March 11, 2023
Bastrop, TX – March 5-11, 2023
“Hallelujah… Texas Style”
As a native of Central Texas, I get excited when it is springtime in this part of the world. As the end of last week approached, I had not readily found a song that reflected the complex mixtures of events and feelings for the week. Then, after picking up some needed materials in Bastrop, I was driving out to the home sites and turned the corner onto FM 969. To my right was a stretch of perhaps 10 acres of blue, provided by the Texas Bluebonnet, the state flower of Texas. The words from “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” flowed through my mind’s ear. The arrangement I heard appeared in 1969 as hymn 606 in the Mennonite Hymnal. It is a beautiful mixture of notes and tempos, much like the colors of a Texas spring.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
The redbud trees started showing off almost two weeks ago. Then some yellow daisies sprouted up amidst the dried weeds in the roadsides and untilled fields. The anticipation built up and then…. BOOM! Red swaths of Indian Paintbrush appeared and finally splashes of blue began to show amidst the new green plants. By the end of last week, the Texas Bluebonnets were in full display mode. I never get tired of seeing them.
Praise Him above, Praise Him above.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
At our MDS houses for the Elgin Tornado response, there were a lot of notes and tempos being acted out. Weekly volunteers from Pennsylvania and Michigan provided many skilled hands for the crew leaders from Pennsylvania, Germany and Ontario. I have overseen about 70 homes being built by MDS volunteers, and I never get tired of seeing those hands moving the houses toward completion.
At the homes that are the furthest from completion, those for Mr. Doyle and Ms. Patricia, the tempo followed the time it took each coat of drywall mud to dry. Some diversions from applying mud were needed, so work on the front porch railing and ramp footings was injected into the mixture. Both houses saw the delivery of many items needed for interior finishing. This was a clear sign that some of the financial and supply chain issues were being cleared, just as the steady increase in afternoon temperatures were signs that winter in Texas was over.
At the house for Mr. Leonard, the laying of flooring and pre-painting of interior trim and doors provided the main melody flowing through the first two days. After the flooring was completed, the rhythm changed to that of cabinets being set in place, interior doors being installed, and window boxes for jamb extensions being cut, assembled and given a first coat of paint. This house is located along a well traveled Texas Highway and people frequently stop to ask how they can get a home built by this contractor. It is a clear sign that the homes built by MDS volunteers look good to more than our clients. I never get tired of hearing that.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost
The volunteers at the two houses on Youngs Prairie Road seemed to reach a new faster tempo as they entered the final days of construction. We stacked the crew going to those two houses with several seasoned hands, plus some energetic youth. With the deadline of dedication dates rapidly approaching, the workers moved along at a brisk pace. Final power connections into each house and trenches for water lines were done. The myriad of details included closet shelving, clothes rods, electrical cover plates, door knobs, range hood, toilet, caulking and undersink plumbing. Last minute purchases led to several trips past the ten acres of bluebonnets, but the smaller numbers of needed items were a clear sign that completion was near.
Finally on Thursday, the day for dedication of Ms. Cristina’s new home arrived. The house was as spotlessly clean as can be accomplished. The doormat on the front porch stated “Bienvenidos” and many people were welcomed. Ms. Cristina, with her family and friends were present, as were representatives of McCoys Building Supplies and Lowes Home Centers. Bastrop County was represented as was the City of Elgin. Forty copies of the dedication agenda were made and all were in use. As the keys were presented and the final prayer of blessing given by Pastor Jorge, the joy was palpable in the room and in the overflow crowd on the front and side porches.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah. Hallelujah, Hallelujah.
Hallelujah, Amen. Hallelujah, Amen
We have only a few days until the next dedication on Tuesday of next week, so the excitement continues and we look forward to the next groups of weekly volunteers.
From the Elgin Tornado response, in Bastrop County, Texas
Evie, Sharon, Laura, Janey, Jonas, Bob, Dick and Carl