Mission Updates – New York Team Travelogue

On Saturday, August 9th, Sterling UMC sent a mission team to Brooklyn, NY, to do Hurricane Sandy recovery work in Brooklyn. Even though Hurricane Sandy was almost two years ago, you can be proud that our United Methodist Church is one of the first organizations in after a disaster, and one of the last to remain on the scene long after the world has moved on.

The collected mission updates from our New York team, who returned safely to Sterling on Wednesday, August 13th, are below.

Sunday, August 10

SUMC Family,

Here is our first update and as what normally happens on these trips we have a good story that’s just beginning. Our team arrived yesterday about 1 pm and we all felt great because the traffic was light on the trip up. We made it to 2802 Bachelder Street around Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, NY with high hopes. We were met by our UMVIM representative Gillian and her partner Brian whose is an associate pastor but also the construction leader for Resurrection Brooklyn Relief (http://www.resurrectionbrooklyn.org/Relief). We quickly unpacked, got a safety brief and Brian told us a few stories about the hurdles seen in NY for Hurricane Sandy relief and the current state of repairs in this area. The few blocks we’ve seen had many houses built below sea level and when the storm waters came in the blocks were actually filled up and held water like swimming pools. I am astonished to see all the repairs still needed and the current state of some houses here. There is a lot left to do! We all should be very proud that once again we are part of the Methodist family and we have not walked away from this area even after 2 years since Hurricane Sandy hit. The house we began to work on much of the big construction work is done and we are working on a good punch list to complete the house and return it to the homeowners Matt and Angie. The follow-on houses much of the mold remediation and clean-up has been done but all types of work is needed as the houses need plumbing, electrical, carpentry, drywall etc, etc. Most of the houses need to be rebuilt on the inside from the ground up. One of the problems with these houses was much of the electrical and plumbing was all terminated on the ground floors. Those first floors held that water for a week before the water receded. So, we have our work cut out and all of us hope we can develop a good rapport with Resurrection Brooklyn Relief and do a good job up here. So, having said all of that, we got a few hours in on our first day working on that punch list.

Today, we all got up and attended church at Vanderveer United Methodist Church in Brooklyn at 8 am. As we strolled into the service it was evident, very quickly, we were all newcomers. One reason was the usher escorted us up front to the 2nd row. But we all felt very content throughout the service as the music and the sermon were both very energetic and the church members were very vocal and showed their exuberance in different ways we aren’t quite used to. But, after we left we talked and we all felt this type of service is something everyone should experience at least once in their life. We told the folks at Vanderveer UMC we’d be back too! I bet at least half the congregation (or more) came up and shook our hands and we were proud to tell them that we are up here working on houses in Brooklyn!

Then after our Vanderveer service, we jumped into the SUV and headed over to see the 911 Memorial and to sightsee in the Manhattan area. Wow, what a great experience and something that everyone should see when the opportunity arises. The two pools with 30 foot waterfalls where Towers 1 and 2 once stood had all of the 911 victim’s names around the pool’s perimeter. It was simply majestic! The memorial honors all of the victim’s and showed the sacrifice by all of the first responders on that fateful day. It was special and powerful to see and something each and every one of us will remember!

Thanks to every one of our church family, we have to get to sleep as tomorrow is a big work day as we have a lot to finish up!

In Christ,
The NY Team (Barbara, Jack, Steve, Juan and Jim)

Monday, August 11

SUMC Brothers and Sisters,

We had a very productive and rewarding day today as our New York story continues. We got an early start to the morning and we worked doing some unique drywall patches, finishing the drywall and some overall painting and touch-up. We have unique instances and we are patching holes, covering pipes and covering old brick and old mortar that takes a bit more patience and a lot of ingenuity. We also committed to beginning a door repair this afternoon. When repairing these older houses sometimes it’s best to just start anew. So, we knocked out the door, removed the old bricks and began from the ground up. We had to scrounge around and re-use some of the old bricks but we replaced eight bricks to start. After some excellent bricklaying and after a few tries we got the door hung the way it should have been done initially. As soon as we knew we had it right we added a few more screws and invited the homeowner Matt down to give the door a good test. They had previously had a very hard time getting and keeping the door shut prior to our arrival and after his successful test Matt told us all he wanted to do was to cry. We really weren’t sure why Matt was so happy until his wife, Angie told us later that after the storm they paid $1800 for that door installation through a contractor and that it never worked! This is another example of how some of these folks are getting taken advantage of and how a small team from Sterling, Virginia can make a difference in Brooklyn, New York. Our work and this mission continues on Batchhelder Street…

We have an early day tomorrow as we are hanging cabinets in time for the plumber to come in. Time for rest! Thanks for everyone’s support and prayers! God bless!

In Christ,
The NY Team (Barbara, Jack, Steve, Juan and Jim)

Tuesday, August 12

SUMC Family,

Today was a very productive day as we were up and working @ 7:30 because the plumber came early to do the plumbing in the bathroom and run the gas line for the stove.  We were very busy trying to stay ahead of the plumber as we hung a few cabinets and cut out and installed the kitchen sink in time for the plumber to run the lines.  We also stayed busy re-installing the screen door, installing various lights, and all of the door knobs and locks throughout the house.   We kept painting and patching holes or fixing spots and put on most of the protective covers on the switches and sockets.  Then, we were pleasantly surprised when the homeowner, Angie made sure we had no plans for lunch as she surprised us with some awesome Brooklyn cheese pizza and red velvet cupcakes today.  My experience on these trips is that it seems that most homeowners we help always seem to want to show their appreciation in some way.  Well, this was such a great surprise because we had not eaten any pizza yet and I am told (even from native New Yorkers) that Brooklyn’s pizza is the best.  We all agreed it was very, very good.  Our plans for tomorrow are to get a few more hours of work in and try to head home around noon.  This has been a great Brooklyn experience and Resurrection Brooklyn Relief needs all of the help they can get!  Thanks for your continued prayers and support!

Through Christ,
The NY Team