It was August 29, 2005, we were in Poulsbo, WA, watching on TV Hurricane Katrina devastate the Gulf Coast. Our hearts were aching for our fellow Americans. We clearly heard the voice of God say “You have to go help those people”. Even though we were over 2,700 miles away, we made plans to go. Ninety days later we landed in the parking lot of First United Methodist Church in Biloxi, MS.
Bill had always had a “desk job” and I had various managerial jobs, so neither of us had any experience in “mucking out” houses or rebuilding them. But where God sends people, he prepares the way and gives them the skills needed to carry out His will. We joined NOMADS, Nomads On Mission Active in Divine Service, which we learned about on this first mission trip nomadsumc.org. NOMADS unspoken motto is “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called” and that is so true.
A few years later, between projects in 2011, we landed at Lakeview. We now realize that God was calling us to His special little piece of Heaven in the East Texas Hill Country. Lakeview has become our second home and the Lakeview staff has become our second family.
Having an RV has allowed us the flexibility to go where He calls us to be and to be self-sufficient when needed. We have been so blessed to see 49 states and do mission projects in many, rebuilding homes after disasters, from fires to floods, tornados and hurricanes. As we have gotten older, we can’t do physically what our minds still want to do. It is such a wonderful blessing to be at Lakeview, where we can somewhat choose what we are able to do at a pace we can physically maintain. Cheryl Wessels
Below are a few blog excepts during The Wessels’ time at Lakeview.
Good morning from the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas. We escaped to one of our favorite places in the whole world, Lakeview United Methodist Conference Center, in the middle of 1300 acres of nowhere, south of Palestine TX. We have worked here on numerous NOMADS projects. It is, unfortunately, closed for summer camp this year because of the virus, so they are taking this opportunity to spiffy everything up hopefully to host the Texas Aggies Freshman Orientation in the Fall.
It’s good to be back in the South, where everyone takes care of everyone else. Yesterday, a lady brought cookies for all the employees. They invited us as one of them. One of the Maintenance men was helping us with a tire, so one of the Housekeeping ladies wasn’t sure he could make it, so she brought him some cookies. It’s the true sense of Community.
We somehow picked up a screwdriver bit in a tire on the car. Brand new tire, bought them just before we left AZ! One of the Maintenance men plugged it for us, just so we could get into Palestine, about 15 miles away. Yesterday we drove into Discount Tire and they got it fixed permanently. When we asked about the cost, they said “nothing”. God blesses us in so many ways.
We spent the last couple of days replacing planks on one of the fishing docks. They gave us a four-wheeler to use, so we went the “long way” through the woods. When we came in, I noticed that the roses at the front entrance need a little TLC, so I may work on them today.
We have now been at Lakeview for over two months. We have completed several small projects and a few large ones since our last post.
1. We painted and redecorated a small bathroom in the Great Hall.
2. Stabilized some overloaded bookshelves in a storage room and built new ones along one entire wall and part of another.
3. Repaired walls, removed tape, glue etc. Repainted Game Room. Added chalkboard paint to one area, hoping the kids will write on it instead of the walls and windows! Also added a divider between the game room and the snack room. Made a board covered with burlap and put behind the dart boards.
4. Started painting 24 doors in one of their dorm sections. We drove over to a little country store about 35 miles away. Had some of their famous homemade peach ice cream and bought some fresh veggies. Love the little stores in rural Texas. Everyone here is so good to us. We are blessed to be in such a beautiful setting surrounded by nature. One morning Bill saw a doe deer and her fawn just outside our coach. The Covid-19 has made an uptick in the past few week or so, so we have no plans to leave any time soon. They have had a couple of small groups here already, mostly family reunions. They plan to have a larger group the end of June and first week in July, so we will stay and help through those anyway. Just trying to listen to God’s bidding as to where He wants us to be right now.
We have been preparing rooms for up to nearly 300 evacuees from Hurricane Laura. Mostly from Beaumont and the Houston area. She is scheduled to hit tonight, and we are grateful that these people were able to get out. Many are from Assisted Living homes. Some came in ambulances. Some drove all night. Some came with their belongings in U-Hauls, at least one family brought a hospital bed, another has a generator in the back of their truck. This is real life, folks. It is so rewarding to be able to help in this situation, and we thank God that we are here. Please pray for us that we will be shining examples of ambassadors for Christ.
It has been hot and humid, so it’s very difficult to work outside except early morning, just like in Arizona, except we aren’t used to the humidity again.