Recently our own Sandi Cornett traveled to Houston to serve in the relief efforts sponsored by Samaritans Purse as they responded to hurricane Harvey. Sandi is a Pediatric Physical Therapy Assistant here in Stockton and has been attending Quail for almost 10 years. She and I dialogued about this experience of self-mobilized missions and here is what she said.
- How did you get hooked up with Samaritan’s Purse for this trip?
I had already known about Samaritan’s Purse for years as I used to do the shoe boxes at Christmas when I was in college. When I started seeing and hearing about all the incredible flooding in Houston, I knew I wanted to do something to help. I started doing internet searches but then I heard God say, “Check out Samaritan’s Purse.” I went to the website and it said, “To volunteer with Harvey relief, click here to fill out the application.” So I did without question or knowing what I’d be doing. Within a week they contacted me and by the second week, they had me set up with days and location (Santa Fe, TX, 30 min southeast of Houston). They told me they’d take care of lodging and food, I just needed to get myself there.
- What was it that motivated you to go?
I’ve always had the inward desire to help people in need, especially overseas. However, when something so devastating happened on our homeland and a place that I’ve been to, it really touched me. I had signed up to help with Katrina all those years ago with my church at the time, but the trip was full. I knew that I couldn’t not get there this time to help…and I began the process.
- What did you do on the trip?
The division I was working with focuses on “mudding out” homes. This involved tearing out all the molded drywall and insulation in the house and then spraying the house down with a chemical that kills what mold is left. Samaritan’s Purse was working on 5 homes at the time. I had the pleasure of helping with 2 of them. The first day, I was helping to finish up a house they’d already worked on for two days and was cleaning up the drywall and insulation that was pulled off the walls and making sure the place was spot clean to prepare for the spraying. The remainder of the trip, I worked on a house from start to finish. There was mold 6 feet up the wall and even on the ceiling in the garage. It was by far the worst Samaritan’s Purse had seen. This homeowner had 6ft of water in his house for 3 days. Everything was lost.
We went in with a team of 20 people and took out all the drywall and insulation, as well as cabinets, sinks, bathtubs, etc. (anything 6ft and lower). We finished by removing all the nails and doing a deep cleaning and spraying of the house. As with every house, when the job is completed, we present the homeowner with a Bible, signed by everyone who worked on the house, with encouragement and scripture verses, and we pray over the homeowner and the home.
- How long was the trip?
I went for 4 days.
- What surprised you about the experience?
Many things surprised me, from how organized Samaritan’s Purse was to the amount of devastation these homeowners are experiencing. But I’d have to say that the 3 things that really surprised me were:
- Every single person onsite was a volunteer, including those in leadership. Many of them were there for as long as 2 months.
- I have never been a part of a group in which every day we’d wake up at 6am and everyone was happy and ready to go, and after 8 hours of grueling work in the heat, they still had a smile. It was like I got an image of what the church is supposed to look like...working with joy unto the Lord.
- They have 6 chaplains on site. They are not only there for all the volunteers, but they also come on the work sites to see how we’re doing emotionally, spiritually, physically...and then they go and speak to the homeowners and share Christ with them.
Thanks Sandi for your willingness to go and for showing us the truth of the statement, “People who GO-grow.”