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Long-term volunteers arrived in Jennings, Louisiana the week of October 9 to open up the unit after being closed since the end of March. Our goal is to build five new houses by next spring for persons affected by hurricanes Laura and Delta. Phil Helmuth (project coordinator from Virginia) reviewed the plan with Rollie Ulrich (project director from Indiana), Ryan Sprunger (construction supervisor from Indiana) and Doug Goertzen (crew leader from Illinois). Andy and Anita Stoner (cooks from Ohio) and Josie Swartzentruber (office manager from Ohio) arrived Wednesday. Our year-long volunteers, Eric Douglas from Mississippi, Inkosiinhle Ndlovu-Mathuthu from Zimbabwe, Jack Odhiambo from Kenya and Janis Ott from Germany joined our team on Saturday. A diverse group, we all worked together to get the project up and running.

Doug assisted the subcontractor in digging footers for the first two houses. Ryan oversaw the pouring of concrete at Arthur and Brenda Nixon’s house. Ryan and Doug directed the four young men as they shaped and inserted rebar, laid foundation block and worked on the piers at the Nixon house. Rumor has it that one of the volunteers was chasing Doug with a shovel! Rollie and Eric made two twelve hour round trips, one of them rather eventful, to Allenton, Texas to pick up the block for the Nixon house and for David Steely’s house. The young men worked hard at moving and setting the block in place. The amount of labor that goes into foundation work is mind-boggling and is an extremely important process in the first stages of housebuilding. We recalled Jesus’ words about building a house on the rock, a solid foundation that will withstand the fierce winds of a storm. These houses are built according to fortified standards and should be able to hold up in storms of up to 150 mile per hour winds.

Saturday, we took a swamp boat tour where we saw alligators, both in the water and on the riverbanks, as well as Asian carp, one of which landed in our boat!  What a fun diversion from the hard work of the past week!

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