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Carl Dube needed a moment to soothe his soul. The Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) project director, who has dedicated years of his life to helping people in the Rio Grande Valley, was in a bit of a bind, along with his group of MDS volunteers in Cameron County, the southernmost county in Texas.

Cameron County was hit by a tornado in May,” explained Dube. We are here to build some new houses and repair others.”

But Cameron County has direct coastal exposure and 149 mile-per-hour wind design requirements. “This presents challenges that most inland counties in Texas arent facing,” he said. “The requirements are not unreasonable, but take more effort and time to receive the permits.”

This meant, as the group of volunteers arrived, Dube was short on work for them. He had one home over an hours drive from the MDS base—but as volunteers made progress on that, he desperately needed more work for them.

He decided to pull into The Daily Grind, a local coffee shop. I sat there and prayed: Lord, we need some ideas,’ ” said Dube. Then he realized that, four blocks away from where he sat, a construction project was going on.

Dube and his wife, Laura, had attended the Mid-Valley Church of the Nazarene in Weslaco, Texas, in the past. They have bilingual services and good messages,” said Dube who, as he prayed in the coffee shop, recalled that Mid-Valley was building a new church. In fact, he and Laura had given a personal donation to help the project along.


Four blocks away

He went to talk to the senior pastor, Rev. David Webb, and his wife, Shelley Webb.

Shelley Webb clearly remembers that day Dube came to talk. I totally understood, and my heart went: Oh no, Ive been there,’ ” she said. The Webbs, prior to serving at Mid-Valley Church of the Nazarene, were missionaries for 15 years in Central America. They handled volunteers and work teams—and they know well those frustrating times when there isnt enough work for eager volunteers.

When Carl came to me that day, we were doing the second stage of the walls,” said Webb. I told him wed have to see how it goes—that we were just trying to get through the day.”

She checked with the churchs construction supervisor, telling him: I think we have a group that knows how to do construction.”

After the church gave the okay,” Dube sent five volunteers.

They worked on making the walls ready for the roof,” said Webb.

The walls of the new church are unique in that they are built from ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) block, Fastbloc, which is manufactured in Mexico. The church also has support from the U.S.-based nonprofit Lazarian World Homes, which builds around the world using this type of block.

After the MDS volunteers completed the interior walls, making the structure ready for the roof, Dube said to Webb: Our crew can put up trusses.”

Webb, concerned that they wouldnt receive a full shipment of trusses in time, was astounded when the trusses arrived—not just some of them, but all of them.

So the MDS volunteers put up the trusses—and they worked until sunset,” said Webb. They worked so hard and were so awesome. We just loved spending time with them.”


Unique needs

The church badly needs a new building. With our location being just seven miles from the border with Mexico, weve got some folks that dont speak English and others that dont speak Spanish–but they all just love each other,” said Webb. But the building is starting to fall down on us.”

Built in the 1950s with portable sections that were never meant to last, the buildings roof leaks, and pours water onto the carpet and into the mens bathroom whenever it rains.

Help has come from others in addition to MDS. A Nazarene Church in Leavenworth, Washington, sent volunteer crews two times, and plans to do so again. One couple from that church has moved to Weslaco, living in their RV so they can serve as construction supervisors.

Its a church that has captured the hearts of the community—and of MDS volunteers as well.

““When we first got to Weslaco we had 19 in attendance—and now we have 85 on our responsibility list,” said Webb.We are so excited to find out what might God do next. We are riding the wave of what God is doing.”

Webb said shell never forget the week that MDS volunteers pitched in. I was overflowing with awe—with the amazingness of not being in charge of anything, really,” she said.

Dube puts it in a similar way: God put together a lot of things,” he said. We just flat didnt plan any of it.”

He believes that, sometimes, its best to let God guide you. If we let God guide our thinking and guide our minds, and we look for opportunities outside the box, some really neat things can happen,” he said. I think thats worth celebrating.”



Susan Kim, MDS Writer

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