It has been a little over 24 hours now since we arrived in Houston, and we are loving every minute. Our drive was pleasant and safe, filled with laughter, games, and good conversations as we really began to get to know one another. Along the way, we also had the privilege of meeting a couple of people who really encouraged us in our efforts this Spring Break.
During a stop at for dinner at Panera in Illinois, one of our bus drivers was approached by a man about our bus, bearing a cross, a giant image of the American flag, and the words, “In God We Trust.” Our bus driver proceeded to tell this man, Bill, where we were from and that we were planning to do hurricane relief work in Texas. Oddly enough, Bill told our bus driver that he was from Texas and really appreciated what we were going to do. Then, God laid some words on Bill’s heart that he ended up sharing with our whole team. He reminded us that no matter what we are doing or where we are, we should always be ready to share the gospel with whomever we meet. He encouraged us that what we would be doing was an important opportunity to live out the love of God. We were so touched that God spoke to us through a complete stranger.
The next morning we were blessed by the hospitality of one of our own leaders’ parents (Lauren Drogo). In Little Rock, Arkansas we were served a delicious breakfast and were taught the word of God by Lauren’s dad. This couple was and is such a beautiful example of being used by God in an untraditional ministry seetting, such as running a restaurant. They use the bistro as a bridge to share the gospel with those they came in contact with. He stressed the helplessness of humanity and the way that we must rely on God to be filled. One verse that was read was John 15:5, which says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” This verse was such a great reminder of how little of an impact we as people can have on others and the world if we do not rely on God to be our help and strength.
Since our arrival in Houston yesterday, our team has been overwhelmed by the gracious hospitality of our hosts. Fuller Center and several local churches have welcomed us with comfortable housing, a building to hang out in, and plenty of delicious Texas barbeque. As we have driven some of the suburban streets of Houston and talked to some local men and women, it is clear that the effects of Hurricane Harvey are far from gone. It is still common to see a house with large piles of drywall and wood in the front yards, remnants of the hurricane. The first dinner we had yesterday was made by a man who was about to open a barbeque restaurant just a few days after Harvey hit. The rain flooded his restaurant building and ruined all of his new facilities. Now more than 6 months later, this man has still not been able to open his restaurant but gives his food to volunteers and those in need. Stories like this are not rare among the residents of Houston. Though the hurricane destroyed a lot, it also brought a city together.
Today was our first day serving with Fuller Center for Housing, and we were satisfied but tired after our day of work. Our group was split into two teams, working on two different housing sites. One team worked on the house of a sweet woman and her daughter that was in some of its finishing stages. The two had been taken to safety from their home by boat during the hurricane after having received 51 inches of rain in a matter of two days. This team washed, caulked, and painted around windows, unloaded cabinetry, cut baseboards, and worked on flooring a bathroom. The flooring proved to be quite the challenge. The other team worked on the house of an older couple who woke up to deep water surrounding their bed during the hurricane. This couple also had to be taken by boat to higher ground. The team installed and painted trim on the house as well as several doors. All in all, our teams were delighted to have used power tools and nail guns without any injuries today.
We are looking forward to working more with Fuller Center this week and getting to know the families who will come back to their homes that we are working on. Please pray that we may be safe in our construction endeavors, stay hydrated in the heat, and may be flowing with the desire to serve and love as Jesus did.
Thank you for your support!