St. Philip's Disaster Relief

Teams of volunteers, with varied skills, respond to natural disasters helping victims rebuild their homes and lives. Efforts range from day trips to week-long trips. Relief work has been done in Mississippi, Texas, and New Jersey following hurricanes; Minnesota, Iowa, Tennessee, North Dakota, Colorado, and Missouri following flooding; Colorado following wildfires; and Minnesota, Oklahoma and Wisconsin following tornadoes.

Hurricane Harvey Team #1 - Daily Updates

Monday – Day 10: There wasn’t supposed to be a Day 10 to this trip but, fortunately, it was uneventful. We left Des Moines shortly after 9 this morning and pulled into St. Philip’s shortly before 2 p.m. The freeway was bare the whole way with no blowing or drifting to deal with. And we saw very few cars in the ditch.

Overall, it was a great trip. The Zion Retreat Center was a wonderful place to stay, the Texas weather was great, our partners in Texas worked hard to provide us with everything we needed for our rebuilding work, our cooks kept us well fed, our crew chiefs led their teams effectively, and our team members were awesome!

We worked in a church and six houses that had water damage from the hurricane – mostly installing drywall, mudding and taping, and painting. We also did some demolition work, plumbing work, electrical work, cleaning, cabinet assembly, countertop installation, and much more - all things that will help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey move forward.

We thank everyone that was involved in this trip – our team members; our Texas partners; our financial supporters; those that supported us with prayers, text messages, and comments on Facebook throughout the week, our family and friends at home, and our neighbors that cleared our driveways of 20 inches of snow!

This adventure is over, but our journey continues. It’s very likely that we will be back in the same area of Texas in the fall.

Day 9 - Sunday: We had a good night in Emporia, KS and left there later than our original plan since we were only going as far as Des Moines. We were able to have lunch at a sit down restaurant, instead of fast food, since we weren’t on much of a schedule. The drive to Des Moines was okay. Some wind and snow but nothing that caused us any trouble. There was very little snow in southern Iowa so there wasn’t any drifting to deal with. We having been watching the northern Iowa and southern Minnesota all day and will do the same tomorrow morning to determine the next leg of our journey. We hope to leave at 9 AM and travel the remaining 250 miles to Fridley. We are thankful to God for our safe travels and all of the prayers and well wishes from those that are following our journey.

Day 8 - Saturday: Our day started as planned. We left the Zion Retreat Center around 6:30 this morning. From then on, everything changed. Our first stop was to be at a rest area that was closed, the high winds caused a drop in gas mileage so we made unplanned gas stops, and that changed where we were going to each lunch and dinner. We did make it to our planned hotel in Emporia, KS - tired, but safe. En route, we made the decision to not travel all the way to Fridley on Sunday due to the weather. We plan to spend Sunday night in Des Moines and arrive home in the late afternoon on Monday.

When we were at Camp Victor in Ocean Springs, MS over ten years ago, their motto was “Semper Gumby” (Always Flexible) and we’ve used it many, many times since then. We certainly lived it today.

Day 7 - Friday: We were back at our jobsites this morning - continuing where we left off yesterday. Hanging drywall, taping and mudding, cabinet assembly, and painting filled the day for most of our team members. Although no house is completely finished, the progress towards getting these people back in their homes has taken a giant leap forward and given them some much needed hope, along with the realization that they aren’t forgotten. One of the homeowners told us, more than once, that love is an action word. It was wonderful to bring them labor, love, and hope.

The weather cooperated and we were able to spend the evening having our pizza party on the beach. That is a time honored tradition that gives us an opportunity after a long week of hard work to relax, enjoy each other’s company, the warm temperatures, the wind, the waves and even the screeching seagulls.

Day 6 - Thursday: A great day! We have made so much progress everywhere we worked today. We installed many sheets of drywall today and put on gallons of mud. We also assembled cabinets and did some additional plumbing work and probably a hundred other things.

We’ve presented prayer shawls to a couple of the homeowners and, as often the case, it was emotional for everyone. They all have been so grateful and have touched our hearts with their stories.

We were joined tonight for dinner by Jessica Vermiliyea, Pastor Deb Grant (from Faith Lutheran), and Kécia Mallette - our partners on this trip. What a wonderful evening! We are so grateful for all of their help in making this trip a success.

Day 5 - Wednesday: Our week is going well. We finished up the work we were assigned (and much more) at another house. The family had been living there without a functioning kitchen. They now has a countertop in place with a working sink (and much more water available due to the discovery of clogged aerators and lines.) They also have much improved wiring and lighting so will be able to use their kitchen once again.

The work continued at the other two sites with lots of mudding and other tasks being done. There are so many small but time-consuming tasks that need to be done - often without the correct supplies or tools on hand. Some of us are getting familiar with a few of the Home Depot stores in the area. We also started hanging drywall in two additional homes today and will soon be mudding in those two.

We were joined at dinner tonight by Jessica Vermilyea. She is the director of Upbring Disaster Response (formerly Lutheran Social Services) of Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. She was instrumental in our planning for this Texas trip. She shared her moving story of how she got started in her present career shortly after Hurricane Katrina along with some of her experiences in disaster response. It was certainly something we could all relate to.

Day 4 - Tuesday: We continued with the work we started yesterday with so much going on at once. Team members were taping, mudding, sanding, hauling drywall, doing plumbing work, installing trim, hanging drywall, painting, doing electrical work, tearing out walls, framing walls, and much, much more. So much progress in just a couple of days. We finished up the drywalling at one of the house and are moving onto drywalling in two more houses tomorrow. We will continue to work in the other two homes and at Faith Lutheran Church.

By the way, It was 75 degrees here today!

Day 3 - Monday: We started our morning with the whole team traveling to the Galveston County Food Bank to drop off the food we had collected for the Kidz Pacz program and the prayer shawls that were given to us by St. Philip’s and Atonement Lutheran Church. What a wonderful opportunity to see the building and hear about the programs they have in place. And it certainly was a treasured experienced for the seven of us to that had worked renovating the building on our previous Galveston trips.

After that, we split up and went off to four jobsites - three homes and a church. It was a typical Monday morning - with the work getting off to a slow start due to unknown tasks, lack of supplies, and tools in the wrong location. But things got rolling and progress was made at all the sites. We will be returning to all of the same jobsites in the morning and expect to get a lot accomplished.

And the temperature was over 60 degrees this afternoon!!!

Day 2 - Sunday: We were on the road at 7:15 this morning. It was great to see grass, trees with leaves, and even flowers along the freeway. Driving through Dallas and Houston made some of us realize that the roads and traffic in the Twin Cities maybe aren’t so bad. We arrived in Galveston shortly before 4 PM, go unpacked, had dinner, and are now relaxing. 1300 miles in a car is tiring. We probably will all be asleep before our 10:30 lights out time. Tomorrow morning we will go to the Galveston County Food Bank to drop off the food that was collected at St. Philip’s and then will be off to our jobs at four locations in the Texas City/Dickinson area.

Day 1 - Saturday: We left St. Philip's with snow on the ground and temperature of 12 degrees. We've never been in that situation before. But we arrived in Moore, OK around 8 this evening with no snow on the ground and the temperature all the way up to 42 degrees. The drive was uneventful and we are grateful for that. We traveled just over 800 miles today and will go the remaining 500 miles tomorrow. We expect to arrive in Galveston around 4 p.m.


Thank you to everyone that attended the lasagna dinner, bid on an auction item, or helped with the preparation and serving. This event provides the majority of the funding for SPDR. The funds are used to pay for gas, food, supplies, and lodging for the team members on the two weeklong trips that SPDR makes each year.

Eureka Daily Messages - October 2017

Saturday, October 7

We left Eureka, MO at 6:45 this morning. John headed back to Michigan, Bob headed home to Indiana, and 24 of us headed back to Fridley arriving at St. Philip’s a little before 5 p.m. We ran into some very heavy rain and temperatures that went up and down all day – from 54 to 73 degrees.

It was a good week. We ended up working in eight homes plus our kitchen crew worked to provide our meals all week. We were able to use the skills of some of our professionals on the stairs/deck projects and the electrical work. We used our not-so-professional skills to do a lot of taping, mudding, and sanding. (Many of us vowed to take a Home Depot seminar on that for future trips.) And we also painted, installed drywall, installed trim, and a view other projects. Professional or amateur work, all of it helped rebuild the homes and lives of many in Missouri. The time we shared with the homeowners and each other has enriched our lives. We thank God for our skills, safety while working and traveling, and those that support us. The journey continues…

Friday, October 6

Our team decreased in size (Len left for Illinois last night and Howard and Elaine headed for Florida this morning) but we were still able to get a lot done. It was hot and humid most of the week but the weather, for the most part, was not an issue. This was a great help.

Today we finished up the stairs/deck at Rachel’s trailer home. We installed all the chair rail that had been purchased and primed and painted almost all of the drywall in Miss Deb’s house. We knocked off several items on the list at Melissa’s house – including painting all of the trim, mudding and sanding, and general cleanup. The electrical work was completed in George’s house and most of the floor was covered in luan in the afternoon. Three of the houses we worked in this fall were the same ones we worked in last spring. Then we were hauling out wet materials. It was so great to be doing the opposite – hauling in and installing new materials. The people of the Eureka area still have a long way to go. We pray that the volunteers and funding will be available so that more people will be able to return to their homes this year.

Thursday, October 5

It’s hard to belief that the week is almost done. The weather throughout the week has been warm and humid, probably much different than at home. We had some rain earlier in the week but most of our jobs are inside and some even have air conditioning. We continued at all of the same worksites today with a lot of progress at all of them. Our dinner guests this evening included one of the families where we’ve been working along with the Salvation Army staff we’ve worked with. It’s always nice to spend more time with them. Tomorrow we will be back to all of them and will get done whatever we can before we have to pack up.

Wednesday, October 4

One more job assignment completed. The stair replacement was finished and that crew moved on to another decks/stair building project in the Lauren Acres trailer park. The electrical work is moving along with most of the old wire pulled out and new wire and boxes going in. The drywall crew moved to the house the electrical crew completed and are working through the long list of items that need to be done. The installed drywall in several tricky places, have worked on the windows, installed new wall boards around the new electrical service panel, and much more. The “mudders” continued their work and were joined by two painters who completed painting all of the chair rail which will be put in place to cover the area where the new drywall meets the old paneling. And the two-man crew started a job where the drywall had been removed 18” up. It’s not a simple job and involves a lot of work kneeling on the floor. Three of the crews today commented on the gratitude expressed by the homeowners and how great it is to be able to interact with them. Both the homeowners and our team members benefit from this interaction. Tomorrow we will continue with the same jobs and may get a couple more completed.

Tuesday, October 3

Wow – a lot of progress was made today! The electrical work of installing the service panel was completed in one of the houses the electrical crew has been working in. They also started removing the wire that was under water – twice. The work that the stair replacement crew completed allowed the family to now have access to their home and a great looking sturdy, set off steps. The drywall crew finished installing all of the drywall in the basement of the home they worked in yesterday and the “mudders” on that crew got once coat done. The painting crew finished their work early this afternoon and joined the drywall crew. The two-man crew (of Mike and Mike) completed all of the work they were assigned – mudded, sanded, painted, and installed a door (no simple task.) The kitchen crew continued keeping the rest of the crew well fed. It was great to wrap up a couple of projects already and that will give us an opportunity to help even more people.

Monday, October 2

Typical Monday – got the trailers hooked up to the right vehicles, mostly the right tools sorted out for the various jobs, and the right people in the vehicles and off to the jobsites fairly quickly. But then things slowed down for a couple of our crews. They are working in the northeast part of St. Louis and it’s a 45-minute drive without traffic. Unfortunately, they had traffic to deal with so almost doubled their drive.

Once everyone got working, things progressed well. One crew started working on removing and replacing a long set of stairs and a deck. This was at a home that we gutted when we were here this spring. Another crew is working in a large basement where they are installing drywall. A third crew is working in two house that need the mudding finished and then will be painted. The electrical crew started installing a new service panel and also have figured out what they will be doing in a second house. And, of course, our kitchen crew has been hard at work keeping us well fed. We will continue with these same jobs tomorrow and expect to get some of them done in the next day or two.

Sunday, October 1

Our travel day (and watching the Lynx game) is over. We’ve settled in to Eureka United Methodist and have our job assignments for tomorrow. A couple of the jobs are fairly close to Eureka and a couple of them are not. Volunteers have been working in these homes prior to arrival. Hopefully, will be able to get some of the projects completed.


Saturday, May 13

All of our team members have arrived safely back to Chicago, Grand Rapids, MI, or the Twin Cities. (Our four Minot team members will arrive home tomorrow evening after spending the night in Blaine.) It was a good day for driving and was uneventful – which is a good thing.

Our work this past week included rebuilding (which we were hoping to do) and gutting (which really needed to be done.) All of it was physically exhausting but we know our discomfort for a week is nothing compared to what the people in this area have endured. It’s sad that some people have still not recovered from the 2015 flood after 16 months and also that so many were flooded again. We pray that they will find the strength and resources to rebuild their homes and lives. Maybe we will be part of that this fall as our journey continues…

Friday, May 12

Today was a good ending to our week. The weather was great and we got so much done.

The two trailer houses where we actually were doing rebuilding work (from the 2015 flood) included a lot of laying under the trailers and working on the underside of the trailer floor to install insulation or to run water lines. Not an easy task. But the projects in both of those were completed late this afternoon. One is now fully insulated underneath with the skirting all installed. The other one has all new bathroom fixtures and water lines installed along with a new subfloor. And the water works – with no leaks! Also, the living room now has new (safe) electrical outlets.

A large crew continued gutting in a house that was flooded last week and very little work had been done in it. Today, personal items were packed up for the homeowner to sort through and furniture was carried out and loaded in a trailer to go into storage. Flooring and sheetrock were removed and carried out – most down a long flight of muddy, rickety stairs to a pile of debris along the highway. The work we set out to do in this house was completed.

It was great to complete the projects on the trailer houses and know that these homeowners won’t need another group of volunteers to come in and finish up after us. Of course, the house that we gutted will need a lot more work and we hope the resources will be available to help these people that have been through so much.

We finished out the day with our traditional pizza party – at a local park. It was wonderful to sit out in the sunshine with green grass and trees (and no mud) and relax and enjoy each other’s company. This is a wonderful group of hard-working, caring people that God has brought together.

Thursday, May 11

We had another good day working in the Eureka area, at the trailer court, and at a home to the south In Hillsboro. There was some rain last night which did not help with the mud situation. But the days have been dry so the weather has not kept us from working.

We continued working on the two trailer homes. We finished gutting one home, removed the vinyl siding and Tyvek from another home, and then started removing belongings, flooring, and sheetrock from another home. One group traveled to Hillsboro and started helping a couple that had been flooded for the second time. They had not removed any of their possessions before the flood and have just started sorting through all of the things that were damaged by the floodwaters. This is extremely difficult for them to deal with but they, like so many of the others, are very grateful for our help.

Tomorrow will be our last, and slightly shorter, day. We’ll knock off a little early to prepare for our Saturday morning departure and to have our traditional pizza party in the evening. We’ll also be short a few people when three of our team members leave in the morning to return to the Cities for a family gathering on Saturday. We’ve had a wonderful group of people on this trip. The work has been physically difficult and often dirty but they keep working – with wonderful attitudes. They have passion and compassion and have hopefully brightened the lives of many.

Wednesday, May 10

We have now worked in so many homes that it is hard to keep track of them.

The work continued in one of the trailer homes with the installation of the insulation underneath the trailer and today the skirting installation was started. And part of that crew went and helped a woman down the street remove the sandbags that were surrounding her trailer home.

In the other trailer, the bathroom “remodel” continued. The bathtub is now in place and the wiring is done. The crew is waiting on some supplies and will continue tomorrow.

Mucking/gutting was done in a home in the morning. That crew then moved on to removing belongings and gutting in two other homes.

Another small crew removed belongings from a home where the homeowners were unable to get any of their belongings out of the way of the rising waters and had not been back into the house since the water receded. That crew and a few other will return to that home tomorrow to remove more belongings – including the refrigerator that still has food in it.

Most of these people had been flooded in late 2015 and were again flooded last week. It’s extremely difficult for them to decide what to do. The wet sheetrock and flooring need to be removed so the house will dry properly but there is so much uncertainty about the resources that will be available for them to rebuild. They can’t afford to replace these things and it is unknown if there will be money for supplies and volunteers available to help with the rebuilding. We’ve run into a couple of other volunteer groups down here and hopefully more will come.

Tuesday, May 9

We keep moving forward at the three homes we were at yesterday and started on a fourth one today. We also helped out the Salvation Army with some sorting of supplies at their warehouse and manning a canteen truck distributing food and drinks to residents and volunteers that were working. Unfortunately, not too many of those were found.

So far, the work on this trip has been difficult and dirty. Today was hot with a high around 85°. Us Midwesterners aren’t used to that in early May. But maybe the heat will dry up some of the mud that is in the yard and homes where we are working.

It’s heart wrenching to hear the stories of these people that have been hit twice by floods in 17 months. Whatever progress they had made has been erased and many are in a difficult situation due to available resources. But they are so thankful for the help that we are giving.

All of our crews are working well together and making progress. Hopefully our presence and spirit will help lift up these people.

Monday, May 8

For a Monday, things went fairly smooth. We sent crews to Arnold, about 30 miles away, and another crew to a place just a few miles south of Eureka.

Unfortunately, the place is Eureka is the same place we did all of the electrical work last fall. It had been almost completed and the homeowners had spent one night there before they had to leave because of the flood last week. Sheetrock was removed half way up all of the walls, carpeting was removed, sub-floor was torn out, trim was pulled out, along with various other tasks. It’s so heartbreaking to remove so much new material.

A small crew spent the afternoon moving personal items out of two different homes. One of those homes hasn’t been opened up since the flood and still has a gooey layer of much on the floor.Hopefully, it will dry up quickly. The temperature was near 80° today.

The crews in Arnold are working on two trailer homes. One they are installing insulation under the trailer. The other needs extensive work in the bathroom – they removed the fixtures, the water heater, and the floor.

Tomorrow will be more of the same.

Sunday, May 7

Our team of 24 arrived in Eureka by 5:30 this evening. We unloaded all of our gear and are fortunate to have five rooms for sleeping so there are 4 to 6 people in a room – much less crowded than the last time we were here.

We met with the construction managers and volunteer manager before dinner and have an idea of what we are going to be doing tomorrow but that could easily change. To be here this soon after the flood makes it difficult for them to try to find the right kind of work for us. They need time to assess the damage, get funding set up, case management in place, etc. But we will be able to help people in some way and that’s what it is important.


Saturday, October 8

We arrived back at St. Philip’s at 5 this evening – safe and sound. It was a good day to drive although a little cool when we arrived home.

It was a great week and we were able to accomplish so much. We were there to help the Meramec River flood victims get back in their homes. Through God, we had the right tools to get that done. The journey continues…

Friday, October 7

Our week of work here in the Eureka area has come to an end. Some of our job assignments were completed and others came very close. (And we did a couple of other short jobs that we weren’t officially assigned.)

The job in the city of Arnold which was a trailer home that needed the flooring in the bathroom replaced. A pipe had frozen and burst after the homeowner evacuated for the flood. There was a lot of floor removal and repair work that needed to be done before the subfloor and tile could be installed. But the crew got it done and now there is new tile floor in the bathroom, entry, and the kitchen.

Both of the electrical jobs near Eureka were completed – with all new wire ran and many recessed lights installed. In the other home, the service panel was changed out and additional wiring was done.

The sheetrock job near Pacific was completed earlier in the week and it was ready for the spraying of the ceilings and walls that was scheduled for this week.

The other house near Eureka had almost all of the paneling in place on the lower level and almost all of the insulation and vapor barrier installed on the upper level.

The ramp at the house in Pacific almost got completed. All of the boards are in place, the railings are done on both sides, and the spindles are in place on all of one side. It won’t take long for another group to finish it up.

The last devotional tool was the reciprocating saw – a tool that cuts with a push/pull motion. We are like the pushing motion as we go forward with God’s gifts to help others and then to help pull those in need into a life with God. The reciprocating saw goes back and forth – in an inverse (or opposite) direction. We are God’s reciprocators – undoing the damage and inverting the lives of those that need are in need.

We plan to leave Eureka at 7 a.m. and should be back to St. Philip's by 5:30.

Thursday, October 6

Another good day – so much is getting done at each of the locations. (We even took on another job for today.) The electrical work was finished at one house and the sheetrocking/mudding was completed at another. By tomorrow, we’ll have accomplished so much.

We continue to enjoy good weather. The high today was in the low 80’s. Tomorrow will be only in the mid-60’s.

Today’s devotional tools were gloves. Gloves are used to protect us and God is also there to protect us. There are so many different types of gloves – for performing so many different jobs. We, as team members, also are different with so many different abilities to perform the jobs on a disaster relief trips. But gloves are nothing without the hands inside of them. Christ is like the hand and we are the glove. This work would not be happening without Him.

Wednesday, October 5

We are thankful for another good day with quite a bit of progress in the five homes. A lot of sheetrock is in place and is now ready for painting. The framework for two runs and one landing on the handicap ramp are in place. The electrical is almost complete in one of the homes. Several areas had insulation and paneling in one of the homes. Slow and steady progress has been made with the subfloor installation. And the kitchen crew found Sam’s Club after the GPS led them astray.

We are also thankful for the weather – a little rain this morning and then sunny after that.

Today’s devotional tool was the sawhorse – actually a pair of them. One, by itself, is not real useful. And the same goes for our team members. But use a pair of sawhorses and they form a platform for many types of work. And together, as team members, we can accomplish much more than we can as individuals. God is our platform and we are His tools – working together to help those in need.

Tuesday, October 4

Things seemed to go smoother today. We continued with the work on five homes.

One is at a trailer home in the town of Pacific where a ramp is being built that will be approximately 75 feet long. 17 holes have been dug and passed inspection. They’ve been filled with concrete and should be ready for the posts tomorrow.

In a home in the Pacific area, sheetrock was installed along with fixing some of the work done by a previous group. Most of the first coat of mud has been applied.

A third home, south of Eureka, is being wired and most of today’s work was installing 33 can lights.

In another home south of Eureka, insulation has been installed and nails removed in preparation for paneling to be installed.

A trailer home in the city of Arnold has had the rotten subfloor removed and the replacement has started.

And the kitchen team is working early in the morning until the evening with the shopping and meal preparation.

Our devotions continue with the tool theme. Tonight’s tool was the tape measure. We are measuring very often on our rebuilding trips. When we are working on our Christian lives, we need to measure it from time to time. Are we doing more for Christ than we were a few years ago? Also, we need to measure our words making sure they are kind, true, and necessary. And we need to remember to not measure ourselves against others. In God’s eyes, we all measure up.

Monday, October 3

Mondays on a disaster relief trip are always interesting and somewhat challenging. Today was no exception. Figuring out the locations and tools needed this morning meant for a slow start. The four rebuilding teams were scattered about the countryside - up to 30 minutes from Eureka. Each site required a plan of attack before getting started in order. After some delays waiting for materials and tools, things got rolling and progress was made. Tomorrow will be smoother and expectations are that a lot will be accomplished.

Tonight’s devotions started out with “The Drill” being shown to the team (ask Myron what that is if you don’t know.) “The Drill” is a powerful tool that can do a lot of work and has been on many trips over the past ten years. We, with the power of God, can do a lot of good work and bring hope to those that don’t have the ability (skills, funds, or whatever) to recover from this flood on their own. We are thankful to God for the power He has given us.

Sunday, October 2

By 5:30 this evening, all 25 of us had arrived in Eureka after about 10 hours on the road. The drive was fine and we are thankful for safe travels.

We were met by the lodging coordinator here at Eureka United Methodist Church and we then hauled in all of our gear. We then met with Chris and Denise that have helped line up the jobs for us so we now have a better idea of the work we will be doing.

Our theme for this week's devotions is centered on tools. Tonight's chosen tool was a level and that group related how, with God's guidance, we are here to help the flood victims get their lives back on level ground.

We’ve settled in for the night here at Eureka United Methodist Church and are hoping for a good night’s sleep to start our work week.

Daily Trip Messages - Colorado Trip #4

Sunday, May 8

We pulled in to St. Philip’s around 1:45 this afternoon – after a seven hour drive. Although it was good to be home, we lingered in the parking lot sharing handshakes, hugs and memories. We had shared and experience so much together over the past week it was hard to end the trip and go our separate ways.

All week our devotions centered around the passage of Galatians 5:22-25 that describes the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All are important to the St. Philip’s Disaster Relief ministry and evident this week as we worked in Colorado.

There were wonderful moments where we experienced the fruits of love, joy, peace, and faithfulness throughout the trip – in quiet moments alone and in fellowship with others.

There were times when we needed the fruits of patience and self-control as we traveled and worked on this trip and realized how much the homeowners needed both of these as they dealt with the aftermath of the fire or flood they had experienced.

There were many opportunities for us to share the fruits of kindness, generosity, and gentleness as we worked helping those that had lost so much in the fire or flood and also as we interacted with our fellow team members.

God has blessed each and every one of us with all nine fruits of the Spirit. And because of Him, the journey continues.

Saturday, May 7

Most of us headed east towards home this morning and are spending the night in Oacoma, SD. Others are home already (in Colorado), on the bus to Minot, or headed west to see friends, family, and/or more of the West.

It was a good week – filled with sunshine, hard work, and fellowship.

We were blessed with a beautiful week of weather in Colorado with wonderful views of the snow covered mountains each day.

We were blessed with the skills and resources to share with those that had had their homes destroyed or damaged by fire or flood. All together we put in over 1000 hours of work.

We were blessed with the camaraderie that we’ve experienced on so many previous trips. The “sticks” quickly get to know the others on the team and the “boomerangs” get reacquainted with team members from previous trips. This was our second largest team ever and a wonderful group of people.

We truly have been blessed - to be a blessing.

Friday, May 6

Our week of work has ended with much accomplished and too much left undone. It’s always a little disappointing when we know how much work there is left for the homeowners to get done before their lives are back to normal. But there is also much joy for us and them when we think of all that did get done and how we were able to use the gifts God has given us to help others.

Throughout the week we worked at eight locations insulating, sheetrocking, taping, mudding and sanding in a Loveland garage; wiring and finishing window trim and doors in a home outside of Bellvue; framing and installing doors in an Estes Park home; rebuilding, scraping, and powerwashing a deck and replacing siding in another Estes Park home; building a good share of a carport and installing the footings on a second one in Longmont ; installing tongue and grooves boards on the floor and ceiling in a Boulder home; and preparing meals for the team while staying in Longmont.

We spent the evening at the home of SPDR team members, Dennis and Charlene Prindiville. It was a wonderful relaxing end to our week.

Thursday, May 5

We continue to be blessed with good weather, safety, and progress. Tomorrow we’ll wrap up a few of the projects we started earlier in the week and will have made great progress on the others. It’s wonderful to hear the team members talk about their interaction with the homeowners and their fellow teammates. We’ve been able to use our skills in so many ways to help others and we’ve learned some new skills - maybe for future trips.

We’ll get as much done as we can tomorrow and will quit a couple of hours earlier than the other days to get the tools packed up and then head down to Aurora for the evening. We'll head for Minnesota on Saturday morning, spending the night in Oacoama, SD.

Wednesday, May 4

Today was much the same as yesterday – which was a good thing. The weather was good and the work continues to progress. A couple of setbacks today mostly due to lack of materials were disappointing but we made the best of it.

It’s amazing to see what can get done in a few days and to experience the appreciation of the homeowners. We really have a talented group that is making a big difference this week.

Tuesday, May 3

Around 9 o’clock this morning we hit another SPDR milestone – we surpassed over 25,000 hours of work helping to rebuild the homes and lives of those that have been through a disaster. This is a remarkable achievement that speaks to the passion and compassion of all those that have been involved (in so many ways) with SPDR. We are so thankful for the blessings that have been bestowed on us during the past ten years.

Today was another of those blessings – both weather wise and work wise. No frost this morning and another blue sky day with the high around 70 for most of us. There is still snow on the ground at a couple of the homes but the work is inside so that isn’t much of an obstacle.

We finished the sheetrocking and mudding in the garage of a home in Loveland so will start another job tomorrow – rebuilding a deck and replacing some siding on a house in Estes Park. The jobs continued at the other locations and good progress is being made everywhere we are working.

Monday, May 2

What a wonderful change in weather today. After scraping frost from our cars this morning, the sun came up and we were blessed with a cloudless blue sky for most of the day along with temperatures in the 60’s.

Things went well today considering it was a Monday. We worked at six different locations scattered across the Front Range. The distance and the drives are long but interesting. The snow hasn’t impeded our work too much and will most likely be gone in the next day or two.

We spent the day building carports, sheetrocking, installing flooring, installing doors, running wire, staining interior timbers, and cooking for the team. We will continue all of that on Tuesday.

Sunday, May 1

We got up this morning without snow on our cars or on the ground but that didn’t last for long. As we hit the Colorado border, the ground was white. The freeway was clear so our driving wasn’t affected and we arrive in Longmont shortly after 10:00. The whole team is now here at Heart of Longmont church. After worship we hauled in all of our gear and settled into our rooms. With this large of a team, things are tight but we’ll make it work.

Some of the team went grocery shopping, some hung out in Longmont, and some visited the different jobsites including one deep in a canyon at an elevation over 7000 feet with about 6” of snow in the steep gravel driveway. Most of the jobs are well over 30 minutes from where are staying so will make things a little more difficult but we’ll make it work.

Saturday, April 30

We left Minnesota in the sunshine but that only lasted until we got to Iowa. After that it was rain almost all of the remaining drive. We arrived in North Platte shortly after 8PM and now at 9:30 large snowflakes are falling – heavily. (Hope everyone still has their snowbrush in their car.) We are thankful that we arrived safely. The hotel is very nice so we should get a goodnight’s sleep. We’ll be back on the road at 6:49 and plan to be in Longmont to attend worship at 10:30 and meet up with the rest of the team.

Check out the story about SPDR's 50th trip, to New Jersey last spring, on the ELCA website by clicking here.


Click here to read a story about SPDR in the ELCA's online magazine - Living Lutheran.

We've published a newsletter!

Click on THE JOURNEY to read the Summer 2014 issue.

Links to past issues:

Volume 2, Issue 1

Volume 1, Issue 2

Volume 1, Issue 1

Check out this Minot Flood Anniversary Tribute video from First Lutheran's Facebook page.

Watch for our favorite Minot churches - First Lutheran, Christ Lutheran, and First Presbyterian. And watch closely at the 3:20 mark.


Tomorrow night I sleep in my own bed for the first time in 366 days. They are coming in the morning to get the carpet in the stairs. We moved a chair and three bookcases down from the bedrooms today. We should have all of our furniture back by Sunday.

We realize that there is no way we would be where we are at now if St Philip’s mission, people, and supporters had not become part of our life. 2011/2012 taught us that things can be replaced and what counts are our Lord, our families, our friends, our health, and our desire to face challenges as opportunities.

Have a great weekend.



Click here to view an ELCA video on disaster response. Watch carefully around the 0:30 mark. Also, listen to what Pastor Nevergall is saying about volunteering.