Disaster Relief: A Personal Testimony

Last year, Ken and Nancy Wines traveled to Manchaca, TX, to deliver aid to flood victims.  The following is there account of how God used the Texas Baptist Men to share Christ’s love in words and deeds during a time of crisis.

Austin Disaster Relief

November 10 – 18, 2013

 Sunday Nov. 10, 2013

We left home at 10:30 am for the Manchaca (pronounced Manshac) Baptist Church – which is where we would be staying – & we arrived there at 3:00 pm.  Manchaca is a small town just south of Austin.  The actual work we would be doing would be in south Austin in the Onion Creek neighborhoods – which were devastated by the flash flooding of Onion Creek.  On Halloween – the area had 14 inches of rain in only 2 hours – & it was reported that Onion Creek rose from a very shallow creek to a depth of 15 feet within that 2-hour span.  The waters rose quickly & then receded just as quickly – but only after leaving 1 to 4 feet of water damage in houses.

When we arrived, we checked in with the disaster relief office at the church & set up our trailer on the church grounds.  All of the volunteers without trailers were assigned places to set up their mattresses somewhere in the church itself.  Some were in Sunday school rooms, in offices, or the gymnasium.  It was pretty much wall-to-wall people wherever you went.  There were also rooms designated for TV watching & game playing.  We knew absolutely no one when we entered – but we were instantly welcomed by all who were there.

Supper was served at 6 pm every night & the food was great.  At 7 pm we all went in to the choir room where a debriefing meeting was held.  Songs were sung – prayer requests made – & the day’s activities were recapped.  We were done by 8 pm & were free to go back to the trailer – or stay & watch TV or play games with others in the group.  It was Sunday & so no work was done.  Sundays were spent going to church & resting.

The church had 5 active units working this relief session.

1.There was a laundry/shower team – This team worked in a large trailer that housed 4 showers on one end & washing machines on the other.  They furnished clean bath towels each day for showers & sanitized the showers after each use.  They also did all the worker’s laundry.  We simply had to drop off our dirty clothes at night & they would be washed – folded – & ready for pick up the next morning.

2.There was a food team – This team cooked & served all the meals.  They started work between 4 & 5 am each morning.  They fixed breakfast & sack lunches for us each day before we left for work in the neighborhoods.  They usually took a break in mid afternoon & then went back to the kitchen to fix supper.  The food was great.  We would have scrambled eggs – biscuits & gravy – bacon or sausage – French toast – & pancakes each morning.  For lunch we would have sandwiches, with chips, & cookies.  For supper we had things like stuffed chicken breast – meat loaf – pork loin – pork chops – tacos with all the fixings – spaghetti – goulash.  And fruit was left out all day for snacks.

We did not have a bad meal all week.

3. There was a childcare team –This team would take care of children at the resource center while parents were filling out forms for help.  This team went to work at 11 am each day – but they did not get off until 6 pm.

4. The 4th group was the chaplains – All chaplains also are yellow caps.  Some drove in pairs around the affected area – talking to people – assessing the needs of individuals & the community.  Some worked at the community resource building where people signed up for help from the various agencies.  And one chaplain accompanied each clean out team.  They not only worked as a yellow cap clean out team member – they also worked as a comforter to the homeowner

5. The last groups were the clean out teams.  These teams left the church each morning by 8 am & went into the neighborhoods to work in the damaged homes.  They removed sheetrock – pulled nails – cleaned floors – sprayed to prevent mold – helped to box up personal items & move furniture if needed – & left the homes ready to be rebuilt.  They would arrive back at the church between 4:30 & 5:30 pm.  Each team was accompanied by a cargo trailer – which held all the tools we would use.  (hammers, pry bars, brooms, shovels, mops, sprayers, wheel barrows, etc.)  – We did not have to furnish anything but gloves – work clothes & work boots.

 Monday – Saturday Nov. 11-16, 2013

We got up at 6 am & headed over to the gym for breakfast at 7 am.  We picked up sack lunches that had been made to carry with us out to the job site because we would not return to the church until 5:00 pm each day.  At 7:30 am we went to the choir room for morning devotion. We would sing songs – have prayer request – & one of the chaplains would give a devotional each morning.

DSCF0100Then the new arrival yellow caps were assigned to a blue cap’s team.  There were 2 teams working that 1st day.  We were assigned to Bob Eaton’s team.  Each team that day consisted of 12-13 members.  (members would come & go depending on how long they could stay.  Some came for 1 day – some for a week – some for longer.)  When we completed a home – we would gather in a circle – present a Bible to the homeowner that had all of the signatures of the people who had worked on their home – & pray for the home & its occupants.


Toward the middle of the week – the TBM organization called in 2 extra cargo units so that we could have 4 teams working each day. Our team alone completed 10 + homes during our week there.  And all the TBM teams over the 3 weeks of working in Austin completed work on over 100 homes.

On Wednesday night we met Bruce in Austin at Threadgills on Riverside for supper. It was good to see him & visit – but the traffic was horrendous.  People were in town for a home football game that would take place on Saturday – & there were some there for the formula car races that would take place that weekend. All hotels & campgrounds were full.

On Thursday noon – our blue cap Bob took us to Whataburger & told us to order whatever we wanted – as he was picking up the tab.  He said that we were the best team that he had had & we had completed more work than any of the other 3 teams.  He wanted to treat us for making him look so good.

On Friday we completed a house for a man & wife from the Philippines.  They were so grateful for our help that they insisted on buying us lunch from Sonic.

We met some of the nicest people during our week in Austin.  The homeowners usually started out to be leery of taking our services.  They were afraid there was a catch – & that there would be hidden charges.  But by the time we left their house – they were not only happy to have gotten the help – they realized that we were really offering our help for free.  (Contractors were charging $10,000 for the same work – & they weren’t spraying for mold.)  In fact once word spread about our group & what we did – they would tell their neighbors to look for the group with the yellow hats.  (There were several other groups in the area.  Samaritan’s Purse – Austin Disaster Relief (a coalition of Austin churches) & groups that were pretending to belong to charities).  We actually had people that would come down streets looking for us & asking for help.  We also found that most of these people had more than flooded home problems – they had personal problems as well.  Some of their personal problems were the results of the flooding – but some of their problems were in addition to the flooding.

We also met some really special people that worked with us on our team.  We immediately bonded into a family unit & we worked well as a team.  (There were no egos on our team).  We ended on Saturday with 8 members that were each special in their own way.

Our team consisted of our blue cap Bob & yellow caps, Rick, Tom, Carolyn, Ken, Gene, Gayland, & Nancy.

As an example of our closeness – Gene gave a testimony on Saturday morning about our team – & how God had placed each of us exactly where He needed us.

We ran into some problems in the house we had worked on Friday.  There were plumbing problems & we had a master plumber on our team.  We had phone problems & we had a 41 yr employee of AT&T on our team.  We had electrical problems & we had a master electrician on our team.  The owner of the house had questions about her floor tile which contained asbestos – & we had a team member who was a safety consultant & could answer all of her questions about her floor tile.  God had provided us with everything we needed that day.

Sometimes we get too comfortable in our own homes with our own problems – and we forget that there are others who have needs & are hurting.  And only when you get out in the world – do you really see the real picture & realize that there are others who are worse off than you.  God gave us the opportunity to reach out & help those that not only needed & appreciated our help – they needed our friendship & our story of God’s love.

It was a tiring but rewarding week.

Working with the TBM for this week was so much more rewarding than the work we did locally after Hurricane Ike.  The people that we helped – were ones that actually needed the help.  They did not get help because of who they were – or who they knew.

And the workers that participated were all committed Christians -who came from all parts of the state.  And all people present were there willingly – ready to provide services – free of charge – to those in need.  And all workers followed the direction of the few people in charge – & no one tried to claim personal glory or praise.

And all workers had pretty much the same mind set – which was that the work we did might be good enough to please us – & it might have been good enough to please the homeowner – but was it good enough to please God.

It was a wonderful week & we will repeat it over & over as long as the Lord allows us to go.

 Sunday Nov. 17, 2013

We got up at 6 am & hooked up the trailer & headed for home at am.  We arrived at home at 11:30 am.