March 12, 2022
McAllen, TX – Mar 6-12, 2022
Keep On Going
At some times in my life, I have thought that no matter where I looked, there was precious little joy to observe. In the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, we don’t have to look far to find suffering. There are people at the bridges fleeing from violence in their home country. There are people who’ve made it across the border living on the margins of a rich society, but have few options to share in the plenty. It does little good to look for joy in far away places, because the main images we encounter are of war and disasters. Homes, cities and lives are in ruins. Desperate people should not have to compete for compassion, but they do.
For two years here along the Rio Grande, people have been forced to wait in tents in Mexico before making their asylum applications. This week Ukranians, with the war in their country filling our TV and computer screens, presented themselves at the border. They were moved to the front of the line and welcomed without waiting. They side-stepped past other desperate people fleeing wars between the drug cartels.
Songwriter Dave Berg was born in Portland, Oregon and is now living in Nashville, Tennessee. He has written several top songs including two No. 1 singles on Rodney Atkins “Going Through Hell” album in 2006. The words of the song “Going Through Hell” are well suited to these days.
Well, I been deep down in that darkness I been down to my last match
Felt a hundred different demons breathing fire down my back
And I knew that if I stumbled I’d fall right into the trap
That they were laying, yeah
In the RGV where MDS has been working there have been some difficult days. The short term volunteers this week from Union County, PA helped to overcome those difficulties. This group had already gone through some challenges in coming here. Their original scheduled dates at the Coastal Bend MDS project were canceled as that project came to an early close. We’d had a group cancel for that week, so the McAllen project was glad to offer them the chance to keep the same dates a little farther south.
But the good news is there’s angels everywhere out on the street
Holding out a hand to pull you back upon your feet
The ones that you been dragging for so long you’re on your knees
You might as well be praying, Guess what I’m saying?
If you’re going through hell Keep on going, don’t slow down
If you’re scared, don’t show it
You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there
At our dedication for house #4 this week, it was a sad, difficult day, especially for the family. We’d been looking forward to seeing Senora Maura and Senor Rafael receive the keys of their new home. However, as the time for the dedication came and passed, the honored guests were not there. News soon arrived that Sra. Maura had been admitted to the hospital for dialysis. Plus, in the process of admission, her Covid test was positive. Sr. Rafael and two of their daughters were able to come to the house. Several neighbors provided happy applause and even some tears of joy. So, there was joy, but there was concern. The frail wife, mother, grandmother and friend was having to face her diabetes and related symptoms, while trying to recover from Covid 19.
The biggest trial at house #5 was to keep track of the myriad small details that needed finishing. One milestone was reached on Tuesday, when the HVAC unit was installed. Diligence and dedication of the crew and leader, Neil, was sufficient to prevent the confusion and bring the house to where only a final punch list of items is needed for dedication.
The trials during drywall taping and finishing at house #6 were overcome by a determined crew under Audrey’s patient leadership. The cool, humid (non-drying) weather at the start of the week gave way to warmer, good drying weather. By the end of the week, sanding and clean-up was completed. The house was ready for priming of the ceilings and walls.
At House #7 we completed our first week taking over from a prior group. Among the difficulties faced was the need to revise the electrical wiring. The door into the bath needed moving to allow room for the tub-shower unit. We also determined the windows were not installed well enough to ensure a leak-proof future.
The work on Sra. Corina’s repair project encountered more difficulties with termite damage as the main culprit. The carpenters were able to replace the framing around the bedroom window so it was as square and upright as new. When the final house jacking was completed the interior taping continued without further cracks appearing. Interior framing repairs and drywall hanging progressed as well.
Saturday morning we gathered to say farewell to Rita, who had served with distinction as head cook. It is a rare person who can handle feeding very hungry groups of young people while meeting the dietary needs of older volunteers seeking to eat vegan, gluten free, or avoid pork. She reminded us of the devotion of the week before from Galatians 6:9. “Let us not become weary in doing good…” and showed the youtube video of the beautiful choral work by Benjamin Kornelius.
We also said goodbye to Reuben who had served for 5 weeks here as driver, Spanish speaker, tool trailer organizer and volunteer, willing to work on the roof and in the dirt under a house.
We know there will be plenty of opportunities for doing good and our prayer is to not grow weary in the final three weeks of this season. We have to keep on going.
At the MDS McAllen project in Hidalgo County, Texas.
Janey, Audrey, Neil, Nevin, Marilyn, Don and Carl