Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hi y'all,

Week #3 began with temperatures in the low 30’s – is this TX? This is not normal, but can you believe this sunrise?

Although we are “Construction Managers”, Ken has been getting his hands dirty with solving electrical problems in a couple of houses we are working on. We make many trips in a day to the lumber yard. I am coding all the invoices, with UMCOR numbers, that we charge at various locations, along with the supervisor’s invoices.

This week we had a team of 50 Mennonites from PA Lancaster area. Since we have several houses waiting for inspections, UMCOR decided to send half the team to the Port Arthur / Orange area, about 2 hours North East on the Texas Gulf Coast. Each morning at 5:30 a.m., they would be bussed over to the sites and then return about 7:00 p.m. to Galveston. We had hoped that the team would just stay in Port Arthur, but they wanted to stay together with the whole team in Galveston.

The other half of the team that stayed in Galveston mainly worked on two houses. On one house, we did electrical rough in and exterior painting. On a second house we finished texturing the drywall in two rooms, primed, and finish paint.  One of the houses needed a handicapped ramp...when all was said and done it looked like the lines in Disney World...five (5) levels!

                                            5 levels of handicapped ramp

We have one house that is waiting for a professional plumber as it has old cast iron plumbing that needs to be relocated. The owner of this house is living in a little one bedroom FEMA trailer next door. This week he got a letter from FEMA saying that starting in March, they are going to start charging him rent - $852 per month. This is hard to believe. We heard that these trailers have Formaldehyde problems and will be destroyed. We plan to meet with our supervisors next week to see if there is any way we can complete his house and get him moved in before the deadline.

Ken continues to help Pastor Billy at one house doing plumbing (not one of his favorite jobs), but at least it is the ‘clean’ plumbing…hooking up all the fixtures, etc. He came home for lunch Saturday not having a good day. He had a plumbing leak somewhere, got a screw in the sidewall of our SUV tire, went to Home Depot to get the stuff for the plumbing leak and it didn’t work…so his day did not go well at all.

                                           Ken working on a shower

McCoy’s (a lumber company we do a lot of business with) put on a BBQ for the volunteers as a thank you for helping here in Galveston. There were about 50+ people in attendance. Food on a charcoal grill just has a great flavor – even though it was quite chilly out. Volunteers were playing volleyball and enjoying themselves.

We got to visit Pastor David and his wife, Maria. The team from our church that came down in May worked on his house. He has it just about completed. His wife’s health is much better and she is enjoying being in her house and decorating.

On a sad note a friend of ours, Pastor Tim that was part of our ‘community family’ here in Galveston was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was hauling flooring to one of the houses they were working on and his right side of his face and right leg went numb, his speech became slurred, he was nauseated and had a weird smell in his nose. After many tests, the doctors have told him there is a lesion/tumor on the left side of his brain that is 1” x 2” and close to the area that controls speech and motor function. They are not sure if it is cancerous or not so they must remove it and biopsy it.

                          Pastor Tim Schwartz, Ken & Julie (at Mardi Gras parade)

Tim was a pastor from Philadelphia, PA who felt God leading him and his wife, Jenn, to Galveston to help with the hurricane recovery. They arrived here in February of 2009 and stayed at University Baptist (where the rest of us were housed). They left their family and jobs behind to minister here in Texas. Jenn is twelve weeks pregnant with their first child so this is especially difficult for them and us. Please pray for Tim’s healing and for comfort and peace. Tim is planning to be healed so that he can run a 5K for the American Brain Tumor Association in Chicago on May 22. Tim will be having surgery in April.

We met with my friend, Sally, Donny and Heather (their daughter) on Sat. night. Sally and I worked in the Neo Natal Unit at Texas Children Hospital in the 80’s. We caught up with all we have missed being apart. She just ran a half marathon in Austin last week and during the summer she went to Mexico twice on a mission trip.

Heather, Donny, Sally, Julie & Ken

On Wednesday, our ‘community family’ that we formed last year while working at University Baptist, got together and had a tureen. Tim was missing because he had a day full of tests at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. We had a fun time talking over old times, what has happened in our lives in the last year and re-acquainting with each other again.

Jenn Schwartz (Tim was absent), Dawn & Billy Graff, Ken & Julie, Janice & Rex Bruton, Gisselle, Punay & Bing

Ken has been working on plumbing and electrical this week at Mr. Abraham’s home. We have had two Mennonite ladies with us all week (along with a few others that pop in) who we have become attached to and are quite the worker bees. One lady, Martha, (from the Bible, the worker) has become quite friendly with Mr. Abraham – she even calls him “Pop”. We sang to him on their last day and he was crying and saying how much he was going to miss each and every one of them. Martha had gone those extra miles and done some extra things for him…stripping and staining a night stand, cleaning up some knick-knacks for him that had Gulf muck on them. Amanda and Rosemary helped wash all his dishes and put them away and cleaned up his water stained chairs. He said they looked like new! He is so easily pleased and grateful.

One of the teams started work on a different house (there are over 2500 homes on the UMCOR backlog) this week. When they started repairing the roof deck they discovered several on the roof rafters were severely charred from a previous house fire. The owner of the house had purchased the house before Ike and the previous owner had not disclosed that it had been fire damaged. The city inspector came and told us the house cannot be repaired and the team will now have to destroy the house. The property owner only got $20,000 from his insurance, so now UMCOR is trying to get him a new home through the local agencies.

Today, Friday, Ken is helping with laying concrete so the plumber can come in and finish plumbing. We have been waiting for over a month for the plumber. Quite frustrating.

Next week we will be getting new assignments since Jenn & Tim are on temporary leave, until after Tim’s surgery and doctor appointments. (Please keep Tim and Jenn in your prayers as they go through this stressful time in their life.)

We are not sure what we will be doing starting Monday. Stay tuned.

Blessings and stay warm!
julie & ken


Post a Comment

<< Home