Oct 6, 2008

Week In Review

Okay, I haven't posted in over a week so I'm going to "try" to make this as short and sweet as possible. If you know me really well, I know you are laughing right now.

So I was finally able to volunteer at a Hurricane Ike shelter. It wasn't what I was expecting but interesting none the less. There were only 78 people at the shelter I volunteered at by the time I got there. And my shift was noon to 6:00 p.m. so most people were gone during the day and only a few people remained at the shelter. They encourage everyone to get out of the shelter and see the city so they aren't confined to the inside of the shelter too much. I spent five and a half hours of my six hour shift hanging out with kids, playing games, watching movies, drawing and doing crafts. We aren't supposed to be babysitters while we volunteer but there really wasn't anything else to do. I spoke with many adults at the beginning of my shift and they didn't need any help with paperwork or filling our forms and they had all the information they needed except I did find out for one man when the buses for Galveston County would be coming to return them. At that point Galveston Island had been opened for people to return but not the rest of the county. So he had to wait another day or two before he could go home. But I was able to use one of the computers at the shelter to see satellite images of Galveston after the hurricane and tell him his home was still standing. So he felt relieved he would have a home to return to. At almost 6:00 p.m. a meeting was announced for all adults so all children were sent back to us in the kid's area which had actually been closed because some parents were not staying with their children and leaving the shelter completely. I ended up staying about 45 minutes longer than my shift because I helped with dinner. Everyone shows back up at the end of the day for dinner. I enjoyed the time I spent there. I wish I could have been more helpful but many of the parents stuck at the shelter with their kids got to get a break and rest so it was helpful to them. I was excited about going back two days later for the same shift. I went home and dug through boxes in the garage and found a few VHS children's movies since they have a TV-VCR combo and gathered a bunch of coloring books and children's reading books we have in a toy box for visiting kids. But then I got really sick with a sore throat, congestion, headache and lovely green drainage the night before. I was hoping I would feel better that morning before my shift but I didn't so I had to cancel. I was very sure the evacuees wouldn't want me there. They have enough going on and I didn't want to add sickness to their troubles. I was disappointed but it took me almost a week before I felt better and getting lots of rest helped.

The next weekend was filled with Mommaerts family events from Friday through Monday. We took Roger's sister Cindy out to dinner for her birthday Friday night to Taverna on 2nd Street. We had a great time and the food was delicious. Saturday we window shopped for furniture ideas for the new house before we spent the night making homemade salsa for Roger's niece Cyrene's first birthday and baby dedication celebration the next day. We spent all Sunday up in Northwest Austin for that. And then on Monday, I took Roger's two aunts, Edita from Panama and Chela from Los Angeles, who have been visiting for several months, sightseeing around Austin. Thank goodness his aunt Chela speaks and understands English because Edita speaks no English at all. We had a lot of fun, took some good pictures, met Roger for lunch and they got to see a lot of the real Austin.

Our community group at church started meeting last month and we are really enjoying it. We meet twice a month on Wednesday nights for bible study and fellowship and the other two weeks we participate in an outreach with our respective neighbors and then the whole group participates in a community-/city-wide mission. This Saturday our whole group mission was to volunteer at our church's monthly homeless grillout in downtown Austin. We helped by bringing water and chips and then working the line in different positions as the burgers were grilled and passed out. I had a great time but I had an easy job. At least it was easy for me. I collected tickets from individuals and controlled the flow as the burgers were done. This kept the grillers from getting overwhelmed and kept the homeless from having to stand around waiting for burgers to be done. So I got to socialize a lot. Everyone was super nice. It really was the perfect position for me. Roger took lots of pictures and socialized while he was doing it. There were people who's sole responsibility was to socialize with people in line so I wasn't the only one talking the whole time. Even the trash collectors got to talk a lot too. I met some really wonderful people. This was my first time to work with homeless people so my fears, expectations and preconceived notions were blown out of the water. It was a really awesome experience and I can't wait to do it again.

We have been really busy, as usual. But we're going to try our hardest to not add any events to the month of October (except for the stuff we already have on our calendar) so we can get more stuff done to our house to make it ready to go on the market. We are excited to say we drove by the new house yesterday after church and the surveyors have been out and have marked the lot boundaries and the house corners. And the house to the right of ours is already up and almost closed in. They are putting the brick on the exterior this week which will close it in completely. That was super fast. It actually took less than a month. And the house to the left of ours is exactly at the same point as our house, only surveyed. We think we met the lady who purchased next to us, but we're not completely sure. You know we'll be meeting her as soon as possible regardless if she was there the same day we started the process. It won't be long before they break ground. We will know when that happens because we have to have a meeting with the builder before they do it. We still don't know if the permits are back from the city, but we'll find out this week. Everything is rolling along smoothly and we're getting more and more excited as time goes by.

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