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.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED MDS U.S. 800-241-8111 Canada 866-261-1274

In the 1990s, one of the top auto manufacturers in the U.S. had the slogan “Quality is Job One.” The promotion lasted for 19 years, then was jettisoned to something newer. For MDS, the quality of the work we do is always a high priority. Our core values of integrity and sustainability are instrumental in how we do our work. Working in an ethical, honest, and legal manner we, as God’s stewards, strive to incorporate “We Can (Always) Do Better”

quality materials and workmanship, and environmental awareness in providing safe, affordable and sustainable housing. I was reminded of this during my visit in February to four of the projects along the U.S. Gulf Coast where our volunteers are responding to the most recent floods and hurricanes. On a day in Dulac, Louisiana, I realized this was the same community we constructed a new “Shelter for Life” house in the summer of 2007. The wall panels were constructed on the parking lot during the MC USA

Yearlong Volunteer Program

Do you have a heart for service? Do you enjoy seeing new places and meeting new people? The MDS Yearlong Volunteer Program provides an opportunity to expand your leadership, collaboration, and construction skills while serving with MDS to help bring people home after disasters. Yearlong volunteers serve from August through July at multiple MDS projects across the U.S. or Canada. MDS provides training, food, lodging, travel support, tools, and meaningful work. Applicants should be at least 19 years old and one year out of high school.

MDS volunteer Esther King works on the home of Lena and Paul Deon in Dulac, Louisiana.

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: Paul Hunt, MDS volunteers Designer: Julie Kauffman STAY CONNECTED If you have story ideas, need subscription information, want to donate or volunteer, please contact us:

MDS volunteers Johann Zimmerman and David King inspect the underside of a house built by MDS in 2007 that withstood the winds of Hurricane Ida.


Conference in San Jose, California, and then trucked to Louisiana. Here the house was constructed well above the flood plain on reinforced concrete blocks and survived Hurricane Ida, (Category 4 Atlantic hurricane that became the second most damaging and intense hurricane on record to make landfall in Louisiana). We gave the house a thorough inspection. Over fifteen years the house has withstood multiple storms. But, we found some components of failure and want to learn from that. For example, the screws in the metal roof need to be longer and the insulation under the house needs to be better secured. After some of our projects are completed, we call for an evaluation by a third party seeking to improve our practices and stay true to our mission. An evaluation is useful for historical purposes, financial accountability, consistency of mission and respect for the culture. It’s especially informative if we need to return years later to the same area. And this last point has proved itself. We are back in Dulac building ten new homes and repairing many more new roofs. Better than ever before.

FEATURE — HARGILL, TEXAS A blessing from God 4

FEATURE – BARRY’S BAY, ONTARIO All under the same roof again 8 HOMEOWNER EXPERIENCE – MAYFIELD, KENTUCKY One day at a time 10

VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE – MCALLEN, TEXAS Treasured time together 11

FEATURE – DULAC, LOUISIANA The stars and God–that’s all we got 12

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

Q+A Volunteer Andrew Weaver 13

Notes from the field 14

ON THE COVER: Lena and Paul Deon are planning to celebrate their 50th anniversary in a new home constructed by MDS volunteers in Dulac, Louisiana. Photo by Paul Hunt.

Apply by July 1. For more information or to apply, email or call the MDS office in your country.

Kevin King Executive Director


behind the hammer

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