Georgia Gardner is the sister of Rhonda Verduczo from Operation Isaac, which is how we found out about her case.
Georgia is a single mom who in spite of having two adult children has adopted her sister’s (not Rhonda’s) daughter, Amanda. Amanda is 10 years old. Her birth mother has been in and out of prison in California on drug charges. Amanda has some behavioral and learning issues due to her birth mother being on drugs during pregnancy. Their house survived Katrina even though they are on the Gulf side of the railroad tracks in Waveland, MS. Georgia works at one of the local casinos. She was able to get a tiny efficiency apartment fixed up upstairs so she and Amanda could live there, sleeping in the same bed, while the downstairs is being finished. It has been 22 long months for them and they are ready to get back into the house so things can return to “normal”. Several mission teams have done a significant amount of work; however, things had been at a complete standstill for about nine months. Georgia was stuck and really didn’t know where to turn. We decided to shine some light on her case and see if we, with the Lord’s help, could get her back in her home.
In May we were instrumental in getting her case assigned to a Case Manager at the Methodist Camp Gulfside. They have been successful in obtaining a grant from The Salvation Army for the HVAC system, kitchen cabinets, bath tub and other materials. In addition Camp Gulfside provided laminate flooring and additional materials. Additional grants are being applied for the balance of the materials. This should be sufficient to get Georgia and Amanda back into their home. Now all they need is labor and that is where you come in! Praise the Lord!
Harrodsburg UMC in Harrodsburg, KY and Buncombe Street UMC in Greenville, SC teamed up to begin to finish the inside of the house. There was plenty of yard work as well earlier in the week which led to the donation of a new lawn mower to Georgia by the Harrodsburg team. One of the accomplishments of the week was the installation of the HVAC system by the contractor which we all were grateful for. We felt like it was the Lord showing us His favor!
I am always amazed at God’s sense of humor. He had us installing a fireplace when the heat index was 120 degrees! Fortunately, He is also faithful in that we had Clint Raymes to do the framing, Don Alward to do the rock work for the hearth, Bird McCormac for the sheetrock, Brian Tyler and Jon for support and Donna Tyler for painting.
There were plenty of person hours spent on installing laminate flooring, doors, trim, sheetrock, plumbing and painting. The team with members from Mt. Pleasant UMC in North Carolina; Lexington, VA; Rock Hill, SC and Greenville, SC did a great job of getting Georgia and Amanda really close to being able to move in.
I would like to offer our thanks to Bob Wallace at Camp Gulfside for sending the teams over to finish up the remaining work on the house that included a significant amount of trim work, replacement of the kitchen window, hanging a couple of doors and some electrical work. Before we got there this week the inspector had been over and pointed out some additional electrical work to be done. That included a couple of bad receptacles, installing smoke detectors and other troubleshooting which Bill Magyar from Crofton, Maryland and Bill Slate from Taylors, SC did with a joyful heart as though for the Lord. In fact, they worked so well together it prompted Georgia to ask how long they had known each other. She was expecting them to say 10 years instead of 10 hours! They were able to get everything done but the GFI breakers for the bedroom circuits. That will take professional help which Georgia is in the process of finding. She still feels that she can get her son-in-law to help who is a licensed electrician.
On a positive note, they were able to get a Katrina Cottage, provided by the state, for her son, Ronnie, to live in. It has been set up further back on the lot than the FEMA trailer, which has been removed. He will begin living there as soon as the utilities are hooked up. For now he is upstairs and Georgia and Amanda are basically living in the house. That lends even more emphasis to getting the final inspection done. Things were in disarray so I was unable to take “after” pictures. Look for those after the next trip in November.
Thanks to all you servants who have helped return Georgia and Amanda to their home after two long years of just getting by. They are most appreciative.
On November 13 Reverend Jerry Hill led the Home Dedication services for Operation Amanda. Those of you who have been a part of one of these services know how emotional they are as we give our Lord Jesus Christ all the praise and glory as the cornerstone upon which the home and lives have been rebuilt. “We are but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” Ephesians 2: 19 – 22.
During the ceremony Georgia was presented a handmade cross as a remembrance of the many teams who had labored in the name of Jesus to rebuild her home. She expressed her heart-felt thanks to all who were a part of the effort. “ Without the help of all the wonderful people who came down here and gave of their time, talents and money, I would not be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas in my home. I truly have much to be thankful for.”
Along with our crew from South Carolina and Virginia we were blessed to have two large teams from Pennsylvania and Kansas in attendance. They were staying at the MS Methodist Conference’s Camp Gulfside. Bob and Nancy Wallace were instrumental in sending teams to put the finishing touches on the home. The Conference and UMCOR had also provided funding for the HVAC, floor coverings and other items. After the dedication we all went over to the Camp for gumbo and homemade ice cream!
Also in attendance were Rhonda and Isaac Verduzco, Operation Isaac; and Regina, Doug and Macayla Spiers, Operation Macayla. It is so rewarding to have the families from former projects involved in our current projects. Thanks to each of you, this is our fourth Home Dedication in the past 12 months! Praise the Lord!