Monday, December 12, 2011

volunteering-from the heart

I received another call out to join a feeding unit in Bastrop on Sat. Dec. 3. I was scheduled for jury duty the following week, so early Monday morning I rushed downtown to get excused, then hurriedly finished packing and began the 4 hour drive to Bastrop.

This deployment differed from the last two primarily because the weather was in the twenties at night and upper thirties during the day.

We were busy scrambling eggs over a huge propane burner by 5:30 a.m. Theheat from the convection ovens cooking sausage and bacon took off a bit of the chill. On this deployment we were only feeding between twenty and thirty clean up volunteers.

New friends included the lady in the tan jacket who has muscular distrophy and works primarily from a wheel chair. Once we had the food prepared in the tent, we stored it in cambros and trucked it inside the warehouse building for serving.

Previous blogs showed additional pictures of cooking and serving.

After meals comes clean up. All those pots, pans and cambros have to be scrubbed and disinfected with bleach. Note the steam rising from the rinse tanks.

Bob is finishing up pots after dark with a hot-water pressure washer. Look out for the hot steam!

One morning the cook team started chili cooking in the tilt skillet and took a welcome break to visit some of the work sites.

Here two members of a chainsaw team are limbing a downed dead pine tree.

We were allowed to look around and take pictures after we all donned yellow hard hats.

This once lovely large brick home home is now nothing but ash. The fierce heat evaporated the moisture from the brick mortar. The standing brick walls could be pushed over with a finger.

Only ash-out crews were allowed to work on the foundation, sifting for the families valuables, then shoveling out the ash.

The burned and dead trees will be removed.

Most home owners were able to escape with a few pets, posessions and papers. Others were not so fortunate. Mobile home exploded as flames and heat roared beneath the flooring.

Praise the Lord that no lives were lost.

Home owners were amazed that volunteers were willing to give of thier time and expertise to aid in clean up and recovery without pay.

Another form of recovery involved salvaging chared trees. John Deer Tractor company donated the use of this huge forklift to move logs around a portable saw mill.

I got to ride on this monser!

The logs were power washed to rid them of ash and burned bark, then graded.

I can't explain how this sawmill works, except that I watched it saw off the side of this log until it was a huge square beam, then it was sawed into planks. The lumber was sorted into sizes and made available in kit form for the construction of sheds. Praise the Lord for the ability to reclaim and reuse the results of the fires.

An incomplete report of the response to the Bastrop fires follows: Volunteers participated from utah/Idaho, Louisiana, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Kentucky and Kansas as well as from Texas. 4, 350 volunteer days were log. over 15,000 meals served, 445 cleanup and recovery sites were completed, with a few more sites to be completed before the first of the year. Spiritual contacts were made with more than 600 individuals, with the Gospel presented to move than 250 people. Some 80 persons accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

Ministries provided in addition to feeding, cleanup and recovery, were chaplins, operations, assessments, laundry and showers, and child care.

Thanks to all of you. As I was driving home I learned that Extreme Home Make Over is building a home in Smithville for one of the firefighters who lost his home. Don't know when it will air.

I rushed home on Friday, Dec. 9, to join Monique and Nickolas volunteeering with Feast of Sharing at Ford Arena in Beaumont. HEB grocery provided the food for several thousand people who drove or were bused to the area for fun, festivities, and a holiday meal

Nick and I are plating ham, then passing the plate to Monique and the fellow next to me for a serving of mashed potatoes, then on down the line. There were two long tables like this. We challenged each other to see who was the fastest ham plater. Notice the cambro of potatoes.

Teens and young adults were waiters to take the prepared plates to the thousands waiting in shifts to eat. Other volunteers took around apple pie and drinks. We enjoyed several children's choirs.

It warmed my heart to see all the people volunteering to serve their fellows. The festive atmosphere and loving acceptance of people from all walks of life make this a Christmas experience I'll do again.

Volunteering- What a way to go!

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