Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Hello all from the cold south,

Since we have an internet connection, this will be a lengthy update.

We began our trek to Galveston with trying to meet with Pastor Billy & Dawn Graff (who now reside in Beaumont, Tx) for lunch.  Many of you who have been reading our blog, remember Pastor Billy as our initial contact in Galveston after Hurricane Ike hit.  What a blessing he and Dawn were to us and to the community of Galveston.  But, as circumstances would have it, the Beaumont Bridge was under construction and a semi tractor trailer accident had occurred and closed down the interstate.  We were only 4 miles from meeting them and it took over an hour to get to the exit, but when they exited us it was through areas that the RV would not fit, so we had to take an alternate route and were not able to meet with Dawn and Billy.  Bummer.  

So we headed to our next location:  Galveston where we would be staying at Island Community Church where we were last year.  "1 Mission Galveston" is the last volunteer group in Galveston that has any money left for volunteers.

We spent Monday getting acclimated with 1 Mission Galveston, how they are operating and getting to know our skills.  Ken is more talented in the physical area than I am, so he was a great help to them.  They mentioned they needed help getting their office organized…they picked the right person.   By the end of Tuesday, they were organized and ready for the rush of spring breakers that were going to swarm the Island for spring break. 

We met a nice couple, Denise & John and took a tour of what needed to be done in their house.  They are originally from Tucson, AZ and bought this house, hired a contractor who came highly recommended from the previous homeowner, who ended up stealing $42,000 from them and told them he was fixing up the house and they could move into the house in October and it would be 90% completed.  When they got here, it was more like 90% unfinished and he took everything…money, fixtures, flooring, etc.  

John, Denise, Scoobie-doo and Coda
After they fired him, Denise & John left to go to the motel and that night, their house was broken into.  They feel it was the contractor since he had been casing the house and waited until they were not at home.   They could not live in the house because it was in deplorable condition, no heat, no electric, no plumbing.  A really sad story – and there is so much to be done on their house.

Ken has been helping at John and Denise’s putting in fixtures in the whole house.  Their house still has no heat (except the room they are sleeping in) so the temperature was in the 30’s working there.  Quite cold. 

Outside lights Ken installed

One day, I helped out Ken putting in electrical covers.  It took me the rest of the evening to get warm.  I went out to pick up lunch for everyone and asked Denise to come with me to get warmed up – she was appreciative and just hovered over the heater.  She was chilled to the bone.
Julie installing electrical covers with Scoobie-doo

Ken also tore down a wall in the office because it had gotten wet and mold had set in.  It was like the beginning again.

A view of the drywall that was part of the wall.

The wall after torn off
More of the wall being torn down

Ken tearing down the wall

There will be 180 volunteers coming in the end of February so we put bunks together, mopped floors and cleaned up and organized the kitchen.  It was quite funny when we looked at the bunks.  They were the same ones we used at University Baptist Church two years ago.  The same ones that came from New Orleans that the college kids sand blasted and painted.  It was no mistaking them – they left an indelible mark on the memory banks – and the box springs were those funny wild colors!

Dormitory beds from University Baptist - 2 years ago
Ken also installed a door in the dormitory room to keep the noise down from the heating unit.
While Ken was working with John and Denise, I continued working in the office filing, organizing the office, setting up files on the volunteers and composing inventory check off list for all the tools so that volunteers signed out the tools they would be using and they would be accountable for.  Tools just disappear after a volunteer group leaves the camp, so we have instituted a new system to prevent this from happening.

We thought we left PA to get out of the cold.  What a surprise we had.  On Wednesday, we woke up to 25 degrees and a chill factor of 9 degrees.  WOW!!  This is the south!!! 

They predicted snow, sleet, ice and more freezing temps.  We did get the ice on Thursday evening and Friday morning.  In fact, they closed the Galveston Causeway down at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.  

The Causeway is the only bridge that connects the Island to the Mainland.  When they re-opened it on Friday, late morning, they were only letting one car go over at a time.

One day we served meals at StreetScape, an outreach that feeds the less fortunate and homeless.  We served rice and bean soup (left over from the previous day) and veggie soup to 41 people. All the people that came raved about the veggie soup, so Ken and I tasted it. I have never made veggie soup using spaghetti o’s as the base and adding corn and beans and rice.  Someone had donated 150 pounds of rice and we talked with the director and he said that until the rice was gone, every pot of soup would have it in it.  We met some very nice people who were grateful for the service of StreetScape…some of them broke our hearts.  One man ate his bowl of soup, fell asleep in the chair and shivered the whole time.  With temperature so low and the wind blowing fiercely, they came into the building to get warm, only to find out that StreetScape did not have any heat inside the building, which was like being outside without the wind - about 30 degrees.  So there were many refills to keep warm.

Volunteers left their mark with their t-shirts

I had made Tortilla Soup (thank you Sandra & David for the donation) for Denise and John to keep them warm.  They had decided to come over to the church to do laundry and to warm up, so fortunately we had enough for the staff to join us even though I did have to stretch the soup for 7 people (yes, Ron, I added an extra can of broth, not water).  Ham and turkey sandwiches were also added to the meal.  No one went away hungry and we had a great fellowship time.  This time is also important when working with people who have been devastated – they need to talk to someone and want someone to listen, this is so important to them and us.

We packed a lot of visiting in one day.  We met with my nieces (my brother, Butch’s daughters) and their children in Kemah for lunch.  What a pleasant lunch we had.  I sure miss them – I wish they were closer.

The "Cook" family reunion in Texas
Baby Ty, Bobby, Julie, Amanda, Jolin (Butch's daughters)
Mike, Montana, Ken
 That evening we met with Pastor Tim and Jenn Schwartz.  Tim and Jenn were part of our ‘family’ when we worked with Pastor Billy when we first came to Galveston 2 years ago.  Pastor Tim is the pastor we have been praying for who is recovering from brain cancer.  They recently added a baby girl – Emma, to their family. They were working with UMCOR Disaster Recovery until Pastor Tim had brain surgery.  Pastor Tim now pastors the Spanish church here in Galveston, part-time and stays at home with Emma while Jenn works as a physical therapist. 

Pastor Tim, Jenn & Emma Schwartz
Until next internet connection - keep warm.

Julie & Ken


Anonymous Glenn said...

Good to see you are still well and able 2 get things done. Its a shame that some peaple are taking advantage of others misfotune but thats how it is now days. Well stay well and watch out for banana
peals. I.H.S.Glenn

7:46 PM  

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