My husband Mark was invited to be a part of the disaster relieve crew. I asked if I could go too. Mark and I had volunteered for Habitat a few times and we both truly enjoyed it. So in November of last year we set off for St. Louis.
I have to admit, I was nervous and a little apprehensive. You see, I am very much an introvert, this is why you are reading this instead of listening to me say it, and the thought of spending a week in the same house with people I didn’t know very well terrified me. I prayed, a lot, that God would give me the courage and strength to get through the week.
We were the last to arrive, so top bunks for us. That’s ok, I thought, I did this not too long ago, but that’s a story for another time.
Erin our contact stopped by to tell us about the work we would be doing. She told us there were four jobs at four different locations that we would be working on that week. I heard the word drywall a bunch of times. Did I forget to mention, that I have never done this type of work before? I was hoping for cleanup, painting or something that I had at least attempted. I decided to call it a night and see where I fit in in the morning.
We awoke to a wonderful breakfast, packed our lunches and I found a spot on Jason’s crew. Our crew consisted of Jason, Mark, Linda and myself. We had two locations to work at. The first location was to hang some drywall, mud, finish, paint and if time, lay flooring. The second location was to hang drywall, mud and finish. What??? I was thinking I would be the picture taker until we got to the painting part but Jason had other ideas.
At the first location, we were met by a wonderful woman, Dawn. She was very glad to see us. She showed us to the basement, Erin stopped by and dropped off some supplies and we were off. Linda and I started sanding the drywall. A crew had been there before us and had some of the mudding already done. We were both covered in drywall dust, but it was a lot of fun. The next day, we made sure to take a cover for our hair and bring some music. Then Jason showed Linda and I how to mud, so off we went putting on a second coat of mud. We laughed at ourselves and each other and gained some great memories. By the end of the week, we had the walls painted. Dawn was taking selfies with us and our work. She was truly grateful for our help and I was truly grateful for the experience and memories.
Earlier I mentioned a second location, you see we would work part of the day at Dawn’s and when we got to a stopping point, usually around lunchtime, we would head to the second location across town. Here we had to cut the drywall before taking it into the house because we had a very small turning radius to get into the basement. So Mark and I cut a few pieces and carried it down. There were two big rooms that we were working on. Jason and Linda had started in the one room while Mark and I were cutting, so then Mark went behind them and did the mudding and I started in the other room hanging and trimming the drywall to fit. I was pretty proud of myself and my new friend Linda. We worked like pros getting the job done. At this location, the homeowners just left us alone to do our work, but at the end of the week, they were very grateful for our help.
I have to mention one of the other crew’s that just happened to be working on a house very close to our second location; Will, Lorraine, Jack, and Larry M. They were working on a floor in the basement of a house that seemed to go on forever. We popped by to eat lunch with them and see what they were working on. We had such a good time at lunch that we decided to do it the next day as well. They had a huge job, and they really wanted to try to get it finished for their homeowner, so in our spare time, we gave them a hand. But that is their story to tell.
At the beginning and end of each day, we would do some sharing. On the morning that Lorraine was going to share, Pastor Zorn asked her if she was going to sing for us like she did last year. Lorraine went upstairs and got her hymnal. After sharing, she opened the hymnal and started singing, she has a beautiful voice. The song she sang was Trust and Obey. When Lorraine was finished singing, we packed our lunches and got ready for the day. I opened Facebook and scrolled down a few posts. I couldn’t believe my eyes! A stained glass picture that read “Trust and Obey” posted by a friend that had served at the Via de Christo weekend that I attended earlier in the year. I showed Pastor Zorn and the others. This was a true God moment! I felt at that moment God was hitting me over the head saying, “Look Michelle, just Trust and Obey and all will be well.” Wow! I didn’t know what to say. But in my head, I was saying, “Yes God, I hear you.”
Looking back, I can see many God moments. The smiles on Mark’s face as he and Jason joked. The smiles on Linda’s face as we worked and as she sang and shared her stories. The tears that were shed and the laughs that were shared. There were so many.
I don’t want to end without mentioning Pam. Pam provided us with many wonderful meals that kept us going from day to day. She was definitely a God send for us.
St. Louis was a place where I made some new friends, learned some new skills, made some wonderful memories and most importantly learned to Trust and Obey!
Thanks be to God.
About the Author: Michelle Ewing is a member of Lutheran Church of the Resurrection where she serves in various roles serving others. She lives in Batavia with her husband Mark and works for the federal government in downtown Cincinnati. Michelle and Mark often attend worship with their daughter Brittany.
About LCR: Lutheran Church of the Resurrection is a vibrant and welcoming community of faith and a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.