November 6, 2017

This was my first mission trip and I was going to Houston, TX to help clean up after Hurricane Harvey’s devastation. After spending a night in Dallas, we arrived in Houston and teamed up with Samaritan’s Purse and traveled to our worksite.

Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25, I assumed most of the clean up was done, but when we drove through the neighborhood that held our work site I found that I was very wrong. Some of the piles of trash were as tall as the van we drove by in and contained everything from clothes to the skeleton of houses.

The house we worked in had been stripped of drywall up to four feet and completely emptied out. Some of our team knocked out the rest of the drywall, some pulled all the nails, and some tore all the trim off. Everyone worked as a team!

Some of the team’s work focused on the emotional state of the owners. Many times throughout the days we would stop what we were doing to listen to their stories and offer consolation. We had to put ourselves in their shoes because to us it was just a house but to them it was their home and everything had sentimental value.

At day’s end, we gathered to listen to Rev. Josh Attaway talk about the day and how we were making a difference and what we needed to do for the next day and of course, pray.

When it was time to leave we signed a Bible and included our prayers for the homeowner. The Bible was presented to them in an emotional circle of prayer. We left the house not only having prepared it for a contractor to rebuild but we left the home owner with something she will never forget: kindness from strangers. As we departed the work site, they told us about how much we meant to them and how we changed their lives more than we could ever know. It was an amazing feeling!

The trip changed my life too. My trip began with a group of 24 volunteers and ended with 24 close friends. It took driving all the way to Houston, TX to meet people that had been sitting on the other side of the church from me for years!

Written by: Avery Barker,  St. Luke’s Youth Member