Whew! We do need these few days off this weekend. Being on the old side, it is exhausting to work in this heat and humidity. But, we are so glad we are.
This past week has been spent mostly working on the one small trailer that houses a dear lady and her five great kids. Nomi struggles each day to provide her best for her family. We thought the husband was imprisoned for being an illegal but learned it is due to non-support.
This trailer needs so many repairs and with our limited budget and time we can only do so much. One problem was with the sewerage system. The holding tank was broken. Part of our crew worked on that by installing new piping and directing the waste directly into the sewer. Phew, what a nasty job.
Both her kitchen and bathroom sinks and the toilet leaked causing lots of rotting of the wood. We installed new faucets and a new counter as the old one was completely rotted out. All leaks were repaired.
Nomi works two part time jobs every weekday afternoon tending to home bound folk. On weekends she takes orders and cooks Mexican dishes for whoever will place an order. Her cooking is done in this small kitchen space that has no hot water nor air conditioning. The heat can be unbearable. We can help some by building her a shelter where she can cook outside.
Note the porta potties. These were donated for a few days while we had the water turned off in the bathroom. The gentleman pictured above is a local plumber who we called in to assist as Leonard was having a difficult time getting into some of the tighter spaces. What would have taken him hours to do, this nice man did in less than an hour.
Our plan this week is to build a counter and cabinet on the porch. One of our team members has donated a propane stove.
Our original budget for all jobs was $3,000. This is the fourth home our team has worked on and the one we most have a "heart" for. We had worked on one trailer doing some minor maintenance, another house putting security grates over windows while some of the men built guide rails for a lady who had part of her foot removed due to diabetes.
As one can imagine each step of the way we found more needs costing more money on Nomi's trailer. The electric to the house ran from an extension cord from the neighbor about 300 feet away. Very dangerous.
The mission chair at First United Methodist Church here in Mercedes is tireless. This is Fanny and her patient hubby Buddy. They have grapefruit orchards and own a cotton gin operation. He lent us the porta johns plus a trailer to haul materials.
Fanny contacted the electric company about getting power to the property. We've met with the power company representataive twice and learned to get power to the trailer the pole on the property needs to be moved 15 feet so the power line from the road does not cross another property. This is at a cost of $1,000! Not in the budget. It looked like we would have to rent an auger, etc and move the pole ourselves. We were concerned as this meant five old men would be doing something that not even five much younger men should attempt. But somehow Fanny found a donor to cover the cost! The pole will be moved by the electric company.
Even the electric company and town have helped as they are working with us regarding the permits we did not get and channels we did not go through.
As we are working on this project Nomi (the mother) keeps wanting to feed us. We will not allow her to spend her money on us. She wanted to make chicken mole on Wednesday. We told her okay but we would buy the chicken. On Thursday she made cheese tamales. She only has a very small RV refrigerator. So each day some team members are providing her with enough food for her and her children for a few days. The church is providing rice and beans and some members have sent other provisions.
On Friday Len and I returned to Lowes materials we did not use. While getting credit put back on our charge card, we struck up a conversation with the manager and was telling him about the project. When we were done Len asked him if they had propane tanks and regulators. He took us over the them. As we were looking at the tanks, he picked up a tank and regulator, handed it to Leonard and told us it was on him. With tears in his eyes, Len shook his hand and thanked him. We walked away stunned and thankful for one more person who felt compelled to help.
The generosity of this community is beyond belief. We are amazed.
Last night Len made shrimp and sausage gumbo for our work 11 member team and Fanny and Buddy and the children. Nomi had to work. This team has been beyond measure. The original team was 13 people. One couple had to leave on Thursday as the wife had what is believed to be a mini stroke. We love this couple and will be meeting up with them at their home in Houston where we have "camped" twice before.
Just look at these kids. Aren't they beautiful?
They are so polite and respectful. Jose, who is on the left,begged to stay off school one day so he could help his mother cook and to help us. We had him digging a trench, helping to haul lumber, etc, using a nail gun and even doing a bit a sawing. We made it clear, one day off school was okay but it is more important for him attend to his lessons.
This is our 13th NOMADS project, the 4th time as team leaders. We know we are doing God's work here in the Rio Grande Valley.