The Team (by Kim Streich)

Many of the team members will be sharing stories of the people we met along the way while we were in Mississippi.  There are amazing stories, heartbreaking stories and stories that are hard to believe.  But I want to tell you about the men and women that went on this trip and were on the team.  Each of them accepted the call from God to go to serve others.  Each of them has their own story to tell and each of them had something they were leaving behind.  It may have been for only a week, but many of them have issues going on in their own lives and yet they accepted God’s call.  They are amazing men and women and I hope to give you just a sense of their character in this brief story.


Each had different skill levels, each came with an idea of what they wanted to do and accomplish and we ranged in age from 20 – 64.  Five were male and seven were female.  Despite our differences, I unequivocally believe that each of us was chosen by God to be on this team.  We were the body of Christ in every sense.  Some were hands and some were feet.  But all exemplified God.  When something needed to be done, it got done because no one felt it beneath them to haul a load out to the curb.  When one got distracted, another took over.  And by the end of the week each knew that our trip was not about the house, but the people who inhabited the house.


Brad Carlson was a man of few words, but in his quiet manner was made a powerful impact on those around him.  When he spoke you listened because you knew he was going to illustrate the power and nature of God through the words he spoke.  He worked tirelessly and each house his team worked on was done with care.  He knew that each held memories and that we needed to be sensitive to those who lived there.


Don Elliot has a crazy sense of humor that you didn’t want to get going while he was driving since he closed his eyes when he laughed too hard!  What most impressed me was his lack of fear when it came to asking Lance about his relationship with Christ.  What a celebration we had when Lance accepted the Lord on the day we left for home.  All because Don was not afraid to ask….


Fred Burger has a loving spirit and is a wonderful father.  When he talked about his daughter he would glow with love for her.  This man has a generous heart.  While most of us wanted to stay in Mississippi, we couldn’t.  Fred not only said it, he’s living it.  He is going down on week 3 as well!  Not to mention he was up cooking every morning at the church while the rest of hit the snooze button then worked a full day at a house.  Fred always helped whenever one of us needed it and we loved having him on our trip.


Gloria Hammonds was our eldest in the group and showed us “youngsters” up!  There were times we had to tell her to sit down and rest because she was pushing it too hard.  This woman never complained no matter what job she did and it most often was sweeping up the rooms after we finished pulling drywall off of them.  The most amazing thing was that just a couple of years ago she wasn’t able to walk.  To come this far and work so hard knowing what she had overcome inspired all of us.  We all said we hoped we could be just like her when we were her age!


Hannah Hanschu is so caring.  She was our resident first aid person that fit her personality perfectly.  During the day she make sure we drank water, took breaks and bandaged our scrapes. Then later that night even though she was exhausted herself would climb under the table to put ice on my foot and ride with members from another team to the hospital because there was no one else to go.  She meticulously went through possessions at a house and treated each thing with love.  When she found something that hadn’t been destroyed she celebrated like it was her own memento.


Heidi Durtka was our cheerleader.  She has so much energy and enthusiasm that was so desperately needed some days when our bodies were weary.  She gave everything a youthful perspective and I for one learned a lot from her.  She is a woman of God and has lovely spirit.  She would sing all day to the Lord and worship Him from sunup to sundown.


Jamie Owens was our talker!  She can tell a story that could make you laugh till your sides hurt or make you cry.  She is a prayer warrior and her heart for God is on her sleeve!  She makes it known that she is a believer, but in a very non threatening way.  It was always in a way that others would look at her and say I want what she has.  To watch her bond with Anna who needed a mother figure at that moment was almost looking in on a very private moment.  And then to watch her despair over Anna because she hadn’t asked her about her relationship with God broke all of us. 


Liz McCafferty is a trooper.  She has so many physical and medical issues that she deals with on a daily basis and yet she was very determined to come on this trip.  Nothing was going to stop her from helping out and she never stopped.  She is stronger than anyone would ever imagine.  But I loved watching her talk about Lance.  She was so affected by him and bonded with him.  I know that Lance affected her deeply and that she will always worry about him.


Matt Koch was our stress reliever.  He has a dry sense of humor and knows every line in every movie (at least it seemed like it).  He kept us in stitches (ask him about WOW) and was a frequent euchre player at night.  He is a gentleman from the word go.  When we got off the van Wednesday afternoon looking like we had all been hit by a Mack Truck and disappointed we couldn’t get the last hour of work done, he ran over to carry our bags up to our room.  I cannot say enough about his character.


Paulo Ivanov is a very gentle man.  But Pacco, as we affectionately call him, is a ham!  He cracked us up with what we call his Paccoisms.  And don’t give him a hose – he loves to play with the water!!!  He may have joked a lot about taking time off and going to the beach, but he worked hard and rarely took a break. 


Suzie Burley is Liz’s sister or sista as we call them.  She has a laugh that is so contagious!  She has a very caring nature.  Always worrying about everyone and she has a heart for animals.  I think the stories regarding the animals upset her as much as the ones about the people.  She is sensitive and having spent the week with her know it touched her deeply. 


I loved getting to know each of these men and women this past week and each has been changed forever.  We are not the same people we were when we left.  Each grew closer to God and we have formed a bond through our experiences.  God knew what he was doing when he formed this team of strangers.



Brad adds:


Kim Streich was designated our spiritual leader of the group.  She took this responsibility seriously, and did a fantastic job of preparing & leading group devotions, and checking up on us emotionally.  All in her spare time.  Like anyone had spare time.  Kim worked so hard, never complaining, and has such a sweet spirit, and a heart for God and people.  She is now a "sista", in every sense of the word!


Kim also possesses the gift of edification.  She is so great at seeing the good, building each of us up, and supporting us with prayer.  Our last night together in Nashville on the trip home, Kim spoke to us about how we were all part of the Body and had fulfilled our roles so well.  We ended up praising each team-member for the strengths we had found in each of them, and left on a Holy-high to meet Team 2!