Day 12 – Saipan

Thursday, March 21, 2019

It had rained overnight and it was very humid when we left the hotel.   Shortly after we started working, we were soaked, due to the high humidity and although the official weather forecast stated that it was only 80%, it was the most humid day we have had.

We started at the new project house by removing the old beam used for supporting the roof in the front porch area and installing a new beam.

Then we started to remove the old termite infested and damaged wood on the front of the house.

While I was removing some of the rafters, I spotted a lime green gecko, on the top of a wall.

We noticed that the owners had many trophies, so we checked them out and most were for dart championships.

At lunchtime, the other crew had finished the roof of the house they had started the previous day, so Greg, Kendall and Dan went back to do a few additional items at the house they had finished a few days earlier and Phil, Richard and Ed joined Duane, PR, Danny, Anet and myself as we finished the rafters and purlins on the front of the house and the porch area.

We returned to the hotel just before 3 pm and gathered for the normal review of the day and devotions at 5:30 pm.    After the meeting most of us went to the Country House for our evening meal before returning to the hotel for the night.

Day 11 – Saipan

Wednesday, Mar 20, 2019

Duane, PR, Danny, Anet and I arrived at the house we were working on and continued to build the roof over the porch area.  When we were almost finished with the roof, the large boar got out of his pen and harassed the neighbours pigs.   The owner finally got him back and had to chase him out of the house when he plowed his way through the door.

We had a few interruptions, however we were able to finish the porch roof by early afternoon.

We took a picture in front of the house with the family and then Duane led a dedication prayer for the house and the family.

From left to right Dan Driediger ( AKA Radar), Duane Cookson, Anet Gingerich, a FEMA case worker, myself, PR Schrock, the owners mother, the owners sister , Danny Canaviri and the owner.

We packed up our equipment and brought it over to the next house we would be working on, but by the time we were finished unloading our equipment it was after 3 pm, so we quickly headed back because we had a 4 pm meeting with a FEMA representative.

The team of Greg, Kendall, Ed, Phil, Richard and Radar, finished the house they were working on and started on a new house.   We have now finished the roofs and some interior work on 4 different houses.

We had our project review and devotions at 4 pm and then Ashlyn from FEMA joined us to review some logistics.

Most of the volunteers went to the 360 restaurant.  PR and I went back to the Thai restaurant and then had some fried ice cream on the way back to the hotel.   I took a picture of the vendor as he made PR’s Peanut Brittle Fried Ice Cream.

We our way back to the hotel, we stopped at the JoeTen store for some lunch snacks.   While we were in the store, PR got stopped by some ladies who asked for some help with a package of margarine.   Their english wasn’t very good and they were trying to find out if the package was plant or animal base and what it was used for.    They seemed to be satisfied with PR’s explanation.

We got back to the hotel by 7:30 and it wasn’t long after that the rest of the volunteers got back.

Day 10 – Saipan

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

We left at the same time and picked up a light breakfast at Windchell’s as usual, however,  I had to go back to the hotel after breakfast because I had forgotten my hat and with my follicly challenged head, I need a hat.

Duane, Danny, Anet and I started the day by finishing the purlins and the roof supports and then we installed the last of the metal roofing and ridge cap.  The roof for the house was finished before noon so we started to remove the roof above the front porch area.   I didn’t have a camera with me so I wasn’t able to get any pictures.

The other team of Greg, Kendall, Phil, Richard, Ed and Dan finished the roof on the house they were working on.   Kendall has a drone and he took some aerial shots of the two houses they finished using the drone that he recently sent to me.

This is the first house we all started last week.

This is the first house after the roof was finished.

This is the second house Greg’s team started last week.

This is the second house after Greg’s team finished the roof.  The roof next to the one they finished was a building next to the house that wasn’t damaged.

This is a picture of Kendall and Frank.   Frank is the 10 year old son of the owner of the second house.   He was at the house every day and helped whenever he could.  Kendall showed him how to do some things and Frank was always eager to learn.

It was 33 C ( 92 F ) when we left the job site at 2:30 pm, however it cooled down to 24 C ( 76 F ) in the evening.    After a much needed shower, I had my usual Capuchino before we had our regularly scheduled meeting at 5:30 pm, followed by devotions and supper at the ‘ Country House Restaurant ‘.   I opted for the tenderloin which was very good.   It had been a good day all around.



Day 9 – Saipan

Monday, March 18, 2019

The weekend was over.  It was time to get back to doing something constructive.

There was a slight breeze in the air as we headed for breakfast at 6 am.

We reached our job sites before 7 am and continued the work we had left unfinished on Friday.   The teams were mostly the same, however with the addition of Richard, there was an extra person and he was put on Greg’s team, which included Kendall, Phillip, Ed and Radar.

Anet was traded back to our team for a first round draft choice next week.   In addition to Anet, our team consisted of Duane, PR, Danny and myself.  It didn’t take us long to get the remaining purlins and their supports on the one side of the house so we started installing the metal roof.

Anet continued to install the hurricane straps from the inside of the house, where the owner’s mother, brother and sister watched.  The owner helped us whenever we needed an extra hand.   The owner has a few large pigs and some piglets in the back yard.   On Friday, Duane’s hat flew into the pig pen after a gust of wind removed it from his head.   Danny and I retrieved it for him using a long hook the owner had.   Today a gust of wind blew a plastic container with a few drill bits into the pig pen.   I still have to retrieve it, but I have been led to believe that the pigs might attack me if I go into the pen.  I can’t imagine that a pig would attack a Hamm.   Tomorrow I will try to lower a ladder into the pen when the pigs are sleeping to try and get the drill bits – stay tuned…you might see me on the news!

While I was working on the side of the house, a rat ran and hid in the area that I was working.   I don’t think they can climb ladders….?

When Radar showed up at lunch, he informed us that there was no salad available for lunch and since I didn’t want to eat much, I opted to try some of the food the owner had provided for us before he went to his auto mechanics course.

By the end of the day we had finished the roof on one side of the house and had a good deal of the preparation completed for the other side of the roof.

It was mostly overcast and there had been occasional breezes during the day so it was a good day to work.   In fact, we worked longer than usual and didn’t leave the job site until about 3:30 pm.

We had our usual review of the days work, followed by devotions, after which we went to the Surf Club for our evening meal.   There was another beautiful sunset while we were sitting at the restaurant on the beach.


Day 8 – Saipan

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Duane, Kendall and I got up at 5:45 and drove to the top of Mount Tapochau, to view the sunrise.    We got there just before sunrise at 6:24 and it was a little overcast, but we were able to get some pictures of the sunrise.

You can see the whole island as well as the island of Tinian from the top of the mountain.


The last kilometre ( half mile ) of the road to the top of Mount Tapochau is very rocky with a lot of large potholes.

For breakfast we went to the IHOP restaurant before going back to the hotel to get ready for church.  Harold and Phil had picked up a new volunteer, Richard Heggen, who had arrived at the airport in the morning.   We drove to the Saipan Community Church and arrived there a few minutes before the 10 am service.

After the service most of us went to a Thai restaurant for lunch.

In the afternoon, Greg took a few volunteers for a tour of the island.   Radar and Anet went swimming at Wing Beach.   PR and I visited the World War II museum, which I had seen when I was in Saipan in 2016, but I wanted to see it again.   After that we visited the memorial near Suicide cliff.  We then visited Banzai cliff and drove up to Suicide Cliff.   All of these locations have historical significance from World War II, which I mentioned in my journal of Saipan in 2016.

I took a picture from the top of Suicide Cliff with a view to the north end of the island,

as well as, a view down to Banzai Cliff and the American Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

We then drove to the grotto but it was closed when we got there, so I just took a picture of it.

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was 5 pm.   We rested a bit and then went out for a light evening meal close to the hotel before calling it a day.

Day 7 – Saipan

Saturday, March 16, 2019

I was up by 5:30 am and went to the lobby to call National Travel to have them reschedule my flights back home.   An agent wasn’t available at that time, however, at 6:30 they called me and we changed my flights so that I will be returning late on Sunday evening April 7th.

Most of us started the day by going to breakfast at IHOP at 7 am, after which we all met for devotions at the hotel.   Greg informed us that his granddaughter, who is confined to a wheelchair, had suffered a major health setback and was suffering from pneumonia so we collectively prayed for her health to be restored.

It was a free day for us, so PR, Danny, Kendall, Anet and I went to Forbidden Island.

On our way to the Island we stopped at the house of Gus and Isabella, which both Kendall and Anet had worked on.

Kendall told us that many years ago Isabella had asked Gus to sign some papers after which he found out that it was a marriage certificate.  The house they live in was built by MDS in early 2018 after Typhoon Soudelor had blown away their house.   The new house survived Typhoon Yutu which struck the Island on October 25, 2018.

After a short visit, we headed to Forbidden Island.   The last kilometre ( half mile ) was  an uphill, pot-hole infested, dirt road so I had to drive slowly.   We arrived at the path around 11 am and hiked down the side of the cliff towards Forbidden Island.

As we hiked around the area, we saw several grottos and rocky areas jutting into the pacific ocean.


After a lot of searching and climbing over the sharp volcanic rocks, I found a tidal pool.   Meanwhile, Anet ventured to the island while the tide was low and then climbed to the very top.   While Anet was on the island, PR, Kendall, Danny and I  made our way to the pool and spent some time  swimming and relaxing in the pool.

We returned to the path and hiked back up the cliff, got into the minivan and drove to Ben’s ” Farm “, a property where Kendall had help install the roof.   We talked with Ben and he showed us the damage to his farm from Typhoon Yutu including the area where he had lost all of his tangerine crop.

By the time we returned to the hotel it was 2 pm.  Anet and Danny were not hungry, so PR, Kendall and I had lunch at ” Tasty Burgers “.   After returning to the hotel and taking a shower, I, like several of the volunteers, took time to do some laundry.

In the morning, Ed and Greg had gone back to house #2 to finish a few odds and ends while Harold spend the day getting some administrative work done and checking out prospective houses.

Radar and Anet went for their regular afternoon swim and then enjoyed seafood buffet at the hotel.


Day 6 – Saipan

Friday, March 15, 2019

It was a typical day in a tropical ” paradise “.  Warm in the morning and hot during the day.   We had a little drizzle in the morning but it didn’t amount to anything, however, it was a lot windier.

Ed and Anet joined Greg, Kendall and Phil.   Ed framed and hung 2 doors, while the others finished preparing the roof so that they will be able to install the metal on Monday.

Duane, PR, Danny and myself went to a new project house a couple of blocks from the one we had just finished.   We started the day by working on one of the roof sections of the house that the government had reinforced and covered up with a tarp.  After removing the tarp, we cut away the plywood around the edges of the roof to expose the framing underneath.  PR chipped slots into the back of the lean-to roof and we added some more 2×6 boards under the roof to support it.

Then we squared the roof on the ” non-square ” block building, as best we could, before installing purlins on the the existing sheeting.

We each did whatever needed to be done, whether it was drilling, breaking out concrete, nailing or cutting wood and everything went smoothly.

At lunchtime the owner brought us some Kentucky Fried Chicken and some soft drinks.   While we were eating our lunches, he told us about his experience during Typhoon Yutu.

He had watched the storm coming in the evening and he hid  ( in the room behind where he was standing in the picture above ) as the Typhoon tried to pull his house from its moorings.   He held on to the inside structure as the house pulsated up and down.   He didn’t want to go outside because debris ( especially metal sheeting ) was flying by his house.   The roof of his mother’s house tore off and flew over the top of his house.   He couldn’t sleep because the storm pounded the island all night long.

After lunch, we continued to work on enforcing the roof structure so it would be ready for the metal.

At some point during the day, PR told me that he thought I look like Si Robertson of ” Duck Dynasty “.  I will have to take his word for it because I don’t have cable TV and have only seen a glimpse of the show at someone else’s house.

After debriefing and devotions, we headed to the Oleai Beach Bar & Grill.

As we waited for our meals, the sunset slowly turned the sky a spectacular array of different colours.

Day 5 – Saipan

Thursday, March 14, 2019

We went to Winchell’s at 6 am to grab a morning coffee and we were on our job sites before 7 am.   Both teams returned to their job sites to continue the work they had started the day before.

On our team, Duane, Dan and Anet continued to put on the hurricane straps.

PR and I finished the plywood supports for the purlins.

It rained a few times for short periods of time which helped keep the temperatures a little cooler for a little while, but only a few degrees.    We were ready for putting on the metal roof by noon.

We had some challenges ( aka opportunities ) in lining up the metal, but we persevered and finished the roof before we left.

Meanwhile, Ed cut wood for us and made preparations to install a door on the back of the house.

By noon Ed had all the tools and material to install the door.  He added the hinges, repaired the door jams and then installed the knob and lock.

Several family members were there in the afternoon to see the progress and by 2:30 we had finished the roof and the door, so we packed up our tools and then Duane dedicated the roof in a a prayer for the owner and their family.

I was very impressed by the Hibiscus plants around the house that had survived Typhoon Yutu ( ) and were in full bloom.


The other crew, consisting of Glen, Kendall and Phillip started to frame the roof for the house they were working on.  They had some challenges with getting the anchor bolts to hold the top plates because the concrete in the block walls didn’t have enough cement to hold the bolts without breaking apart.   They also had some more opportunities with termite infested wood.

We have 2 Dan’s so we have been calling Dan Driediger, Radar ( from the movie Mash ) because his specialty is the getting and delivering tools and material and that’s what he did most of the day.   When he wasn’t doing that, he was assisting the other team.

We returned to the hotel by 3 pm and had our meeting and devotions before heading to the outdoor market for dinner.   It was a beautiful evening and we arrived at the market at dusk.

Harold stopped by the job site a couple of times.   While he was there the first time, he asked me if I would stay an extra week and since I had originally said that I would work 3 weeks and extend it to 4 weeks, if needed, I told him that I would be willing to stay until April 6th.  When he stopped by the job site at noon, he had mentioned to us that a picture of the house that had been completed yesterday had been circulating within the FEMA organization  and he had received very positive feedback from them.


Day 4 – Saipan

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

We had breakfast as usual and then headed to our job sites before 7 am.  Since I was supposed to pick up a rental car at 9 am, Phillip and I were switched so that I was with the team of Duane, Ed, Danny and PR, that was working on the second house, in order that I would be a little closer to the airport to pick up the van.

Yesterday the team had removed the remnants of the old roof and started building the new one.

Ed spent most of his time cutting the wood for us and Anet ( aka hurricane Anet ) was the expert at ” hurricane straps “.

Danny helped with everything on the roof, nailing the rafters and purlins as well as helping with the hurricane straps.

PR and I worked together making supports for the purlins and installing top plates on the walls.

Duane directed the work and helped install the rafters and purlins.

At 9 am, Harold picked me up and we drove to the airport to pick up the rental minivan that FEMA had approved for our use.   It didn’t take long and I was back at the job site by 9:30 am.

We made good progress   The roof is now ready for putting on the galvanized sheets.

The owner of the house lives in the FEMA tents located in front of the house and in the afternoon I met her, which gave me a chance to talk with her for a while.   She was born in Saipan and had move to Guam with her husband who was born there.  Her children were born in Guam and after her husband passed away, she moved back to Saipan.   She is in a wheelchair and requires breathing assistance with oxygen.   When we were almost ready to pack up and leave, her son and some other friends and family members showed up.   The told us that she is a special lady, very friendly and she never complains.   She is deserving of all the aide she receives.

Meanwhile, Greg, Kendall, Phil, Dan and Anet completed the house that had been started on Monday.   By 9 am they had finished the roof and then Greg, Kendall, Phillip and Dan headed to a third site and Harold brought Anet to help our team with the hurricane straps.   The other team removed the old roof on the house at the third site and the interior walls that had been infested with termites.   The house is now ready  for them to start re-building.

We arrived back at the hotel by 3:00 pm and some people went swimming while the rest of us took showers and relaxed.  I had a cappuccino and a chocolate mouse while I updated my journal.

We met at 5:30 pm to review the day and for devotions before getting something to eat.    Four of us went to Bubba Gumps for some seafood, one person went to a burger restaurant and the rest went to a Korean restaurant.

At our 5:30 meeting, Harold mentioned that he had heard that there was a positive buzz around town about ” the mennonites being back to rebuild houses “.  The  people in Saipan have been very friendly, complimentary , gracious and I have nothing but good things to say about them.


Day 3 – Saipan

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The climate doesn’t change much from day to day at this time of year in Saipan.   The daytime temperature is typically 29 C ( mid 80’s  F) and it cools down to 25 C ( mid 70’s F ) during the night.   We had rain during the night and it does rain occasionally but generally it hasn’t rained for long periods of time.

After breakfast, Duane, Phil, PR, Danny and Ed went to a new job site.  Greg, Kendall, Anet, Dan and myself returned to Tina’s house to continue working on the roof.

At Tina’s house, we stripped the old corrugated metal roof on the side of the house, re-enforced the rafters and then installed the new sheets of aluminum.

The morning was cool compared to the daytime, but it didn’t take long for it to heat up and we were happy for any cloud cover that would block the sun.

Dan took our food orders by mid-morning, picked them up at noon and we ate our lunches in the shade of the house, which offered a little reprieve from the hot sun.

We took several breaks ,but by 2 pm we were all suffering from the heat, even though we hydrated often, so we decided to finish for the day and pack up the tools.   We had completed 3 sides of the roof and we were ready to attach the aluminum sheeting but with the sun beating down on us, we felt that it would be good time to stop.   We packed up the tools and we were headed back to the hotel by 2:30 pm.

When we got back to the hotel, Dan, Anet and Kendall went to swim snorkel at Pau Pau beach in the north end of the Island.   Greg and I took a shower and relaxed until our meeting at 5:30 pm.   I also went to the IT&E shop and picked up a sim card for my phone which costs $2.50 per day for 2 GB/day of data as well as  unlimited talk and text in all of the US countries and in Saipan.  My new phone number  is 670-287-3874.

At the 5:30 meeting we reviewed the progress for the day.  We had overcome obstacles at both job sites but we had made good progress on both of the houses.  After the meeting we had devotions before we went to get something to eat.

For dinner we went to ” Thunder Chicken ” restaurant, which serves only whole chickens chopped into pieces and coated with various sauces.   You can split a chicken, so Ed and I each had a half chicken.   His half was spicy garlic and my half was sweet and spicy.

After dinner we returned to the hotel.   At 9 pm it was 7 am EST so I called National Travel and arranged to pick up the vehicle that I had been approved to rent by FEMA.