Saturday, December 17, 2016

Back to the Hill Country of Texas

Our last week at Ozona was fairly relaxed.  We finished scraping, priming, and painting the parsonage.  Also, the handicapped shower for Mariano was completed.  Some of us stopped by to see the work our group did.  Lupe (Mariano’s wife) had prepared peach cobbler and wouldn’t let us leave without some.  Yummmm!  The hospitality shown to our group everywhere we went was incredible. 

Bell Choir with Carollers

The banks in town hosted community open houses 2 days in a row.  One bank had theirs on Tuesday with the young elementary school children performing.  On Wednesday the other bank hosted an open house with the Bell Choir and older elementary kids performing Christmas music.  One of our members, Steve, got corralled into playing Santa Claus at this event (we think he rather enjoyed it!).

Last Thursday we finished up our work at Ozona with a Mexican lunch, provided by the church’s secretary.  Thank you Esther!  Early in the afternoon we returned to Canyon Lake, TX where we had been 3 weeks ago, with some other Nomads who have been working on rebuilding a number of homes which had been destroyed by the flooding of the Blanco River in 2015.

Thinking about our time in central Texas, we realize that it is a whole different lifestyle when services are so far apart.  Where Bob grew up, homesteads were 160 acres, and only a few “big farmers” had more than a section (640 acres).  In west Texas, acres don’t count.  A rancher needs many sections to support any livestock.  Eight to ten sections (5,000 to 6,000 acres) is very common.  One member of the congregation had a “hobby ranch” of only 600 acres for a little retirement project.  Many families have their ranch house and a second house, in town, for use when school is in session.  A weekly trip to San Angelo (80+ miles one way) for shopping is quite common.  That’s probably why 75 mph speed limits are common on two-lane roads.

Here, near Canyon Lake, there are a lot of housing developments with costly new homes in the country.  Commutes to San Marcos and San Antonio are only 35 to 45 miles each way.  The biggest change for us is a choice of TV from either Austin or from San Antonio.  After 3 weeks with no TV, we are grateful!

One week until we see the kids and grandkids again.  So excited!  To everyone out there – Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Still Working

We are coming into our last week in Ozona, Texas at our Nomad project.  We are looking forward to a move at the end of this week, being able to watch TV and have better access to shopping and other services.  However, we’ll miss the people at the church and those on our project. 

As we worked in houses in this community, we are much more aware of all the blessings we have.  Linda is a woman with multiple health issues; COPD, back issues, and more.  She rarely leaves her house and spends most of the time with her beloved cat.  She had holes in her bedroom ceiling that resulted in her waking up to a racoon looking down at her.  There were other rooms with holes in the ceilings also.  We repaired what we could, tried to seal up leaks on the roof, removed any tripping hazards, and replaced some floor tiles.  Her kitchen is basically not useable; appliances don’t work and she can’t navigate in there.  It is not a home I would want to live in but she is so thankful for the work we have done for her.

We also repaired 2 ceilings and replaced and painted outside siding on another house.  This woman was a widow with a 20-something daughter.  This daughter was severely disabled and could not talk or move.  Mom had to carry her to from her bed to a wheelchair or a device that held the daughter in a standing position.  Again, this woman was so appreciative of our help.

The project we are finishing this week is a handicapped shower for a man who fell off a work truck several years ago and is paralyzed from the chest down.  A shower was built for him by a contractor, however, the floor of the shower is tilted away from the drain so water is left standing and the drain was not created properly.  We took out the bench he sat on and re-shimmed the base, so it now drains properly.  He is a gregarious man who had built this house and he spends much time in his wheelchair traveling around town to visit his friends.  His wife made a pot of soup and corn bread for the folks working at the house last week.  They also are so thankful that someone is helping make their life easier.

As we work at these homes, we’ve learned how a big component of our work is spending time listening to their stories and giving them validation.  What they don’t realize is the impact they have on all of us doing the work.  They help us to align our priorities with what’s really important in our lives.