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When I was first told that a group of students from Texas churches were working on storm-damaged homes in the area, I drove out expecting to find a few teenagers painting and mending holes.

I have my own teenagers who were at that moment sleeping at home with dirty dishes in the sink and at least two boxes of cereal nearby, but not inside a perfectly acceptable trash can.

There were no sleeping teenagers on Barricknall Lane in Port Arthur on Wednesday.

The 24 students, along with five adults who came from churches in Kingwood and Brownfield, were dispersed from the roof to the rooms inside the house, which was flooded by Harvey in 2017. Several people were on the roof of the house, removing the roof, throwing old materials were passed to another group who loaded them into garbage cans.

One of the students who transported the used materials was only 12 years old.

There were more students inside with power tools and gutting rooms with the intention of replacing and painting the drywall.

And it was so inspiring to watch. It was tempting to run home, change clothes, and return to them.

This will be the very day I gave myself a mental achievement trophy for learning how to change the battery in my car’s remote control by watching a YouTube video and there were kids who weren’t even old enough to drive a car by replacing the entire roof.

The mission was a service provided by Bounce Student Disaster Recovery, which works through Texas Baptists. Churches from across the state are joining and traveling to different places to help those in need.

A special landlady in Barricknall Lane lost almost all of her furniture in Harvey and lived in a house with no floor and rotting walls for five years.

By the end of the day, it will no longer be a burden to bear, all because of the kids who could have spent the summer watching Netflix but instead took their faith and desire to serve in strange cities and help strangers.

I spoke with some of them about their motivations and lessons learned. And although some of them gave funny and unexpected, but frankly honest answers, the main idea was the same.

“God is above everything,” said 17-year-old Francisco Garza.

Garza is from Brownfield and was on his first mission with Bounce.

Also on his first trip was 16-year-old Blake Brizendine.

“I had never built a roof before, so I learned how to do it,” he said. “They’ve been fighting damage for a long time, so it’s nice to help them and put a roof on them.”

When asked what he learned, 16-year-old Danian Usseri made me laugh.

“I found out that it is very humid here. True,” said the teenager from west Texas. “A couple of people I didn’t expect to vomit ended up throwing up on the first day.”

But at least Ussery’s comments only illustrate the dedication shown by a group of young people. And he went on to say that even he found inspiration by watching others work.

And they inspired not only each other, but also the adults around them.

The group was joined by Julia Evers, whose mother owns the residence. Evers and her brother had been working on the house since the Harvey days, trying to make repairs themselves when they could.

“I enjoy being with them and helping them do things and also trying to teach and guide them,” she said.

To learn more about Bounce, call 214-828-5123 or visit texasbaptists.org and click on the ministries tab.

Monique Batson is the editor of Port Arthur Newsmedia. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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