Saturday, July 16, 2011

Home Sweet Home!

After a 10 hour trip, we have finally made it back to Raleigh! We left Dalton around 9:45 this morning and arrived home at 8 pm. As Lisa has pointed out, we are all tired, but it is good tired. We are so thankful that we were able to minister to the community of Dalton, GA this week! Thank you so much for your prayers and support. You are just as important to this mission as the team that went to serve. We can't wait to tell you all about how God has worked in marvelous ways this week!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Our Last Day in Dalton- Construction!

Today was our final work day in Dalton! We were tired but excited to be able to do construction all day. It was nice to have time to work on and even complete some projects we had started this week. All of the team members who had worked at the “Putrid Pond” were especially happy because no one had to return today! There was much rejoicing last night when it was announced that we would only be going to the houses.

At the Cherokee Valley house the team was FINALLY able to start siding! The prep work that was done yesterday made the process go smoothly today. The front and two sides now have siding up to the roof line and the back was done as far as was possible without ladders. The long term volunteer here, Clyde, was ecstatic with the progress that was made. He gave the team a standing ovation at dinner tonight! The homeowner and her parents were at the house and were so excited to see such a major change happen to the house. A neighborhood lady stopped by the house to give the team tea and cake, a service she tries to provide once a week. She even got emotional by the appearance of the house and the work of the team. Emily C. was able to help Bert, the homeowner’s father, frame the garage. She said he was a wonderful teacher and very patient!

The front of the house by the end of the day

The back of the house at the end of the day

Look how straight the siding is!

Framing for the garage

At the Robbie Lane house there was a wide array of projects that the team worked on. Lisa and Mike L. were able to finish the handicap ramp up that they started on Monday. The homeowners will be so pleased to have it done, as the wife was having trouble earlier this week on the skinny boards that led into the house. Mike J., Ron, and Norris (S) led two groups that worked on siding the sides of the house. Mike J. was also able to finish the siding on the back of the house this morning. By the end of the day there were only about fifteen more rows of siding left to put up on the house! Ron estimates that it shouldn’t take a full day to finish the rest of the rows. Daniel and Michael H. worked on insulating the crawl space that had been started yesterday and were able to finish at about 4:00. They also hauled a lot of debris from behind the shed. Michael only lost his shoe once to the mud that caked everyone’s shoes. Ashley started and finished insulating the parts of the main floor that did not have wiring in them. Megan had a great servant heart and jumped in to clean the property and the house. She was willing to do anything that was needed all day, but spent most of the afternoon stapling wiring on the main floor. Lisa and Mike L. also ran wire in the basement that included a lot of drilling holes in the ceiling and getting muddy from whatever was on the floor of the basement. Overall, we were able to make a lot of progress on the house. Next week they should be able to start the dry wall, mudding, and taping. We are happy that we will not be here for that process!

Mike and Lisa with their handiwork, the handicap ramp

Ashley working on insulation

Left, back, and right of the house at the end of the day

Tonight we are cleaning cars, sorting tools, organizing VBS supplies, and visiting with our Sparta family. Tomorrow we will be driving back to North Carolina and hope to be there at a decent hour. Please pray for rest tonight and travel tomorrow for both the Calvary and Sparta teams.

We have seen God work in wonderful ways this week. We have witnessed His power, mercy, and blessings in new ways that we never would have expected and we can’t wait to share them with all of you!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rockets and Raunchy Ponds

We have reached our next to last night! VBS ended today, and tomorrow we will spend doing construction all day long. Construction went well today as the people cleaning up at the “Putrid Pond” are hopefully finished for the week (for the sake of us all!). Michael earned a star for the day, as he balanced on trash in the pond to reach normally unreachable pieces of debris. We have learned that the pond will be completely filled in, so it does not need to be spotless by the time we leave. There was a glitch as they were trying to dump their last load of trash (out of 5 loads). They were told that they could not continue dumping trash on the side of the road because the city was supposedly no longer picking it up. As of right now, the load has not been dumped, and it is top priority to find out where to dump the trash tomorrow. Just an 125 meters away (an estimate by Dr. Larsen), prep work for siding continued. All lines have been marked, and some siding has been placed. Hopefully, most of the siding can be finished tomorrow. Mud was also removed from the top of the footers for the porch and dirt in front of the house was leveled. Also, Ginger and Emily (S), helped Bert (the home owner, father of the daughter living in the house) build the frame for the walls of the garage, which was a lot of fun. At the other house Mike J. worked on scaffolding to put up siding on the back of the house, and almost completed that entire side. He also had to use his creative juices to fix mistakes from the person who began the siding before him. Megan, Daniel, Marilee, and Ron worked hard to install insulation in a crawlspace (similar to what the other house did earlier this week). The plumber finished today, and they can hopefully finish insulation tomorrow.

Framing for the garage and cleaning up at the "Putrid Pond"

VBS ended with a bang today, and we felt that the kids learned a lot and had a good time. Today they set off their rockets, learned about critters in the creek, put all of their photos into their books, and learned about Jesus being the light of the world (John 8:12). The kids were all thrilled with how high their rockets flew, and will probably have lots of fun with them at home. In the creek they found many interest creatures including blue gill, tad poles, and diving beetles. Our new best friends at Walmart astounded us as they had 21 cameras developed in 2 hours! The photo booklets turned out wonderfully, and the kids enjoyed piecing them together. Kristin, Ashley, Leah (S), and all of the wranglers worked one-on-one with the kids to help them think about how God was visible through the pictures they had taken of nature and their friends.

Critters in the creek and the rocket launch

At the end of the day, we were cooked a wonderful Mexican meal that was prepared for the families of the children who attended VBS. We all ate, fellowshipped, sang for the parents, and presented a slide show of what the kids did during the week. Carlos then preached on Jesus being the Resurrection as Tom translated. We have been blessed this week by the children and their parents, and we would love prayers for them as some are unchurched.

Tomorrow we hope to tell of many completed work projects, and perhaps not having to work by headlights to finish them. We have been amazed to see what God has done this week, and we can’t wait to tell everyone about it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's 11:30 at night, and we have run out of creative juices... So here it is! Love, Kristin and Ginger

Tonight Ginger and Kristin get a “break” from blogging to let some other people describe what our day was like. Ashley and Emily will be describing the new worksite that we went to today. It was humbling and overwhelming. Austin is the designated blogger for the Cherokee Valley House while Marilee and Megan are going to explain the progress at the Robbie Lane House. Tyler is going to dictate his blog post to Ginger because he smashed his finger today. Not bad enough to bandage it but bad enough for it to be uncomfortable to type.

Austin about Cherokee Valley House

The entire team with the home owners (Jay and Sarah) and Sarah's Mother (Gail)

Well today we split up into two teams. One team worked inside hammering nails into brackets that were not completely hammered in yet while another team prepared the outside for siding which we will most likely do tomorrow. We got a surprise visit from the homeowners also, Sarah and Jay. I was told that they were a young couple, which makes me think 25 to 30ish years old, while in fact they were 21. Jay walked around and helped Tyler hammer some of the nails in and pick up debris around the property. Sarah brought their new puppy dog and talked with us while we were on break. We wrapped up the day with some cleanup around the house. Meeting the new home owners was very motivational; we got to see who we were building for.

Megan and Marilee about Robbie Lane House

Doesn't Marilee look so excited to be snipping vinyl siding!

Today Ron, Mike J, Daniel, Marilee and I (Megan) worked on soffits and siding on the Robbie Lane House. We had almost finished the soffits yesterday so we just had to finish up measuring (usually 11 3/8 inches), cutting, and nailing the soffits to the corner of the roof [remember, measure twice, cut once!]. While waiting for more soffits to be delivered, we helped put some siding on the front of the house. It went smoothly and we even got the siding cut correctly around the window (thanks to Marilee). Once we were about 2/3 up the wall we realized that the siding was not straight with the other walls so we had to take it down and straighten it up- we never realized how perfect a house must be! :) Overall, we had a good day measuring, cutting, nailing, and repeating the process! And now for Marilee’s work lessons:

1. Make the house perfect- everything must line up!

2. Many, many things must happen before a house can be completely finished

3. Use the orange snippers!

Ashley and Emily on the “Putrid Pond”

Cleaning up at the "Putrid Pond"

Today a part of our team went to a pond that had gathered debris from the tornado two months ago. Truthfully we didn’t know what to expect, but once we saw the massive mess our mouths were wide open. As we started to clean the mess, we noticed some items that really touched our hearts. We found a baby’s first ornament, lots of ripped clothes, and pictures ruined by water. When we arrived we said to Hannah (the intern at Grace, who takes great care of us) that if she or anyone else sees a snake, to scream. We didn’t see any snakes. Darn! But we found a mother mouse with five babies and they ran into a nearby bush. The one thing that was very nice to accompany us was the putrid smell of the pond that was black and infested with bugs and some rotten food. We all stayed away from the water! We successfully filled two truckloads with trash but those hours of work we put in didn’t even make a dent in the look of the mess. With more hard work and God’s wonderful strength, we can definitely do it!

The momma mouse and babies that were found at the pond

Tyler on VBS at Fort Mountain State Park

Hiking through Fort Mountain State Park

Firstly, the definition of geocaching: Using GPS coordinates to locate hidden boxes. Generally there is something inside for you to take out, and sometimes you are supposed to put something back.

We split up into four groups, and the first half went off to look for the geocache puzzles. Our team (the youngest group), and the next oldest group, stayed behind and snacked. After 10 minutes the two groups that stayed behind started the hike. We found five geocache tins that had been hidden around the trail, and took the puzzle pieces out to make a cross. We then tied it all together telling the kids that Jesus is the great navigator. No matter where we are, we can’t hide from Him. During the hike there was also a fast approaching thunderstorm, but it didn’t actually rain. It was nice, because there was then a nice breeze and the temperature dropped. The kids were also pretty excited, because some had not been to this park before, and were really amazed by the view. After the team arrived back at Dalton, Ron noticed that all of the GPS’s were missing. He went back to the park because he realized that he had accidently thrown them away when he was doing trash. Luckily all GPS’s were found and are now accounted for!

Also, we would all like to wish Kelsey a happy birthday!!

Soffits, Saturn, and Sonic Blasts!!

Three words can summarize our day: Soffits, Saturn, and Sonic Blasts (Pastor Wright aren’t you proud of Ginger for thinking of that?). Ok we probably need a few more words but that’s a good start.

Daniel "helps" Ron get down from the deck

We started the day with construction again. We went to the same sites as yesterday to continue the work we started. The first site (insulation and digging yesterday) completed the insulation under the house and prepped the outside for vinyl siding to begin tomorrow. Gwen shared that she is very pleased with the servants’ heats that are being shown at the house. The team is constantly looking for ways to serve when they have a spare moment by sweeping or shoveling or whatever needs to be done. The team was also able to meet the parents of one of the homeowners, which was a blessing to the team. We will share more of their story when we return. The other site was able to finish the roof of the house. Anne was excited to see a project completed because on most of the mission’s trips she has been on she has left the finishing touches of a project to someone else. Great progress was also made on the handicap ramp and, Lord willing, it will be finished tomorrow. Siding should also be started tomorrow on this house, as the prep work has been going on for the last few days. Marilee and Kristin also went to Laundromax to wash and dry the tie dye shirts that the kids made yesterday at VBS. They turned out great and the kids should get them in the next few days (time to be determined tomorrow). Tomorrow we will return to the same worksites to continue the work we have started.

Prepping for vinyl siding

For VBS today we took the kids to the Tellus Museum in Cartersville, Georgia. We were all very impressed with the quality of the exhibits. Jeff started the day by teaching the kids about Jesus as the bread of life. He used the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand to illustrate that temporary things fade away but we need Jesus to satisfy us eternally (John 6:1-15). Afterward we loaded into the vans and headed to the museum. When we arrived we went straight to the planetarium and saw a presentation on the constellations and the planets. Lisa’s favorite moment at the museum was when all the kids gasped when the presenter turned down the lights so they could see the night sky. There was quite a bit of snoring going on during the show, so apparently we worked hard enough in the morning. Tyler only had to be woken up once before he woke himself up by snoring (He was NOT the only one sleeping though! By straw poll it appears that about half of us went to sleep at some point). We then split the kids up into groups and were able to explore the museum. The most popular exhibits were the fossil dig and the gem panning. The kids would have stayed there all day if we would have let them. However, they did also enjoy doing hands on science experiments, looking at rocks and minerals, examining fossils, and seeing transportation throughout time. We had just enough time in the museum before it was time to return to the church.

Playing with magnets and discussing the next exciting exhibit to peruse

Tonight we were able to go to Sonic on our annual “Ice Cream Run”. Someone at the church anonymously gives money every year for us to treat ourselves and we are always very grateful. Not even Lisa knows who the secret fairy is! They are pretty sneaky. It was a great time to relax and enjoy fellowshipping with each other. We were even able to treat some of our friends from Sparta and the Hilton Head twins we have adopted to our team.

Tomorrow will be more of the same on the construction front. For VBS we will be going to Fort Mountain State Park to geocache (the definition is coming tomorrow!). At night we have the opportunity to go putt putting and play laser tag at the house of a family who attends church here. It promises to be a lot of fun! Ginger and Kristin also hope to pass on some of the blogging duties tomorrow so stay tuned to read some other perspectives!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monday- The Start of Construction and VBS

Roofing- the whole roof was finished on Monday!

Moving a big pile of dirt from inside the garage

Leah (S) insulating underneath the house (mental image: Emily C. did this too!)

Lisa with most of the kids for VBS

One of the most popular Minute-To-Win-It games, Worm Diving

Monday is done, and much work has been completed! The morning began with the team splitting up between two houses in Ringgold, GA. We were all taken aback by the extensive, yet spotty damage that was incurred by the tornado. You can drive through one valley and see where houses and trees used to be, and then look up on the hill to see a house completely in tack. The two homes that we worked on have had to be completely rebuilt from the ground up, and are fairly advanced in this process. The first team, consisting of Tom, Emily C., Gwen, Austin, Tyler, Ginger, Lydia (S), Leah (S), and Emily (S), worked on installing insulation and leveling the dirt in a soon to be garage. Working on installing the insulation was Austin, Tyler, Ginger, Leah, and even Emily! This house had a small 2-3 foot crawlspace in which we crawled in and laid on our backs to install the insulation on the bottom of the floor of the house. The rest of the team (to the amazement of the Jim, the head of construction) leveled the mound of dirt that was left from digging footers for the garage. They then continued to make sure the holes around the foundation of the garage were filled.

At the second house the rest of the team roofed, moved trash, built the frame for a handicap ramp, built soffits, ran electrical wire, and installed some insulation. Tomorrow their main job will be installing siding, which will hopefully be at their worksite when they arrive in the morning. They also will continue to put on crossbeams on the ramp, and place the railing for the ramp. Hopefully there will be no more roofing to do tomorrow, as Jim was going to finish up the last little bit that was left.

The first day of VBS went quite well and very smoothly! We had around 20 kids, and we would love to have even more tomorrow. The kids played games at the Minute-to-Win-It station, learned about the Lord being their good Shepherd (John 10:11) at the Bible lesson, started to take pictures at the photography station, and built and decorated bottle rockets. We continue to pray the kids will be receptive to the word of God as we continue on this week.

We have also had many adventures today of losing important items. This included an exciting episode of trying to find lost rental car keys. Thankfully, all of the lost items have been found, and we would love prayer that we would not lose any more items.

Tomorrow we will be taking the kids to the Tellus museum. Hopefully it will be an exciting day that runs smoothly. Tune in tomorrow to hear of the adventures that we have!

We hope all of y’all are doing well back in Raleigh, and we are really enjoying hearing from you on the blog. Tomorrow we hope to tell of many exciting construction and museum stories!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Grace Presbyterian

It’s Sunday, and tomorrow we begin construction and VBS! The day began with worship with the church family at Grace Presbyterian Church. The pastor preached from Ephesians 4:25-32, and spoke on living as a part of the body of Christ. As a part of the Christian church we need to speak the truth, anger is okay when it is a righteous anger, we are to assault the problem and not each other by not using unwholesome talk, and we are to be proactive and not reactive. The team then split into the youth group, Spanish Sunday school, and the adults Sunday school class. The youth talked about the lame man at Bethesda pool and the difference in the rules of the Sabbath from then and now. The Spanish class discussed Jeremiah 43-52 with the applications call on God, follow the Bible, and use your gifts. Tom strongly encourages you to read the story! The adult Sunday school class dwelled in James 5:7-20. The lesson centered around patience with people, the waiting for the Lord’s return, and the power of prayer, confession, and spiritual reclamation.

After church, we were served a wonderful lunch of fried chicken, salad, bread, and different casseroles. We are definitely spoiled with the wonderful meals that are being prepared for us! Right after lunch we had a quick orientation by Jim Boyd, the head of Rebuilding Hope Ministries. He encouraged us to endure through all the difficulties we may have this week by the power of God (2 Corinthians 6:1-10). He also shared some of the stories of the families we will be meeting this week. The families are in need both spiritually and physically. He charged us with working to meet both of these needs.

Jim Boyd and the team meeting after church

The majority of the afternoon was spent on final preparations for the week. Lisa, Mike J, and Emily C. went with Clyde (the long term volunteer here) to scope out the work sites. The devastation they witnessed was staggering. The tornado that came through nearby Ringgold destroyed literally everything in its path. Tomorrow we will be working on two houses: roofing, vinyl siding, insulation, electric wiring, and building handicap ramps. Some of these projects will probably not get finished tomorrow :)

Devastation and two work sites we will be working on tomorrow

The remaining team members worked on preparing VBS stations for the week. Ginger, Austin, Leah (Sparta), Grace (S), and Emily (S) assembled and tested the “Minute-to-Win-It” games. Words cannot describe them. Please see the pictures below. Gwen practiced her Bible lesson for tomorrow which focus on John 10:11. More on this tomorrow. Kristin, Marilee, and Ashley unwrapped cameras and put together the photo books the kids will be creating this week. It should be a great way for the kids to remember the week and remind them who God is. Tom, Ron, Michael, Daniel, Emily (S), and Lydia (S) scoped out Fort Mountain State park and hid geocache boxes (see Wikipedia :) or visit the blog on Wednesday for details). Ginger, Kristin, Marilee, Emily C., Anne, Tyler, and Nate (S) rubber banded shirts to be tie dyed tomorrow. We can’t wait to see the finished shirts! Everyone else (and some of the aforementioned team members) cut out a multitude of wings for the rockets the kids will be crafting this week. As we type, the remaining wings are being cut. Only one Band-aid had to be used on a small finger cut!

Minute-To-Win-It games and the assembly line for VBS materials

We will wrap it up for tonight so we can join in worship. The Larsens should be here within the hour and we are also expecting a group of six men from Hilton Head, SC to arrive sometime this evening. Tune in tomorrow to find out which male has to sleep on the floor due to lack of beds.

Prayer Requests:

  • Enough rest and thorough liquid libations for the team
  • Safety to, from, and on the work sites
  • Timely arrival of needed supplies for work projects later in the week
  • For the VBS to run smoothly
  • For the kids to have open hearts
  • For the hearts of the families, whose houses we are working on
  • Praise Update: The Larsens and the Hilton Head team both arrived safely

Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Minnow packed and ready

We have arrived! Sixteen of our nineteen total team members arrived in Dalton, Georgia at 5:15, forty-five minutes ahead of schedule. The Larsens will be driving down tomorrow to complete the team. The team from Sparta, Illinois had already arrived. We have had an orientation meeting and are excited to start work on Monday.

The trip was fairly uneventful, other than “The Jack Encounter” and a few miles of traffic. Our fleet includes “The Bruise”, “Moby Dick”, and “The Minnow”. We were entertained by the conversations of other people on our radios for a while until we decided to switch to a more exclusive channel. In-travel entertainment also included listening to songs representing each team member, a sermon on evangelism, and figuring out the new-fangled overdrive on the vans.

Tonight we are planning on fellowshipping with pizza, music, and games. It seems like the Sparta and Calvary teams will become fast friends. There will also be the first official “Walmart Run” of the trip to pick up a few supplies. Tomorrow we will worship at the church and finish planning for the week.

The "before" team photo, all smiles and no sweat :)

Prayer Requests

· Rest for the team

· Rest and safe travel for the Larsens tomorrow

· Final VBS and construction preparations

· Scott Parsons as he prepares to preach tomorrow

· For God to prepare the hearts of the kids and families we will be serving this week