I went on this trip because I have been thinking about it for a long time and I wanted to help. I went online and saw that they were taking Hurricane Harvey Relief teams so my friend and I both applied together. The week we chose to go got canceled last minute because there wasn’t enough people. We were a little frustrated because we had already asked for that time off of school and work. BUT a week before we were suppose to go on that trip we were notified that if we still wanted to go they were somehow willing to take a small group so we both asked for work and school off and we were all in. My expectations for the week was that we would work in moldy rotten houses trying to get as much done as we could in as little as a week.
Our flight left on Sunday, we flew from Detroit , MI to Houston, TX. After arriving in Texas we took an Uber to Stonebridge church. We met James and unpacked our air mattresses and set up our sleeping area for the week. My friend and I were the first ones to arrive so we waited around for the rest to arrive for a couple hours. We were introduced to two other men that volunteered. The first one was a 20 year old he was from Nebraska and his name was Will. He was really nice. Then we met a 42 year old pastor from Alabama and his name was Chris he was nice too but he seemed to be more serious. We also met a helper named Melissa, she was a little bit older than us, and the founder of dream team her name was Holly. So when everyone got there James and Holly had a meeting with us all. They told us what they were all about and they also told us that we were not going to expect what we were thinking that first night on how the week would go. The first day was a kinda break the ice introduction day.
The second day we were all suppose to be up at 6 am and I say we were supposed to because I am not a morning person so it took me a little bit longer to get up- haha. We all made breakfast together. Then we hopped in the van and brought a trunk full of tools to work on a couples home. I had honestly expected the houses to look worse than they did. The outsides looked pretty normal, I thought, except for the lawns were pretty sparse. The inside needed new sheet rock put in and the bathrooms needed to be demolished because of mold and to our surprise and old termite infestation. I had expected to be bringing out wet soggy possessions and run into all kinds of mold and bugs, but it wasn’t like that at all. The team before us had that job and I was ok with that. We all worked well together we worked from about 10-4. At the end of the day we all hopped in the van and rode back to the church to make dinner together. Making meals was one of my favorite parts of the day because it was a fun way to interact. By dinner the second night we all sat around the table and everyone was laughing so hard about the funny things that happened that day. I began to really love the people God had placed me with. The quiet serious Chris that I talked about turned out to be one of the funniest guys I have ever met. We actually called him dad all week because he really did seem like the fatherly figure of the group. We started to call Will Billiam because when we asked what people usually call him he said names like Bill, Will, William, Billiam and it just stuck. We had met the homeowner Liz and it was really nice to get to know her and hear her feelings towards the whole situation. She was actually pretty positive about it she was telling us that if it weren’t for the mold they wouldn’t have known that they had a termite problem. She always seemed to find the positive in the situation which was really inspiring to me. My friend and I helped her lay sod because we weren’t the most talented with the drill and sheet rock. We better at and had more patience with the bathroom demolition and laying the sod. It seemed like the more time spent with my team the more closer we got. We had so many inside jokes and stories that I’ll never forget. We went back to the church to make dinner again had debrief where we talked about our day and went to bed.
The third day we did the same routine but we started sharing our testimonies. Our group leader shared his first. It was something really personal and he felt open enough to share it. Looking at James and seeing where he is today with his walk in the Lord I would have never guessed some of the things he battled with. But by James being open and sharing his story it made us feel better about opening up and sharing our testimonies. Testimonies usually are really personal and I don’t always feel comfortable talking about things like that but with this group I could. The cool thing about these guys is that they accept you for who you are. I think sometimes for me I expect a lot out of myself and I always think that I can be a better person, which can be a good thing to an extent, but my group gave me comfort in the fact that I am loved by God the way that I am. The rest of the work week we continued to lay more sheet rock, talk with Liz, and tear apart bathrooms. Towards the end of the week we finally met Liz’s husband Jesse who had lived in the house still at night on a mattress in an unfinished room and it was powerful to see how grateful he was because he was so emotional. He still trusted that God would make something good of this and I think he realized that when God sent us and other groups. Throughout the week we heard everyone’s testimony but Chris’s. We all though why won’t he share. It was the last day right before we left Chris has told us a little bit of his story. Happy goofy dad Chris told us that he has laughed more this week than he has ever laughed in the past two years and that really hurt to hear that.
Sometimes you think you’re the only one with garbage in your life, but do you even seem the think what a brother right next to you is going though? I had to ask myself this. Sometimes these houses on the outside look fine but they’re destroyed on the inside. My expectations were not what I expected on this trip. God brought me to Houston to work yes. But God also brought me to Houston to grow with my team. I could not have asked for a better group of people. Holly the founder of Dream Team was such an inspiration to rely on God for everything, all the supplies, relationships made, even where she lived. My group prayed over each other multiple times a day and it just leaves you with a peace. I am sad as I’m sitting here at home the day after I just left Houston missing every one of them already. I would encourage anyone to go on one of these trips. You won’t regret it.