From the end of June to the beginning of October we recruited and hosted over 230 volunteers to come and serve in flood ravaged Galena. We had volunteers from Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvanian, Alabama, California, and Washington State. We also had volunteers from all corners of the road system in Alaska (Homer, Soldotna, Kenai, Anchorage, Big Lake, Glen Allen, Palmer, Nenana, and Fairbanks). These volunteers logged just shy of 11,000 man-hours of volunteer labor (or 1 1/4 years of non-stop work) in about 14 weeks. The last number i was told was that we helped in some capacity to restore 45 homes.
While on our recent trip when people asked about the challenges of rebuilding I came up with the best non bush explanation that I could think of: "How many trips to Lowes does it take you to complete a basic weekend project?" Average answer was 4 trips. I said now imagine that you had 45 weekend projects and each trip to Lowes took about 2 weeks in transit (at best) and you'll begin to know the frustration that we felt. There was a significant amount of time spent driving around Galena looking for a specific plumbing part that "might" be in a tote that "should" be under the garage at "so in so's house". The Galena Bible Church early on began to gather basic consumible "job stopper" goods and became a clearing house for basic tools and supplies. Even the FEMA volunteers began to use us as a resource to meet their needs. It was a unique way that we were able to be a practical help.
Speaking of FEMA volunteers ours were not the only volunteers in town. FEMA sponsored about 80 United Methodist volunteers and around 10 Southern Baptist volunteers who in teams of 10 served two weeks at a time. Sunday services were packed to bursting and standing room only on most Sundays with attendance near 100.
During the middle of October Shell, Me, and the kids left for a 5 week homeservice/vacation. I mentally felt like I crawled on the plane exhausted and burnt out. And God's timing and peace are perfect. We had opportunity to rest, reconnect as a family, be loved on and share the story of what God has accomplished. I was blessed to preach at two different churches, take my wife on two date nights, read one and a half good books, and regain a clarity for the next season of ministry. When I stepped back in the pulpit at Galena Bible Church yesterday I did so with a renewed spirit and a fresh burden to share the hope of Christ. I'll be preaching a series I'm calling "Empty" as we look what it means to be emptied for Christ so that we can be filled with Christ. Check it out at our podcast (www.galenamissions.podbean.com)
Things you can be praying for:
- Galena Bible Church Elders will meet this week to plan how to most effectively move forward with recover efforts in the Spring. Pray that we would know what to say no to and what to invest our energy in.
- Galena YoungLife has several blessings and challenges you can be praying for. GYL has started a weekly Campaigners (Bible Study) and WildLife (Jr High club) in addition to regular Club. Pray that the volunteers would be able to build deep and impacting relationships with teens. You can also pray that the Lord would provide the right Area Director to fill the open position.
- The infrastructure of Galena is still strained from recovery. In addition to that our Police officer resigned and we have no local law enforcement. Pray that cooler heads would prevail and that the Lord would protect Galena.
- Martin and Silke Hornfischer (SEND Missionaries who serve in Galena) are still awaiting their VISA Renewal in Germany so they can return to here. Martin oversees outreach for the Bible Church and is desperatly needed back. Would you agree with me to pray that the Lord brings them back soon.