Mike and Lisa as they continue to face the uncertainties and difficulties in their lives.  Pray that they will turn to Christ through this. 

 

 

 

While we were at Mike and Lisa's house working, Four from our group split off to go work at another house. Monty, Serafin, Tristan, and Anthony all went to work at what was supposed to be a small job removing some cabinets. They were a little late to supper at FBC Alta Loma and when they arrived we learned that the small job was not so small. They did an amazing job removing cabinets, countertops and ministering to a family in this way. I'm so thankful for how hard working our crew is down here, and I was reminded of that tonight by these four guys who knocked out this big project in a short amount of time.

 

 

After the bigger group finished at Mike and Lisa's we went down the road to Pat's house. Her house did not look horrible on the outside but the reality was that they were severely affected by the flood

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Their trailer house had been floated up and almost floated off the concrete blocks it was sitting on. The water was very high where they live, so there was some work to be done on the inside as well as the outside. The skirt and underneath boards and insulation had already been removed. A few of us cleaned up under a porch, but most of the crew worked on the inside of the house removing walls, insulation and preparing the studs to be sprayed with the mold killer. Some will go back to this house on Saturday and Lord willing we will be able to minister to Pat who is in desperate need of Lord and finish her house. 

 

Showers & Supper

When our group would meet in preparation for the mission trip I would often remind them that showers and shaving are optional. Well, you are so filthy by the time that you get done working disaster relief that you are not even allowed to come in to the church area unless you take your boots off. All sorts of bacteria, mold, insulation, debris, dirt, mud and who knows what else are all over your clothes, boots, hands, arms, hair and everywhere! Since FBC Hitchcock did not have showers at their facilities, we were able to take showers using the Samaritans Purse shower trailer parked at FBC Alta Loma.

 

 

This is an amazing trailer, and we were able to take our showers before we ate supper at 6 PM that night there. The supper was wonderful, as we were able to eat with the Samaritans Purse group which was probably around 75 or 100 people. After supper was share time with those eating, and it was basically a testimony time to share how the Lord was at work that day. This was one of the most exciting times all day of hearing reports of people that were helped but especially people who were saved. One notable person who was saved that day was an 88-year old man. The Lord has used a couple different people in the room to point him to Christ and today he gave his life to Jesus! This was a blessed evening and an exciting time.

From here, we went back to FBC Hitchcock, got things ready for bed, and in all honesty, we were so tired that air mattresses have never felt so good. To God be the glory for a wonderful day and how he is at work and that we get to be a part of it!

 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

This group is such a hard-working group!!! We started out our morning with breakfast and Bible study and then made our way to FBC Alta Loma to get our tools and directions for the day.  Six people went back to Pat's house from Friday and finished up there, while the rest of us went to Mary's house in Dickinson, Texas. The community of Dickinson was hard hit by the flooding and it was apparent down every street. There were piles of debris everywhere, and you could even see the water line on some of the fences which showed that the water was up about 3 to 4 feet inside people's homes!

 

 

 

Mary's home was severely damaged, and had not been touched, except that the furniture and belongings inside the home had been removed. Our task was removing all the sheetrock, insulation, nails, moisture barrier, taking the flooring down to the concrete slab, and then spraying to kill the mold.  Every nail was pulled, and the place was swept clean so that it could be sprayed properly for mold. This was a huge task, and our group did an awesome job working in the heat and humidity that made the house seem like an oven at times.

 

 

 

 

 

  Mary, the homeowner, would come by from time to time and she was so thankful for our group's work. Mary was in her late 60s and was rescued by neighbors in the middle of the night. Water was already up a couple feet in her house and she had no clue till neighbors woke her to get out of the house.  From there, the people stranded at the 2 story house were rescued by boats.  She lost everything, in spite of the fact that she was ready to flee and had loaded everything in the trunk of her car. Unfortunately, the water came up at night, and she had to flee on foot with her neighbors, and her car was flooded completely. 

 

A few neat things happened while we were at her house. During afternoon break, a guy pulled up in a big pickup truck and brought us a big box of soft tacos. He was with a cowboy church in the area and wanted to give us some good food to eat while we were working. We did enjoy their food and were grateful for it.

 

As we finishing this food, another gentleman came by and he wanted to give us some food too!  He too, was thankful that we were down there helping people but we did not take his food since we just filled our bellies.  As we moved from place to place between jobs it has been encouraging as people have been so appreciative and often recognize the orange T-shirts of Samaritans Purse.  This speaks well of their ministry but especially of the ministry of Jesus Christ.  

At the end of each job we pray with the homeowners and present them a Bible.  Mary was so grateful for our group, and she said so many, many times. Faith presented her with the Bible that we all signed.  Mary said that she was hoping the gift would be a Bible because she had lost all her Bibles in the flood to her knowledge.  Amazingly, though, Monty came across one of her Bibles, an old Bible, while we were cleaning out things in the attic and in a closet. She was so thankful and excited to receive these gifts!

 

  

Another aspect of our helping people, is that with the money people have given FBC Friona we were able to give homeowners we helped a gift card to either Walmart or Lowes.  Each person was so grateful for these as well.  Mary was hoping to be back in her home in three months but this is going to take a ton of work.  In fact Samaritans purse says that on average, it takes 18 months for people to get back into their homes after they have been completely gutted like we did today.  We pray for Mary and that she would continue to lean on Jesus Christ through this difficult time. Mary had lost her husband about a year earlier and this time has been especially difficult because she said she was just learning how to be alone, and then hurricane Harvey created a disaster for everyone again.

 

 

 

That evening we were all so worn out! That is an understatement!!!  We were out of gas, exhausted, beaten, and sore in places we forgot we had. The showers were a huge blessing as well as supper with Samaritans Purse.  At FBC Hitchcock the kids had a great time playing in the gym and winding down for the evening.  Pastor Lee Balinas also came by the church and Brett was able to have a great visit with him.  He is the pastor at FBC Hitchcock where we are staying.  

 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday our team was able to worship with FBC Hitchcock.  It started out with us being able to offer people some of Sharlet’s homemade cinnamon rolls as they came in for Sunday School.   Sharlet did an awesome job with the food all week, but she also wanted to do something special for our host church, which ended up being homemade cinnamon rolls before and during Sunday School.  We joined the church for their Sunday School opening, then when Sunday School classes split up, our group stayed in the Auditorium for Bible study and group time.  This was a rich time in the Lord, and church was a blessing also.  Faith was able to play the offertory, Kevin Wiseman thanked the church for their gracious hospitality allowing us to stay in their building and use their van Sunday afternoon.  At the close of the service, the church prayed over our group which meant so much.

 

   

 

            After Sunday School, Brett had a message on his phone from Billy Smith, saying Suezy, his wife, was not doing well in the hospital.  Suezy had a brain tumor removed in Amarillo about two months ago, and her and her husband arrived in Houston just before Hurricane Harvey for intensive treatment at MD Anderson.  MD Anderson is in Houston, so Brett was able to leave and be with them the rest of the afternoon.

 

            After a quick lunch, Debra assigned half our group to finish a few things at Mary’s house, which we had gutted the day before.  The other half of the group went to George and Nadia’s.  We were shocked when we turned onto their street as we saw huge piles of debris stacked by the street in front of every house.  

 

 

 

George and Nadia were so glad to see us.  They said that they have been renting an apartment because all the FEMA hotels are full.  They desperately need to get back into their house but have had no help at all from anyone but neighbors in the last five weeks.  Nadia has very bad asthma and the sheetrock and everything that got wet had to be removed.  Some neighbors had helped tear out two to three feet of sheetrock, but it was jagged and uneven.  All of it had to be remeasured and cut straight.  Nails and screws had to be removed from studs.  Debra assigned those two chores to the women and youth of our group. The men had to remove bathtubs, sinks and vanities from the two bathrooms. We held hands in a circle and prayed before going in.  We worked diligently for over two hours in some heat and extreme humidity and finished this part of the job.  Another Samaritan Purse group will go next week to take out the lower cabinets in the kitchen.  Then we stood in their driveway, seeing their faces beaming with smiles. Nadia said we were the first “yes͟” she had gotten when calling places for help. George thanked us and the Lord for sending us.  Even though our time was short, they were amazed at how much work was done.  We all hugged, took pictures, and ended with another circle of prayer.  We were so thankful to make a connection with this precious family, who had quite a story during the flood.

 

           

Ten years ago, George & Nadia, with their three children, had bought this beautiful 1,800 sq. ft. house and made it their home.  George is a plant manager and Nadia is working on her master’s degree in accounting.  Krista is 21 and a junior in college, living at home.  Nathan is in high school and Aaron is in 5th grade.

            The night of the flood, George woke up to water coming in the house.  He woke the family and knew they must get out.  Krista said she shined a light out the back window and waves of water were hitting the house. The cars were in the driveway, already under water. They went across the street to the neighbor’s two-story house along with several others from the neighborhood.  They waved at helicopters that were shining lights down at them.  By morning the water was chest-high in the street to George, and a foot or so deep in their house.  A military truck came and a soldier told the people to get on the truck.  Aaron, who is 11, was downstairs and went with the soldier.  George and the rest of the family were upstairs and they missed Aaron.  He started yelling, “Aaron! Aaron!͟” and he literally jumped from the second to first floor frantically trying to find him.  He finally found him on the truck and was so relieved they didn’t get separated.  The truck took them to a shelter, where sometime later a relative came to get them.  Their story was dramatic and scary, but not uncommon, as the flood came so quickly and placed so many people in a dangerous situation. 

           

After showers that evening we went to Galveston, Texas, for some fun.  We stopped at the beach and many played in the water, then we took a ride on the Bolivar ferry, followed by some seafood.  This was a great evening, but once again, we were worn out and the air mattresses slept wonderfully.

 

 

Monday, October 9, 2017

            Rise and shine, was the call about 4-4:15am.  We packed everything and left by 5:00am, so we wouldn’t get stuck in traffic in Houston.  Thankfully we made it through with no slow-downs and had a great journey home.  Arrival in Friona was at 6:00pm, and the temperature took our breaths away as a brisk, windy cold front had blown in and had temperatures into the 40s, which was much lower than the balmy, humid 80s we were used to.  Once again, the Lord blessed our trip and those who went. 

 

Pastor Brett’s thoughts  I am so thankful that FBC Friona is a sending church!  It was a joy to see the group set apart to make the trip down, and I was so glad to be a part.  The seven youth who went worked so hard and I am extremely proud of them.  One of my prayers before the trip was that while we were down there, that the Lord would bless our time as a group when we were in the Bible.  Each morning, after breakfast we would have group time, and the Lord answered these prayers as our times in the Word were sweet.  Further, there was such unity of mind and spirit as we worked, which only believers in Jesus Christ can experience.  Praise God for that!