The van is reserved, the final details are falling into place, and on Sunday, June 20th 7 youth and 3 adults will head for Texas City, TX to help the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) with recovery efforts following hurricane Ike. The hope is to post pictures and stories from our trip.
The web site of the group we will be working with.
Scroll down to see comments from the youth - Abby, Roger, Annie, Pierce, Drake, Sadie, and Walter
Monday, June 21st
From Abby Cain
Today Annie, Sadie, and I spent our day in an attic, filling trash bag after trash bag with packing peanuts.May sound strange, but Kel, whose house we were working in, couldn’t get his mortgage approved because the previous owner had filled the top of the house with plastic pellets (a fire hazard).How one person could ever collect that many packing peanuts was a source of shock for all of us—the floor of the attic was covered in a six inch layer of them!As we worked our way towards the back wall, we discovered a number of treasures buried in the pellets—even some sort of animal skeleton (that was a shocking find!) To top off our adventure, there was no air conditioning in the attic, which made for a sweaty day.But it felt like we had really accomplished something at the end of the day, with the piles of trashbags in front of the house, and the attic floor actually visible under the packing peanuts!
From Walter Torres-
Early start. Yuck. So the eggs were watery and my peach juice got in them and some kids incessantly played Heart and Soul, Let it Be, and Don’t Stop Believing on the piano in the breakfast room. I wanted to cry. But we left after awhile, and set out for Galveston Island to help Kel, a nice guy who needed some help, and received through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. At the house we divided up into two groups. While Abby, Sadie, and Annie were diligently working in the horridly hot and humid claustrophobic attic, the rest of us were downstairs tearing down the ceiling which had suffered water damage from hurricane Ike. The ceiling needed to be replaced with this stuff called sheetrock and our job was to clear the damaged tiles. We got to use crowbars and hammers and ladders and even got to watch the world cup from the room (Viva Espana). And destroying stuff was definitely a good time. Kel was a super cool guy, very kind and gracious, and he even liked soccer, so I had a chance to get to know him and talk to him on common ground. After we finished our job we tried our hand at clearing peanuts in the attic, which was quite miserable, but fun in a masochistic way I suppose. We were all very sweaty and grubby, but I think I was the grossest, as Annie and Sadie could attest to (they had the pleasure of siting next to me on the car ride back). However nobody can be tired enough to resist a game of soccer. So we went to Target and purchased a ball and Mr. Pass, Roger, and I started up a small game back at First Pres which got very very intense, and was a blast. Hopefully more people play later. That was pretty much our day, a long one, but satisfying I think. We will sleep well tonight.
Tuesday, June 22
I had a good time working in the attic removing tons of old insulation. It was like a sauna. We filled a bunch of trash bags and hauled them down to the street. The people whose house we are repairing are very nice, and they let us watch some of the World Cup. –Drake
Pierce- Today we finished stripping down the ceiling and taking out packaging peanuts that were a fire hazard to the home owners. The residents were very nice and let us watch the World Cup during breaks. I’m glad that we were assigned to such nice people that appreciate the work we are doing.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The power went out last night right before bed, so we got out of cooking breakfast this morning and just had cereal instead. The plan had been to get up at 5:30 to cook breakfast and get it on the table at 6. However, because of the outage, we got up at 6:30 and drove straight to Kel’s house to start work. Even though it wasn’t nearly as hot in the attic, Drake and I had to squeeze into the tight spaces under the rafters to scoop out the old, rotten insulation. It was extremely dusty (we both went through several respirators apiece), and the dirt and bits of insulation stuck right to our skin. The only spot untouched by dirt on our first break was under the respirator on my face. It took a long time, but most of the insulation was finally out of the attic by the end of the day. The group downstairs put sheet rock on the ceiling. The house is looking great, and we’ve made a lot of progress. I can’t wait to see what it looks like at the end of the day tomorrow, and I hope that someday I’ll get the chance to see the finished product!
After conquering the packing peanuts that swamped Kel’s attic, a group of us Westminster troopers climbed into the sweltering enclosure to insulate it. This might sound like a hard job, but compared to the original painstaking removal of millions of Styrofoam packing products it was a breeze. The feeling of accomplishment that came when we looked across at the empty rafters and the puffy pink that replaced the peanuts made the hard work seem much more do-able. What really made the job worthwhile though was the human factor. Meeting Kel and his lovely family (Christina and his three energetic boys) made the cleaning and insulating of the space a personal experience, one that proved that we were making an immediate difference in the life of a family who I could relate to and enjoy. This was not just a faceless charity or chance to donate much needed money, but was a job I could do to really help and have fun. Working has led to some interesting situations (I am sure Abby wrote about finding the skeleton) that have led to fun times all around, stronger bonds between the youth and leaders on this trip, and a heightened sense of hope in my life which I hope was passed on to the people we were not only helping but getting to know and enjoy.
Thursday, June 24th
Annie Clark -
Today, we finally finished up the insulation in the lower attic. Then we found out that we had to staple the insulation down to the floor, even though some of the wires were covered and you wouldn’t be able to reach them with it stapled down. Anyways, the staple hammer was pretty fun to use; it was just like hitting the ground with the hammer. Plus it was a good way to get any frustration out. After that we had put up insulation in the upper attic and then waited forever for the organization to bring more, so we just hung around and kind of helped out with the sheetrock. Abby and I went up in the cramped closet in the bathroom and put sheetrock up there. It was pretty difficult, but finally screwed it in after cutting the sheetrock in half to make it lighter to hold up while the other person drilled in the screws. Overall, today was really fun and relaxing. We got to know some of the guys from Maryland that came and helped us with the sheetrock. It was a really good day, and now we’re all watching Ms. Congeniality.
We're back!!!! It was a great trip. The kids worked hard all week, so we had a few hours at the beach to unwind before coming home. I am proud of each and every one of them, not only for the work that they accomplished, but for what each of them brought to the trip. They are wonderful youth and it is fun to watch them interact with each other and with other people. HUGE thank you's to Mandy Hill, Scott Pass and Bill Clark for going as sponsors. All 3 of them were immensely helpful throughout the trip!!!
Wednesday we had a devotion at the beach. I was struck by the fact that the Isrealites were desert people and the sea was a source of unknown and of chaos. I wondered what a Psalm might have sounded like about the sea, I will post it in the days to come.