Monday, July 30, 2018

Mission Trip Photos

Go to to see all our photos from the trip!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Safely Home

Saturday morning we woke up and enjoyed a delicious breakfast that our kitchen crew put together from our leftovers from the week.  The rest of our food went to a local homeless shelter.  After cleaning up our living space (thank you, host church!) we left for the airport.  Corpus Christi's airport is rather small, with only five gates.  So none of us managed to get lost.  Our flight was delayed, which meant that we had to boogie to catch our connecting flight in Dallas/Ft. Worth.  One more flight, and we landed in Pittsburgh about 6:40 PM.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers and support.  I'll be posting a link to the photo album for our trip.

Peter de Vries, filling in for Clark.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Pictures from Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Sunrise over the USS Lexington on our way to work

The only crown we could find for our "Kitchen Queen"

Nap time in the van ride home

Elvis' blessing on the floor paper at the Refugio house

The Fulton (aka Rockport) house

Friday at the Food Bank

Friday at the Food Bank

The Food Bank crew

Friday, July 27

Friday is the end of most work weeks, and so it was for us.  Scattered cumulus clouds and somewhat increased humidity greeted us outside.  Sometimes (actually usually) I am surprised by how warm/hot it feels outside, compared to the always cool AC inside. 

   And before I forget again, let me now say “thank you much” to our Katie for making the Appreciation Poster for our gracious hosts Parkway Church yesterday for us all to sign.  Great job!  Let me also thank everyone for taking such great photos, snapping pictures left and right.  We all had a hand in making the week better for us all, so let me say for everyone how much we needed the efforts of each individual, living together as one loving Christian community.  Especially the work that we came here to do:  fixing up broken homes (and hence broken lives) in weather conditions that we definitely were not used to and which could make anyone extra cranky.  Overall, I am very impressed and pleased at how nice we all were.

   Once again we broke up into 2 groups.  The first group went to finish the job started yesterday at the Rockport house, the one very close to the coastline– finish up the second coat of blue paint on the one side, and brush on white paint to the window and door trim.  Since the weather would again soon be hot and humid, they left the church at 6:30 AM.  While a second group, comprised of me and others, got to sleep in, since we did not leave Parkway until 9:15 (were we lucky or what?!)  Since House #1 was not ready today for more volunteers, we had a special task – to help out at the local Coastal Bend Food Bank, located in an industrial section of Corpus Christi.  It was nestled amongst warehouses, small factories and businesses, restaurants, and even a few hotels (they seem to be everywhere.)  Once inside the facility we were warmly greeted by Vanessa.  After donning visitor name badges and signing in, Vanessa separated us into two groups and showed us what to do.  We were able to help-out by unloading big boxes (like the watermelon boxes at grocery stores) full of assorted food products and repackaging them into smaller banana boxes until the scales said they weighed a certain amount.  These then were put on a pallet and then, once four high, were ready to be moved, and eventually be given to individual families.  Our group was prepared to stay until 3 PM, but since another volunteer group from a local drink distributor was scheduled to come in, we had to leave at 1PM. 

   So what to do while on “vacation” far from home on a nice day?  Shopping, of course.  Some of the members of the second group had been to the Lexington or Aquarium on Wednesday, so had been able to spot 2 cool gift shops for tourists like us nearby.  And luckily they gave good driving directions because there was ample road construction in that area, which could make it confusing how to get in and out of there.  Once we arrived back at Parkway with all our newly bought goodies, we found that the first group had already returned safe and sound.  Praise the Lord for all our safe travels this week.  The vans especially seemed not to handle the bumps and unevenness of the streets, i.e. a bumpy ride for all those aboard.

   After a busy week I must admit that I took my only afternoon nap today.  Whereas some of the rest of the group went to the local public beach to swim and tan.  One poor girl fell asleep and ended up with a very tanned back.  Ouch!!  Speaking of you kids, great job this whole week.  All of us adults are very proud of you.  In tonight’s devotions led by Pastor Doug we talked about our time together, like the highlight of the week (mine was my impromptu birthday party.)  All the young people said nice things, but not what I was expecting.  And I thought that the number one favorite thing would be no parents, bedtime curfews, and that kind of thing.  A personal reflection of mine is the fact I did get some ample sleep at night despite all the crickets and katydids in our room, in other words the squeaky/creaky cots and the snorers.

   Other interesting comments tonight included Tori’s: “We are all broken and scarred.”;  “Seven churches came together as one loving Christian community;” “We all have a right for a habitable home,”  which was one possible definition of the term “promotion of social righteousness” which is from the Synod’s suggested reflections for our mission trip.

   Prayer concerns: Everybody pray that our plane flights are just as uneventful as the first two.  And Maddi, who is here beside me tonight, says pray for her friend Brooke that was supposed to be on the mission trip, but due to an unfortunate accident could not be here.  After reading these blog notes I’m sure she must be sad but so proud of us and our accomplishments.

  Old Union is having a special event focusing on this year’s mission trip on Sept. 9.  And a pig roast will follow, so please try to be there to hear personal experiences from us and pictures too!!!
            1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Encourage one another and build each other up”

Signing off, Clark and Maddi, mission reporters

Friday, July 27, 2018

Thursday July 26

Wow, as I am writing this on the eve of Thursday, July 26, I can hardly believe that we only have one work day left!  And what a fine day that the Lord has made today.  Sunny from start to finish, with some intermittent breezes.  I remember that once again the van windshield kept fogging up after we left the church.  There were many ooh’s and aah’s as we drove on the high overpass and we saw the red sun rising with the Lexington in the foreground. Many pictures were taken of that beautiful sight.  The TV weather guy said that this morn we had a record low temp of 72 F.  In other words, for us it was still a hot, a fine Texas summer day.  But at least the humidity was a little less than yesterday.  We broke up into two teams today since we had two separate houses to work, the first one in Refugio and the second in Rockport, which is right along the coast where Harvey came ashore last year. I was part of Team 2, and we woke up a little early in order to be able to leave at 630 AM and get there a little a sooner so that we might beat the heat a little.

    Bill and daughter Emma started to caulk the cracks and nail holes in the heavy wooden plank siding, while some of us including me did some much needed yard cleanup of wood and building material scraps that were all over the place.  Then we started to apply the bright blue paint to one side, then the next.  Even though the house is only one story, scaffolding was still needed to reach the highest spots near the roof.  Painting the siding on the south side was harder due to the bright and hot sunshine there.  Let me personally thank those willing to be in the sun and be up high on the scaffolding, which did not appeal to me.

   Thanks to Katie and a few others, the flooring was finished at House #1 so that crew was able to join us to finish the painting.  There were some out-of-state professional construction people willing to volunteer their time to help us do the tough stuff at both houses today, and we just tried to stay out of their way.  For instance, at House #2 electricians were busy inside, so painting the outside was about the only thing for us today.  But that’s OK, it was still a big job.  I think we all left with blue paint on our clothes and bodies!  An interesting side note, yesterday at House #2 a few other volunteers like us joined our crew to help out.  They were from the states of Pennsylvania and Kansas, and Ontario too.  God Bless them all. 

   Now because there were so many of us, we could not all eat at the nearby WhatABurger restaurant at the same time.   In case you did not know, that is a popular food chain in this part of TX, a bit more expensive than McD, but cheaper than Red Robin.  We all appreciated being out of the heat, at least for a little bit.  (No co-host church here.)  So we took two lunch break shifts.  By the time the first shift had returned, the second shift had finished painting all the sides except the one now in the sun😉  My burger and fries was great.  By the way, thanks Tori.

  By the time all bellies were filled it was OK to start the 2nd coat of paint, which was done mostly in the shade now.  Before we all left we blessed the house and signed our names on the support board below where the front steps will be.  Yes, may the good Lord bless those people.  Actually we know that they include Captain Benny, a well known and liked restaurant owner, who also lost his business in the disaster.   Arriving back at Parkway a little early, we had some free time.  Tori and the rest of the wonderful kitchen crew prepared us a hearty meal of pasta and sauce with salad and even oven-roasted bread sticks.  The person that said Grace mentioned that even though the weather was at times hot and miserable for us this week, it was much worse only a year ago when Harvey first came ashore, so thank God for the “pleasant” weather we had.

   For evening  devotions Pastor Doug gave the parable of the Good Samaritan to think about.

   We have been asked to pray for 2 missionaries in Bangladesh, a country where the vast majority of people are not Christians.  They likewise are praying for our mission trip team.

    Another list of interesting facts I witnessed this week (like last year from West Virginia): all girls seem to know how to braid hair, and even one guy among us has some skill, Maddi can juggle quite well 3 billiard balls at the same time, Tori has an interesting story about Pizza Hut.  One guy takes bird watching WAY too seriously.  The young people like to hang out at the local public beach in the evening. 

   Well my assistant decided just to go to bed early.  Good for her.  Now it’s my turn.  God Bless and let’s talk later.      

clark t, staff journalist.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

More Pictures from the Week So Far

Monday afternoon

Monday afternoon

Val weed-whacking

Leveling the back yard

Getting equipment from the tool trailer

Painting trim

Wednesday: "Don't mess with me.  I have  a [caulking] gun and I know how to use it!"

Wednesday: Putting up siding in Fulton

Clark's birthday speech

The seafood group

View from the seafood restaurant

Van rides.

Wednesday July 25

Somebody was surprised at breakfast with a chorus of “Happy Birthday.”  Then at lunch another complete surprise – a birthday cake with a “50” lit candle.  And more singing!!!  What a lucky guy.  Thanx everyone!!
   What an awesome God we have.  The weather forecast can be the same, but each day can be a little bit different.  Seems He never runs out of ideas!  For instance, halfway to House #1 the air became rather foggy, first time during our trip.  But all too soon the sun did come back out and so began the hot Texas heat, as hot as a frying pan.  But thru the grace of God Sherry was able to join us again.  Let us see, more yard clean up, looking real civilized now, the young ladies were under the pink pop-up canopy, and after a while they must have felt real sorry for me because I got a paint brush too.  And more geckos in the storage garage.  Must be a Texas thing.  Carmen had to leave before the rest of us woke up in order to attend a wedding and now a funeral too.  What a busy week for him.  God bless you young man.  So the flooring was worked on by
others.  And paper was laid down on the floor so that the ceiling painting crew, made up of Dave, Alexa, and Lisa.  Good job guys.  Lee Ann the site manager stopped by to check on us, and see to the delivery of a bathroom vanity and a new toilet.  Actually the name on the box is “John-in-a-box.”  Another Texas thing?  Luckily we had “strong-girl” Maddi with us who carried the heavy box almost by herself from the travel trailer to the front porch.  Then she, without any hesitation, joined Rev. Peter in the dumpster to crush down the almost overloaded bin. 
   Because we just had a half-day today (nobody even complained about that!)  We left early from House #1.  A separate crew worked on siding on House #2 in Fulton.  These included Elvis and son Kyle, Rev. Peter, TK, Val, and Doug.  After the work was done the fun began.  Host Parkway Church provided our group with the sandwiches used for lunch. Thanks!!   Now what fun did we have?  Well we had several options.  For instance some wanted to go to a water amusement park.  Or a sightseeing trip aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier Lexington, permanently docked at the Corpus Christi harbor, now a big tourist attraction.  Others still went to the Texas State Aquarium, and saw exotic birds and fish, and were delighted by the live dolphin show.  Elvis and Doug decided to hit the beach, literally.  And some poor soul sweated out a stay at the world famous Hans A. Suter Wildlife Preserve.  What a lucky guy.  Merri Lee had to leave this afternoon to go back home.
   And tonight was our night to eat out.  Because there are so many of us, we split between two different places:  seafood or BBQ.   I chose to join the seafood lover’s group at the Doc’s Wayside Place, a really COOL restaurant  set up on stilts, by the bay and Padre’s Island.  Live performer playing guitar and singing country and rock music.  The sun was low in the sky and shining thru the thin curtains, and no glass windows, so the sea breezes could just blow on into the place.  And as if that wasn’t enough, there were plenty of ceiling fans so a breeze was always blowing on you.  And the food was great, just like the locals said it would be.  The place was packed, inside and out.  One young girl had a T-shirt with a Psalm quotation on the back that went:  I will not be shaken.  Good advice for anyone!
   And now my assistant Maddi will tell us about the BBQ place. The BBQ place was called Silverado Smokehouse. As Elvis was driving to House #1, he looked up places to eat out during lunch breaks. Some of us meat fans weren’t into seafood at the time, but the locals said that this was the place to go for great service and free ice cream. They have options of so many juicy meats: Pulled Pork, Chicken, Sausage, etc. They have options from sandwiches to 4 meats of your choice at a time! Rev. Peter was thinking about going to the Marble Slab Ice Cream, but no one could resist the free ice cream. Most of us had cones of vanilla, chocolate, or chocolate vanilla swirl. TK, Bill, and I made ice cream floats with the ice cream and Root Beer or Dr. Pepper.
  Thanks Maddi.  Now let me, on behalf of us all say “thank you” to all our reliable drivers for the 2 work vans and pickup truck, and of course to Greg who is the mission team financier.  Once we got back to Parkway, Rev. Peter conducted a short meeting, then Pastor Doug conducted the devotional time.  We talked about love as expressed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  No wonder they say it so often at weddings. 
   Well Maddi is yawning like crazy, and I am just nodding off, so goodnight and God Bless.
   Maddi and Clark signing off.

Mission Trip Photos

Go to to see all our photos from the trip!