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Hello In There

In 1971, I discovered John Prine.  He’d just released his first vinyl album and the songs directed an uncommon beautiful light on common experiences.   His song “Hello In There” extended my education about loneliness and older people.  I’d known several older people before then, but Prine’s song taught me a lot about them.  Although Prine sadly never professed a faith in God, his songs also taught me a lot about how to care for and love people.

Me and Loretta, we don’t talk much more,    She sits and stares through the back door screen
And all the news just repeats itself,    Like some forgotten dream   that we’ve both seen

You know that old trees just grow stronger,  And old rivers grow wilder every day
Old people just grow lonesome,       Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello”

We often encounter older people among the clients MDS serves.  Many of them are lonely and have few options for living in a safe and secure home.  Prine’s song could have been about any one of them.  As an MDS Project Director, it is my job to contact the potential clients referred for assistance.  When they are older and lonely, I remember that one of my tasks is to simply reach out and say “Hello in there.  God loves you.”

So far at the McAllen MDS project, we have two clients that fit into that description.  For one couple, we are completing the task of building a completely new, small home.  The new house is an investment by the community for this couple and their extended family.  For another couple, we signed up to replace siding on the north wall of their house and install drywall throughout the interior.   This will provide a more safe and secure home that should outlast their needs.  These jobs, along with new houses for all our clients provide ample opportunities for our volunteers each week to reach out and say “Hello” and “God bless you” with the fruit of their labor.

The short term volunteers from Pennsylvania and Ohio formed energetic crews for our newly arrived, March crew leaders.  The arrivals included volunteers from Ontario and Manitoba for the first time since Covid 19 interrupted and changed our lives.  New long term volunteers from Wisconsin and Minnesota also joined those already here from Virginia, Kansas and Michigan.

As mentioned above, the new house for Sra. Maura and Sr. Rafael is almost complete.  The kitchen and bath cabinets, plumbing fixtures, interior doors and lots of trim molding were installed.  The entry ramp was completed, except for a few feet of handrail.  The new crew will need to work diligently to get everything else finished and final cleaning completed for next Thursday’s dedication.

The new leaders with their crew at house #5 made some big strides.  Monday saw a final coat of interior paint on the walls and ceiling.  The next two days saw the interior flooring tiles fitted and glued down.  While that was going on, application of the first coats of primer and paint on interior trim and doors filled up the rest of the week.

At house #6, there was tremendous progress inside and outside.  Outside the main work was completing the paint on the siding and exterior trim.  The electrical and plumbing rough-in was completed and tested.  When I looked at the electrical panel, I saw wires as straight and uniform as rungs on a ladder.  I knew we’d been blessed to have an expert do that work.  By the end of the week, all the ceiling and wall insulation was in, the ceiling and wall drywall was hung, and the taping and mudding was started.

On our newest job, for one of our older couples, the first pieces of old siding were removed. As feared, there was considerable termite damage in the sub-floor framing.  New pressure-treated boards replaced rotten sill beams, termite shields were installed, insulation was added, and the initial section of new siding was installed.  The exterior work will continue next week, weather permitting.  We are glad to be able to say “Hello in there” to this couple.

So if you’re walking down the street sometime   And spot some hollow ancient eyes
Please don’t just pass ’em by and stare,     As if you didn’t care,    say, “Hello in there, hello”

In reality, all of our work is intended to say “Hello In There” to all of our clients.  Living in a neighborhood that floods often is a lonely existence.  By offering our time and working as the Hands and Feet of Jesus, our actions speak loudly.  Smiles appear and hope is renewed.

From the MDS McAllen project, in Hidalgo County, Texas
Carl, Don, Marilyn, Rita, Reuben, Janey, Neil, Audry and Nevin