Thursday, January 5, 2012

How I spent my Christmas Break - By Avery Ory

Dear Friend,
"A week of service and showing God’s light to the people of Joplin was an amazing way to spend my Christmas break!" Is the response Avery gives when asked why she spent her Christmas break in Joplin, Missouri.

Avery is a Freshman at Texas A&M.  As a frequent volunteer with drops of grace we have come to know that Avery has a passionate heart for service to others. This Christmas, Avery, along with 16 others (a mix of college students & adults), went to Joplin, MO to continue to help with repair & reconstruction in the wake of the devastating tornado that blew through in May 2011.

Avery brought JOY & hope, and some pretty amazing mudding, taping, and painting skills, to people who were holding on day-to-day as they were facing Christmas for the first time since the tornado whirled through their home town.

We have been blessed with fantastic volunteers and thank Avery for sharing her story..."But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..." (Galatians 5:22,23)

 Be Blessed. Peace.
Wall Art - Joplin, Missouri 2011
When most people think of holiday vacation, they think of ski slopes or white sand beaches. Know what my family thinks of? Sheet rocking. Well, that’s what we thought of this year when we found out about drops of grace’s college Christmas mission to Joplin, MO. All four of us jumped at the opportunity to do something we love during the holiday season.  
After a long day of driving and sing-a-longs in the car, the group of 17 arrived in Joplin with our good lookin’ trailer full of tools, gear, and Christmas gifts for 2 families in tow. I worked on the “Sib” team with my brother and another set of siblings: hence the clever name. We worked on Mrs. Irma’s house, a small 1000 square foot home that had been heavily damaged in the storm. When we first pulled up the first thing that I noticed was the lack of Christmas decorations. Madi and I discussed that we needed to fix that for her. Mrs. Irma is an elderly woman who is currently living in the half of her house that wasn’t damaged by the storm. All of her belongings were boxed up and stacked in different rooms, needless to say a very crowded space. The ceiling in her living area was in terrible shape, the wood was rotting and insulation was popping out of the cracks. Did I mention that the insulation was infested with some kind of mold? Not the kind of environment that is good for an elderly woman to be living in! The closet in her bedroom needed a ceiling so heat wouldn’t escape out of it; the bedroom needed to be painted, and the bathroom needed a LOT of work. That bathroom was my challenge this trip. It needed mudding for all of the drywall, the bathtub needed to be secured to the wall, siding for the bath needed to be put up and the window needed to be framed. Oh, and the entire thing needed to be sanded then painted. It was overwhelming to see that so much work needed to be done in such a small space. But when drops of grace sets their mind to help someone, that someone gets helped! We had 3 full days and a half day on Thursday to complete the job and it took every single second to get the work finished, but after all the challenges and difficult situations that arose from the week, I became closer with the people I worked with (thanks Tanner, Madi, Diane, brother, and Bobbers! You guys rock), made an impression on a woman who was devastated from the storm, and got to see God working in the midst of destruction.

There is one more thing that I want to tell you about my trip. Like I said before, my work site got together and all agreed that Mrs. Irma needed a little Christmas spirit in her home. When I asked her if she was excited about the holiday she simply responded with “Well dear, I hadn’t thought much about it”. OKAY, NOW WE DEFINITELY ARE GETTING THIS LADY A TREE. I say that sentence all in caps to show you how much determination we had to give this woman a good Christmas. Bobbers, Madi and Taylor went to the Walgreens, who so graciously let us use their bathroom 5 times a day (thank ya’ll for the hospitality!), and picked up a tree and some ornaments. Now what’ s a tree without presents under it? On the next potty break we bought Mrs. Irma a small gift. The whole group helped decorate this 3 foot tree at dinner that night. It wasn’t much, but we all thought the tree was pretty and would bring Irma some cheer. As we left her house for the last time on that Thursday we all presented her with the gift and the tree and Mrs. Irma was so overwhelmed. “I’ve never felt this way before!” she said over and over as she cried and looked at our offering. We all gave her hugs and left with a smile on our faces, knowing that we had helped to make her Christmas just a little brighter. If you’re reading this, I hope you had a great Christmas too, because I sure know I did. A week of service and showing God’s light to the people of Joplin was an amazing way to spend my Christmas break! If you’re thinking about doing some mission work, call up drops of grace because those people can make it happen!

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. –James 2:26

Team 2: Avery Ory,Tanner Dendy
Madison Dendy, Taylor Ory, Bob Eskridge
Miss Irma, Diane Bouchard

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our Domestic Program - Karah Ricketts talk at 2011 Ripple Effect

edited for readability: Karah Ricketts - VP Domestic Missions talk at the 2011 Ripple Effect Banquet on September 24, 2011

Hi, thank you for being such a great group tonight.

I am Karah Ricketts. Tonight, I am talking about our Domestic program.

Back in 2008 when we first started hearing God’s call to “Go..” we knew we were going to work internationally, but our hearts have always been right here at home too. We grew up doing local mission work and knew that we would need to keep that part of drops of grace alive and vibrant.

We began our Domestic program working on hurricane torn areas on the coast of Texas: working in LaMarque and Beaumont.

While on the coast, back in Williamson County, Texas, tropical storm Hermine was pouring down...
In September 2010, Tropical Storm Hermine sat upon Williamson County and dumped more rain than what it would take to get us out of the drought now. Over 600 homes were affected in one way or another. Unfortunately, for many home owners, FEMA did not declare this area a Federal Disaster.

drops of grace partnered with VOAD, Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster-Williamson County to begin the vetting process of assisting the local homeowners here. This was a great opportunity for drops of grace. We were able to work alongside some of the finest nonprofits in Williamson County. Weekly meetings took place for months as we worked on and narrowed down the list of homeowners and marked them off as they finished each house. Many homes were bulldozed and only 8 homes came to the table for assistance from the county. Many homes were partners with local churches and only a few fell into the cracks where drops of grace would be able to assist. We worked with ADRN, Austin Disaster Relief Network, The Serving Center, United Way, the First United Methodist church of Round Rock as well as the county OEM (office of emergency management).

Here we are, a full year out, we are almost complete with the wrapping up of these homes. Over $60,000 was raised to put toward the rebuild of the 8 homes but the man power was almost 100% donated. I will estimate that we, as a community, have logged in a huge number of hours. There are several of us in this room tonight from the various agencies who alone have logged in more than 100 days of over 8 hours each day in the past year and I know I have seen many of you working on these homes. We were privileged to host a young ladies birthday party, her 18th birthday at that, at one house in which she and her friends painted the entire home in one day! They celebrated with the owner; had cake and then continued painting. This is part of what drops of grace is all about. This young lady was such an inspiration that others have come forward wanting to do the same for their graduation party & birthday party - this is a true ripple effect!  She is off at college, still doing mission work, helping others and placing drops of joy everywhere she goes. There is no doubt in my mind that her ripple will be in constant motion for the remainder of her life and will cause others around her to produce their own ripples in ways we might never know.

In Joplin, Missouri -

In April and May of this year, the United States took a hit of tornados all over. April alone produced 1032 and May added another 200 and 4 reached F5 categories.

drops of grace immediately called in to UMCOR to get on the list of rebuild groups willing to come and help. I knew we would have groups wanting to get together and go and help out and that is just what happened. We took many calls and inquiries about what and when drops of grace would go and help. Remember, the mission of drops of grace is to:

"hear and act on God’s call to partner with communities around the world to provide safe water, sanitation, health, education and shelter."

What does that mean with domestic response? What it means is that we are compassionate caring people who want to jump right in and help, but first, before we jump, we have to know what we are good at. We are good at relief & recovery.  As you heard Gregg Bouchard say, we are not first responders. We are relief & rebuilding and while we want to go and do, we “first hear & act on God’s call” we must be still and know that He is God, He will direct us where we need to be and when. In June, we received word that Joplin was ready for teams to begin coming in to rebuild. They came online sooner than Tuscaloosa, Alabama which was hit a month prior to Joplin. Off we went, on a mission…a mission to find a group to partner with.  Remember our mission statement…to partner with communities.  We went and we interviewed several agencies and we decided to invest our time and resources with a group called Relief Spark.  They are a group who are based in New Orleans, formed after Hurricane Katrina, but the founder is from Joplin. This group hit the ground running in Joplin the first week after the tornado hit. Ben Tarpley is a volunteer who runs this group on the ground. He began working with over 500 volunteers a day, not only doing case management, but finding groups to rebuild and fundraise.

We took a group of 10 individuals, 3 of whom have never participated in mission work prior to this, to Joplin in September for the Labor Day weekend. We were able to work on and provide a loving touch to 4 families. We put a new roof on the Kruegers’ house in less than 13 hours. We worked with Jennifer Morris, who is a young military girl who during the storm was helping people to safety in the local Walmart – where 8 died – she then spent the next long hours helping to pull people from the debris, all the while not realizing her own home and neighborhood was destroyed. We helped her sheetrock her home, yes – she worked right alongside us - something we learned a lot about right here in Round Rock.  We pulled down a 60 foot fence with only 4 sets of hands and worked with the Coss’s, a determined family who refused to let the tornado take away their home. 

We are set to return on Dec 17-232011 that is right! the week before Christmas. Are you looking for an alternative gift to give or get? What better way to spend your vacation at Christmas time then helping someone else celebrate with a gift they will never forget.  [please contact us at: for more information]

We are happy to arrange trips for you and your friends, your church or even just your family. The rebuild phase to bring Joplin back is expected to take many years. We have developed great relationships with the people of Joplin. They are true survivors with a deep sense of community – something drops of grace connects with. We plan to continue doing work there for several years.

BASTROP, Texas -

And finally, Bastrop, the wildfires of just a few weeks ago. While we were in Joplin, fires were burning here.  Bastrop will take several years to rebuild from these fires, as you heard earlier – it will take nearly 5 years! to get back to a semblance of normalcy, if they ever can. We are in current talks with ADRN to see where drops of grace will help with the rebuilds. Right now they are still in the response phase with movement to relief, the fires are contained. There are many places taking donations of property, but what they are asking for is money and gift cards to places like Home Deport or Lowes. I would like to encourage you to seek a place for you and your family to help in our area. There are places now that are sorting the items that were donated, trashing the items which should not have been donated and setting up a center for people to come and shop for what they have lost. It is unfathomable to many ofus what it would be like to loose everything! 

If you have items you want to donate please consider bringing them to the drops of grace garage sale, where we will sell the items and use the money to help with the domestic program right here. [If you are interested in future mission work here, please email us at:]

drops of grace is here to help our neighbors. Never in our wildest dreams would we have thought that we would be working so hard in our own backyards, but I am so grateful to have the support of our community, our church, our friends and our family, I want you know we will continue to represent you and your money with honor and hard work. 100% of your donations go towards our mission programs as we are a 100% volunteer organization. 

God Bless.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

When the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down...

 Gregg, Phil and Karah at Mrs. Williams House

Imagine leaving the water running in the bathroom tub while you run to the kitchen to make a nice cup of hot tea. Then the phone rings and it’s your friend wanting to chat…so you do. You remember the water was left running in the tub, you rush back to find the water overflowing…water everywhere. What do you do to clean up the water? Grab a few towels, maybe a sponge, and quickly unplug the tub to let the water drain away, right?
Imagine now it’s raining and raining and raining, a tropical storm stalled above your community, above your home, and the rain doesn’t stop. Now imagine your home alongside a creek and the water keeps rising and rising. You can’t pull the plug and let water drain. The water rises quickly. What do you grab before you leave your home? Do you even have time to grab anything? You are helpless.

Now, imagine not having any or not enough insurance to clean up the mess; tear out the old and install the new walls, cabinets, floors and furniture. This is the predicament many folks are facing in Williamson County, Texas this year. The flood waters rose and receded but Tropical Storm Hermine left behind devastation and shattered lives.

Ms. W. of Round Rock, Texas backs up to Brushy Creek. She has lived in this home for over 20 years and had never had any flooding. But in the early morning hours of September 8, 2010 she had over 3.5 feet of water enter her home.

The mud was left on her floors, inside the cabinets, on her bed and in her dresser. Her walls were soaked. Everything had to come out. EVERYTHING! She has been living with her loving and supportive family but has not been able to sleep in her own home for over three months.

Volunteers from many agencies have banded together to begin the rebuild one home at a time. Through Wilco’s Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), drops of grace has partnered with Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) and the First United Methodist Church-Round Rock (FUMC-RR) to help rebuild Ms. Ws’ home. The sheetrock is now up, putting walls back which have been gone since the first week in September. Kitchen cabinets and flooring will be next and soon Ms. W. will be coming back to her own home.

On Dec 18, 2010, students from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, arrived a mere 18 hours after their last final from college, not for a vacation break, but to work with ADRN and drops of grace in the rebuild of Ms. Ws’ home. These incredible young adults are taking time from their Christmas break to come to Round Rock to volunteer. To give as Christ asked us to give, to give from their heart.

The students, led by Aaron Preston, Titan Christian Fellowship, organized this mission outreach just a few short weeks ago and put the word out that he was going to come to Round Rock. Abby, Anna, Mark, Mike, Jordan, Kyle and Matt all responded with a resounding YES...

Tired from their long trip; they hit the ground running and began hanging drywall as soon as they arrived. They did this with a smile on their face, joy in their heart, all side by side with and for people that were total strangers.

They attended church at FUMC-RR on Sunday and were recognized by Reverend Lee Trigg. He commended them all for hearing the call by Christ, to go and do, to say YES, to not only do good work, but to do Holy work.

We are each called by God to go and do. Saying yes is what God wants us to do.

drops of grace is proud to be able to assist in rebuilds after hurricanes in the gulf and to now be working right here in literally our own backyard. If you are interested in participating in the relief effort, with your hands, prayers, or financial support, please send an email to to find out how you, your family or your organization can work with us to help rebuild Round Rock.

God Bless,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Homeward Bound

Responding to people in need is a very natural way of showing Christian love. 

Volunteers with many talents and abilities provide valuable assistance to a community affected by disaster.

The work of Volunteers - putting their faith & love into action - helps turn the chaos of disaster into an image of hope.
This is the mind set that we have used to build our Domestic Program.  We feel that we need to help where ever we are called, even in our own backyard.

Our domestic trips are all a little different depending on the project, the team members, location and the people we serve.

Our latest trip was the weekend of Sept. 12, 2010. This was an important date because it was the second year anniversary of Hurricane Ike. Our project was in LaMarque, Texas just outside of Galveston. We had a team of 16. We all met up at 6:30 Friday morning loaded our vans and hit the road.
We were advised by our partner UMCOR that we needed to lay a portion of sub flooring, lay Pergo laminated flooring in the kitchen, dinning room, living room and hallway, repair the sheet rock in the living room and cover it with paneling, remove two walls of vinyl siding and replaced it with new 4 x 8 sheets of siding - getting tired yet?  Install vinyl flooring in the bathroom (which meant pulling the toilet and re-installing), replace a small cabinet in the kitchen, install all the base boards, caulk and paint them, and also tar the roof above the sunroom if we had time…WOW! Oh, and by the way the client is living in the house, so we have to move all the furniture around and try to stay out of their way. 

After taking a breath, the team dived in and it didn’t take long before we all where working in different parts of the house and getting to know each other and our new friends The Tagles, who live in the house. We worked late Friday just to make a dent in the project.  We left very dirty and very tired, but thankful for a full day of work and we headed back to the church we were staying at and picked up some BBQ for dinner. We enjoyed our showers with the mosquitoes in the shower trailers, a short devotional, some fun late night conversation and then off to bed.

The next morning we had breakfast casserole that was prepared by the team members, we made a sack lunch and headed back to work. The second day was much smoother, everyone knew exactly what to do and just jumped right in. We had lunch while sharing a devotional.  Afterwards, we procured the new bolt for the toilet to replace the one we lost earlier down the drain pipe, cleaned up the house and actually ended our day early.  It was amazing what had been completed.   After two years,  The Tagles - parents of 7 children & 13 grandchildren - had their home restored and refreshed and looking forward to hosting their family for Thanksgiving in their new home after 2 long years of living in disarray & chaos.

After many hugs and joyful tears we left our new friends and headed home.  When we returned home other members of drops of grace where very busy too. When I said we work even in our own backyards, I mean literally in our own backyards.  Thursday before we left for LaMarque Tropical storm Hermine hit Williamson County.  According to the Williamson County Emergency Management there were 660 Homes damaged by flood waters. Two hundred of those homes had major damage or had been completely destroyed.  Additionally, 30 businesses had been damaged, 5 of which were completely destroyed causing approximately 40 people to loose their jobs. Most of the homesowners did not have insurance, or they had a limited amount.

Many volunteers have already answered the call and helped family, friends and neighbors over the last few weeks.  There has been a lot of work done. But, like the damage from Hurricane Ike there is a lot of work yet be done.

drops of grace will be partnering with local agencies like The Red Cross, Round Rock Serving Center, VOAD, Williamson County Emergency Management and the Austin Disaster Relief Network to directly help with the long term recovery.  

Please consider gathering a volunteer work team to help families rebuild & restore their homes, or do other disaster recovery work. 

drop us a note, we will love to hear from you. 

If nothing else you now understand why our Domestic program is not just about brick and mortar or hammers and nails.  Much of what we do is about teaching others and learning from others. You don’t need to know anything about lying flooring.  Just come with an open mind and a willing heart.  You may never pick up a tool at all, you may just sit on the couch and listen to a sweet lady tell you about raising 7 kids in the only house they have ever known, or hold someone’s hand as they sort through water soaked irreplaceable belongings trying to decide to throw them away or keep them just because.  You may find yourself standing in the middle of an empty home with no carpet, no pictures on the wall, no furniture without even sheet rock just hugging a woman that you just met and letting her cry on your shoulder.

This is what we do … This is what missionaries do….. Come join us!
God Bless, Dan Rybaski

Mrs. Tagle & dogs in newly restored living room.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Story of Recovery - 2 Years After the Storm...

On September 12th 2008 Hurricane Ike began crashing ashore on Galveston Island with a vengeance. The massive storm began affecting the coastline more than 24 hours before landfall.

Two years later, the City of Galveston and the Texas gulf coast appear to be back in business and recovered. The beaches are open and full, businesses along the seawall are thriving, it’s busy along the Strand, and ships are moving in and out through the channel.

But when you get off the beaten path and look a little closer, you find thousands of families on the island and all along the East Texas Coast in need and looking for help. There are millions of dollars tied up in the bureaucracy and many of these families are still waiting for federal disaster recovery grant funds.

On the second anniversary of this devastating storm, the people of Galveston and the surrounding counties are not forgotten. drops of grace is putting hands and hearts to work and partnering with UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). UMCOR has been working in the area from the very first week after the storm and they continue to help those who may have fallen through the cracks.

On September 10, 2010 drops of grace will take a team to help some of the families in need. That team is full but if you would like to be part of future trips like this one, please contact us at

Dates and locations for future trips will be posted soon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Launching domestically...

With the help of our partner organization UMCOR (United Methodist – Committee on Relief), in November 2009 we were privileged to lend a hand to restore the home of our new friend, who survived the devastation of Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Where are we now?
We have been busy getting the domestic program in high gear and finalizing details to put together a program that will be ready to respond to the needs of those who, through no fault of their own, experienced loss as a result of a natural disaster here in the United States and need some drops of grace.

What does a drops of grace trip look like?
You have a heart for helping others; and we want to give you the opportunity to expand your service to those in need of help and hope. Whether this is your first mission trip or you are a veteran, the project will be planned around your team’s skill set.
We will be working alongside partner organizations that are established in the community as well as working with local home owners and community members. The work can consist of clean-up activities with basic home repairs, to complex and complete house rebuilding.
Short Term Experiences:
We are currently offering 2 to 4 day mission trips: drops of grace will handle the details of your trip from the time you arrive to the time you leave for home. You will not need to worry about construction materials or your next meal, drops of grace will provide the leadership allowing you to spend time with your team and the family you are serving.

Custom Experiences:
We can customize a domestic trip for you to any location we are working in. A drops of grace custom mission trip can be designed specifically for your group within the parameters of our philosophy towards our commitment to the communities we serve.
  • Groups of many sizes are welcome 
  • Length of trip depends on the location & the project.
  • drops of grace domestic coordinator to assist planning your trip.
What is included?
  • Pre-trip training
  • Meals & Housing
  • T-shirts
  • Materials & Tools
  • Evening Devotions (if requested)
Pricing: Costs vary, but most 2-3 day trips will be under $100 per person. This cost covers housing and meal and may vary depending on the project, the length of the trip, location and the size of the team.

What’s next?
Dates for our 2010 & 2011 trips are coming soon. Keep checking back here for more information. We are working hard on having everything in place so that these trips will be a great experience for you.

How you can help:

Current Needs:
  • Dual axle 6’x 12’ covered trailer.
  • Various construction tools to equip our trailer.
  • Monetary donations for materials and supplies.
If you have a trailer or tools to donate or fund you can contact: Dan Rybaski at



Tuesday, October 20, 2009


drops of grace Team
As we look forward to our Galveston Mission Trip benefiting the people affected by Hurricane Ike, I'd like to share a little excerpt from speech given by Robert F. Kennedy... This speech has, from the first time I heard it, always affected me. It clearly shows we can act to change our world, and our world becomes the Whole Wide World of change...

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation... It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Robert F. Kennedy
University of Capetown
Capetown, South Africa
June 6, 1966