GALVESTON–Last week, volunteers teamed up with Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery (TBDR) to take part in a unique missions experience—one that allowed opportunities for mornings of servant-hearted labor and afternoons of summer entertainment.
Forty volunteers from five Texas Baptists churches spent the weekday mornings painting homes, building fences, cleaning yards and making repairs for homeowners who are still reaping the effects of Hurricane Ike, which devastated much of the Island in 2008.
In the afternoons, the volunteers spent their free time playing miniature golf, going to the beach, visiting Pleasure Pier, riding the ferry or doing a variety of other fun activities Galveston has to offer.
The trip was designed with families in mind, said Marla Bearden, TBDR specialist.
"We built this as a family mission trip," Bearden said, "We just really think it's important for families to be on mission together, especially with school-aged children. That is the age they can start putting feet to their faith, being the hands and feet of Jesus to somebody in need."
On Thursday, volunteers ministered to Carolyn Smithers, who recalled returning to her house two weeks after the hurricane to find the water had risen to a foot and a half, destroying much of her furniture and floors, a costly fix without flood insurance.
Seven years later, Smithers is still finding damaged parts of her home that need unaffordable repairs. The TBDR team aided her by examining a plumbing issue, cleaning up her yard and encouraging her to not be timid in sharing her burdens.
Justin James, volunteer from First Baptist Church in Lancaster, went with his wife, Sophia, and six-year-old son, Jacob, as well as two other fellow church members to serve in Galveston with TBDR.
"When [we] come as a family, I'm able to have my son and wife come together and we can lock arms to serve the church," James explained looking over at his son who was raking the yard. "Especially for my son because he has the chance to learn what ministry really is."
For fun one afternoon, the James family went fishing, and Jacob proudly showed off a picture of the large fish he caught.
Liberty Bell Killion, a teenager from First Baptist Church in Schulenburg, went with her mom, Elaine. She said Galveston has a special place in both of their hearts, as it has long been a favorite vacation spot.
"We know Hurricane Ike was harsh, and it means a lot to me and my mom that we're here trying to help," Liberty said.
While she joked that her mom can sometimes embarrass her, Liberty said working together has been a true joy.
"When I do mission work with just a friend, I always have to worry if I'm going to embarrass myself," she said. "It's a lot easier to do mission work when you're around your mother because you don't have to worry about that."
TBDR teamed up with Galveston Urban Ministries, which seeks to show Christ to the Galveston community by serving needs in low-income areas, to determine projects for the week. Volunteers built fences, cleaned up yards, painted Sunday school rooms and did repair work for the Baptist Student Ministry at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
Thanks to the generosity of a Texas Baptist Men feeding crew and First Baptist Church in Galveston, volunteers had a place to sleep and food to eat for the week as well, keeping the trip's low-cost at only $125 per person. Churches represented were FBC Lancaster, FBC Poteet, FBC Schulenburg, Golden Acres Baptist Church and Rice Temple Baptist Church.
For up-to-date information on TBDR mission trips for families, church groups and individuals, visit texasbaptists.org/disaster.