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Happy 2024 to all!

At Jennings, Louisiana we have taken off running, with a large crew of 20 from New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Most of them are cousins, including (not leastly) Baby Juanita Zimmerman, who came along with her parents Ryan and Ida, to keep us all chuckling with her knowing little eyes and winning smile.

In Jennings we are attempting to finish six newbuilds by the end of March this year. To that end, we are partnering with the Welsh RV crew, an enthusiastic group of twelve or so seniors who have elected to take on two of the homes we started, that are now ready for finishing work. So on Monday we transferred records, materials and management over to Dwayne Anderson and his trusty crew, only stepping in to help when they needed a “lift” from younger muscles.

Of the four homes that are left, meanwhile, David Stelly’s house on Grace Street is the nearest to camp. Our crew was able to apply more mud to the interior (no pun intended, as there was plenty of mud outdoors as well). While that dried, they worked on the porch ceiling and prepared to hang siding. Later in the week there was more mudding and sanding to do inside, while our trusty drywall expert Merv Stutzman oversaw that project. The siding is also up now.

The other three homes the Jennings crew is working on are in Welsh and Iowa. Two of them are barely above ground, while the third got wires pulled this week, ready for drywall. We were grateful for Nate Goodwin from the Bruderhof in New York, who has an electrician’s training so could install wiring. Dirk Zimmerman, also from New York, was able to help him. The deck stairs got built, and all the siding is up. Exterior painting started on Friday.

The house in Welsh got its final foundation pouring today, while the second one in Iowa had the same earlier this week, with the dirt now backfilled up around the piers.

Next week we will have an older group of ten, plus two Bruderhof young women, and an unexpected bonus crew who was trying to make their way to Mexico to help on a project there. They got turned back at the border, and since their driver has been here multiple times and knows us pretty well, he called to ask if they could come here instead. We are eagerly anticipating the extra help to frame in the last two homes! We might even have some time and energy to roof a different house that is on the long-term waiting list.

Christa Barth, Office Manager

On behalf of the Jennings crew

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