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Deep in the Heart of Texas

Three days into our mission trip to Vidor, Texas and we’ve had plenty of activity. After leaving Noblesville Baptist Church before 4 p.m. Friday afternoon, our group traveled nearly 1,000 miles overnight and arrived at our destination early Saturday morning. After grabbing breakfast, we settled in at Harmony Baptist Church, our home away from home during this excursion and immediately got our hands dirty in the abundance of work.

During that first day our group focused on tackling projects related to the damage left behind at the church by Hurricane Harvey in late August 2017. Vidor and Harmony Baptist Church are located roughly 95 miles east (1.5 hour drive time) of the Houston area, but the impact was felt heavily here as well. Our team of four adults and seven teens removed plywood paneling in HBC’s warehouse/family center where several inches of flood water once stood. After checking for and spraying the areas for mold, we again secured the panels in place.

Scott Shepherd, Dan Wease and our three teen boys – Corbin Messer, Brian Ott and A.J. Walls – worked to replace insulation and drywall within a bathroom in the family center. The girls, meanwhile, helped to clean and organize a room at the church before removing the base boards, pulling out the carpet and tearing out some cabinets. Like the warehouse, the main building also sustained water damage that they are still recovering from seven months later. Many of the rooms at Harmony Baptist are now bare where there was once carpet, and a few inches at the base of each wall have been removed due to the flood waters.

In that first day, and those that have followed, the teens have learned valuable skills while getting the chance to dabble with power tools. They have really stepped to the plate and embraced the chance to serve. It’s exciting to see how God is using them in new and different ways.

Sunday was meant to be an off day, but it was still filled with events. After taking part in the service and listening to the preaching of Pastor Doug Bray, we were treated to lunch. The flock at HBC have done an amazing job of keeping us nourished with outstanding food each day. After lunch we were on the road to Galveston Island. There, the teens visited some shops and enjoyed the beach and the Gulf of Mexico. Afterward, we enjoyed dinner at Rainforest Café and began our trip back to Vidor. We arrived back at the church after 11 p.m., tired from an afternoon of fun.

Monday our group split into two teams and took on new projects. Scott and Dan were joined by Anna Taylor, Ashley Flowers, Elizabeth Gardner and Courtney Penwell, and drove to Rose Hill Acres. Located 20 minutes away from HBC, they were busy painting and installing flooring at a residence slowly being put back together after Harvey’s devastation. The other half of the group – Pastor Hack, Corbin, Brian, A.J. and myself, traveled to Pastor Bray’s home less than 10 minutes away. There, the work consisted of pulling nails and installing insulation and hanging drywall in a mobile home on the property. Ray Milligan, the music minister at HBC, and his expecting wife and family are currently living at the church until the mobile home renovation is complete. With the baby due in 11 weeks, our efforts will go a long way in filling a pressing need.

Every day that we are here we are reminded of the devastation that Harvey left behind. While we have moved on from the news headlines of last summer, the people in this region have not. They live with the aftermath every day. The signs are everywhere, but their spirits are strong. The congregation at Harmony Baptist has placed its faith in God and his providence. We won’t be able to address all the needs while we are here, but we pray that we can show God’s love and make a small contribution to the rebuilding efforts.

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