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God’s Overcoat

When we lived in Venezuela, we sang many beautiful “coros” during church services.   None conveyed the messages of comfort and protection like “El que Habita al Abrigo de Dios.”  Written in 1949 by Luz Ester Rios de Cuna, with music by Rafael Cuna, it has been sung and recorded by a seemingly endless list of artists, including major choirs and orchestras.  I heard it for the first time during a service in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, performed by one of the elders in the church.


El que habita al abrigo de Dios, Morará bajo sombras de amor;
Sobre él no vendrá ningún mal y en sus alas feliz vivirá.


He who dwells in the overcoat of God, Will dwell under the shade of love

Over him will come no evil and, in His wings, will live in joy

During the dedication of the house for Sr. Refugio on Tuesday, I observed in him a sense of contentment, joy and peace.  After almost a year from the tornado that destroyed his home, this shy father and grandfather received the keys to his new home.  Several in the family gave thanks that his house would again be a place where grandkids could gather to create memories with their “abuelo.”

Attending this dedication were the family, several county officials, managers of the stores who supplied most of the building materials, Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team members and MDS volunteers.  The weekly volunteers were from two groups. One was a group of young women, with their driver, from Indiana and the other a group of young men from Ohio.  These energetic young folks provided many willing and able hands for our long term leaders from Michigan, Ontario, Germany and Pennsylvania.

A few weeks ago, when looking at this week, we realized we’d be down to three homes to work on after Tuesday.  Some local contacts were made and several of the young women were seconded to the Elgin Lions Club Thrift Store for a few days.  At first this seemed like an unlikely place for MDS volunteers to serve, but we learned that this store produces income for several local efforts, including funding the local chapter of the Texas Ramp Project.  The volunteers found some fun things to take back home to Indiana as well as taking with them the sincere thanks of the store’s staff.

For those not working at the store, the tasks undertaken achieved several key milestones on the journey toward completion of the remaining three homes.

At the third house, Mr Leonard’s, the crew carried out a multitude of jobs.  The exterior work was completion of steps, insulation and sheathing of the underside of the house, and installing electric disconnects for the HVAC units.  The interior tasks included installation of lights and plumbing fixtures, range hood, receptacles and cover plates.  What at first glance looked like chaos, was actually several people working with focus and efficiency.  The HVAC contractor got both of the mini-split units installed and powered up, so this house only needs a final punch list and cleaning to be 100 percent complete and ready for Wednesday dedication.

The final two houses continue in a nearly dead-heat run to the finish.  Both houses had their interior walls sanded, wiped down and painted.  The vinyl flooring installation in both was completed.  The underfloor insulation and sheathing is complete at both houses, and a first coat of paint is on much of the trim.  The most visible difference is that the ramp at Mr. Doyle’s house is farther along.  Both houses are on a good path toward completion and dedication during our last week of work.

All of the remaining three clients are closely following the progress toward completion. The one-year anniversary of the tornado will happen next week. Nobody has talked about it yet, but they are certainly thinking about that event.  Their desire to be enjoying the peace of their new homes is strong.

Oh, yo quiero habitar al abrigo de Dios,

Sólo allí encontraré paz y profundo amor.

Mi delicia es con él comunión disfrutar y por siempre su nombre alabar.

Oh, I long to dwell in the shelter of  God’s overcoat.

Only there will I find peace and profound love.

My delight is to enjoy communion with Him, and forever praise His name.

From the MDS Elgin Tornado Response in Bastrop County

Titus, Jonas, Janey, Evie, Bob, Sharon, Dick, Laura and Carl

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