Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Biloxi - The Final Report

Well, we're done (for now). Left Biloxi Saturday AM (9 AM) arrived in Raleigh Sunday 2 AM, as some tired puppies. God's sovereignty and protection were evident, as a much-needed potty break in Atlanta turned into an opportunity to help several folks in a rear-end collision.

Bill and Katie and Lisa and Mike and Ron were able to help by checking the medical condition of the victims, directing traffic, and using some stuffed monkeys to calm the little girl in the front car (good job, Katie and Bill - the rest of ya'll, too).

Had some money left over (due to the generosity of our supporters) so we left a nice donation for the continued work in Biloxi. Even though we're almost two years out from Katrina, there's still a ton of work to be done. Bob gives the best description of the challenges still ahead in his July letter. The relief work at First Presbyterian is ending in December, and we hope to send a smaller team to help out the first week of October.

A big THANK YOU to everyone that supported us with their prayers, tools and $$. God answered your prayers - we used your tools and $$, hopefully as good stewards of both.

Continue to pray for Bob & Mary Lee and the relief work out of First Presbyterian, Biloxi. God hears and answers the prayers of His people.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thursday summary (a day late)

Well, things have been pretty busy around here, as you can tell by the lack of last night's blog. We are writing two days worth today, and it is already pretty late tonight, so it will be short and sweet.
On Thursday we asked a bunch of people to write down what they have learned so far on the missions trip or a favorite memory from a worksite. Here are the results:

"I learned how to replace windows and sheetrock." -Jonnie Weiandt

"Your everyday teenager right now is probably in bed sleeping off what few precious hours are in the day. But of course, we are not your average teenagers. We wake up from 5 to 7 in the morning. No matter how tired you are you have to pull yourself out of bed or someone else will do it for you. Then, after a quick breakfast at 7, we are off to the worksites to labor all day over decks, sheetrock, or windows, to bring hope and restoration to the people of Biloxi, Mississippi. It seems like doing the same thing over and over again can be a drag, but it is not only about the building. It is about witnessing to people through our actions and reactions." -Kelsey Wiggs, the future novelist :)

"One of the things I will never forget is how happy and excited Mr. Huggar (our homeowner) was to meet us! He ran to each of us and gave us a huge hug and welcomed us to Mississippi." -Marilee Protonentis

"Going down to Biloxi, Mississippi, and helping people in need helps spread the Gospel to people who are lost." -Ryan Hatton

"Mr. Huggar (one of our homeowners) told us about how a lot of his friends drowned and died. Hearing these stories make you want to work hard and give up time and dedication. Seeing people that have to live in small, tiny trailers in almost every house is a sad, scary thought. We even have to protect ourselves while going on the ocean because of the trash and glass. But they still find ways to have fun and get by it, and so do we." -Devin Shepard

"I really enjoyed learning how to use different power tools, like nail guns, circular saws, etc. Getting to talk with the homeowners was fun and interesting too." -Catherine Nevins

"I never knew building a deck was so complicated. Learning how to install crown moulding has been really fun and I've enjoyed working on the deck." -Christine Diepenbrock

"Mississippi was an unforgettable experience for me! It was lots of fun sanding, building a deck, and meeting all the homeowners. Mr. Huggar was soooo excited to see us and gave us lots of hugs. He even made us some REALLY good BBQ ribs!! :) So all in all, MS was lots and lots of fun, an inspiring trip, and a good lesson in hard work and endurance! ~Megan Larsen~

Well we told you it would be short and sweet!!

-"the team"


Today was quite interesting. We spent today finishing up what we could and taking on a few odd jobs.
Norman's house was finished up and some of those people went to go help at new jobs. One of those jobs was helping to replace some windows at the Salvation Army site. The other job we picked up today was in Gulf Port. A small group went to go and help an elderly lady with whatever they could in the small amount of time they had after finishing up at previous work sites.
The two groups at the Washington house and the Huggar house had a long day. The Washington people spent time working on the deck and finishing up the odds and ends inside the house. The Huggar group worked all day on finishing up the two decks. Neither of the decks at either house were able to be finished completely, but it will not take much for another group to come back and touch up what we did not finish.
This week has been a great opportunity for every one who was able to go on this trip. I feel that everybody is thoroughly pleased with the help we were able to give to the people down here. I think that are group made the light of Christ shine to the people down here and has given the people hope for where there was none.
We can't wait to see y'all tomorrow (or EARLY Sunday).


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth!

Today some of the teams got switched up a little bit. Some of the people left Uncle Bubba for other sites (and said they had more fun than they were having with him).

Speaking of Uncle Bubba, here he is to report in....
Day three at Norman's house brought more sanding, sanding, sanding and yes, mudding, mudding, and more mudding. Kudos to Anne for taking control of the kitchen and dining room mudding and sanding, and making me wipe my feet before entering her domain. Also, doing a great job with the sanding were the new "sugar-powdered" donuts (Marilee, Kelsey, and Devin), who took over "seamlessly" from the first group of "donuts" Ashley, Ginger, Sarah, and Megan. The other major project at Norm's involves reframing a wall and replacing three windows. Jonnie and Catherine did a fantastic job with all the cutting, nailing, and hammering. Special thanks to Jay and Ron for co-leading the effort at Norm's.

So, after all the work, we came back to First Pres and partied! (but not too hard). There was a picnic on the lawn followed by fireworks up and down the beach, which started before 7 and are still going strong as we write.

Here's our General Contractor to report in...
As I go from site to site with Lisa there has been a common statement of "Can you see the picture" while trying to train or instruct about some task. I do enjoy the challenge of painting the picture in another person's mind as to what I'm saying. Yesterday Jeff and I were trying to get something worked out and he said that it was like doing a mind meld. There is so much satisfaction when the light comes on and the words "AHH I get it" are said while trying to explain it. There has been a lot of hard work and dedication to getting it right at all of the job sites and many opportunities for helping each other. I've seen great ideas coming from our youth for problem solving hard situations. Nothing at any of our job sites have been cut & dry, all job sites are faced with unique problems that they have to figure out. Everyone has done a great job dealing with these obstacles like rain, walls not square, homes in need of a structural make over. Traveling from site to site has been a challenge to be Mr. show and tell without the use of one power tool. Some how it has become a fun game to get me to use some form of a power tool whether it be a drill or a chop saw, I don't know who but someone started this "How long can Mr. Bill go before using a power tool." Somehow everyone thinks that Lisa's not letting me use them but that's not it, I have found it to be a challenge to not use them but do show them how to use them properly. I do get to use sledge hammers, hammers, chisels and wrenches.
Bill T.

That's all for today. There's lots of pictures so enjoy.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Day Two: More of the Same!

Day two was spent doing more of the same: Installing windows, digging holes for a porch and filling them with concrete, mudding and sanding walls, and moving a water heater. Therefore, there is not much more information to share concerning our work but we will post more pictures from our day below.

Biloxi Bob presented us with the devotion for tonight. In his devotion he listed several different "statistics" concerning Biloxi since Hurricane Katrina:
-600 out of 2,500 homes in East Biloxi are concrete slabs
-The other homes (1,900) needed to be repaired
-Out of those 1,900 homes, only 32% have been repaired
-Biloxi Bob does not think that more than 50% of the homes will ever be repaired
because of a lack of volunteers
-Before Katrina there were a little over 100 churches operating in this area. First Pres. Biloxi is the only one that has remained open after the hurricane and only one other church has been repaired since Hurricane Katrina.
-The Katrina relief ministry at First Pres. will close by the end of the year because of a lack of volunteers
Please pray for Biloxi Bob as he continues to regain his health and for him and his wife as they look at what God has for them in the future. The needy people here recognize that Christians are the ones who offer help in rebuilding. Pray that their hearts and minds would be open to the Gospel and that we, as Christians, would maintain our witness for Christ.

On a lighter note, we have a few quotes from the lovable "Uncle Bubba". Enjoy!
-"I have more hair on my toes than on the top of my head."
-"Even my shins have bald spots."
-"I am confident in my manhood but it's killing my feet" (in reference to his pink flowery flip-flops).

Thanks for your comments and prayers.


P.S. We completed a long, hard day with an ice cream run at Sonic. We are all stuffed and waaaayyyy too hyper!!! Bedtime is going to be late tonight!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Day One: Mud, Holes, and Windows

Today was our first day of working on the job sites. We split into three different teams, all at various locations primarily in East Biloxi. We started the morning with a wonderful breakfast prepared by the women here with some help from Anna and Jeff. We then divided into cars and went to our respective sites.

The first group (Mike & Tom, et al.) spent the morning shopping at Lowes for supplies or helping out around the church. After lunch, they then headed to the home of Mr. Huggar who is a custodian employed by the city of Biloxi, MS. His modest home is on the "backbay" side of Division Street (main road through East Biloxi) and it was literally lifted off its foundation and "twisted" over 90 degrees during the Hurricane Katrina storm surge. Reconstruction on the structure is ongoing and beyond the capabilities of our team, so we are rebuilding a front porch/steps and a side stoop/steps. Today's tasks included demolition of old footings which as completed in expert (and safe) fashion by Paul W. our one-man wrecking crew with his trusty sledgehammer. The remainder of the team (Casey, Devin & Marilee) dug holes for new footings (some were 4 feet deep!), and installed the new deck supports. We got positive comments indicating that though the houses in the area might wash away in the next major storms, the deck will likely remain intact. Great job by our young guys & gals. We raced against time with an impending afternoon thunderstorm and though we did finally get wet we now only have to wait for the concrete to set. Tomorrow we build the deck itself. NC connection - also met Hilton's younger brother visiting from VA (who recently retired from Ft. Bragg as an Army LTC) and his wife (born in Wendell). Looking forward to getting to know the Hugger clan better this week as they are really nice folks.
< Colonel Mike >

The second group (Jay, Ron, Anne, Rich, Megan, Ginger, Ashley, Catherine, Sarah, and Jonnie) went to the home of Norman. He has a wife and three children all living in a cramped FEMA trailer in front of the house. His house had been flooded waist deep with water during the storm. Because of this, he needed entirely new interior. When we arrived, most of the sheetrock and first coat of mud had been put up by previous groups. So we spent the day sanding the walls and putting a second coat of mud on the drywall. Norman also needed several windows replaced. We were able to install one of them today before the thunderstorm came. Tomorrow we will continue our sanding, mudding, and window installment.
~Anne, Sarah, and Megan~

The third group (Bill B, Jeff, Randy, Kristin, Katie, Kelsey, Ryan, Rob, and Daniel) worked on Ms. Washington's home, which is in the final stages of construction. The house is as level as can be expected for structures in Biloxi. We were greeted by a seemingly cute and cuddly dog. However, after seven, continuous hours of barking (no exaggeration) and wheezing, we are not so in love with the dog anymore. Ms.Washington grew up in the house we are working on and returned to her house a year after Katrina. Therefore, she has been living in a trailer with her dog for about a year. She told me this morning, before she went to pick out carpet, that she hoped to be in her house by the end of the month. We worked on framing and trimming windows, installing subfloor in the bathroom, and preparing to install a deck. For lunch we went to the Salvation Army Camp, right around the corner. They served us hot food under a circus tent in a stadium. We were very happy to have some shade and a few minutes to rest before getting back to work (and the dog). We ran into a few problems with not having the supplies we needed and concrete in the way of the posts for the decks, but we were able to make some good progress. We hope to have some of the projects done tomorrow and make significant progress on the others.

Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. Keep the comments coming. We love hearing from y'all at home. Just a clarification, we have to post comments that are left so they will not immediately show up on the blog. They should show up the next day, when we have had a chance to update the blog. Thanks so much!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sunday, July 1st, a day of rest.

This morning we attended church service at our host church, First Pres. The entire missions team now knows what we want our new sanctuary to look like, so future building committee, be ready to take notes when we get back!

Team leaders have scouted out job sites, and we think we have a 'plan' for tomorrow. We will be dividing up into three different job sites, working on things like decking and drywalling - but more about that tomorrow. Tools and snacks have been divided up accordingly and we are hydrating in anticipation for the day ahead.

We also made a Walmart run today because Uncle Bubba (Mr. Rich) forgot shower shoes. A highlight at the end of the day was the presentation of Uncle Bubba with gorgeous fuschia flip-flops by the illustrious "Gaggle".

Please pray for our general health (bumps, bruises, exhaustion...), and patience for everyone tomorrow as we begin to figure out who and what go where and when.

And as always, here are a few pictures from the day.