Day 37 – Back Home

Sunday, August 4, 2019

I woke up at 5:30 am, having slept for 4 hours, but I felt well rested.   I went into the ‘ Loves ‘ store, washed up, picked up a coffee and a container of pineapple and I was back on the road again.   At 9:30 I pulled over at a rest stop that had wireless internet and posted my journal from the previous day, before continuing the drive east.

The drive was mostly uneventful until the I 94, just before the interchange of the I9, near the Indiana border at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, where the 4 lanes of traffic had slowed down to a stop-and-go scenario for 30 km ( 20 miles ) until I reached the construction zone where it merged down to 2 lanes.    It cleared up for a while and then there was another slow area of congestion caused by construction lane closures.    This happened a few more times along the way.   They obviously didn’t know that I was driving home!

As I approached the Port Huron/Sarnia bridge to Canada, a sudden rainstorm forced the traffic to slow down and many of the cars pulled off the road and put on their hazard lights due to the decreased visibility from the flood of rain.    I continued to drive slowly through the wall of water watching the traffic ahead of me and a few minutes later I was in bright sunshine.  I had no issues crossing the border and I didn’t stop until I reached the Onroute service centre on the 401 near Woodstock.    I finally arrived at home, just after 10 pm.

Abby sent me some pictures that I wanted to include in my journal.

This is a picture of Justin and Jon with 4 of the youth outside of Kirk Walter’s house.  From left to right: Cassie, Justin, Jon, Caiden, Christina and Emily.

Jon worked at Barbara McClelland’s house during the week.

John Koehn helped us for 2 days the past week to do some carpentry work and Barbara’s house.

This is Robert Prinse at the Fillo house.

This picture was taken after Maria and Vanessa brought ice cream for myself , Gordon, Sarah and Olivia after mudding and sanding at Jesse and Courtney’s house.

The picture below is the group of volunteers during the last week of July.  This included all of the youth from Surrey area.  Ike had left on Tuesday morning and John and Denise Koehn had left on Tuesday evening, before we took the picture.

It’s hard to believe that 5 weeks have passed since I left home for Grand Forks.   The people of Grand Forks have been exceptional.  In the 14 years that I have been serving with MDS, I have seldom witnessed a community as thankful as the people of Grand Forks.   Many of the homeowners have been at their houses while we have been working on them and several have worked with us.   Kirk Walter’s sister helped at Kirk’s house, as well as some of the other houses that were affected by the flood and she her house had not been affected by the flood.   People from the community have helped, as well.

Radek mentioned several times that God had never done anything for him before and he couldn’t believe that we were actually there to help him.    He was very grateful for everything we had done for him.

Kirk Walter was very distraught after the flood and he didn’t know what to do.   By the time I arrived at Grand Forks, his home almost finished and he was very happy and grateful.  He was at the house almost every day, helping where he could and doing some of the dirtiest jobs.    His sister also helped and his mother brought cookies and desserts almost every day for the workers.   Some of us from the other jobs would come to the Walter house for lunch to visit ( and get some cookies, of course ! ).

Kent Tough’s story is also very unique.   MDS was criticized for helping him because he had a very sordid past, however, Peter felt that he needed to help him, as much as any one else, in order to rebuild his life as well as his home, which is the mandate of MDS.   Kent was wandering about aimlessly in his house when Peter first met him in the Spring.   Since then, he has been helping do most of the dirtiest jobs, when he’s not working and he has changed into a person who has purpose and is trying to improve his life.

Most of the people had house insurance but not flood insurance because it wasn’t available to them so they lost everything.   House values in the flood zone dropped to as low as 75% after the flood.    Houses worth $200,000 before the flood dropped as low as $55,000 after the flood.  For someone who has a mortgage and the insurance won’t pay for the loss, it can be devastating.

When I was first asked to give up 4 weeks of my summer to help rebuild homes in Grand Forks, I was hesitant to go, but I felt that I needed to go and now I know why.   Having met my ‘ neighbours ‘ in Grand Forks, who needed help, I was glad that I was able to do something to help rebuild their lives.

Note: I drove  more than 11000 km and spent almost $900 CDN in gas money ( which included my trip to Surrey and driving around Grand Forks )

Day 36 – Bozeman to Iowa

Saturday, August 3, 2019

When I woke up at 5:30 am, the temperature had cooled down to 11 C ( 52 F ) and it was a little damp outside.   I cleaned up a bit and left the rest stop shortly before 6 am, heading towards the sunrise.

I had driven an hour before I got tired again, so I pulled over at a rest stop, reclined my seat and rested for a while.   When I woke up, one and a half hours had passed, but I felt refreshed, so I continued my journey.

The landscape slowly changed from rolling foothills to prairie grasslands and as I got closer to South Dakota there was an infestation of motorcyclists converging on the Sturgis area.   They were coming from all directions in various size groups, mostly riding, with a few people trailering their motorcycles. I noticed that a large number of the riders had very little safety equipment, especially helmets but they may not have anything to protect.

I sped  past the Wall Drug area, driving at the posted speed limit of 80 mph ( 128 kph ), however, it is also construction season and it seemed that every time that I had just gotten up to the posted speed, there was another long construction site with a single lane and a reduced speed limit.

I continued driving east, only stopping long enough for gas and some rest.   At one of my stops, I noticed that I had entered the Central Time Zone and ‘ lost ‘ another hour.    As I entered Minnesota, it was after midnight and I looked for a rest stop on the 218 south but I didn’t find anything, so I kept driving.   It appeared that there weren’t any rest stops or even hotels in the area, so I opted for another option.   At 1:30 am, I pulled into a ‘ Loves ‘ gas station/truck stop, parked my car, pulled out my sleeping bag and pillow, crawled into the back seat and fell asleep.

My GPS indicated that I had driven almost 15 hours and it would take another 13 hours of driving left to get home.

Day 35 – Grand Forks

Friday, August 2, 2019

We had breakfast and devotions, as usual, before heading to the job sites.   Peter was flying back home around lunch time from the Castlegar airport so he didn’t go to the Fillo job site.  Robert went there by himself and left from there to go home for the weekend.

Jon went back to Barbara McClelland house and continued his work there.

Justin went to Kent Tough’s house and continued the painting.   Gordon and I went there as well,  so that we could try to texture the living room ceiling.   Justin and Gordon taped the walls to avoid splatter from the texturing, getting on them.   I went to the Redding house and picked up the leftover drywall mud for the texturing.  Below is a picture taken from the outside of Jesse and Courtney Redding’s house.

When I got back, I rolled the mud on the ceiling while Gordon textured the surface.  Everything was going well until we noticed that some of the drywall tape on the ceiling was letting go from the ceiling and starting to hang down.   We added more mud under the tape and continued texturing.   When we were almost finished we noticed a bubble in the ceiling that was getting larger.   Gordon took a putty knife and tried to remove it but the more he scraped, the bubble grew.    It appeared that the paint on the drywall was softened by the mud and was releasing from the ceiling in the area.    We couldn’t reach Roman or Mark Rempel ( the new director ), because they had left to drive Peter to the airport, so we stopped the texturing and I rolled a small section on one side of the bubble to see if it would stick to the unpainted ceiling.

It might be possible to clean it up and continue texturing the ceiling but we weren’t sure if we should continue, so we cleaned up the equipment and drove to the Redding house, where Gordon did a little more drywalling and I cleaned up the equipment from the previous day and put it in my car so that we could put it in the storage trailers before returning to camp.

We got back to camp about 12:30 pm, had some lunch, cleaned up our rooms, showered and packed up our things.   By the time we were finished, Roman and Mark had returned to camp and Gordon explained the situation to them and suggested that they consider drywalling over top of the drywall on the ceiling and then painting it.

We said our goodbyes and then Gordon, Maria and Vanessa drove to Rosedale, BC to visit family, while I headed back home.

I drove the 15 minutes it took to get to the border and waited my turn in line.   The border guard was very friendly and extremely talkative.   I waited while he took his time with the people in the two other cars ahead of me.   When it was my turn, the guard noticed that I was from Niagara on the Lake, so he talked to me about Lewiston, New York, fishing in the area and good seafood restaurants that he knew, as well as, suggesting that I was taking the short route back home with access to cheaper gas along the way – both of which were true.

I made it across the border unscathed and started my long journey back home.   The trip should take 38 hours of continuous driving and I plan to drive back with only a few stops to rest and eat.   I always enjoy driving through the beautiful landscapes in US and Canada.    I started driving through the mountainous  Rockies, covered with evergreen trees as I passed through Washington, Idaho and Western Montana.   When I reached Montana, I was entertained by a lightning show behind the mountains that I would have to cross.  Behind me, I saw a spectacular sunset, but I couldn’t get a picture of it so I committed it to memory.

As I got closer to the light show, a large rainbow appeared over the highway and it started to rain.  The rain quickly became a downpour and I couldn’t understand how the rain could make so much noise on my car until I noticed that there was hail coming down with the rain and it was pounding my car.   Fortunately it only lasted a few minutes and then it was only a hard rain.   It rained on and off after that and I was starting to get tired when I noticed that I had passed through a time change and instead of it being 11 pm, it was midnight so I stopped at the Bozeman rest stop for the night and joined the many other people who were doing the same thing.    The parking lot was full and there was no one in the rest stop.

I dragged out my sleeping bag and pillow, reclined my seat as far as it would go, made myself comfortable and fell asleep by 12:30 pm.

I had completed about 8 hours of driving and there would still be 30 hours of driving left when I woke up.

Day 34 – Grand Forks

Thursday, August 1, 2019

After another very good breakfast we said goodbye to the youth, before they left to head back home.   They took Sam along in order to drop him off in Chiliwack, so that he could attend his brother’s wedding.

With the youth gone, Justin returned to Kent Tough’s house by himself to continue the painting.

Jon went to Barbara McClelland’s house to continue casing the doors and windows and frame a new door with Roman.

Peter and Robert went to the Fillo house and finished installing all of the windows.

Gordon, Maria, Vanessa and I returned Jesse and Courtney’s house.   We all helped to sweep the walls,

and then we wiped them down with wet towels and vacuumed the floors.

Maria and I started rolling the ceilings and walls,

while Vanessa painted the edges for us.

After helping to clean the walls and floors, Gordon continued adding drywall the basement walls and almost finished them.

We must have tired out Vanessa because at lunch, she decided to take a nap.

 

At 1:30 pm she woke up and continued to paint the corners and edges for us

By 4:30 pm, we finished priming all of the ceilings and walls.   Courtney and Jesse were very happy with the results and kept looking at the primed walls and ceilings.

I took a picture of Gordon, Jesse, Courtney, Maria and Vanessa in the living room before we returned to camp and cleaned up for supper.

Castle Hardware and a local pizza restaurant wanted to thank us for the work we were doing in their community by donating pizzas for us.  This had allowed Maria and Vanessa to come to our job site and help us with the painting.

After the pizza, we reviewed the progress at each site and then we had a wonderful ‘ No-Bake Berry Icebox Cake ‘ dessert that Maria had made for us.

After Justin, Abby and myself cleaned up the few dishes we had used, Peter, Justin, Maria and myself played a game of scrabble before going to bed.

On Friday, we are planning to come back to camp for lunch and clean up the camp site, after which I plan to start my long trek home.

Day 33 – Grand Forks

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

It was a typical day in Grand Forks, a cool morning, breakfast, devotions and off to our job sites.

When Gordon, Sam, Jake, Olivia, Sarah and I arrived at the Redding house, we found Jesse helping a contractor and his crew install his new septic system.

We did a little mudding and sanding and by afternoon, we started to clean up for painting.   Olivia and Sarah cleaned to floor with brushes and brooms while I vacuumed the floor, outlets and windows,

while Gordon, Jake and Sam installed drywall in the basement.

At lunch time, we took a picture of our crew.

From left to right:

Back Row: Jake, Gordon and Sam

Front Row: Olivia and Sarah

At 3 pm the youth from three of the job sites returned to camp to clean the showers and their rooms.   Gordon and I finished the drywall sanding and installed some more drywall in the basement.    We returned to camp by 5 pm and showered before supper.

Jon, Caiden and Emily went to the McClelland house during the day.  Jon installed trim, while Emily and Caiden installed flooring

Justin, Christina and Cassie went to the Kent Tough’s house, where they continued to paint the walls.

Peter, Robert, Jacob and Benjamin drove the 1 hour to the ‘ Fillo ‘ house.   Jacob and Benjamin installed siding, facia and soffits, Robert installed windows and Peter supervised and helped co-ordinate all of the jobs.    The owner and her son also assisted with the work.

Unfortunately, Wes had twisted his ankle before he had come to the project and he had worked the first day painting boards but his foot had swollen significantly and it was decided that it would be best if he stayed at camp and not strain it any further.

Kent Tough and his girl friend, joined us for supper and told his what had happened to him during the flood.

From Left to right: Roman, Mo ( Kent’s girlfriend ), Kent, Justin, Robert, Sam, Abby, Peter and Gordon.

Kent’s story started with him coming home at 8 pm on the night that the flood occurred.  A friend had dropped him off, noticed that there was water on the yard,  but Kent hadn’t thought anything of it.   He woke up later that night to the sound of running water and when he checked it out, he found that there was a few feet of water in his yard and his crawlspace was flooded.   He built a raft using two stacked skids with some insulated doors in-between for floatation.  While he was preparing to leave, he saw some rescuers go by, but they hadn’t paid attention to him or asked if he needed help.   He grabbed some clothes, put them in a cooler and set out on the raft using a long pole from his fence to push himself along.  He said that it was a beautiful sunny morning, other than the fact that his house was being flooded.   He was able to make it to safety and later he borrowed a friends aluminum boat to go to his house and rescue some more items.   His house had about 3 feet of water in it and when he left again, he decided to  cross the river, not realizing how strong the current was.   He came upon a large log that was wedged in place and as the water pushed him towards it, his boat capsized, so he grabbed the log.  He struggled to get on top of it but the current was very strong and was pushing him under it.   After a lot of effort, he made it on to the log, he was eventually rescued.

We spent a little time after supper reviewing the reports for each of the job site and at 8:15 pm the youth, Justin and Jon had prepared an evening service of singing and testimonies.

It was the last day for the youth at Grand Forks, as they would be leaving in the morning to go home.   It was a pleasure working with them.   They were friendly, polite, willing to work and learn something new.  What more can you ask for?    Maria’s cooking, learning some trades, interacting with the team and experiencing MDS were expressed as their highlights for the time they had spent in Grand Forks.   The leadership team was happy that they came and we all enjoyed having them volunteer with us to help rebuilt the homes and lives of people in Grand Forks.