The film Braveheart (1995) is one my all-time favorites and my fav scene is when the English cavalry is bearing down on William Wallace (Mel Gibson) and his fellow Scots. The cavalry approaches in slow motion as the hooves slam into the ground with increasing tempo. The Scot’s tension rapidly increases, along with the tension of the film’s viewers as the horses draw nearer while William Wallace shouts, “HOLD… HOLD… HOLD.” Wallace didn’t want his men to raise their spears too soon for doing so would alert the cavalry of the trap and they would likely retreat to avoid being impaled on the spears.

Using this scene as an analogy for our volunteer mobilization efforts, the approaching cavalry is the fear of missed opportunity to serve. Robust mobilization of volunteers during the ‘safer-in-place’ mandate is not allowed and likely will not be allowed for some time to come. Our stance for now continues to be, “HOLD… HOLD… HOLD!” Above all, we don’t have the capacity to thwart God’s providence in the current events unfolding around us. We do continue to register volunteers who are chomping at the bit, as they say, to re-engage at worksites. But we don’t want to re-engage too soon!

One day MNA Disaster Response, including Sheds of Hope, will be cleared to again mobilize volunteers. Meanwhile, our team of staff and volunteers have been investing massive amounts of time and effort preparing for that day, so that when it comes we may do so safely. Our network of relief providers have been innovative in finding ways to cautiously take steps during this time that will allow our teams to rapidly restart operations when it is safe. Take a look at the following pictures of a recent Shed of Hope build by Lake Oconee Presbyterian Church. They have been cautiously holding the line, complying with social distancing mandate, but staying busy staying on mission.

Lake Oconee PCA team members maintaining social distancing while holding the line.

Building Sheds of Hope kits is construction, light construction, but construction just the same. Undertaking any type of construction during this time is a challenge. The team leaders put much thought and efforts perfecting a procedure that allows them to continue ministry. New protocols include less team members working at any one time, wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, maintaining distances, etc. They are looking forward to the day when the entire team can be together serving again. For now it is, “HOLD… HOLD… HOLD!

Masks, gloves and safe distances!

Love will find a way! Lake Oconee PCA is not the only church Sheds of Hope team being innovative and finding a way to be fruitful during this time. Plains PCA-Zachary LA, Covenant PCA-Auburn AL, and Memorial PCA-Elizabethton TN, are also grappling with how best to build Sheds of Hope kits during this time. ‘Our Daily Bread’, the well known monthly devotional, recently published a devotional about a cartoon that depicted a sour, disgruntled, elderly gentleman standing in rumpled pajamas and robe at his apartment door. He had just secured the door for the night with four locks, two deadbolts, and a chain latch. Later he noticed a small white envelope stuck beneath the door. On the envelope was a large sticker in the shape of a heart. It was a valentine. Love had found a way! The Sheds of Hope teams are finding a way!

Lake Oconee PCA team members using their ‘smart bench’ and templates to cut materials.
The MNA Disaster Response Warehouse currently has 20 ready-to-go Sheds of Hope. The MNA Disaster Response Dallas Depot has 11.

MNA Disaster Response has 31 Sheds of Hope kits ready to go, but many more are needed. Please let us know if you would like to develop a Sheds of Hope kit building team as we would love for you to join the movement. Please keep praying that our teams will continue to ‘Hold’, be innovative in the meanwhile, and when the time is right to again, ‘GO’!!

We were surprised when we received the call informing us that the twins, Vincent and Julius, arrived early! What a great blessing! Last Wednesday we immediately made our way to the local Homesteader dealer and took possession of the new Sheds of Hope setup trailers and transported them, one by one, to the Rome GA warehouse for outfitting.

The new Sheds of Hope dedicated setup trailers are now at the Rome Georgia warehouse awaiting outfitting.

Mike Kennamer, MNA warehouse manager, is making lists and checking them twice; he will begin sourcing the equipment for each trailer right-away. Outfitting should begin in July and likely take about two months to get the trailers road-ready.

Map from Rome, Georgia to Dallas, Texas

When the trailers are ready for use we will transport Vincent (Twin #1) to the MNA Disaster Response Dallas Depot where he will be on standby when not deployed. Julius (Twin #2) will remain stationed at the MNA Rome Warehouse. If you would like to help with the outfitting, please check out the previous post. There you will find information on how to give a financial gift, and/or to volunteer on the project. Most of all, please join us in prayer giving thanks for these new tools that will be of great help as volunteer teams deploy to assist disaster-displaced families! Maybe they will be needed in your community.

Vincent, Sheds of Hope setup trailer #1. Headed to the MNA Dallas Depot soon!

MNA Sheds of Hope will soon be receiving two new trailers for use by teams setting up sheds during recovery operations. The trailers will be equipped with every tool needed by future volunteer teams setting up shed builds on disaster-displaced homeowner properties. Once road-ready, one of the trailers will be on standby at the MNA Charles H. Jones Family Disaster Relief Center in Rome GA and the other will be stationed at the MNA Disaster Response Dallas Depot. When Sheds of Hope are deployed the trailers will be sent to the recovery site to support the volunteer setup teams.

The only dedicated Sheds of Hope setup trailer is a ‘wee-bit’ tired and is being retired soon!

The trailer hooked to the van in the picture above and another just like it were purchased by North TX Presbytery for initial use during the Moore, OK tornado response (May 20, 2013). During that response 200 Sheds of Hope were built in Moore and the surrounding area and those trailers supported the work. Since that time, the trailer in the picture above has been rolled tens of thousands of miles to transport tools and equipment all over the US, from MI to FL, to CO, to the coast of NC. The fact is she is just a ‘wee-bit’ road weary, so wisely, it it time to retire her from full-time service and hand her over to a church for local and regional service. We give thanks to North TX Presbytery for lending her to us for the last seven years. Many families have been blessed through her service.

Homesteader Trailers are built in New Tazewell TN, near the Cumberland Gap. The trailer pictured here, WDT-04, is a relief kit and supplies delivery trailer normally on standby at the Dallas Depot. The new Sheds of Hope trailers will be same series.

The new Sheds of Hope trailers are being custom built for us by Homesteader Trailers in New Tazewell TN. They are identical to the one pictured above, but a ‘wee-bit’ shorter, and can be transported by typical pickup trucks or larger SUVs. Homesteader has been a great ministry partner to MNA Disaster Response over the years, our manufacturer of choice for enclosed work trailers.

Once we receive the trailers MNA Disaster Response staff and volunteers will build-out the insides of each trailer to accommodate the tools and equipment needed to support at least two Sheds of Hope setup teams working in a particular community. When the build-outs are finished the trailers will be stocked with tools and equipment and placed into service.

University Of TN (Some say the real UT) Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) Students building Sheds of Hope.

We love working with high school and college students as well as young adults. They are desirous of serving with Sheds of Hope; however, they typically do not have the basic tools needed to setup a Shed of Hope. With a minimal equipping of tools and supervision even those without prior construction experience can make a tremendous difference while assisting a displaced family. This is the primary use for Sheds of Hope setup trailers – providing the tools and equipment to support setup teams.

Although the funds have been secured that allowed Sheds of Hope to purchase the new trailers, we are seeking additional funding to outfit each trailer with quality tools and equipment at a cost of $10,000 each. Please let us know if you would like to contribute to this need. You can make a contribution to this project by clicking here.

Also, maybe you would like to join the team that has committed to building out the interiors of these trailers. The work will take place at the Rome GA Warehouse and Training Center during July and August. Typically, we can arrange housing for your team while serving with us, just let us know. If you would like to volunteer on this project please contact Mike Kennamer, MNA Disaster Response Warehouse Manager, and begin a conversation by clicking here.

After taking a Covid-19 forced break, Nashville Presbytery resumed (somewhat) tornado relief work this weekend by building Sheds of Hope on disaster-displaced homeowner’s properties. MNA Disaster Response is still subject to a robust-volunteer-mobilization pause, however, we were cautiously able to support the presbytery’s resumption of operations by shipping Sheds of Hope to Nashville to support their work. All of the volunteers were coordinated by the presbytery. We were impressed by their organization, and thankful for the great weather that made the work enjoyable for all who joined in.

City Church of East Nashville (PCA) is located just a few blocks from a major tornado touch-down area. The congregation has been working with affected families since the tornado blew-through, while complying with the pandemic-induced slow down in relief operations. Virginia Carter has been serving as the congregations liaison to MNA Disaster Response and has been a pleasure to work with. She recruited a large number of volunteers from three churches to help setup the Sheds of Hope on Saturday, not a small undertaking by any standard. We are thankful for her organization skills that made the workday a huge success. If you have organized a mission trip, church workday, large gathering, event, etc., you know what I am taking about.

Keith Perry, MNA Disaster Response Specialist provides construction management.

Keith Perry, MNA Disaster Response Specialist, traveled from Melbourne Florida to Nashville to provide construction management to the groups working at four different sites. It is hard to maintain social distancing while doing relief work, but the Nashvillians proved it possible as seen above.

The first four Sheds of Hope were completed by the end of the day, and the homeowners were able to begin moving their recover personal belongings inside, now they can begin repairing their homes.

Betsy Browne and her three adult children stopped by one of the build sites to say hello and encourage the teams. We are so thankful for them and their contribution to this important ministry that John poured six years of his life into. As you may remember, Betsy and John moved to Nashville last year.

Let’s keep praying that ALL the current restrictions will be relaxed soon and that churches can relaunch relief efforts full force, sooner than later. Nashville Presbytery is planning another Saturday Sheds of Hope build soon to help four more families in this same area.

Thanks to Dick Forrester, a Deacon at Lake Oconee PCA, we have refreshed the file download section of Sheds of Hope website. Lake Oconee PCA has a lot of experience pre-building Sheds of Hope, with about 65 builds under their belts. We recently asked Dick to take a look at the files that were hosted on the site and update them, and add a few new files that teams regularly need. We give thanks for our partnership with Lake Oconee PCA and for Dick’s leadership and friendship to MNA Disaster Response and Sheds of Hope.

Click Here to visit the download page. There you will find a number of important user files that are helpful when planning for a new build, budgeting and purchasing materials, pre-building, transporting, and setting-up Sheds of Hope. There is also links to a booklet explaining the benefit of a SmartBench, and a brochure about Sheds of Hope.

Take a look and let us know what you think. As typical, the plans for Sheds of Hope are living documents; we are always improving the plan to reflect our commitment to improving the quality of the Sheds and improving the speed in which we can set-up Sheds on homeowners properties. Updating the ‘files in the computer’ is our effort to give our teams the resources they need to streamline their process.

Dubbed the “The City of Opportunity” at its founding, Seneca SC still claims its title, maybe even more so now than when the city originally chartered in 1874 as “Seneca City’. The city was originally named for a 1700’s Indian village, Esseneca, located on the banks of the nearby Seneca River. Now many, many new opportunities exist to rebuild this community located in the ‘Upcountry’ region of South Carolina. 21 tornadoes swept across the state on Easter Sunday and into the early morning hours of Monday wrecking everything in their paths. Nine people lost their lives in SC and over 1,000 homes have severe damage. The tornado was on the ground for 14 minutes, traveled almost 17 miles, and experts say Its final rating was a high-end EF3. 

When the deadly tornado touched down it immediately wrecked the local Borg-Warner automotive parts plant. It is truly amazing that only one person was killed at the plant, a contract security guard. The workers there produce 4-WD transfer cases for Chrysler/RAM, Ford, and Toyota. Those automakers depend on the plant for the major drive-train component for the Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra and Ford F-150, SuperDuty trucks, Expedition, Explorer, Transit van, Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln Aviator. Having the plant out of commission will obviously create a major global ripple effect for these manufacturers unless they can get it back on line quickly, which is unlikely.

The Seneca Borg-Warner 4-WD Transfer Case Plant Suffered Major Damage

Once the rescue workers cleared the area, MNA Disaster Response deployed Sheds of Hope at the request of Crossgate PCA. Calvary Presbytery sent volunteers from as far away as Newberry SC, and Highlands Presbytery volunteers came from Elizabethton TN. Crossgate identified four families that needed storage capacity for their recovered personal belonging during their anticipated arduous rebuilding process, and they received Sheds of Hope on Saturday.

Unstrapping, unwrapping, and unloading Sheds of Hope in Seneca SC.
Crossgate PCA members were joined by Calvary Presbytery and Highlands Presbytery Volunteers to build Sheds of Hope
Lots of enthusiatic helpers speeds the process of setting up a new Shed of Hope.
The last of the four Sheds of Hope built on Saturday

Please keep praying for Seneca and Crossgate PCA, they have a long road ahead, but they are fully committed to restoration. To know more about Crossgate please navigate to https://www.crossgatepca.org. Crossgate will be working with Sheds of Hope in the future, once they are back on their feet, to establish their own Sheds of Hope building team. On the Crossgate PCA home page is a link to donate to the fund that has been established to fund the repairs to both of their pastor’s homes damaged by the tornado.

Tennessee earned the nickname after the state’s overwhelming involvement in the War of 1812. A little over 15 years after gaining statehood, patriotic Tennesseans were eager to participate in the war effort. With General Andrew Jackson, a fellow Tennessean, leading the charge, over 1,500 soldiers stepped up to the plate. This was especially true in the Battle of New Orleans, the final major battle of the war, where American troops defeated the British with overwhelming help from those helpful Tennesseans.

Now, just a few days after a dangerous tornado routed Chattanooga, many Tennessee VOLUNTEERS are helping bring restoration to this community.

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MNA Disaster Response transported the first load of Sheds of Hope to Covenant PCA in Chattanooga this afternoon. Another load will arrive tomorrow morning.

Tennessee Valley Presbytery VOLUNTEERS, joined Covenant PCA VOLUNTEERS to unload the Sheds in the parking lot of Covenant PCA, which is becoming the staging area for the Sheds of Hope project.  A smaller trailer will be used to transport the Sheds to the homeowner properties. Pray for good weather tomorrow as the first Sheds will be constructed on displaced homeowners property.

After the War of 1812, the Tennessee VOLUNTEERS didn’t stop volunteering. The nickname became even more applicable after the Mexican-American War in 1846 when, after the Secretary of War asked the state for 2,800 soldiers, Tennessee sent over 30,000. Today, MNA asked for a team of 6 VOLUNTEERS to help unload, but many more showed up to help. The VOLUNTEER spirit is alive and well in Tennessee yet today.

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Each Shed of Hope weighs about 1,200 lbs. And as the saying goes, “many hands make light work”. A large group of VOLUNTEERS assembled to get the components offloaded.

MNA will send at least one more load of Sheds of Hope tomorrow from the Rome Georgia Warehouse and Training Center. To know more about the campus, please navigate to http://mnawarehouse.com. The warehouse has regular Saturday work days; volunteers join together to prepare relief kits, preform campus maintenance, undertake campus improvement projects, and eat pizza. Why not VOLUNTEER soon?

MNA Charles H. Jones Family Disaster Response Center, Rome Georgia

A series of destructive tornadoes slammed the Southeastern US on Easter Sunday and Monday, April 12–13, 2020. With at least 29 tornadic fatalities reported, this is the most deadly tornado outbreak since April 2014 when a similar event flattened communities in OK, KS, AR, MS, and TN.  Sheds of Hope has been activated; we are deploying to Heidelberg MS tomorrow, and to Seneca SC on Friday. We are in discussion with leaders in TN and AL as well. Please pray for Godly wisdom as we plan.

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Marty Huddleston will transport the first 4 Sheds of Hope from the MNA Rome Georgia Warehouse & Training Center tomorrow to Heidelberg PCA, where he will meet up with the Sheds of Hope setup team from Covenant PCA Auburn Alabama. Keith Perry, MNA Disaster Response Specialist Florida will join the team. Pray for a smooth uneventful journey for Marty, the team from Auburn, and for Keith. Especially pray for the lovely homeowners that are receiving these Sheds, they have been through a lot.

Also, we are also deploying Sheds to Seneca SC where the community served by Crossgate SC suffered catastrophic damage. Seneca SC is in the ‘Upcountry or Up State’ area of SC, not too far from Clemson. Crossgate is asking for Sheds of Hope asap.

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Seneca South Carolina

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Sheds of Hope being loaded today in Rome Georgia

A few pieces of the puzzle still need to be identified, so please pray for that. Calvary Presbytery is sending volunteers, and we are recruiting a team from Tennessee which is in Highland Presbytery to train the team from Calvary. Pray this will be worked out in time to transport the Sheds there so that we can take advantage of the upcoming saturday to get the first 4 built.

MNA Sheds of Hope teams are taking a Covid-19 pandemic forced break for a few weeks. We continue to have regular discussions with churches in tornado-trounced Nashville and Cookeville TN. As soon as travel and gathering restrictions are lifted we will likely be active in both communities. Pray the restrictions are lifted soon so that we can resume helping families get back on their feet.

In the meantime we continue to plan and prepare, using the time we have been given to better equip for the future. One project we have been undertaking is fabricating wallboard supports. We temporarily fasten these to the 4 corners of a Shed of Hope while it is being assembled on a homeowner’s property to support aluminum walk-boards. The walk-boards permit volunteers to safely stand at an elevated level while roofing the shed.

8 newly fabricated walk-board supports, enough for 2 teams

In the foreground of the above picture you can see the new stack of 8 steel supports. Behind, there is a wooden version. We finally disposed of all of the wooden ones because they were thrown together in a hurry during the numerous Sheds of Hope builds in Panama City last year when teams were building in multiple locations at once. They weren’t intended for long-term use, and had deteriorated quite badly. The steel ones were designed by John Browne, and really speed up the roof sheeting and shingling process, and are lighter than the ones constructed of wood. The alternative is to work strictly on ladders, which limits how many volunteers can contribute.

The finished walk-board supports, ready to be put to use(upside-down).

Now we have 3 complete sets of supports, since it takes 4 for each shed build. We would like to have at least 3 more sets of these supports so that we can safely equip 6 teams. Do you have a fabricator/welder in your church or network? Please share this post with them and ask if they would be willing to invest a day fabricating a couple sets of supports; their efforts will bless the socks off many storm-crushed families. The MNA Warehouse in Rome GA has the tools on-hand to accomplish this-just add volunteers! A couple of volunteers could go there and fabricate them in one day, or they could build them at work, or at home. It could be a fun project for a few capable folks. Let us know!

Enjoy the entire video of these lovely RUF University of Kentucky students helping flooded homeowners in SC, but advance to about 5:20 to see the metal brackets and how they are used.

Sadly, we just found out that MNA Disaster Response has postponed the upcoming Site Manager Training that was scheduled for May 22-24 in Rome GA at the MNA Charles H. Jones Family Disaster Relief Center. Bummer! The postponement is due to the uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. =[

The three-day gathering was designed to equip and train those who would serve as future Site Managers at MNA Disaster Response recovery sites. Site Managers are in charge of every aspect of operations at a particular recovery site, and insure continuity through capable leadership.

Postponed

We are especially bummed to learn this since Sheds of Hope was scheduled to conduct an important workshop at the event, “Sheds of Hope: A valuable resource to Site Managers and those in need”. Please join us in praying for MNA Disaster Response leadership as they seek to reschedule this event during October or November.