August 15, 2023
Manitoba youth group serves in Red Lake
What’s it like to serve with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS)? Angela Reimer was in Red Lake, Minnesota with the Morden, Manitoba, Sommerfeld Mennonite Church youth group. She writes about it below.
We arrived late Sunday, July 9th in the afternoon to serve at the Red Lake Nation. It was hit by a tornado in 2021, which brought with it heavy amounts of baseball sized hail and damaged siding and broke windows.
We worked on a total of four houses, taking old broken siding off and putting on house wrap, some new plywood sheets and new siding. There was a delay with the order of windows, so they arrived the last day we were there. But we did get windows in on at least one of the houses before the end of the day!
Our daily schedule began at 6 a.m. We packed our lunches between 6:30-6:50 a.m. and, at 7 a.m., we had breakfast and a devotional then loaded up the trucks and headed off to our work site by 8 a.m.
At around 10 a.m. we would have a morning coffee break, lunch around 12 and then a 3 p.m. coffee break. By 4:30 p.m. we would start packing up at our work site and get back to the MDS building between 5-5:30 p.m. We would then unload the trucks and shower before supper at 6 p.m.
After supper, we gave our daily reports. One person from each group was assigned to do the daily report—basically telling the whole group what was accomplished that day at their work site. Then in the evening we’d play games or go for walks.
Monday evening, we played volleyball at a nearby school playground. Tuesday was singing and playing games. Then on Wednesday a local First Nations leader, Eugene Standingcloud, came to talk to us about the community. He talked about how it got started and how they are trying to build it up.
Thursday, again we played games, walked to the lake nearby as well as the Pow Wow grounds and after supper we piled into a bus van and went to the beach. Friday, right after work, we washed and checked all the work trucks before supper as a normal end-of-the-week routine.
Then in the evening, some stayed at MDS singing and chatting while others went back to the lake and Pow Wow grounds one last time.
The MDS group, which consisted of our church group and a few long-term volunteers, was split up into three work crews.
House One already had its damaged siding torn off and new house wrap and some trims attached before we got there so the group started with painting the siding and putting up the rest of the trims.
The next couple of days were busy with putting up all the trim (except for around the windows that needed to be replaced) and putting up siding, caulking and second coat of paint. They got the west side completely done (except above the garage roof) and started the caulking and second coat of paint on the south side. The east side got completely sided and started caulking.
House Two needed its siding to be ripped off and replace two windows on the north side. Monday and Tuesday we were busy taking off the siding, wrapping the house and painting the siding and trim to be put up later. On Tuesday we ended the day by starting to put the siding up on the east side. Wednesday and Thursday were a continuation with putting the siding and trim on and Friday we could finally get the North windows installed.
House Three also needed its siding torn off and some of the windows replaced as well. Monday and Tuesday, the siding was being torn off and, since this was a two-story house, it took a little longer. Wednesday and Thursday the siding was being painted and Thursday it was starting to be put up. We could not continue all the way because the new windows hadn’t come by then to be installed, so we just did what we could.
House Four was started on Friday by the group who was doing house three. This also was a two-story house and needed its siding torn off as well as replacing most if not all the windows. We had torn off all the siding and wrapped most of the house before the end of the work day.
Our one week at MDS was one to remember as for many of us. It was our first MDS trip, but I’m sure not the last!