Monday, August 5, 2013

Day 5 8/4/13

Most of us were up before our alarms rang before 6am. I think we were all eager to get home and see our families. Another quick breakfast of cereal and cantelope, packing up and out the church gate by 7:15am. Ryan decided he was going straight home so he drove by himself. The rest of the gang piled in the van and we were on our way home. This time we decided it would be quicker (and cheaper) to not take the ferry. Instead we headed out of Brooklyn through Forest Hills and then crossed the Hudson river on the Whitestone bridge. Hooking up with I-95 north of the city we traveled to near Greenwich and then slightly north to Hartford. We stopped on the turnpike near Charlton for a quick restroom break and some eats. Again, Mike drove (he'd been driving for the entire trip) until about 25 minutes from OSLC. Katie asked, "Mike, are you alright?". Mike pulled over and asked Greg to finish the driving. We arrived back at OSLC about 11:40am, unpacked and got into the sanctuary just in time for communion. I believe we made some good friends on this trip and touched several people's lives. Our last working day Bob led a prayer with the six of us, the two 'All Hands' workers (Geoff and Abigail), Fran (the home owner) and Mary (Fran's mother). It was a powerful moment and one that won't soon be forgotten.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Day 4

LongIsland2Day4 “You are the gospel come to life.” - Mary, Fran’s mother. After some banana pancakes and scrambled eggs we were off to our work site in Wantaugh. Today’s site was the same as yesterday which was nice because we were able to continue what we had begun. Fran (the homeowner) bought coffee and breakfast snacks as well as lunch from a local deli. She was just as friendly as she was the day before. The rain held to a spotty drizzle but it was enough to keep things nice and cool. Our tasks today consisted of removing walls, sheet rock, and nails. We also needed to remove parts of a tree and a shed floor consisting of railroad ties (the shed was destroyed in the flooding). The wood all had to be cut into small pieces and bundled before placing it on the curb. After lunch all of the six vacuums were on full blast sucking up dust, rocks, and debris. After three hours of vacuuming – yes, every guy does know how to and can vacuum quite effectively and Katie has pictures to prove it! Every inch of every wall, joist, and stud from floor to ceiling had to be vacuumed to remove mold spores that are in the dust. All Hands will be returning soon to de-moldify (Mike’s word) the entire basement with another crew. Upon returning to the church in Brooklyn we were all able to take much needed showers to clean and to cool us off. The sump pumps were running a bit slow again. We will clean the pumps and buckets as well as replace the batteries tonight. Tonight we decided to get out a bit so we drove to about 25 minutes to Coney Island. None of us had ever been there and four of us (Bob, Lynn, Katie and Mike) decided to try a spin on the world famous “Cyclone” roller coaster. Mike had to ride in a seat by himself since the coaster was built some 85 years ago when people were much smaller. If you haven’t been on this coaster I will tell you that it was the roughest “amusement” ride I (Mike) have ever been on. As I staggered off this wild ride I exclaimed, “never again!” But, I’m really glad I did it! We stopped at Nathan’s hot dog stand for some dinner and ate out on the beach. It was obvious that Bob enjoyed hiss chili cheese dog since half of it ended up on his hands and face. A cool breeze was welcome relief from the city heat in Brooklyn. Listened to a little bit of live jazz/blues and walked on the beach before heading back to Brooklyn. We started bible study just before 9pm and instead of Nehemiah we switched over to John chapter 13. This chapter tells of how Jesus ‘lowered’ himself to wash the feet of his disciples. Back in the time of Jesus people who washed others’ feet were the servants. In John 13:14 Jesus said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 13:15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you”. We ‘washed the feet’ of just a few of the families hit hard by hurricane Sandy. Pictures will be coming soon. Unfortunately, the 'blogspot' page wouldn't fully load on our limited internet connection. Leaving for home early in the morning.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 3

LongIsland2Day3 We drove directly to our site and met a wonderful couple Andy and Francine. A story often heard, the insurance company is happy to take the premiums and then do everything possible NOT to pay the claim. A few months later, the new premium notice comes and it has doubled! Francine is a cancer survivor and a labor and delivery nurse. Andy sells siding and windows. He has a bad back. Most of the damage is NOT covered by insurance. We were amazed at how much work Andy had done in gutting the space. They own a split level home and the lower level was under 1 ½ feet of water. Most of our work centered around pulling out sheetrock, sheetrock nail and screws and pulling out insulation and the staples. Andy’s main hobby and learning about Big Foot sightings and relayed many interesting stories to us. Katie found a cross wrapped in a Palm Sunday palm and gave it to Andy saying it was important to keep during the healing process. We asked if he was Catholic (saying that Lutherans are reformed Catholics). He said that he and his wife are “born again Christians”. Andy and Francine were wonderful hosts to us. They had coffee and donuts ready for us when we arrived. They sent around a lunch menu. We had already brought sandwiches, so they ordered salads and drinks. They are kind and warm people that we are proud to call friends. Ryan arrived around 2pm and was able to step right in when the rest of us needed breaks. Left the site around 3:45 and headed back to Brooklyn. The girls made another fantastic dinner of chicken alfredo with broccoli, pineapple and apples. Meanwhile, Mike was still trying to figure out how to get on to a weak Wi-Fi connection he was getting in the cafeteria. After some 15 minutes on the phone talking to Comcast he thought he had it licked. Wrong! Ryan was able to step in and provide his Comcast account information so that we could get online. Now that we knew we could get online we shelved that operation and decided to go for a walk. We took the frisbee and football to a local park with asphalt "grass". All six of us played like young kids! After a short time a 12-year old boy name Dustin started to watch us play. Bob asked if he wanted to play with us. He excitedly agreed and threw the football like a champ. Katie taught him how to throw a frisbee which he really enjoyed. Soon about four more younger boys joined in. This was an unexpected delight to play with these inner-city boys. I hope they enjoyed it as much as we did. Hoping to get some pictures up tomorrow.

Day 2

Thursday August 1, 2013 Today started off at 5:50am with Mike’s eagle’s call phone alarm waking up all the men….except Mike! Obie, the church’s sextant, was already there with a smile on her face. Terry, the artist redoing the murals, was also already at work! A quick breakfast of cereal & juice, then packed up some lunch. Tom showed up about 7am and we followed him to Atlantic Beach where All Hands Volunteers is headquartered. To my surprise we wound up in a residential neighborhood and pulled up to a rather nice house. This is where they’re headquartered??? Yes indeed. We walked in the front door and found a bee hive of activity amongst the mostly young volunteers. After filling out some paperwork we were ready to go. However, we were asked to split up. Katie and Bob went with one team while Mike, Lynn and Greg went with a young girl from Chicago named Abigail. --We (Lynn, Greg, and Mike) had an hour-long drive to the northwestern side of Long Island and ended up at a house that needed mold removal in the basement and garage. We started with sweeping, scraping up some mud followed by dry-vacuuming. We covered all electrical outlets and then began to apply Shockwave to the walls followed by scrubbing. The home owner, Susan, showed up and was upset about some shoddy plumbing that left water in her family room and was getting her belongings wet. She doesn’t currently live in her house, but still has much of her life’s collection of “stuff” in this house. Much of it was in boxes and green trash bags. She wanted to us to help her move these bags to a higher location in the room so she could get the wet items off the floor. While this wasn’t our primary reason for being there we each took some time with Susan (mostly Greg) to sort through several of her bags of photos, negatives and baseball memorabilia. She had been a sports photographer and was very particular about how we handled her items. Patience was the key word while we worked with her as she went through each bag piece by piece. While we weren’t able to help Susan go through all of her bags we made a noticeable dent. Back to the garage/basement…after scrubbing, Abigail power washed the walls and floors. We then had to wet-vacuum the floors and then set up drying equipment…six large fans and three industrial sized dehumidifiers. We moved a few of Susan’s belongings back into the garage and closed it up. The rain and cool temperatures were very welcoming. Susan is in need of prayer. She takes care of her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, her brother hasn’t been around in months, she and her mother live in a hotel room and there is much work to do on her house. --We (Bob and Katie) went along with 2 site leaders, named Dave and Geoff), to a home about 45 minutes from the All Hands ‘office’. We were also joined by two college-aged guys – Brandon and Brenden. The home we worked on had suffered a great deal of water damage from above and below. The wind ripped off many pieces of their roof causing water to drench the interior of 2 story home. Also, the water flooded the foundation and basement. Because the water had dried by the time the insurance company arrived, their claim was denied, but clearly upon demolition you can see and smell the rot and mold. All Hands volunteers had already demo’d and mold treated the upstairs. We were given the task of demo’ing the kitched and its adjacent room. Dianna’s frustration was evident. All of her belongings from 3 gutted rooms were stuffed into the living room and her bedroom along with a POD and the garage. While there, we were given direction to pull out the cabinets, which were tossed into the dumpster. Shortly after, we were instructed that the cabinets were to be kept, so Bob and the other guys went dumpster diving. Dianna’s entire family would love to receive your prayers. Within weeks of Sandy, she had buried her newborn twin grandsons. Then Sandy arrived bringing months of headaches and stress. She lost her job a few years ago, and they can’t afford any of the repair work on just her husband’s salary. They have 2 boys at home and one of their daughters, who has a newborn, wants to return home because her husband is being deployed (they are currently based in Guam). Her other daughter is pregnant again, due in November, and struggling with conflicting emotions of grief and joy. --We were all reunified at the All Hands office and made our way back to base camp, where the guys fixed the showers and the girls threw dinner together. After dinner and showers we started our bible study shortly after 9. In preparation for our upcoming day we talked about Dianna’s and Susan’s families. The All Hands workers are also in need of prayers. They are all very young people who have dedicated months of their lives to helping others. Their housing has changed a few times in just the last couple of months, and they share it with up to 30 others at a time. They are learning how to work with both volunteers and home owners, at various stages of coping. We pray for their sustenance.

Day OneWednesday July 31, 2013

Wednesday July 31, 2013 We all met at the church at 0830. It was immediately recognized that we would have to take out the rear seat in the rental van to accommodate all our food and belongings. Packing the van, having a send-off prayer and saying our goodbyes to loved ones had us leaving just after 9am. Thanks to Greg’s new smart phone he expertly guided us on a 2+ hour trip to Connecticut and the ferry to Long Island. Took the noon ferry and was smooth sailing on the hour-long trip and beautiful weather in the 70s left a few of us slightly pinker than when we left. We were the second vehicle off the ferry and decided to look for a bit of lunch. We found a nice, and somewhat out of place strip mall in the middle of farm and vineyard country. Lynn and Bob decided on Mexican while Katie, Greg and Mike found sandwiches at a deli. The drive and ferry ride was a great time to get to know one another. We shared much about our lives and our faith. We became closer as a group and really appreciated the time together. Back on the road we met up with Tom Casinelli at Exit 56 on the LIE and followed him to Brooklyn where we “set up camp” and got familiar with our new home of the next 4 nights. Tom also gave us the scoop on what has been going on (or not going on) with regard to the hurricane’s cleanup efforts. He told us stories of people losing their life’s savings and the great amount of work that has yet to be done. It was very enlightening and sad at the same time. His words touched me in particular and reinforced the reasons on why we are here. For dinner Greg & Bob barbequed some tasty steak tips on a less than desirable disposable grills. Had to finish the steak in the kitchen, but all came out just perfect! Katie and Lynn prepared a salad and rice. All helped with the cleanup and we had a few minutes of down time to make some phone calls and get ready for a Bible study. Bob had prepared a study on Nehemiah which was a good time for self reflection and to think about why we are here. Two things came to mind and I must steal the church’s mission statement: To know God and to make God known. Mike showed his musical talent We had a wonderful team building exercise after one of the shower’s sump pumps didn’t work and we had a massive clean up of grey water in the women’s bathroom. Mops and a bucket brigade ensued and we had the area fairly dry in short time. We quickly found that none of the sump pumps in any of the four showers worked correctly. So, we’ll get new batteries tomorrow and try again. If all else fails, the ocean is close by! Looking forward to tomorrow and helping those in need.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Welcome to Our Savior Lutheran Church's Long Island Mission Team TOO! Blog!
The team travels from July 31st to August 4th.