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We first saw Becky Buller when she was a member of Valerie Smith’s band, Liberty Pike, about 20 years ago.  Her wonderful voice, excellent fiddle work and lustrous red hair made her shine out on the stage.  She has since been a solo performer, songwriter and band leader, gathering many International Bluegrass Music Association awards..

In 2014, she co-wrote the song, Make Us To Shine, with Lisa Aschmann and Mark Simos, and included it on her album “Tween Earth and Sky” that same year.

Make us to shine like the stars in your beautiful heaven, Lord  

Blameless and pure, reconciled and forgiven, Lord  

May we be worthy in your sight   To illuminate the night   

Make us to shine like the stars in your beautiful heaven, Lord

As Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers arrive in a new location, they desire to shine a light into the darkness of a community that has experienced disaster.  The light shines forth as a physical benefit to the owner of a repaired home, the emotional benefit the clients receive, and blessing to the community who see the restored homes in their neighborhood, where a badly damaged home, or pile of rubble had been.

In the Laguna Heights community near Port Isabel, Texas, much of the light in the neighborhood was dimmed by the tornado that struck in May of 2023.  MDS begins three months here as the labor force, while Salvation Army and a local Recovery Team raise the funds, identify the most needy, obtain permits and order materials.

We all have far to go        Something in us is searching

Teach us to heal             So many around us are hurting

Humbly we ask you       Show us the path to  Love.

The January Long Term volunteers arrived to complete base preparations for feeding and providing lodging to the volunteers.  They came from Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ontario, Canada.  With assistance from some local MDS Texas Unit members, the base was ready for the group of 15 weekly volunteers from Lancaster County, PA.

Much of the major work we had planned for the first week was accomplished, despite unusually cold temperature, high winds, and some rain.  The volunteers valiantly persisted on Monday despite the winds, and took time to return to base so they could have lunch in the dining room.  Tuesday was a “stay warm” day with only the work at the indoor job continuing.  A lack of permits prevented starting some of the planned work during the remainder of the week.

Janey’s crew had almost completed the job for Carlos and Erica.  A new entry door was located in alignment with a new ramp that will allow Carlos to enter and exit the home in his wheelchair. The crew also completed several tornado damage repairs started by the family.

Daniel’s crew completed replacing damaged and leaking sliding glass doors for Mr. Jesse.   His house faces the shore of Laguna Madre, making wind and impact resistant sliding glass doors difficult and expensive to replace.  Mr. Jesse agreed that installing a conventional door and window as replacements was a good option. The roof replacement for his house is awaiting a permit to be issued by Cameron County.

Mike’s crew had the coldest and most difficult job to start the week; working on demolition of an existing sub-floor and foundation system on Ms. Dora’s lot. Her insurance funds were sufficient to pay for debris removal of the prior home that was destroyed by the tornado. Unfortunately, when the contractor finished work on the new foundation and subfloor, it failed inspection. The contractor abandoned the job and failed to return the un-earned down payment.

Our sturdy crew removed all of the plywood, floor joists and support beams, while removing between 47,000 and 50,000 nails.  It was a lot of cold, hard, heavy work.  The lumber retrieved from the existing floor will save a lot of money on the new house.  Again, we are awaiting the permit to begin the new home.

We all have different ways     Of seeing ourselves in your likeness

Open the veil                       Show us your face through the darkness

May all we are part of         Dance to the heart of  Love.


As these jobs came to the permit roadblock, other jobs were found.  They are not what we’d planned, but we are certain those clients will feel like a light has been placed in their lives.

Make us to shine like the stars in your beautiful heaven, Lord  

Blameless and pure, reconciled and forgiven, Lord  

May we be worthy in your sight   To illuminate the night   

Make us to shine like the stars in your beautiful heaven, Lord 

From the MDS Port Isabel Project in Cameron County, Texas

Rosie, Ellen, Rose, Andrew, Daniel, Elsie, Jordan, Joyce, Mike, Edith, Laura and Carl

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