In the Spring of 2011, right around Memorial Weekend, the residents of Minot, ND were told that the Souris River was going to flood and an evacuation would be required for those in the flood zone. The water rose, but no disaster. People went back to their homes
Lutheran Disaster Response told me that they were almost "done" with their caseload of homes when they got a call from another agency in town that was pulling out. That agency asked LDR if they would take the remaining of their caseload which comprised of 120 "low priority" houses. LDR agreed, and then went in to look at these "low priority" houses. It turns out they have a different definition of "low priority." Many of the houses from this other agency were still in need of being mucked out. They were considered low priority because the home owners hadn't decided what they were going to do yet. The five houses we worked on came from that category. (three of the five houses still had wet basements, but two were dry.) We met two of the home owners. One knew he was going to rebuild on the same spot and one didn't know yet if he would be allowed to rebuild because of zoning changes.
If you've never mucked out a basement, you can read here what our experience was like:
Someone told me that there were only 8 United Methodist teams that came out to help out. I was skeptical of that number. But then I asked Lorna from the United Methodist Volunteers in Missions North Central Jurisdiction Coordinator and she thought that sounded about right.
Lutheran Disaster Response were amazing to us. They found a church that would house us for free and feed us breakfast. They packed us lunches for free. They fed us dinner for free. Sometimes things seemed a little "up in the air." But one has to remember that you are there for them, not them for you. And just because I couldn't see the whole picture didn't mean they didn't. And if they didn't, it may be because the whole picture is just too big to see.
Which brings me to this. Any thinking person should ask the question, "Why rebuild in an area that floods?" Why not tear down these houses and put in a park or something that doesn't have such dire consequences if it floods again? I don't know why. I think Minot, ND is a lot different than Fargo, which seems to flood every year lately. The last time Minot flooded was 1969, and it wasn't nearly as disastrous. (from what I read). But it comes back to, this: The picture is too big to see.
Here's what I know (and some things I suspect): The ten of us that went to Minot experienced something unique. We grew closer to each other and closer to God. We drove a long ways out of town each day to experience the hospitality of a beautiful church family. Everyone we met at that church embodied the "cheerful giver." They sincerely seemed to love having us there. So we were blessed by this church, and this church was blessed by serving. God works for the good in all things for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
The ten of us that went to Minot obeyed God calling us to go. In a lot of mission trips or service trips, there is a tourism component. If you go to work on New Orleans, you kinda HAVE to see the French Quarter and the Lower 9th and eat Southern Food, etc. When you go to Minot, that component is much less prevalent. Rod St. took a small group of people an hour or so away from Minot one night to see the geographical center of North America, (which happens to be in Rugby, ND.) But other than that, there isn't much to do except work and rest. We joked about going to a movie one night, but we were all too tired. We seemed a lot more focused on getting the work done. I think we even made Bob tired. But it was a good tired. A good sense of accomplishment, knowing that we have served Minot and helped them get to the next step. We were blessed by being able to serve. And we were blessed by being served.
Lastly, I am taking steps to give "River Bend Mission Team" a facelift. Originally, River Bend was formed from the cooperation of five United Methodist Churches in Northern Dakota County. Now, two of those churches no longer exist. And really, it has grown beyond that. I am starting grad school in the winter, taking a Masters of Leadership. I have also spoken with a couple consultants, a branding firm, and another organization that does short term mission trips. Soon I hope to have a new name, a 501(c)(3), etc. I have talking about this for years and it's time to move on it. I can use all the help I can get with this, too!
So what's next? Normally, we have been taking a trip around Easter. Next Spring, we are looking at April 15th-21st. I would say for 90% sure that those will be the dates. I am assuming we will go back to Minot. There is a lot of need there still.
Who's in? Get on the bus.
The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed.
— Howard Macey