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MLC’s Disaster Relief Team Goes to Newton Georgia

By Meredith Kilby with Andrew King, Contributing

Seven members of Messiah’s Disaster Relief Team (Chris Berry, Randall Fields, Glen Long, Julie Pederson, Claire Strand, Jean Stuart, Andrew King) made a significant impact and shared much love during a three-day mission trip to Newton, GA from June 27 – June 30. Their worksite was the rural home of a retired widow whose home suffered significant tree and wind damage from Hurricane Michael in October of 2018. The MLC team, led by Council Representative for Outreach Andrew King, coordinated the trip with Inspiritus, an organization recently formed joining Lutheran Services Of Georgia and Lutheran Services In Tennessee.

On Sunday, July 28, members of the team shared pictures and stories from their trip. Team members Chris Berry and Jean Stuart gave temple talks during both Services of Worship. Berry referenced how a single strand of thread can make a difference when it’s woven together with others for a common purpose, be it in the form of a home repair, a quilt, or a shared worship experience. Stuart shared her experience of being “the thread” that helped kept the team fueled and rested for the hard work! Andrew King and other members of the team gave a presentation on the trip between the services sharing pictures and stories from the experience.

During the presentation, King reported that while on the worksite, the team primed and painted the exterior of a home, replaced window trim, removed and replaced windows, glazed windows, caulked, stained the majority of the front porch, and cleaned up around the house. During the Hurricane, a tree had fallen on a portion of the roof, damaged the siding, some windows, and the porch. While the roof had been fixed with the insurance money, the repairmen she hired left the area with the exterior repairs to the home unfinished. Additional repairs to the interior of the home remain.

The team typically spent eleven hours total on-site each day, and had set up a small pop up tent for breaks. The team was housed by the Baker County Assembly of God with the women bunking in the Parish House (now used as a guest house) while the men brought air mattresses and slept in the Fellowship Hall of the main building. Jean Stuart cooked and cleaned for the team, which allowed them to maximize their time on the worksite as it was just a couple of miles away from the woman’s home. Over lunch, the team would get out of the sun, heat, and pernicious swarms of gnats by visiting the local senior center. There they met and made friends in the Newton community.

The social ministry the team provided was an equally important part of this mission. Just prior to the trip, MLC member Julie Pedersen made a quilt and an embroidered angel for the homeowner as a gift and remembrance from MLC. The team also gifted an outdoor porch fan to the homeowner to replace one that had been severely damaged in the storm. Over the course of the three days onsite, the woman would come out and chat with the team and express her gratitude for the excellent work that they were doing on the project. Through their chats, they learned that she choose the exterior paint color to hide the sandy dust that gets kicked up by the driveway, and that she loves angels. They got to know her dog “honey” and came to understand that this farm-site was where she grew up and retired back to after working for years in Atlanta. Before the team left, she treated everyone to a pizza lunch and ice cream.

This team was absolutely amazing – their initiative, generosity, and love certainly made a lasting impact and were truly reflective of MLC’ motto “God’s People, Reaching Out.” A total of $205 in Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart gift cards, donated by members of Messiah, was given to the Baker County Assembly of God Long Term Recovery Chair to help with recovery efforts occurring. 

Pass the Peace!