U.S. | Go to Canada Site

Hard Times

Stephen C. Foster is considered the “father of American music” with over 200 songs written and published during his 37 years of life.  The 2005 Grammy winning album “Beautiful Dreamer” is a recording of Foster’s songs, by various popular artists ranging from Mavis Staples to John Prine to Yo Yo Ma.  “Hard Times” is a song asking the more fortunate people of 1854 to consider the plight of the poor people around them.


Let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears,

While we all sup sorrow with the poor;

There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears;

Oh! Hard times come again no more.


The years leading up to the US Civil War were indeed hard times for many.  There was no “safety net” for the less fortunate, except for the efforts of churches and other charitable organizations. That same condition exists for many of the people living in the colonias of the Rio Grande Valley.

On Tuesday and Thursday, we dedicated the new houses for two families.  One giant step was taken in moving beyond some hard times after the flooding of 2018 and 2019.  The bold green and blue exteriors and the bright yellow and white interiors were reflected in the huge smiles of the two families.  During one dedication, a son expressed thanks to all the volunteers because this would be the first time in his 17 years that he would have his own bedroom.   We recognized that these homes are not the end to all of the hard times these families might face, but as one mother said, “This is a new start for my family.”

On the other houses, the short term group from Lancaster County, joined leaders from Ohio, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Michigan to move those families beyond the hard times they have experienced.  The group’s energy made up for the smaller number of short term volunteers this week.

House #3 is very near completion. One more day of punch list items and deep cleaning, plus the HVAC installed and electric service connected, will get this house ready for it’s dedication.

House #4 has almost all of the interior drywall hung, so it is ready for the taping and mudding stage to commence.  The crew leader is glad to have a short term volunteer next week who is very experienced in that task.  Work outside will continue with siding and trim painting being completed, plus building the ramp needed at this house.

House #5 also had work inside and out with electrical and plumbing rough-in and exterior siding installation moving along.  Insulation of most of the rooms is complete, and drywall was delivered and stacked in the house, ready to hang once the rough-in passes the testing.

House #6 will be our final new house of this building season.  It starts on Monday at a location near houses #1 and #3.  The dedications and final new beginning remind us that we have only 7 weeks of work remaining in the RGV this year.

The short term volunteers also had the chance this week to step up and help in the kitchen, as Em traveled back to VA for a doctor’s assessment of her ailing hip.  Those volunteers included one of the guys, who was instrumental in having fresh baked cookies for the Thursday dedication.

Graham Kendrick’s song in the new “Voices Together” hymnal further encourages our efforts to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus in the RGV,


Shelter for fragile lives, Cures for their ills. Work for the craftsman
Trade for their skills. Land for the dispossessed. Rights for the weak
Voices to plead the cause Of those who can’t speak.

God of the poor, Friend of the weak, Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts. Let tears fall like rain. Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame


From the MDS McAllen project, Hidalgo County, Texas

Don, Dorothy, Bob, Jay, Jason, Keith, Jonah, Reuben and Carl

Related Reports

See More Weekly Reports