My Friend Naomi Dunovan told me that PAstor Fenske and some Immanuel Grand Forks folks had run over to Minot to help – I asked he to write something and she did –
He’s hardly recognizable, but this is Pastor Craig Fenske of Immanuel, Grand Forks, behind that mask,” Tuesday, he and three of his parishioners: Gary Bethke, Adam Drake and Ray Steffen, drove to Minot to spend the rest of the week working in flood recovery.
Besides the warmth within their hearts, they donned the warmth of quilts as gifts for flood victims from both Immanuel and Redeemer congregations.
“We’re on West Central Avenue in Minot,” Pastor Fenske said Thursday afternoon by phone. “The street is totally evacuated. A lot of homes are without windows and doors and the water line looks like the water was 8-feet up on the house. We are about a block from the river and this was one of the most devastated parts.”
Work teams are based out of Lutheran Disaster Response headquarters set up at Our Savior Lutheran Church on Minot’s south side. Each day, workers check in at for their assignments. They are given a sack lunch to take with them for noon. A hot evening meal is provided by Minot churches. Two of the nights they enjoyed lasagna and sloppy Joes, Pastor Fenske said.
Two other couples are assigned with the Immanuel team. One is from South Dakota and one from Ohio. Pastor Fenske said LDR places the homes of young single parents and the widowed on the priority list.
“The first day we worked on a house for a young widowed mother with five children,” Pastor Fenske said. “The second day we worked on the home of an 80-year old gentleman, also widowed. We cleaned out his basement.”
Thursday the team was at their third job site. “We’re basically gutting the first floor of a two story house,” Pastor Fenske added. “We’re taking everything down to the bare studs. We are demolishing and hauling buckets of broken dry wall and plaster out to the curb.”
After a hard day of work, the Immanuel team drives 50 miles north and west to Gary’s farm home near Upham, N.D., to get a good night’s rest. The next day they eat breakfast at the farm where Adam is said to be the chief cook whipping up such things as French toast and omelets.
Pastor Fenske was not serving Immanuel when Grand Forks had its flood in 1997 so this is a new encounter for him.
“This kind of devastation is something I’ve never experienced before,” he said. “You drive through block after block after block and see the signs of this flood – windows and doors out. Personally, I don’t know how the people can find it within themselves to come back.”
Adam and his family lived in Minot before they moved to Grand Forks so it’s especially sad for him to see this devastation. When they go to a job site, “it’s like, where do you start,” Adam said. “It’s a depressing feeling when you first walk in but it’s a good feeling when you get things done.”
Theirs and so many others are the hands of God descending upon Minot.

Gary Bethke and Adam Drake

 Thanks Naomi and the folks in white.