Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why Not...Minot

Fall Break 2011: We returned on Saturday from a week-long trip to Minot, North Dakota (October 16-22). The main part of the city was hit hard by the flooding of the Souris River back in June 2011. You know it's bad when they have their own Wikipedia article HERE.

My Bethany pal Sarah and I drove to ND and paired up with Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR), an incredible organization that matches volunteers to projects needing completion. I'm pretty sure I've never worked harder in my life - I still can't open my water bottle or turn a doorknob without wincing. And there is so much more to be done in the city itself. SO much more. God's work. Our hands. Our really, really sore hands. The hours of work gave me lots of prayer time, lots of think time. Time well spent.

Be sure to click on "Older Posts" at the very bottom of this webpage or on the Minot posts along the left side of the blog to read the entire story!

Emma and Madeline helped me pick out
boots for the clean-up. BIG boots.

My friends know me well. A care package before I departed.
I kept eating and eating and eating each day to keep my blood sugars up.

Mother of Pearl. 45 degrees. Oy.

Ah, the sun is up. Much better.

Lumpy, bumpy Wyoming.

Um...where's the road? UP. Down. UP. Down.

Biddle!? Really? This was the ONLY indication that we had crossed state lines and were actually IN Montana. Seriously, people, put up a simple sign. Just say hello. (Note: I later learned that the road signs are excellent targets for local shot-gun enthusiasts, and are often shot to pieces. Then replaced. Then shot to pieces. Repeat. Lovely.)

Ooooh, don't go that way. BAD route.

Another sign we MIGHT be in Montana.

What the what?! We're LEAVING Montana?
Well, hello North Dakota! We love your BIG, green sign!
Two new states for me in one day - such simple pleasures

Water. Color. Land. Horizon. Cross. Life is good.

WHOA! I'm still not entirely sure why there are fires anywhere NEAR an oil rig, but we saw TONS of these giant, flaming pipes. And near the ground, too. Very creepy.

MINOT! It's finally on the map! BOOYA!

Whoa...little town: We stayed with the good people of Trinity Lutheran Church in Glenburn, ND. Pastor Heather and her husband, Dave, greeted us as we quickly munched a late dinner at Wendy's, and lead us 25 miles or so past the Minot Air Force Base to the middle of nowhere.

Yikes. 35 degrees and 841 miles later. Oof-da.

Who do we find on the wall of the church but Pastor Andrea (the pastor on the far left with 2 crosses)! She was Ruth Ann's Bishop years ago and has visited Bethany on multiple occasions on behalf of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative! Small world!

Be sure to click on "Older Posts" at the very bottom of this webpage or on the Minot posts along the left side of the blog to read the entire story!

Why Not...Minot - Monday

We reported to the LDR trailer bright and early, loaded up our tools, and headed to our first assignment, a huge flooded home owned by Don.

T-shirts for the LDR Volunteers.

A massive tool shed, full of the supplies we'd need for the day.
And full of people that would become good friends as the week passed.

Okay, so the first day we didn't plan too well and left the Christmas Decorations in the trunk. Whoops! We ended up transferring the decorations and fit more than the crow bar! (We had collected decorations for those who had lost everything at a partner parish in Minot, and had yet to deliver them to the congregation.)

Here was our first assignment - a home right off the Souris River.

Note the water line on the middle of the huge picture window.
I had no idea it would be so high.

Basement corners and shelves.

Mucky, yucky basement corners.

Oh geez...

Disaster scene upstairs.

My first project included clearing out piles of this.
Heart. Break.

We had to be super careful - there was so much glass in the basement.

There's something not right about a door from your
home being covered with leaves in your front yard.

The discard pile begins.

Crawl space.

The homeowners clearly enjoyed a musical life in this home.

Sign across the street: Bethany Lutheran Church!


Joy amongst the ruins.

Sitting down on the job already....
(Darlene, one of our new, incredibly hard-working friends.)


You have no idea how much a shovel can actually hold.

Bradley John! Don't flush this boat!

Couldn't believe this kind of beauty could be found in such a mess.

Felt a bit like a chimney sweep from Mary Poppins.
Without the catchy songs.

Bill and Darlene...and my wonderful, hand-made sandwich.
It was touching to receive something so simple and caring for lunch.

Our daily lunch devotionals were a time for rest and renewal,
and carefully written by the LDR leaders.

The lovely, destructive Souris River - right in Don's backyard.

Fine dining - a picnic a TREE.

More garbage in the leaves.

Seriously. BLECH. I've pulled my kids' teeth. I've been puked on in my classroom. I've cleaned up messy spills in my life. But there was NO WAY I was cleaning out the mystery goop in that toilet. Hats off, Sarah. What a way to end the day. Oy.

Be sure to click on "Older Posts" at the very bottom of this webpage or on the Minot posts along the left side of the blog to read the entire story!

Why Not...Minot - Tuesday

Be sure to click on "Older Posts" at the very bottom of this webpage or on the Minot posts along the left side of the blog to read the entire story!

And this is why hanging out with Bill and Dar(lene) was so much fun. When you're around friends filled with laughter, hope and smiles, you can do anything. Our Catholic buddies who helped us remember that faith and friends make even the grossest jobs do-able.

I was introduced to something called the Wonder Bar, a nifty little tool that lets you pull out nails and screws with ease. Well....ease and a little bit of muscle. Bring it on.

A tiny little shed down the block. If little white deck chairs are going to bring you the hope you need to get through something like this, then more power to you. Prayers for the simple things.

We all said we wouldn't speak of the EVIL MESH again....but alas, here it is. This stuff is the most difficult thing to remove from a home and takes a ton of sweat and strength to remove. Piece by piece by stinking sharp piece.

Hacking away on the blasted mesh.

Mmm...lunch. Thank you, once again, nice
lunch ladies for providing our mid-day nourishment.

More garbage in trees.

Destruction right down the block.

Darryl joined the team - he tackled
the huge living room ceiling project.

The discard pile grows.

I. hate. drywall. And the nails found in it.




After our work, a shower, and our evening meal, Sarah and I headed to the Scandinavian Heritage Association, a huge park with unique statues and crazy little carver houses.

Crazy connection to this guy - he actually built the fireplace at Don's house!

I have no idea why this huge, red horse was in the park.
I'm clearly not Scandinavian!

"High on hill was a lonely goatherd..."
(Or a house in the middle of Minot)

Hans Christian Andersen
(Although, I think he looks like Ichabod Crane.)

Ceiling at the Minot Public Library - Sarah needed to check her e-mail. I happily unplugged from (most) technology for the entire week. Thinking of going non-technology every other week...

Reminders of home - spotted on our way back to Glenburn!
We keep seeing names from Bethany - Ruth Ann!

And then our church organist's name, Rick Seaton and family,
in the middle of town. Fun!

We were able to meet Don today, the owner of the house just off of the Souris River. Trust me, EVERYTHING stops when the owner of the home steps foot onto the floorboards you've just been clearing. He was a lovely man in his 70s, and spoke with simple calmness about what happened with the Dam up in Canada. Not blaming, just factual. Not bitter, just resolved.

He's living with his daughter in town and had been able to save most things from his home, including a Grand Piano which sat in the room just off of the kitchen! I KNEW this was a musical family. Correction: IS a musical family. He said he's more of a singer, and his wife was the true musician of the family. I can rest better knowing a Grand Piano is safe tonight, and that someday it might bright musical joy back into the walls of this water-soaked frame.


Be sure to click on "Older Posts" at the very bottom of this webpage or on the Minot posts along the left side of the blog to read the entire story!