Something happened yesterday that made me realize how much of an impression MDS is making in the Grand Forks area.  I was waiting in the checkout line at one of the grocery stores downtown, and the fellow behind me asked "How many are you cooking for tonight?"  I am used to being approached by people when I am out in public wearing my MDS shirt or badge, but I realized that I was wearing a Yosemite T-shirt, and didn't have my badge, so he just recognized me from an earlier encounter.  It gave me a real sense of belonging to this community.

Every time I am out in this town wearing MDS apparel, People approach me and begin thanking MDS for being here,  Almost everyone knows someone who was displaced by the flood, had their business damaged or destroyed, or was otherwise affected by it.  The trauma runs deep, and so does the appreciation.  MDS is the last of the big relief organizations still active here, and people know that.  MDS has a reputation for being in a location l…


Working with MDS can introduce you to some unusual living arrangements.  Since the presence of an MDS project in an area is for a somewhat limited time, the accommodations will likely be adapted from some other use.  MDS does have bunk trailers, and in Conway, SC and for the first two weeks here in Grand Forks, I slept there.  Since the bunk trailers are not very roomy, they are often the "bed of last resort".  In addition, long-term volunteers come with more "stuff" and need somewhere to put it.  In Grand Forks, I was assigned to the bunk trailer for the first week, but I was worried that since I had to get up an hour earlier that other volunteers, it would be disruptive to the their sleep.  I also wanted to get to bed by 9 p.m., which is an hour earlier than the quiet curfew.  Fortunately, I ended up with the perfect bunkmate, Larry Hamm from Calgary.  I had gotten to know Larry during my week of training in Winnipeg back in June, and knew that he was a very greg…

3/5 and Ready for More

Yesterday, I finished my 3rd work week out of 5.  It is truly amazing the work that is being accomplished by our MDS crews.  One thing that really shows God's hand in this work is the way the right people keep showing up at the right time.  A couple weeks ago, a three-generation crew showed up with the grandfather being skilled in carpentry, and the father and son a two-man electrician team.  This happened as the Redding house was being prepared for its completion and dedication.  Often working past their normal wrap-up time, this family made sure the house was ready by the Wednesday event.  Had they not shown up on short notice, there would have been a lot of wiring tasks not completed, and the dedication would have been more for show than a true celebration of the turning over of a new home to the clients.

Another aspect of our work is repeated to us daily.  We are told that the rebuilding of the physical structures is only one aspect of our work.  The other, and more important …

Dedication Day: September 12

Today was a big day for Kent Tough.  It was his 41st birthday.  A year and a half ago, Kent was working toward his dream of owning and renovating a house in the Ruckle area of Grand Forms.  Kent was well underway with his renovations when his world turned into stinking muck.  The Grand Forks Flood of 2018 struck after a combination of spring thaw runoff and heavy rains caused the Kettle River and the Granby River to spill over their banks.  Striking hardest near the confluence of the two rivers, the flood devastated entire neighborhoods, including the one where Kent was starting to see the fruits of his labors.

Flood Video

Kent barely escaped the flood, at one point hanging onto a tree as the water tried to carry him downstream.  It took days for the waters to recede to the point where Kent and his neighbors could even assess the damage.  It was catastrophic, with not only the water damage, but contamination from industry and sewage.  Kent was faced with having to repair a home he had …

Tailgate! (September 11)

Today we had a much easier day since the MDS Canada Board was not here for dinner.  We did our usual breakfast, cleanup, shopping, lunch, etc.  We had decided to have a good ole cookout for dinner, with farmer sausage, smokies, potato salad, baked beans, chips, and watermelon.  Since this was a quick fix, I was able to get in a ride in the afternoon.  My goal was to see if I could find the trail access to a rail trail I could see from the road.  I have been looking for access since I got here.  Nobody I have asked seems to know.  I set off up the road from the church and did a lot of winding around in neighborhoods where the streets were going toward the mountain the trail runs along.  I found a road that seemed to go much higher than the trail, and it looked like I could actually get over the big hill so I might check the other side.  I ran out of time before I could go much farther so I just headed up my usual trail  couple miles and then headed home.…

Time Machine Day

The past few days made me realize that I needed to take drastic action with my blog.  It is obvious that I can't adequately catch up and keep up.  Perhaps after showing you my typical schedule, it will be more obvious as to why I am perpetually behind.

5:00 a.m.  Wake up
5:15          Unload dishes and place on cart.  Start coffee.
5:30          Start putting lunch items out so the weekly volunteers can pack their lunches

6:00          Volunteers are packing their lunches.  I keep everything stocked.  I also start working on breakfast.  If I am not making the main dish, I prepare a fruit tray and make OJ.  We don't have a lot of fridge space, so most breakfast stuff needs to be done now.
                 If I am making the main dish, the other cook (now Glennis) does those tasks.  We also have to keep washing utensils so we have the right tools to work with.

6:45          We put up all the lunch fixins and wash those tables. We put out all the cereal, milk, juices, bread, yogu…

First Day Off: Time to Hike!

This morning was the first day I could sleep in a little later, and not have to fix breakfast or clean anything up.  I decided that I would try to hike Observation Mountain, which is the one rising right above the town in many of my pictures.

I put on my REI shorts and my hiking boots, grabbed my big camera and started the 2.5 mile walk to the trailhead.  It was nice and cool, and the walk took me past many houses like the one above.  I had previously scouted out the trailhead location by bike just to make sure I wouldn't waste time finding it.  Again, following my standard procedures, I took a pic of the trailhead map

I had also read up of the trail choices on several websites.  I began my hike, buoyed by the crisp morning air and the feel of having trail rather than sidewalks under my feet.  I realized that I had not hiked much this year due to several home renovation projects and the government shutdown last winter closing access to my favorite trails.  It felt great!

The trail…