Saturday, July 10, 2010

We're Home!!!!

We left Dalton this morning around 9:20 am and arrived in Raleigh around 6:00 pm. We want to once again thank you for all of your prayers and support. God has blessed us with an "injury- free" trip. Please continue to pray for the people that we ministered to in Dalton. Pray that God will grow the seeds that were planted in the children and that they will become involved with Grace PCA, or another church in the area. Also pray for their parents, that they would encourage their children to grow in the Lord. Please pray for the people we ministered to through construction. We hope that we made in impact in not only their homes, but also their lives.

Build, mud, sand, paint, repeat...

It’s Friday, and we accomplished a lot today! We all split up and worked on construction projects all day. Following our “divide and conquer” philosophy, we worked at seven different work sites today. We managed to install two handicap ramps, demolish a bathroom, jack a house and fix the foundation, package food, put in shelves, paint, sand, mud, and clean a house so the new owners could move in next week. It was a long, but fulfilling day!

Dr. Mike, Megan, and Christine worked with Tony, one of Rebuilding Hope’s staff members for the summer, to “un-steep-ify” a handicap ramp. Since the ramp’s landing was 19 inches off the ground, and building code for ramps calls for one foot of ramp per inch of drop (grade-wise,) we built a 19-foot ramp to replace the six-to-ten foot ramp that was in place.

The second handicap ramp was installed by Jay, Michael, and Ginger. Jim (the construction leader) had been given the handicap ramp, and he wanted to install it over the steps leading up to the house of an elderly woman who has trouble getting around. The ramp, however, was two-inches too high. After throwing ideas around Michael came up with the most ingenious idea, and the floor of the ramp was leveled starting 16 inches back so the ramp would end up fitting perfectly at her door. They then went into her bathroom to rip up tile and rotten particle board. The bathroom will be finished next week by the new team arriving in Dalton.

Ron, Tyler, and Bobby helped put a house up on jacks and fix the foundation. In the morning they cut shims to finely tune the height of the beams underneath the house. Tyler then got to dig holes for the foundation for the beams (much to his delight). Using hydraulic lifts they then lifted the house and placed cinderblocks and the beams to secure the foundation.

Emily, Marilee, and Austin spent the morning at a food bank packaging food. They were then able to go to a homeless camp to see where most of the homeless in Dalton live. They really had an eye opening experience!

In the afternoon Emily, Marilee, Austin, and Gwen installed shelves and peg board back at the team house. The materials were dropped off yesterday to be installed if we had time to work on them.

At the foster house Tom, Gwen, Jay, Ginger, Michael, and Ryan worked in the morning to finish sanding and mudding. The upstairs is completely sanded and mudded and is almost ready to be painted! In the afternoon Tom and Ryan stayed at the foster house and started to mud the downstairs so that it can be sanded next week.

In Tunnel Hill Lisa, Mike, and Daniel prepared the siding house to be ready for the four sisters to move in next week. They finished painting doors, as well as cleaning tubs, sinks and floors. They also sealed the bathroom floor once they removed all of the grime left over from dry walling and painting.

We want to thank you all for your prayers as we have had a fun, yet safe week! We could not have done it with out you.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Planting seeds, painting doors, and petting dogs

Well it’s Thursday, and we have finished our program for the kids! We all felt that it went well and that we were able to plant seeds in the hearts of the children and their parents. We did station rotations today and the kids loved to watch Dr. Mike search for critters in the creek, as Austin taught them about different bugs. They were all excited to see what Dr. Mike could catch in his net. The kids also learned about recycling today from Emily and Megan, and then put it into practice when they made bird feeders out of plastic bottles with Gwen and Ryan. After the program, the kids’ parents joined us for a dinner of flautas, guacamole, and beans prepared by some of the ladies involved with the church’s Hispanic ministry. Carlos (Grace’s director of Hispanic ministries) then shared the gospel message in Spanish. We sang some of the favorite songs from the week and showed a picture slide show (prepared by Jay)--the kids loved to see the pictures we had taken of them!

Construction is trucking right along, as projects were completed and new ones started. The theme at the Tunnel Hill (vinyl siding) house was, once again, “Divide and conquer.” Jeff and Daniel tried to see how long it would take them to install a single handicap bar in the bathroom. Two stripped screws, a broken drill bit and 15 holes in the wall later the bar was installed. Jim was patient through it all, insisting that they complete it, instead of passing it off to someone else. Bobby, Ron and Tyler were soffit-installing fiends, with Ron and Tyler taking a break to install a vent pipe though the roof. Drilling holes in a perfectly good roof has now become a favorite pastime for them. Megan and Will started the painting team rolling (pun intended, although no rollers were involved). Lots of doors and closets to paint. The house is looking great. A good cleaning, top to bottom, is in order, along with a small punch list of items before it’s ready for the new owners.

The crew from the other Tunnel Hill house--Dr. Mike, Lisa, Ginger and Christine--finished its trim work project and headed over to the siding house to pitch in; the task proved to be putting a second coat of paint on slightly larger, much more forgiving closet doors. Today they were also helped out by “Fido,” a friendly neighborhood dog who wanted to help them finish painting the trim on the house.

At the foster home, the buzzwords of the day were, “Mudding and sanding, sanding and mudding.” They mudded and sanded all morning long! They’re still staying bright and chipper, though, and Jay finished up some cabinets in the kitchen, which added a bit of variety to the day.

Tomorrow we will be doing construction all day, and attempting to complete as many of the projects (that we’ve started) as we can. We might even take on some new (small!) projects…we have from 8 to 5, right?

We’ve allowed all comments now, so you should be able to comment to your heart’s content J Thanks for your patience, and thanks for continuing to write despite complications! We appreciate the thoughts you’ve sent our way and the prayers you’ve sent God’s way on our behalf. See ya soon!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Thank you for your comments! We have figured out how to enable them. We would love to continue to hear from you!

Chicken wrangling, mower whispering, wasp eradicating, & scaffold surfing…

Well, this report may sound a lot like yesterday’s, for work continued at the siding house, the painting/stairs/mowing house, and the foster house--however, there was some additional excitement! Ginger, Daniel, and Lisa helped monitor and recapture a chicken that flew its coop at the painting/stairs/mowing house. Daniel finished mowing a lawn despite having to wait for the mower to cool down multiple times over the past three days; he drove the mower quite artfully (and patiently) through the knee-high grass, and it now stands at a less cricket/tick-friendly two inches. Having finished the stairs, Lisa and Mike pitched in on the trim work.

The “siding house” is being prepared for four elderly sisters who currently live next door but can’t alter the interior of their current home (and thus effectively exterminate pests) because the home is considered historical. Ron and Jeff helped with installing the new home’s siding. Tyler, Austin, and Bobby helped with siding and also picked up sticks to tidy up the lawn. Megan painted cabinets inside some of the home’s closets.

At the foster house, the ever-enduring Emily, Jay, Michael, Ryan, Gwen, Tom, Marilee, and Will continued sanding and mudding. Marilee and Jay took a break from drywall to build a frame for a dishwasher.

This afternoon we took the kids on a field trip to Fort Mountain State Park. We divided the kids into three groups by age and took them on different trails around the mountain. The oldest group went on the longest trail and were able to see a picturesque waterfall. The two younger groups just took a hike around the lake. Throughout the hike the kids learned about different plants and their medicinal purposes (discovered by the Cherokee Indians). The kids especially liked the Bluets (used to make a tea to stop bedwetting) and the Cinnamon Fern (used as a tea to treat snake bites). After the hike, the kids taped pressed leaves onto t-shirts and spray painted the shirt to “leave” designs on the fronts of the shirts.

Late this afternoon the team was able to go to a putt-putt/laser tag course owned by a member of the church. We were fed delicious hamburgers and brownies, and then worked it off with our grueling tournaments of putt-putt and laser tag.

Tomorrow is our last day with the kids and we ask that you pray for us as this is our last chance to minister to them. We will be doing station rotations in the afternoon, and then the parents are coming for a dinner to see what their kids have been up to this week. Also, please pray for the parents as Carlos (the head of the Spanish ministry at Grace) will be witnessing to them and encouraging them to get involved with the church.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! We'd love to see some comments so we know you're out there...and because while we're the "going team," you're the sending team, and you're as much a part of this adventure as we are!

Well it is now late again, and it is time for us to go to bed. Hopefully we will have just as an exciting day tomorrow. Stay tuned, tomorrow’s blog may consist of bird watching, recycling, and ladder safety (as we continue to scaffold surf)…

Fishers of men (of the little variety)

Work continued today at the foster home, the painting/stair-building house, and the siding house. Progress is steadily being made: we finished a deck (see picture below!) painted trim, mowed lawns, hung siding, and sanded drywall.

We took the kids to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga in the afternoon (see multiple fish, shark, etc. pictures below.) A lot was learned, and great fun was had, but we’re tired! Thanks for your prayers, especially for Ms. Castrodale; as an example of James 5:16, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective,” she zipped around the aquarium today with three third-graders in tow, and neither they nor she got eaten by a shark!

Well, it’s off to bed for us as we have completed a long day of work. Tomorrow we avoid getting eaten by mountain lions and bears, since today we survived the sharks, alligators, and sting rays.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Some work, some play--all in a bright summer's day!

Day 1: "Divide and conquer." 19 team members, 4 work sites. The majority of our team was sent to a 1910-era foster home that needed sheetrock mudding and taping, and great progress was made. Other projects included building a wheelchair-accessible planter for an elderly lady in a town south of Dalton; touching up trimwork and the initial construction of a set of stairs in Tunnel Hill, GA; and installing siding and soffits at a home also in Tunnel Hill. We returned home muddy, painty, sawdusty, and rearing to go for our first afternoon of God's Marvelous Creation camp!

The first day of camp went well as we got to know the kids. We had 26 kids, which was different from any other number we were given, so we are practicing flexibility! All of the different stations went well, and the kids seemed interested in what we had to say. The stations included information on animal tracks, rocks and minerals, birds, and trees. They are all excited because we go to the aquarium tomorrow!

One of the things the kids learned about today outside was all about rocks and minerals BUT even more important, how "Christ is our rock and salvation". We also learned how wise boys & girls "build their house on the rock and not on the sand" and trust in the Lord (like in our song time shown)...

The bird station gave the kids the opportunity to understand God's diversity in creation as they learned about how birds were different from other animals. We did some bird watching with binoculars and listened to some bird calls of common birds in the area. We also talked about how God's care for the birds proves His love and care for us (Matthew 6.25ff).

Trees + hammers + Dr. Seuss = one fun station. We talked about God as CreatOR and creatIVE, using a Cat in the Hat tree book and the trees around us to talk about the tallest tree, the tree with the shaggiest bark, the widest tree, and even why palm trees don't grow very tall! We then used hammers (enter kids' excited screams here) to make leaf prints, which we decorated with a Bible verse, punches, and markers to make bookmarks. The kids did a tree-mendous job not hammering their thumbs (or ours.)

We explored the world of God's creatures which are often hidden except for the tracks they leave. Mike, Austin and Ron found some tracks of raccoons and made tracks in mud to create plaster casts. It gave the children the opportunity open their eyes to world of hidden animals.

Meet Snappy! This is one of the many critters that we have met while we are here. Snappy lives in the pond beside the church and loves to smile for the camera.

Please pray for safety tomorrow as we travel to the aquarium, and we try to keep our heads above the water! We are also looking forward to hearing from y'all through your comments. Please tell us your hopes, dreams, thoughts, ideas...

Sunday, July 04, 2010

We're here! Can't wait for what's next...

   We've made it!  We have arrived safely in Dalton, Georgia, and are settling in nicely to our new abode.  It was an exciting trip, as the Larsens played catch-up the whole way.  Will (Megan's friend) came down with a fever Friday night and had to go to the doctor Saturday morning.  They were only about 30 minutes behind us, but they did not catch up to us until 30 miles before Dalton.  Will is doing well, and we continue to pray as he recovers.
   Other excitement on the trip included non-existent rest stops, an Eggs and Bacon Moth, and Mrs. Smith's bakery (we thought of you Uncle Bubba!).  We thank God for our safety and amiable attitudes after our long 10 hour trip to Dalton.

Dalton celebrated the 4th with fireworks on Saturday night. Most of us went downtown and found a grassy area by a strip mall for the show. We saw a good show, but made us hanker for the Garner fireworks.

Sunday morning provided a chance to meet and enjoy fellowship with the members of Grace PCA, the church that is graciously hosting us. A Grace member named Jim (in green shirt below) is the founder of Rebuilding Hope Ministries, through which he and we are reaching out to the people of Dalton, and he spoke with us before church about the projects for the week and goals of his ministry. 

We also spoke with Carlos, the pastor in charge of Hispanic ministries, and some of us had a chance to go to a sermon and Sunday School session taught in Spanish by Carlos--oddly enough, the class is going through Job just as our adult Sunday School is!

Sunday afternoon was spent planning for the week ahead. We split up and went to work sites, Fort Mountain State Park (to survey the trails), while some folks stayed back at the team house and started setup for our God's Marvelous Creation program. One work site includes a bare concrete slab, just waiting for our team to provide the oomph to raise the walls. There are also opportunities for drywall mudding, taping and sanding, along with cabinet installation and repair of some wheelchair ramps. Lots of work; little time; pray for endurance, patience and people-focus.

Off to bed for an early start tomorrow. Thanks for your prayers - 33 kids will be attending the Creation program (+15 from our last count). Happy 4th to you all and to all a goodnight!