Behind the Hammer is a quarterly publication of Mennonite Disaster Service. The purpose is to share the work of our many volunteers and the ways they work to restore hope to those impacted by a disaster. 


Sharing the load


SUMMERTIME DREAMING As MDS plans its summer opportunities— including Summer Youth Programs, Family Programs, RV adventures and long-term responses in Canada and the U.S.—these efforts need leadership volunteers! Cooks, crew leaders, project directors, and office managers serve four weeks or more, providing continuity and a connection to the local community. LEADERSHIP VOLUNTEERS NEEDED MDS U.S. 800-241-8111 Canada 866-261-1274 “This was nothing short of marvelous. It just kept delivering beauty and grace and healing. That’s what I see in the next generation that will support MDS.” —Brenda Fox, project director 2022 MDS Summer Youth Project Grand Lake, Colorado “We tried to make it a good combination of work and play. We enjoyed the enthusiasm of the volunteers, from the youngest to the oldest. We were building the foundation for new MDSers.” —Elvira and Philip Wiebe, project directors 2022 MDS Summer Family Project Princeton, British Columbia

Summer Youth Project Grand Lake, Colorado


FEATURE — SOUTHWEST FLORIDA Getting the work done 4


FEATURES – NOVA SCOTIA Recovery road trip in Glace Bay 8 Youth are answer to prayer 9 HOMEOWNER EXPERIENCE – SOUTHWEST FLORIDA The part of Florida nobody sees 10 VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCES – BRITISH COLUMBIA Restoring hope in Monte Lake 11 MDS was his therapy 11

FEATURE – PUERTO RICO & LOUISIANA Rebuilding for resiliency 12

Notes from the field 14

ON THE COVER: Ontario youth volunteer in Glace Bay on Cape Breton following Hurricane Fiona. (See story page 9.)

director ’ s letter

Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) is a volunteer network of Anabaptist churches that responds in Christian love to those affected by disasters in Canada and the United States. While the main focus is on cleanup, repair and rebuilding homes, this service touches lives and nurtures hope, faith and wholeness. Our programs, funded by contributions, aim to assist the most vulnerable community members, individuals and families who, without assistance, would not have the means to recover. MDS volunteers — women and men, youth and adults — provide the skills and labor needed to respond, rebuild and restore.

Hands of hope

As I read through this issue of Behind the Hammer , I was struck by how many volunteers and homeowners have something in their hands. MDS is responding to disasters from Alaska to Florida, from British Columbia to Maryland. Some are carrying logs, holding tools, lifting cabinet door frames, or pulling machinery levers. They are giving wall-hangings and planting trees. I call it hands of hope! Pay particular attention to our focus on building back

better on pages 12-13. MDS is committed to getting disaster survivors back to a home that is safe, sound, and secure. It shows that we care. This may mean elevating the home, and fortifying the structure with metal straps to withstand high wind speeds. Sometimes it may mean complete relocation of communities as occurred in West Virginia (floods of 2016) and Texas (Hurricane Harvey in 2017). Volunteer labor, matched with utilizing the highest standard of building codes, is a tremendous gift that can be offered to the disaster survivor,

Behind the Hammer is published quarterly by Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) and is available for free upon request. This magazine shares the stories of MDS work in the U.S. and Canada and of the more than 5,000 annual volunteers who are the core of MDS. The stories are meant to encourage people to continue expressing the love of God through the work of MDS. Printed on Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) certified paper using environmentally friendly plant-based inks. Executive Director: Kevin King Communications Manager: Jesse Huxman Production Coordination: Jesse Huxman, Judith Rempel Smucker Writers: Susan Kim, John Longhurst Photographs: Caleb Gingerich, Paul Hunt, Julie Kauffman, MDS volunteers Designer: Julie Kauffman STAY CONNECTED If you have story ideas, need subscription information, want to donate or volunteer, please contact us:

Denny Wyse constructs kitchen cabinets as part of an initiative of the MDS Kansas Unit to put local volunteers to work and supply MDS-built homes with needed cabinetry.

and the community. The return on investment is huge. And it is not just dollars and cents. Psychologically, for disaster survivors, there is a reassuring confidence that they are in a house built to withstand another round of disasters. Building back stronger also is a way of helping many vulnerable disaster survivors to build equity and put a stop to generational poverty. Join us in prayer, with your ongoing financial gifts, and volunteering – you will find joy in using your hands to share the load.

MDS Binational Office 583 Airport Road, Lititz, PA 17543 USA tel: 717-735-3536 | toll-free: 800-241-8111 fax: 717-735-0809 MDS Canada 200-600 Shaftesbury Blvd. Winnipeg, MB R3P 2J1 Canada tel: 204-261-1274 toll-free within Canada: 866-261-1274 fax: 204-261-1279

Kevin King Executive Director


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MDS Early Response Teams clean up debris in southwest Florida left in the wake of Hurricane Ian.

Getting the work done

Getting people back home. That’s the reason MDS transitioned from early response to long-term recovery in southwest Florida, two months after the Category 4 Hurricane Ian made landfall. Larry Stoner, MDS regional operations coordinator, who has been part of the MDS team assessing damages and determining where MDS will work, explained the shift in MDS’s focus. “We are now moving from early response—tree removal, muckouts, and debris cleanup—to home repairs and new builds,” said Stoner. Volunteers will help bring hope to people who cannot recover on their own for reasons beyond their control. During the past two months, Stoner has met many hurricane survivors—and those encounters put a human face on the needs in Florida. He visited a house along the Peace River that Ian had deluged with six feet of water. “Another group helped gut it, and now the single lady that lived here 35 years wants help to move back in,” Stoner said, adding that this situation is emblematic of the types of repair jobs volunteers will be doing for months to come.

The path to recovery – from early response to the long haul – after Hurricane Ian strikes Florida


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Damage caused by Hurricane Ian in southwest Florida.

“Working class people will often say they don’t need help when in fact they do.” – MANNY FLAUD, JR., MDS STORM AID LEADER

One family worked for a decade to remodel their home. “They were almost finished when Hurricane Ian destroyed it,” said Stoner. “We hope to build a new house for this family.” In the first two months after Hurricane Ian struck, MDS Early Response Teams worked in southwest Florida, removing large trees, hauling away debris, and helping Hurricane Ian survivors make the first small steps on their path to recovery. Ian, which made landfall on Sept. 26, devastated parts of southwest Florida, killing at least 92 people in that state alone. After assessing damages and working with local partner organizations as well as emergency managers, MDS set up a base camp for volunteers at the Pine Creek Chapel Mennonite Church in Arcadia, located about an hour east of Sarasota. Manny Flaud, Jr., who provides leadership to Storm Aid, an Amish disaster recovery group of MDS, worked with local community leaders. They assessed damages so MDS could focus on households needing the most help. When people see news footage of southwest Florida, the

devastation is obvious and the needs look immense. The challenge, Flaud explained, is finding which hurricane survivors really need help the most. During early response, MDS relies on community leaders to direct them to meaningful work, while during long-term recovery, a partner organization will provide case management. “Working class people will often say they don’t need help when in fact they do,” said Flaud. “Some clients have a little money—but no one to do the work, or they receive enough money from FEMA to pay for materials but can’t afford labor.” Flaud has helped guide many MDS responses over the years. “It’s what God gave me. That’s what keeps us coming back—it’s what God gave us,” he said. Clearing the way “I can’t believe MDS is here,” said Richard Peters, standing on his small farm with his wife, Dixie, as volunteers cleared at least 25 large trees from the driveway. Dixie has health issues that cause her to fall a lot. Large emergency vehicles can’t get around the downed trees in the driveway, and last time she fell, Richard drove her to the hospital, maneuvering


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Homeowner Richard Peters (left) works with volunteers to clear dozens of trees from his driveway.

“Four years later and Marianna still has tarps in places,” said MDS volunteer Rhoda Yoder. “We had a lot of people come to help us so we wanted to come help here.” Her son, Kevin Yoder, is associate pastor at Rivertown. “We remember what it meant for people to come help us and give us hope,” he said. “We wanted

around debris as best he could. The couple doesn’t have the money to pay a tree-clearing business. “There was a man who came by the house a couple days after Hurricane Ian hit. He wanted to charge $5,000 a day to clean up the driveway,” recalled Richard. “I said, ‘I’m on social security—does it look like I can afford that?’” Every day after the storm struck, Richard worked to make repairs. But he couldn’t budge the trees that volunteers were cutting and stacking into piles for him to use as firewood. “We’ll have to live 50 more years to burn all this up!” said Dixie, smiling as she watched MDS volunteers clear a particularly stubborn, precariously dangling limb—after seven tries. Dixie cheered aloud when the limb finally came down. “These guys are on the ball,” she said. “This is the most fun I’ve had in years!” Part of something bigger People in Florida who were once helped by MDS themselves found an opportunity to come to Arcadia to work for a day or two helping Hurricane Ian survivors. In late October, 11 volunteers arrived from the Rivertown Church in Marianna, Florida. Their church hosted volunteers for more than three years as MDS responded to Hurricane Michael, which struck that community in October 2018.

to help others.” Karen Grice said she volunteered for MDS because she wanted to be part of something bigger than herself. “Nobody will know I’m here—they just know the work gets done,” she said. “We had so much help from MDS.” Her husband, Jeremy Grice, uttered in a prayer his hopes for those recovering from Hurricane Ian: “God, we ask you to be with them, and reaffirm their faith that people are here, and people will help them.” — Susan Kim


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“Hope is all there is. There’s no greater gift. It’s a servant’s gift that volunteers choose to share.”


going to take whatever’s bad and make it good.” That’s why, four years later, Cobb is working to clear trees from an elderly couple’s long driveway in a rural area outside Myakka City, Florida, where Hurricane Ian cut a deep swath on Sept. 26. “I want to be on the other end of it,” she said. “I want to give someone a piece of something to make them feel a tiny bit normal again.”

Motivated by the kindness of volunteers who helped her after Hurricane Michael, Teri Cobb traveled to Myakka City, Florida to help Hurricane Ian survivors clear downed trees.

volunteer experience

Giving back hope

Beyond clearing trees, the hope volunteers bring is priceless, Cobb shared. “Hope is all there is,” she said. “There’s no greater gift. It’s a servant’s gift that volunteers choose to share.” Cobb was among 11 volunteers—all Hurricane Michael survivors and all members of the Rivertown Community Church in Marianna—who made the six-hour drive to Myakka City to help those impacted by Hurricane Ian. Staying for two days, they brought tools, equipment, and a very deep sense of empathy. “We just had our fourth anniversary,” Cobb said, “and we still see blue tarps.” But they also see signs of hope, she added. “There are so many tiny, stub trees.” By volunteering with MDS, she’s been doing some hard, heavy work—but most of all she wants to assure Hurricane Ian survivors that they can find hope. “MDS will help,” said Cobb. “It doesn’t matter if you believe or don’t believe, or what color you are.” She watches as the homeowners walk around their yard, greeting the volunteers. “For a lot of people, without the hope, they just give up,” she said. “But I can see that little spark here now.” — Susan Kim

Teri Cobb remembers the despair Hurricane Michael brought four years ago. “I remember that day sitting on my porch,” she said. “I remember that hopeless feeling.” Days after the storm struck, she sat in front of her home in Marianna, Florida, looking at 28 downed trees in her yard, a battered home, and barns and sheds simply gone. She wondered if there was a way forward. “Out of nowhere, y’all pulled up,” she said, meaning volunteers from MDS. “I thought they were just turning around.” The man who got out did not ask if there was anything he could help with. “Instead, he asked, ‘What’s the most important thing we can do to help you on this journey?’” Cobb recalled. Her voice breaking as she shared these still-fresh memories, Cobb said she will never forget what she describes as “the kindness and the heartfelt, real compassion” MDS volunteers showed as they helped her start to clear the trees from her yard that day. “There was no gain for them,” she said, “but they came and that’s what jumpstarted the belief in me that God was


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Jan Joyce and Melissa Jaeger from their mobile command centre responding to Hurricane Fiona damage in Nova Scotia.

Recovery road trip in Glace Bay

together with Project Director Nick Hamm selected, the most vulnerable for MDS’s help—seniors, people with health or mobility issues, and those with limited resources. Homeowner Edith Cerovich was overjoyed when told by Joyce and Jaeger MDS would deal with the trees in her backyard. “I’ve been waiting so long,” she said, tears in her eyes. For three days after the storm, she couldn’t bear to go into her backyard. “All those memories are gone,” she said of the fallen trees. “It doesn’t look like home anymore.” “People like Edith are so grateful to see us and know their yards will finally be cleaned up,” said Jaeger, who was serving with MDS for the first time. “It really lifted their spirits when we said we could help.” As for their role as organizers, “we’re just doing our small part,” Joyce said. “We want to keep the volunteers busy and give them meaningful work to do.” “It’s been a great

They called it their MDS mobile command centre. “It” is Jan Joyce’s 2019 Subaru Crosstrek, a moving office that enabled her and Melissa Jaeger to log about 1,000 kilometres/600 miles in Glace Bay, Cape Breton Island visiting people impacted by Hurricane Fiona. The hurricane, which struck the province of Nova Scotia

September 24, had winds of up to 140 kilometres/86 miles per hour. It blew down thousands of trees and damaged the roofs of many houses. The two women, both from Ontario—Joyce is from Manitoulin

“We’re just doing our small part”


experience working with Jan and doing my bit to make a difference here in Glace Bay,” added Jaeger. And then it was back into the car and off to another home to see how MDS could help. — John Longhurst

Island, Jaeger is from Oshawa—had never met before they volunteered with MDS. But they became quite a team, sharing friendship, stories and laughter while meeting homeowners who needed assistance. “We joked we are the Thelma and Louise of MDS,” said Joyce, referencing the movie of the same name. “But not with the same ending!” added Jaeger, with a laugh. The list of people they visited came from the local regional municipality, which received the requests for assistance via its 311 line. They were then passed on to MDS. Joyce, serving as crew leader, and Jaeger, her assistant,

Homeowner Edith Cerovich holds up an MDS t-shirt given to her by volunteers.


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“It’s really beautiful what they did.”


Homeowner Edith Ball

Youth are answer to prayer

When John Peters, principal of the Old Colony Christian School in Charing Cross, Ontario, heard MDS Canada needed volunteers in Nova Scotia for clean-up work after Hurricane Fiona, he right away thought of his students. “I thought it would be a great opportunity for them to see more of the country and help others,” said Peters. “They could learn history, geography and Bible and do service at the same time.” Five out of the 22 high school students at the small school volunteered to go. Together with Peters, a total of nine people made the trip from the school to Glace Bay on Cape Breton Island the last week of October. Once there, the group worked to remove cut up trees. “Two chainsaw

Colony youth and adults from the nearby Aylmer, Ontario area were there at the same time. “It was hard work, but fulfilling. The people we helped were so grateful.” One person they helped was 83-year-old Edith Ball. Several large trees came down on the retired hairdresser’s yard. “The storm was wild,” she said as she watched students carrying away the trees. “Along with blowing down the trees, it took some siding off my house.” Ball, whose husband died a year ago, appreciated the help. “It’s really beautiful what they did,” she said, adding she was glad the trees didn’t land on her house. “They are all so nice.” For Peters, words like that are humbling. “We just wanted to help people, think of others and not just of ourselves,” he said. It was also a way to be a witness, he added. “As Christians, our actions can speak louder than words.” One thing Peters heard several times was that people were praying for someone to come and help them. “It’s amazing to realize we were the answer to those prayers,” he said. — John Longhurst

crews cut up the downed trees and we hauled them to the curb,” said Peters, noting another group of Old


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Homeowner Henry Stephens in front of his house in Arcadia, Florida

homeowner experience

The part of Florida nobody sees

“This is the part of Florida nobody sees” That’s what 67-year-old Henry Stephens said about Arcadia, Florida—the place he loves to call home, even when surrounded by debris left behind by Hurricane Ian. “Here’s where my grandson catches wild tilapia,” he said, pointing directly off his deck, which overlooks Horse Creek. “Manatees come right up through here, and otters, too,” he added as he walked around his 3.5-acre property with his three rescue dogs. “We canoe right down that way,” he added, pointing to the calm, shaded creek, which eventually feeds into the Peace River. When visitors come to Florida, they don’t see his neck of the woods. “They see only the beaches,” said Stephens, who was born in Michigan but has lived in Florida for 42 years. Horse Creek, the largest tributary of the Peace River, is now back to its normal 10-foot/3 metres depth. But Hurricane Ian drove it up to an unprecedented level, sending a foot of water into Stephens’ home on Sept. 26. He had recently raised the house 10 feet, putting it up on stilts. “I had canceled my flood insurance, because the house was so high,” he said, wanting to save the cost of $5,000 U.S. a year. After the water receded, Stephens and his wife lived in their trailer while he pulled up ruined flooring, used his shop-vac on the mattresses, and restored the electrical

wiring. “I’ve been working on getting all this repaired the best I can,” he said. But a huge tree, downed by the storm was beyond him. He points to where a treehouse, rope swing, and slack line once stood for his four grandkids to enjoy. A child’s bike, caked with mud, still leaned against the house. MDS Early Response Teams arrived with a tractor and weight off,” Stephens said, as they prayed together when the job was complete. “God keeps me going,” he added. “You just have to put one foot in front of the other.” He describes his disaster recovery so far as “perpetual motion,” where he works all day, every day on some aspect of clearing, repairing, or rebuilding. “This was supposedly the 500-year flood,” he said. “I hope I never see another one like this.” — Susan Kim chainsaws on a sunny October afternoon to remove the tree. “You took a big chunk of my “God keeps me going. You just have to put one foot in front of the other.” – HENRY STEPHENS

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volunteer experience

volunteer experience

Susie Dyck volunteered in Monte Lake, British Columbia, in the fall. Since returning home, the member of the Sommerfeld Mennonite Church in Mount Salem, Ontario., had time to reflect on that experience. Now that I’m back to my regular life at work and home in Ontario, I’ve had some time to reflect and look back on my time with MDS. It was a wonderful experience! Through strong and wise leadership, I gained so much while serving with MDS: perspective, knowledge, friendship, experiences and personal growth. This was all made possible because MDS does a wonderful job at creating a safe and fun place for growth, fellowship and relationships. Getting to know everyone and creating relationships was probably my favourite part during the weeks I spent in Monte Lake. It truly was about laughing together, crying together, learning together, simply just doing life together with strangers who became family. I went to Monte Lake with the thought that I would be serving and helping others. But I left feeling served, refreshed and renewed, like I’d received more blessings than I had given. And yet, somehow, we got to be a blessing just by being a group of people who walked where they were called to and trusted God to do the rest. We all, along with everyone who worked on those homes, were small but mighty instruments in God’s plan for the people of Monte Lake—and for each other. I felt unified in spirit with everyone who worked on those homes and made restoration possible. A tiny piece of restoring hope in Monte Lake

MDS was his therapy

After his stroke, one of the things that made Abe Gotzke sad was not being able to volunteer with MDS anymore. Or so he thought. Gotzke, 72, of Abbotsford, B.C. suffered the stroke in April. Fortunately, it didn’t affect his mobility. But it impacted his speech. “I talk slow now,” said Abe. “It’s hard to make conversation.” The stroke also made him weak and tired and impacted his strength and endurance. For that reason, volunteering with MDS—which was busy repairing homes in the Fraser Valley damaged by the flood of November 2021—seemed out of the question. But he thought he’d give it a try. “I tried painting. I went slow. But after two hours, I was done. I couldn’t do any more,” Abe said of that first day. He apologized to Mark

“It felt good to be able to do things like that again.”

Rempel, who was heading up the work in the Valley as part of the MDS B.C. Unit. Rempel told him “he was welcome back anytime to do what he could.” Abe did come back. And each time felt a bit stronger.


“I was finally able to work myself up to almost a whole day,” he said triumphantly. “It felt good to be able to do things like that again.” For Rempel, Abe’s determination is inspiring. “It was good to see the smile on his face after he did some caulking,” he said. “It shows that anyone can do MDS. Abe proves it.” — John Longhurst

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MDS began rebuilding for resiliency in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017. None of the repaired houses reported roof damage from Hurricane Fiona in 2022.

Rebuilding for resiliency

others who constantly study MDS homes to see how the structures hold up after a hurricane or other disaster. For example, MDS studied 27 homes built after Hurricane Rita hit Cameron Parish in Louisiana in 2005. Built to withstand 140-mph/225-km winds by technically supervised volunteers, every single one of them was intact even after Hurricane Laura brought 150-mph/241-km winds

How does MDS help people become more “hurricane resilient?” What does that really mean? For Johann Zimmerman, principal engineer at JZ Engineering in Harrisonburg, Va., and a long-time MDS consultant, it’s about bridging the gap between research and hurricane resiliency and the way volunteers build homes. Zimmermann doesn’t

Workshop participants build a resilient model house.

only design homes—he tries to design structures that volunteers can build. He’s boiled it down to

Training to become more hurricane resilient is working

four elements needed for resilient construction: 1) technical knowledge and codes; 2) resilient design; 3) financial resources; and 4) trained construction workers. “There are lots of skilled workers in the country, but MDS volunteers need to be trained for resilient techniques,” explained Zimmermann. This can happen on the job, as MDS project directors or crew leaders pass on their own training, or through workshops given by Zimmermann or

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“To me and other civil engineers, it’s very clear we have a changing climate.”


to the same area in 2020. Although there was some cladding failure, there was no structural damage due to wind or storm surge. “And, most important, no displaced residents,” said Zimmermann. MDS also studied hundreds of homes in Puerto Rico left roofless after Hurricane Maria’s 180-mph/289-km winds in 2017. MDS offered immediate reconstruction of roofs but also studied failure mechanisms of the local construction methods, then did technical research to design roofs to withstand winds of that strength. Finally, MDS produced technical information and design guides geared to volunteers—and gave workshops on replacing roofs for over forty organizations working in Puerto Rico. More recently, MDS interviewed five of the largest volunteer organizations that had attended the workshops in Puerto Rico, collectively replacing more than 600 roofs. None of them reported roof damage from Hurricane Fiona in September 2022. As the years go by, concepts of disaster resiliency improve, and Zimmermann, along with a core group of MDS volunteers, works to ensure MDS’s training and design reflect those changes in a way that volunteers understand. “To me and other civil engineers, it’s very clear we have a changing climate,” he said. “How is it that we get two or three 500 or 1,000-year floods in the space of two or three years?” Zimmermann sees building hurricane-resilient homes not only as being economically wise but also being the most compassionate way to help a disaster survivor. “When a family has to leave their house, there’s a huge cost not

Johann Zimmerman and workshop participants with the resilient model house they built.

only financially but socially,” he said. “Look at the societal damage in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit—how many people left and never came back.” When homeowners know their residence is more hurricane-resilient, they feel more secure in their daily living. One of the most important ways MDS volunteers can help advance hurricane resiliency is by following the plans and using the training they receive. “You need those good site supervisors,” said Zimmermann. “That’s how we keep

people home.” — Susan Kim

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notes from the field

Cards drawn by children welcoming disaster survivors home in Monte Lake, B.C.

that community affected by 2021’s White Rock Lake fire.” This year, after hearing about MDS’s work rebuilding four homes in Monte Lake that were lost to that fire, the children created cards for the families MDS was serving. They also made a framed “Welcome Home” picture featuring their thumbprints. Heuft divided the cards and pictures among the four families. “The homeowners were deeply touched by the gesture,” he said. For Heuft, the experience was a way to bless the homeowners, and also “to connect what we do as MDS with the children. It showed them how God answered their prayers through MDS as we helped the homeowners get back home.”



Nurturing new forest An inch-high miracle. That’s what ten- year-old Natalie Lehman noticed as she was digging holes to plant new trees in Grand Lake, Colorado in July: a tiny lodgepole pine growing on its own. For Lehman, it was a sign mother nature had brought volunteer baby pines to help the human volunteers from MDS as they replanted a forest razed by the East Troublesome Fire. “I felt happy because I saw all of the new life coming up and knew that there will be a whole forest again someday,” said Lehman, recalling her time as the youngest volunteer during an MDS Summer Youth Project in Grand Lake. She was one MDS volunteer of many who, among other tasks, planted 370 trees and flagged 200 tiny trees so people wouldn’t inadvertently pull them up or mow them down.

Homeowners in Monte Lake welcomed home by local Vacation Bible School children “I hope you like your new home.” That was one of the messages a child from the River of Life Community Church (Mennonite Brethren) in Blind Bay, B.C. wrote in a card for families being helped by MDS in Monte Lake. Every year the church holds a vacation Bible school for local children. “This year the theme was missions and serving God,” said Roman Heuft, a project director in Monte Lake. “Last year,” said Heuft, “the children had prayed for people in


Congregations in Canada are invited once again to apply for grants of up to $5,000 from the MDS Canada Spirit of MDS Fund. Funding can be

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Find updates at


used for things that are a fit with MDS Canada’s two Core Values: Faith in Action and Caring Relationships. Priority will be given to applications where volunteers are mobilized from a congregation. Application form:

2,092 kilometers of coastline on the Bering Sea on Sept. 17. The winds were near hurricane strength and the storm surge was 5-11 feet/8-17 metres. The storm impacted 44 native villages, damaging roofs, siding and windows, and bringing a storm surge that shifted houses from their foundations and soaked the insulation. There were a number of “arctic entries”—interior entryways that seal homes from freezing air— torn from the homes. Volunteers from Mennonite churches in Soldotna and Sterling, Alaska, traveled via plane to Hooper Bay, home to 1,372 people, in September. Steve Bell, who lives in Soldotna, is leading the project. “This reminds me of Louisiana, with older houses built in the 1970s showing lots of deferred maintenance,” he said. “The houses are small, 600 to 800 square feet, and little or no plumbing and electrical.”

dedication of their new house, the first of six that will be built by MDS volunteers working in the town of Crisfield on Maryland’s eastern shore. The town, home to about 2,700 people, has been weighed down by flood disasters for more than a decade. “When our home was destroyed, it destroyed a part of me, because that was the first home we lived in together,” said Myrtle, recalling the floodwaters taking the couple by surprise. “When we walked out the back door, water was up to my knees.” As the dedication came to a close, Robert finally spoke from his hospital bed, and Myrtle held the phone up for his words to ring: “Thanks to everybody,” he said, “Just thanks to everybody.”


Responding in native villages MDS volunteers are doing emergency repairs in western Alaska after Typhoon Merbok pounded 1,300 miles/



Behind the Hammer is also available in a digital version with additional content for easy access on your phone, tablet, or laptop: Subscribe to upcoming issues here : newsletters/


A bright day in Crisfield: first of six homes dedicated Myrtle Haugh called her husband, Robert, with good news: their new home was ready! From his hospital bed, Robert was able to listen to the

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583 Airport Rd Lititz, PA 17543


“Volunteers became our friends.” DOROTHY BALZER, HOMEOWNER

Find a place to serve with joy 800-241-8111 U.S. 866-261-1274 Canada

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