MDS Youth House
It is Finished!
by Pastor Joel Schroeder

God is GOOD. All the TIME.

On Thursday, August 19, at 7:00 am, Jordan and Diana Miller, Dan and Cindy Epp, Clint Litsey and I left the FMC parking lot on the final trip to Franklin, LA. It was the highly anticipated trip that was first dreamed about in May. We were amazed that the project had remained on schedule (thanks to the dedication and hard work of all the volunteers) and now we were about to share a blessing on Betty’s house and give her the keys to her new home.
We were greeted with excitement by the week seven crew as they enthusiastically shared their stories and accomplishments from the week. What a blessing! Also, a big thank you goes to the volunteers from week seven as they had done a lot of cleaning at the house and at the camp prior to our arrival.
Before the house dedication, there were some details yet to be completed. On Friday morning, a group of us went to New Iberia, LA to pick up Betty’s new washer, dryer, stove, and refrigerator while the rest of the crew headed to the house to do touch up painting and some final cleaning. After we returned with the appliances, a furniture truck arrived with the bedroom sets that Betty was able to purchase with donations from her church and her neighbors. It was an exciting and busy morning!
Also as part of the excitement, Betty was presented with a number of gifts including doilies made by a church member, a quilted wall hanging made by a FMC member, pots and pans purchased by VBS children, a framed puzzle put together by FMC 3rd and 4th graders, and a doll house that the children of FMC assembled during worship as part of the Building the Kingdome of God worship series this summer. Betty was overwhelmed and could not find the words to express her appreciation for everything!
After saying farewell to the week 7 crew, we ate lunch, cleaned up, drove to Avery Island, and toured the Tabasco sauce factory. We were all amazed to discover that they make 700,000 bottles of Tabasco sauce daily! Our group brought home quite a bit of the spicy goodness as the gift store was conveniently located at the end of the tour. We also had the opportunity to try sweet and spicy ice cream, jalapeño ice cream, and Tabasco soda pop.


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After a supper of crab and shrimp Po-Boys at Seafood Connection in New Iberia, LA, we drove to Betty and Chris’ church, St. Joseph Baptist Church for a special service which Chris presented one of the messages. It was an energetic two-hour service!


Well, finally Saturday morning came and after a final cleaning, the camp was locked up and we drove to Betty’s house one last time. Unfortunately, upon our arrival, we discovered that the air-conditioner had stopped working during the night. So while several worked on finding the problem, Chris and his family began breakfast as other family, friends, and church members continued to come for the dedication.


Judy Herring, Directorate for Family & Community Development began the dedication with a devotional. I (Joel) offered a blessing for the house and Sister Helen concluded with prayer. Betty then signed the Job Card indicating the project was completed and she was presented with the keys to her new home. While this was all that was planned for the dedication, a relative sang the Lord’s Prayer and a church member offered up another powerful prayer. After this prayer, we were served a brunch which included eggs, sausage, grits and biscuits. We left Betty and Franklin, reflecting on the challenges and joys of the summer and on the goodness of God. 


Oh, unfortunately, we were not able to solve the air-conditioner problem.  SMHA will be following up on that in time for Betty to move into her new home on September 1!


Thank you to all who worked, gave financially and prayed. It was calculated that the completion of this project (both in Newton and Franklin) took around 150 volunteers, 40 days to complete. Praise the Lord!


Week 7/Day 3-5
by Janice Good

The seventh and last work team, accomplished the final work list at Betty’s house, and were blessed to spend time with Betty, her son Chris, and meet a few of her grandchildren while doing their work! We put up shutters, cleaned the outside yard and job trailer, washed windows, put on door locks, painted exterior doors, installed closet shelving, bathroom medicine cabinet and towel holders, and cleaned the cupboards and floors. The final electrical work was completed, and carpet was installed. The walk bridge leading to Betty’s was repaired and painted also. It was hot and humid outside, but we were fortunate to have some air conditioning on the inside. This was a treat that none of the other teams had so we were thankful for it!


The best part this week was spending some time with Betty and Chris shopping for some items for Betty’s home, and being able to purchase a rocking chair for her front porch. Spending time on porches and in front yards is a favorite thing to do in the South we discovered. Betty lost her rocking chair in the fire that destroyed her house and everything she owned earlier this year. A really special moment was seeing the look on Betty’s face when she sat down in the rocking chair for the first time! She actually was beaming! 


We were joined on Thursday night by a group of six from FMC to install appliances and do any last minute work needed. That group and two of our team stayed over until Saturday to attend the house dedication. They attended a Friday night church service with Betty and her son Chris who spoke at the service. A southern style breakfast was served to them on Saturday morning made by Betty’s family prior to the dedication.


In all likelihood, our life paths will never cross with Betty and her family again, but we know all of our lives have been impacted by this experience. In approximately 40 days, volunteers built a house for a stranger across the country. God used this project to bless Betty with a house, and to bless FMC with the process of working together to build the house! God is good!

Week 7/Day 1 and 2
by Janice Good

By 10:30 AM on Monday, we had water in the house, and an air conditioner running! We just happen to have an electrician along who knew how to wire up some temporary electricity for the air! BUT, we have still had many opportunities to sweat! We have followed many wonderful groups who have done an amazing job of work on Betty's house. 


Our group has installed the shutters, touched up paint, cleaned cupboards, washed windows, and painted exterior doors so far. Betty has been by everyday to see how we are doing. Monday she had a root beer float for afternoon break time with us, and today she ate lunch with us. She is truly excited about the house, and it is such fun to talk with her about her family and her plans for family and friends in her house!


The utility company came today to turn on electricity to the house, and we had a great time talking with the men. We commented on their Louisiana accents, and one man jokingly told us we had the accents they didn't! He thought he sounded like he was from New York! We have met some great people!


Tomorrow we will install closet shelves, rods, bathroom fixtures, plus clean out the big storage trailer and the outside areas, and finish cleaning the house in preparation for the carpet being installed on Thursday.


We are doing a lot of sweating, and it has rained everyday. BUT the rain has been early in the morning and in the evening! God is good! 

Week 6/Day 4 and 5
by Kara Schmidt

On Thursday we finished coating the trim and baseboards with a final coat of polyurethane (whoo hoo!). Installing the linoleum and cabinets transformed the kitchen and bathroom. When the linoleum was being installed, Brent showed true dedication to his job.  He stepped on glue in his sock while applying it to the floor, so he took it off, turned it inside out, and put it back on and kept working.
The weather was relatively nice until the very end of the day; as the last shutter was being assembled, rain began to fall. We had to rush to get everything picked up and put away.  A highlight of the day was eating lunch with Betty. She joined us on the benches behind her house, and we had a nice visit. Her eyes lit up when we gave her the quilt made by the ladies of the Mission Study Group.
After a long and tiring day we all looked forward to eating out at a local restaurant with Betty and Chris and his wife.  As we were getting ready to go, the electricity went out, but we decided to go ahead with our plans.  The restaurant that we had planned on eating at did not have electricity either, so we drove to another town instead.  We all enjoyed the conversation with Betty and her family.  Luckily when we arrived back at the camp the lights were on. 
On Friday, we were excited to see many of our tasks completed.  We started out painting the shutters, trim, and edging in the main rooms.  While we worked the thunder rolled.  Ken continued to install cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom.  Then the sky opened up and it poured.  We frantically put the shutters away in the shed.  The truck got stuck in the mud and it took six people to get it out. 
Despite the downpour, the work continued.  The linoleum was installed in the front doorway, the base boards were finished being installed, cabinet doors were hung, and nail holes were patched.  Tim and Gary generously offered to make countless trips in the rain to haul tools and supplies to the storage compartment behind the house.  We cleaned up which was difficult with all the mud and rain.  Betty came over towards the end and watched us work.  She seems very happy with all the progress and thanked us numerous times.
Friday afternoon we treated ourselves to a visit to Avery Island, where we saw alligators and beautiful scenery. We had a great week and it was a blessing to be here.

Week 6/Day3
by Kara Schmidt

The forecast indicated that there might be rain, so we decided to work on outdoor projects. Ninety boards were cut, sanded, and primed for the shutters. To paint the boards, we set up a painting station with extension ladders on blocks. Five of us worked at priming. Indoors, a crew sanded, varnished, and cut put up all the trim. Ken put the air conditioner into its slot, even though we don’t have the electricity needed to run it. The underlayment was cut and positioned in the kitchen, bathroom, and utility closet. We are happy to report there were no injuries.
Since the MDS camp is in Four Corners, we travel about twenty minutes to Franklin. Sugar cane fields are a common sight during our commute—the sugar cane looks like rows of very long, clumpy grass. When Betty and her granddaughter visited at noon, they told us about the process of planting and harvesting the crop. Every day we pass by a sugar cane co-op, where they grind the cane and load it onto a barge.


A rain shower passed by in the late afternoon, so we dashed outside to rescue the newly primed shutters. Having no other place to put them, we slid them under the house to keep them dry.

Monica, from SMHA, joined us for supper and visited with us about the organization and its relationship with the area and MDS. As a special treat, Carla made whoopee pies for dessert!

Week 6/Day 2
by Cora, Kiley, Jessica, Kara

Last night’s storm brought “cooler” weather, and we were able to make progress in many areas. We finished painting the whole outside of the house, including the window trim. Thanks to Brent for moving the tall ladders in the mud and giving them a safety inspection before the ladies climbed up. Ken prepared the porch, railing and ramp for the balusters. Caleb, Gary and Brent put 270 balusters on the ramp and porch. Ken put the window jambs in place. In the morning, Gary and Tim applied the first coat of polyurethane to all 1,200 feet of trim and baseboard. Later in the day we sanded the trim and baseboard, slathering them with a second coat of varnish until they were glistening (just like us).
Jerry Klassen, Disaster Resource Coordinator for MDS (from British Columbia), stopped by the work site and later had supper with us. He informed us about the structure and projects of MDS. Betty also visited us at the house. She sat in the living room and seemed very happy about the progress. Monica, from Southern Mutual Help Association, came by as well. Tomorrow she will be our guest at dinner as we learn more about SMHA.