Rippling Hope Memories 2018
Our Mission partner has been ripplinghope.org
June 17-23 was Zion’s 4th mission trip to Rippling Hope in Detroit. We took a smaller group due to drop-outs made necessary by work and family obligations, but we added another teenager, Matt Heitmeier. Two teens: Matt and Will Neises accompanied Bill and Pam Daws, Tom Ralston, and Pastor Brice.
Our first day was miserably hot! Mid-90’s and brutal humidity made working outside slow and dangerous. Even drinking as much water as we could, we all felt worn out by the end of the day. Mercifully, Tuesday came in much cooler. The rest of the week, temperatures were actually pleasant for working outside. Thursday morning, we woke to rain, but it stopped shortly after we arrived at our work sites and did not measurably disturb our schedule. Friday’s forecast was for heavy rains, but they held off through mid-day. We got our last tasks finished, then spent the afternoon having fun at the Henry Ford Museum.
Some of the people we met
Mrs. E lost her husband less than one year ago. After many years of marriage, she is learning to pick up the chores he once did, adding them to her own. Added to some of the familiar ailments of age, it has slowed her down in keeping up her garden. Worse, while trying to work in her garden, she fell, hurting her shoulder. We spent half a day weeding and cleaning up her extensive flower beds. She stayed with us all day; offering encouragement and thanks, and helping out as much as she was able. She gave us her thousand watt smiles and shared some of the joys of her life. In the brutal heat, she kept offering us plenty to drink.
Mr. B’s home looks very nice, fitting in well with a neighborhood of nice houses. One could wonder why Rippling Hope was there, until you look more closely, and see that maintenance has not been kept up on many of these homes. Mr. B is unable physically or financially to keep up. We caulked windows that need much more work. While we were there we met his grandson, who lives with him. His mother-in-law (the child’s great-grandmother) came over to give the boy a Spanish lesson under the trees.
Mrs. C’s original porch railing was made from light wrought iron. Many seasons of winter salt had rusted away the fittings, making it dangerous to us. Our task was to replace it with a more solid wooden porch railing. She insisted on cooking fried chicken and homemade pound cake for our lunch and would not take ‘no’ for an answer. It was delicious! Apparently, she is well known in the neighborhood for her cooking. As soon as the chicken was done, neighbors began showing up from all around. She shared her food with a generous heart and a glowing smile.
Mrs. T was in her mid-40’s, much younger than most of the homeowners we work with. Ten years before, in her mid-30’s she had to have three heart valves replaced. She is still unable to work as she had once, though she does what she can. She has a part-time job as an automobile test driver. She couldn’t reveal much about her work, except that the company tests next year’s models on the road in real-life conditions. The day we were there, she had gotten up at 4:30 in the morning, and by mid-afternoon when she came home to meet us, had driven a test car more than 250 miles. Her older home needed storm windows to be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. She was able to measure and purchase stock windows, needing Rippling Hope to help her by installing them. We ran into some problems with the windows being incorrect sizes, but she persisted and got the correct sizes. We also built a platform for her rain barrels. Now they are high enough to be able to water her garden by gravity.
Mrs. H had a small and tidy deck off the back door of her house, a shady spot under a huge oak tree for enjoying a morning cup of coffee or grilling out in the evening. The deck had several rotted boards. The best solution would be to tear off the old and rebuild the deck from the ground up, but that was not financially feasible for her. She understood clearly what Carl was telling her, that what we could do was only a temporary improvement, but it allowed her to continue to enjoy her afternoon quiet space a little longer.
Robin Zerwick’s gift is hospitality. She warmly welcomed us and made us feel well cared for. She cooks breakfast and supper for the work crews and lays out sandwich items for us to make our own lunches. It doesn’t seem to matter if she is feeding six or sixty people, she sees that we are well fed. One night, (her birthday), she made her favorites: Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, and gravy. So good! I can’t remember the last time I had that meal; I am still savoring the memory of that luscious food.
Carl and Robin work through the winter with the neighborhood associations, organizing, prioritizing, and preparing the work list for the summer. As with any construction project, the planning is never easy or finished. There are always last-minute schedule changes due to weather or supplies that did not arrive, or the abilities of the work crews in a given week. It is a constant juggling act, but Carl manages to make it work so that work crews waste as little time as possible being unproductive. Our group’s experience, similar to remarks we heard from other groups, was that we felt we were able to accomplish something productive with our time.
Every group I have ever taken on a mission trip has had the same experience. We go thinking that we are going to do something for someone else, but we find that we always receive the larger blessing. The homeowners we work with get some free labor from us, doing something they could not do for themselves, but we receive the joy of meeting new friends who are so gracious and grateful for our being there, and we inevitably see the face of Jesus in the faces of those we meet.
We inevitably receive blessings from God far greater than we expect.
Rippling Hope Memories 2018