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.