MDS Service Project in Griffithsville, West Virginia – 2016

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The crewSung, Jeremy, Phil, Harold, Ron, Steve

On a late October Sunday morning, 6 men from our congregation left in a van for the 7-8 hour drive to Griffithsville, WV. to volunteer for a week with MDS. This area was damaged by severe thunderstorms and heavy rains during the summer of 2015. Many of the small bridges that connected homeowners to the main road were washed away or damaged.

The crew began the week by finishing up a bridge that had not gotten finished the week before. They then started working on the damaged bridge that was assigned to them. As you can see from the slideshow, this bridge had sunken quite a bit and required a new foundation to raise it up to the level of the surrounding area. The weather cooperated fairly well and the crew was able to get the job completed by the end of the week. The homeowners were so excited to have a safe bridge to be able to access their properties.

Often the volunteers get to do some sight-seeing or tour some local attractions. The excursion this week was traveling to Cabela’s one evening. Evidently Ron was very eager to explain everything anyone wanted to know about fishing equipment.

One of the fellows commented that their crew seemed to have the necessary skills needed to complete the project. Whether welding or cutting or making forms and pouring concrete, the crew had the experience to get the job done. It is so rewarding to see and hear the gratitude of the local people who will benefit from this project. When we see the damage that was inflicted in this area by the weather, it makes us aware of how fortunate we are.

Local Service Projects in the Conestoga Area – 2014   (17 picture slideshow)

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In the summer of 2014, our church organized a local service project week. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, there were local projects to work on during the day and then each evening a meal was prepared and served at the church for the volunteers and also for others from our congregation. Friday was preparation day for our bi-annual Community Day Event that began Saturday afternoon and concluded with a Sunday morning service under the tent followed by a meal.

On Tuesday, a group of women worked at sewing projects at the Material Resource Center while the men did yard and cleanup work at the MDS facility.

On Wednesday, the group scrubbed and cleaned at the Conestoga Fire Company and Conestoga Ambulance Association facility.

On Thursday, there was a painting project at the Conestoga Pool and in the evening a group cleaned and sorted clothing at the Main Street Closet thrift store in Willow Street.

The local service project week was a little different from other years but it gave us an opportunity to work in our local community. It also allowed persons to help as their schedule allowed and having an evening meal was a great time to relax and share about the day’s experiences.

MDS Service Project in Staten Island, NY   (12 picture slideshow)

For a summer 2013 service project, five men from church volunteered for one week in Staten Island, NY, helping to rebuild from the damage caused by hurricane Sandy.   Many of the homes that were damaged were located close to the ocean and were hit with a 12 foot tidal wave.   Since the water that came in was trapped these homes stayed submerged in water for several days until the water could be pumped out.   Many of these homes started as summer cottages for the wealthy but now serve as permanent homes for the poor.   Quite a few homes were poorly constructed thereby magnifying the damage.

Amos and Gene had the challenging job of replacing the floor joists in a house while the lady lived upstairs.   The floor had ten inches of slope from the highest point to the lowest, possibly caused by some settling but mainly due to poor construction.   John, Mark, and Ron worked all week hanging drywall in several homes.

Most of the group traveled to lower Manhattan one evening via the ferry and then took the subway to Times Square.   It was a quick trip but they got to see the Statue of Liberty plus some of the sights in New York City.

It was a hard week of work but very rewarding.   The sleeping accomodations were great and as always, the cooks did a wonderful job providing meals.  There were also two other groups there, one from Ohio and the other from Illinois for a total crew count of 17 men and two women.   The project coordinator did a good job of organizing the work.

MDS Mission Trip to Minot, ND   (11 picture slideshow)

One of the service projects in 2012 was traveling to Minot, ND to work with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteers to help rebuild after a 2011 flood damaged over 4,100 homes.   Eight men from church made the trip via a Sprinter van – a 26 hour driving time trip, approximately 1,600 miles each way.

MDS was working closely with the Bible Fellowship Church, a Mennonite Brethren congregation whose church was heavily damaged by floodwaters.   Since the flood, they were meeting Sunday evenings in another church building.   The men arrived in Minot on Sunday afternoon and attended their Sunday evening service.

The men worked on various projects during the week.   The jobs included framing, insulating, hanging drywall, installing siding, electrical work, plumbing work, staining/painting, plus some other odd jobs.   A number of homes had too much damage and had to be destroyed.   Some of the men observed a house disappear one day while working at a neighboring house.   The house was there in the morning and by late afternoon, no evidence of the house remained.

During the week, the men attended a house dedication for one of the local residents.   It was very rewarding to witness the appreciation and respect that the community had for the MDS workers.   It also reminded the men that everything we have is a gift from God and we need to be thankful.

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?     I John 3:17 (NIV)