In the first part of this blog post, I described a bit about our mission trip to the Chehalis, WA area. In this post I'd like to share about the people we assisted.

S.J. is a recently retired lady who has been active in missions herself, having gone to Africa on a multi-week mission trip not long before the flooding. She said that one of the hardest things after the flood was allowing herself to be a recipient of help rather than a source of help. At her house, the floodwaters were about 8 feet above the ground. This was considered a 500-year storm which allowed her to restore her house in place rather than having to raise it (impossible due to architectural issues) or raze it and rebuild. To top it off she, who runs marathons, recently had to have a knee replaced, and has been less able to work around her place because of the recovery from surgery. (The surgery didn't keep her out of the kitchen, however...she fed us hot lunch two days out of the three!)

18 months after the flood, her house was mostly back together on the inside, but the exterior needed some help. We did some drywall patching and work on the phone system, but then spent most of two days on exterior painting, and on knocking down some of the hillocks left behind when the bulldozers come through doing mud removal. Seeing the joy on her face as we uncovered parts of the sidewalk that had been hidden for a year and a half was worth the sunburn I got on the second day.

The E. B. family spent seven and a half hours on the roof of their manufactured home during the flooding...several of those after the building broke free from its foundation and started floating downstream. What makes this more incredible is that E. B. is confined to a wheelchair. They built a replacement house on their property with only the garage at ground level. The only things between them and an occupancy permit were a furnace, some finish work in the bathroom, and insulating the water lines under the house. One member of our team is a heating/AC guy by trade, so he took on that part of the project. Another member of our team is a wiz with tile, and she went to work on the bathroom. With one of the teenagers, I spent Monday afternoon taking care of the insulation of the pipes. Due to flood clearance regulations, the crawl space is positively spacious...I could almost stand up, and my teenage assistant could with no difficulty at all (although we both managed to whack our heads on some of the lower beams and pipes.)

The community will be having a party next week where E. B. will get the ceremonial key to his new house. It's cool being part of the effort getting to that point.

J. R. is a generous lady who we met on last year's mission trip, who always left a plate of cokies for the kids as she left for work in the morning. Her renovation was nearing completion when we were there last year. This year we were assigned to help her with one last task: insulating under the house. The biggest issue was that she had a fairly low crawlspace, compounded by several inches of dirt that were left when the floods receded. Part of our team spent Monday leveling out the dirt, hauling out load after load on plastic sleds. Most of this work was done flat on their bellies. They then spent Tuesday and Wednesday installing vapor barrier and insulation.

The J. B. family farm had over 500 head of organic dairy cattle prior to the floods. Less than 20 survived. For insurance purposes, J. had to take pictures of each of the dead ones that could be located, even those found tangled in the tree branches of downstream neighbors. S. B. had landscaped her backyard into a beautiful garden, sometimes used for small garden weddings. When the flood waters receded, all the water features were full of mud, and the agate-stone rockeries were buried.

J. B. has built back up to about 150 head of cattle, but is still fighting with the insurance companies about much of his equipment, tractors and such. Part of our team came in focused on getting vapor barrier installed under the house so insulation can be installed, and starting to help restore the garden area. Two small ponds were excavated, and one of the rock gardens was unearthed, and the rocks washed down and replaced. There is still much to do on this farm, but the family was visibly moved by our efforts.

We are God's hands and feet. This belief was behind our efforts this week, and in His strength, we showed forth His love. If we are the only Bible some people ever read, I'd like to think that what these families "read" in us this week brings them closer to God.

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