BDM truck parked outside house under construction by volunteers following tornado in Holton, IN.
BDM volunteers rebuild a home following tornado in Holton, Ind.
Photo by Zach Wolgemuth

Messages of thanks from Holton, Ind. 

Jane Yount 
June 11, 2013

“On March 2, 2012 our small town was rocked by a tornado,” said a message to Brethren Disaster Ministries from Mike and Penny of Holton, Indiana. They shared that, immediately after the storm, volunteers flowed into town to help clean up the debris. But within a few months the storm was all but forgotten. “Our yards were clean, but our homes were still gone,” the couple said.

Almost a year later, “as the outlook of our home looked bleak, a shining light known as the Church of the Brethren came into our lives,” Mike and Penny continued. “Upon their arrival our concerns were addressed, and we were reassured that they will not leave until the job was completed.” The family is pleased with the progress, saying, “Every week that passes a new group of people arrives, putting their love into our homes.”

Philip Deiwert, volunteer coordinator with the Holton Long Term Recovery Group, seems to be equally pleased. He shared, “I have been working with this project since last April (2012), and by far the best and most impactful thing I've done was getting us connected to Brethren Disaster Ministries.”

Acknowledging that “disaster recovery is a long, hard process,” Deiwert said, “There are moments that…make you question if you're helping the right people in the right way. It would be easy to lose sight of why we're doing what we're doing. You, as volunteers coming in fresh and enthusiastic each week, don't allow us to do so.”

As a result of BDM volunteers’ gift of manual labor, the estimated completion date for 8 newly rebuilt homes has been moved up from late fall to August, with 3 of the families expected to be back in their homes yet this month. Deiwert encourages others to volunteer, “If you're thinking about going on a mission trip to a disaster location, do it. If you've already been, thank you. We absolutely could not do this without you.”

Mike and Penny would agree. They ended their note by saying, “Some have said that if BDM had not arrived someone else would have stepped up to help. But the fact is that God sent you to us! Not just to drive a few nails, but to become part of our families.”