We went. We saw. We prayed. We worshiped. We cried. We lent a hand.

We were two teams. The first departed Southwest District Friday morning, Aug. 12. The team received overnight accommodations from Lydia Zion United Methodist Church in Jordan, Minn. After a breakfast feast provided by the Rev. Larry and Vicky Kasten, we arrived in Minot, N.D. on Saturday evening, Aug. 13, and were welcomed into the home of Kara Gross, our hostess from Faith United Methodist Church. The team worshiped with the Faith congregation at the home of their sister church, Vincent UMC, on Sunday morning. After worship, we met Judy Roed, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, (UMCOR) project coordinator, who introduced us to the owners of the homes we were to assist. The house of the Rhodes family had been underwater up to the roof. The house of the Silseth family had suffered flood damage three feet up on the main floor walls. The team only worked at the Rhodes residence for one day as asbestos was detected to be present in the ceiling. The team decided to concentrate efforts at the Silseth house. The team finished its work and departed North Dakota on Friday.

The second team departed Southwest District on Monday, Aug. 22, and arrived at the Gross home 22 hours later. On Tuesday morning, we met with the project coordinator and Mr. Ortiz, the homeowner. The Ortiz house had been under water up to the ceiling. We mucked out the basement and the first floor up to the ceiling. The team completed its work on Friday and departed Minot on Friday afternoon. Their trip to Lydia Zion UMC had an extra surprise with the Southwest District’s UMCOR trailer getting a flat tire along the way. After a restful night, the Kastens greeted them with a good morning breakfast prior to their departure for Indiana.

We saw the aftermath of the Souris River flood that left more than 4,000 homes, many businesses, and churches in need of flood recovery assistance. Many homes, and perhaps Faith UMC, suffered extensive damage beyond repair. Teams from churches and charitable organizations are working together in hopes of getting survivors back into their homes before winter. Winters are extremely severe and come early in North Dakota.

We worked alongside the homeowners. They were so thankful for us. Their appreciation of us increased our faith. They became a part of us. Something very unforgettable happens when you help someone carry their once valuable possessions to the curbside amidst the debris. Priceless treasures from spouses, parents and children were buried in a pile of useless clutter along the roadside waiting for the trash compactor to take it all away forever.

Jesus asks his followers to teach others to observe his teachings. He only gave us two. Love God and love one another. Our responses to people in need reflect our love for God.

Many thanks to those who prayed for us and gave special offerings, to the volunteers who traveled more than 1,300 miles one-way, the Rev. Debra Ball-Kilbourne pastor of Faith UMC, Gary and Judy Roed, Jeff and Michelle Thomas, Kara Gross, the Rev. Larry and Vicky Kasten, Kayla Pahls and Victoria Gross who joined our team from Faith, Mike DuBose of UM News Service who worked with us, Mike from Grand Forks, who worked with us one afternoon, the Rev. Laura Crites and the Hinckley UMC, who sent supplies for the flood survivors, and the cooks from Faith UMC who provided snacks and bountiful lunches each day.

A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

The Rev. John Windell (left) and his granddaughter Kayla Pahls clean up flood damage at the home of Edward Ortiz in Minot, N.D. The two were part of a United Methodist Volunteers in MIssion team from the Indiana Conference.