Monday, August 8, 2011

Misc Pictures

The balcony at Hungars Episcopal church

The school on Tangier Island

Some boys crabbing or fishing in the marsh

Trying to nap on the return trip

Tony, Eric and Holly on the ride over

Moving the scaffold to work on the other side now.

Tony waiting for his next metal order

Waiting for the word from on high!

A flying boat. Realy it was!

An Eastern Shore sunset

Friday and Wrapping it up!

Well we are all safely back home now. I will try and wrap up the last work day, traveling home and some finale thoughts about the mission trip.

Friday morning was another early rise. We wanted to get as much done as we could before we finished our time on the Eastern Shore. We got to the jobsite before 7:30 again. Everyone was in good spirits and ready to go. The former roofers were now working on getting the metal on the facia boards as well as touching up a few spots on the edge of the roof. Colleen, Becky, Bland and I headed under the house to put up insulation in the crawl space. Now it was interesting for two guys with 6 foot 3 inch frames under a house putting up fiberglass insulation. Fortunately (a God moment?) there was plenty of room under the house. Actually Bland and I could sit up (if we were careful) without cracking our heads. Now when Glenn (one of the construction site leaders) explained how to do the insulation he said that on a previous house a bunch of high school kids had done it in about 45 minutes. Those kids must have been magicians because it took us about 3 hours. Of course it was much cooler under there than outside so we really didn’t mind it. I didn’t feel itchy either when it was done. That came later after our showers!

While under the house the pop-up shelter that we had was a victim of a gust of wind. You see one of the legs was bent already and cracked so it didn’t take much to finish the job of breaking it. During a break from the insulation we were able to piece it back together with a piece of wood and Duck Tape! We still had shade for a little while longer.

At lunch time Habitat provided us with a cookout of hamburgers and hot dogs. Glenn did the cooking. We all ate more than our fair share. After lunch there wasn’t a whole lot left to do. We polished off our jobs and then cleaned up, got our team picture and said our good byes. In the time we were there we were able to: finish shingling the roof which included drip edge and ridge vents, insulated under the entire house, finished the siding on both ends of the house (after we put up the Tyvex paper), pulled wire for all of the electrical outlets and switches, nailed up metal covers to protect the wire when the sheetrock is installed, tacked up the loose wires, installed rafter vents, nailed nailers for the sheetrock, dug out for the front porch concrete pad, mixed concrete for the pad, built the concrete forms, poured the concrete, installed the front porch steps (after repairing what the previous crew had messed up), installed the soffit vents on the porch and under the roof overhang, put metal over the facia boards, used a swing blade to cut the brush by the road along with picking up trash around the lot. However I believe our most important thing we did was to show God’s love for a family that we had never met.

We also built strong relationships with each other and the Habitat construction crew of Glenn and Walt. Now these two guys were with us on site all week long. They were absolutely the most patient and easy to get along with Habitat people I have ever met. They were extremely knowledgeable of what they were doing and took time when asked (several times in some cases) about how to do something. We praised them several times to the board members and executive director of Habitat.

We got back to Franktown to recover and cleanup for our last evening meal. We were going out and as usual the hardest decision we have is where to eat. We finally decide on a local place called Big. I kid you not that is its name. If you have followed any of my emails in the past you may remember me talking about a restaurant in Mississippi called “The Shed”. Well Big is the Shed of the Eastern Shore. We passed it and I never saw it. Well Big must get its name from the servings you get because they were huge. After we had all eaten as much as we could we headed back to get ready to head home.

Rich and Colleen had the final devotion. Afterwards we sat around discussing the week. We talked about heading home and what time we’d be leaving. We cleaned up around the kitchen and fellowship hall and did some packing. Some went to bed and some stayed up and talked. Our conversations cover a wide spectrum of topics from the silly to the most serious. There are times when I imagine the disciples sitting around and doing the same thing. A lot of time we talk about community and what that is to us. We saw a very tight knit and isolated (by our standards) community on Tangier. The mission team became a stronger community of believers by stepping out and putting their faith in action by the sweat and toil of laboring for another family. We never discussed if Danielle’s family goes to church or not but that really doesn’t matter. For we are all God’s children regardless.

Saturday morning comes. Lying on the air mattress for the last time listening to the snores in the room and watching first light come through the window. It’s been a fast week. A fun week. I know my aches and pains will come later after I get home and the adrenalin rush is over. Thank goodness for vitamin “I”. I pray that it won’t be too long before Danielle and her family have their home. Everyone deserves a safe home. I know that with God’s help we did our best to get them closer to theirs.

We start getting up and heading for the coffee. Thanks to Pat and Bland the keepers of the coffee pot. We sit around drinking a cup or two then we quickly clean up, load up and go outside for our final prayer. There are hugs all around and a tear or two. Yes we will see each other in church but it won’t be the same. What a great team this has been to serve with. I will never be able to give them enough praise. I hope and pray that I will be blessed to serve with each again.

Eastern Shore Mission Benediction
by team member Holly Johnston

“Just as God calls us to step out of the boat, God calls us to go forth and make disciples. Just as God calls us to serve the least and the little among us, God calls us to be in community with fellow believers. Know that as you go forth and live as the hands and feet of Christ that you are not alone, that you united through Christ's love to carry out God's call for ourselves, for those that came before us and for those that will come after us.”


Sunday, August 7, 2011


(Written earlier but not posted until now)

Well the day started off slowly but picked up quickly. We had decided to get to our jobsite around 7:30 and try and beat the heat. After all these years in working on construction missions I should know better that you just can’t beat the heat.

With thoughts and talk about Tangier along with plenty of coffee we headed up the road to Belle Haven. Now I don’t think I have described our jobsite much so far. Where we are working is on Savagetown Road just off Hwy 13 (like everything is over on the Shore). You turn by the Crop Production Services fertilizer plant and head down this windy country road. After two sharp turns and trying hard not to run into a ditch you come around a bend and before you know it you’ve passed the house. Fortunately there is a large electrical substation right next door. And I do mean right next door. How Habitat found this site is beyond me. There aren’t any neighbors for about a quarter of a mile and right across from the house is a large field of some kind of bean. We guess it is soy bean. The lot is very flat (like most of the area is) with no trees on the lot. I guess this makes for easy access to the house but it sure would be good if we had a little more shade. Our main source of shade is a pop-up shelter that I brought along and then the west side of the house at least until about noon. We did quickly learn about the biting flies of the Eastern Shore. We used at least 4 different types of bug spray on ourselves with little effect. Of course they are worse in the shade which is why we have tried to stay out of it. 

We do get to the jobsite at 7:30 and we are very busy with all areas of construction. After the roofing crew finishes up they do a bit of showing off but they deserve it. The rest of us are busy in many areas. Nailing up nailers (boards over top of where the sheetrock will be nailed too), working on the siding on the gabled ends, bending metal for the facia boards, nailing up metal faceplates (this keeps the sheetrock crew from putting a screw into the wires in the studs), putting the vents into the foundation walls along with picking up trash and swatting black flies. We wrap up for the day around 3. Tired, hot, sweaty, thirsty and a little sunburned but feeling good about where we are. Tonight the Eastern Shore Habitat is serving us dinner so we head back to get ready for it.

We are staying at Franktown UMC. This is an extremely accommodating church. They have trusted us with a key that opens every door in the building. They have allowed us full use of a very well stocked and supplied kitchen as well as a very cold air conditioning system. Praise God for this church and the people in it. The church as two showers which we use, one for the guys and one for the girls. It’s kind of interesting in that you would think that when we return from the jobsite we’d be heading for the showers. Actually we usually just go into the fellowship room and plop down in a cushioned chair to relax. Then slowly over the next hour or so we head for the showers. After washing off the bug spray, sweat, dirt and sunscreen I feel almost normal.

As I said tonight’s dinner is being provided by Habitat. Around 6:00 Susie Jones our Habitat contact person comes in and starts on dinner. She is soon joined by Nancy Gonzalez (Executive Director) and her husband Tony and then by Danielle Harmon (the homeowner) and two of her kids and her nephew. Dinner is served and we all sit and talk and eat and talk and eat some more. Nancy then talks about ES Habitat and then Danielle speaks a little while holding back tears. We are then given ES Habitat T-shirts. After some pictures and hugs Tony (Nancy’s husband) tells us a little about the area and this very old Episcopal Church near us that they go to. He asks us if we’d like to see it and being that this is not a shy group nor one that turns down the chance for adventure we say let’s go. Well we head out and the church is Hungars Episcopal Church which was built in 1742. A beautiful church with a very unique balcony. I will include some pictures of this later. After walking around the church and the grounds we head back to get ready for another day.

We have our devotions led by Pat and Becky and then afterwards we get our “mail from home”. Thank you for those that took the time to write a line or two to the team. They are always encouraging and well cherished.

After our team meeting in planning for Friday (another early day) we spend the rest of the time munching on G.O.R.P. and drinking water trying to rehydrate. Various conversations arise along with much laughter. A few of the hardy ones stay up until almost 1 AM talking and sharing stories. This is truly one of the closest teams I have ever been with. We are tired but are well aware of what lies ahead and know that it is God who gives us the strength to do the work. Good night.

Friday, August 5, 2011

more pictures from Thursday & Friday

Jeff, Danielle and Rich

The team and the homeowner at the Thursday night dinner

The insulation crew ready to head under the house

It's a tight fit for some of us.

Bland nailing nailers

Bending more metal

Swingblade Holly

Wore out!

The team at the end of the week

Saying our good byes after a job well done!

Thursday, August 4, 2011



I’m so thankful that today was our day off. I’m also thankful for this air mattress because I can roll out of it to get up. After a bit of stretching and some Excedrin I head down the hall to get some coffee. Thank you Bland for having the coffee ready every morning!

On Wednesdays Habitat takes the day off. A lot of teams head up to Chincoteague but we are heading for Tangier Island. To get there you have to either go by boat or plane. We’ll I’m not a fan of flying so it’s off to Onley to catch the Joyce Marie II.

We board our boat at 10:00 AM and head out across the Bay. I found out later that from the pier to the Bay is 5 miles. It’s another 13 miles after that. On the way over we see Brown Pelicans, Osprey, fishing boats and their spotter plane. The ride over really isn’t bad. Some folks had taken some Dramamine before we left but it never got rough. It takes a little more than an hour to get over to the island. We come up on the island and there are crab shacks everywhere. We dock then head down very narrow streets to see what’s here. It doesn’t take us long to realize it’s not a lot. A very quant town to say the least. There may be 5 cars on the island and about the same number of pickups. Most folks get around on golf carts, scooter or ATV’s. There are cats everywhere. We see a few dogs but not many. Almost every yard has a family cemetery in it. The population of Tangier is about 500 and we find out that the island is shrinking. The people we meet are very friendly. Of course if you listen to the locals in the shops you notice they have a very different accent.

We have lunch at the Chesapeake House run by Hilda Crockett. This is apparently a tradition for all those that come to the island. Lunch was crab cakes, fried clam fritters, ham, green beans, pickled beets, corn pudding, potato salad, rolls, cole slaw, applesauce and for dessert pound cake with pineapple chunks. All served family style. Wow, what a spread and it was excellent. After lunch we waddled around the island again checking out a few shops and finally finding some chairs to plop down in and rest before heading back to our boat.

Our boat was heading back at 3:30. All who were heading back were back on board by 3:15 so we headed back. The ride back was very pleasant. A very nice Bay breeze to cool us off. I went into the cabin to talk with the captain of the boat. He is a Crockett (probably related to Hilda) who use to crab but bought the water taxi service about 3 years ago and hasn’t looked back. After docking we decided quickly that we were all going to skip dinner. So we headed back to Franktown UMC to relax and talk about the day.

One of the things that we discussed was community. Could we live in such a small community seemingly cut off from the outside world? Where everyone knew everyone and everyone’s business but also were there for everyone. We never came to any solid conclusions about this.

Two days left. Tomorrow is going to be very busy. We hope to finish the roof and the siding. It’s going to start early too (7:30 on the jobsite). So good night to all. Thank you for the prayers as we are praying for you!

More pictures

On site at 7:30 AM

Everybody busy

Getting the siding up

Becky with the vents

Eric and Becky cutting ridge caps

Rich and Bland putting on the ridge caps

The roofing crew finished! Miss ya Renae

Holly with the sawzall

Becky on the ladder

Pat cutting siding

Siding done on one side.

Putting on the facia

Colleen working on cement for the steps

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tangier Pictures

The team on Tangier by the United Methodist Church.

The United Methodist Church on Tangier

Tangier Health Center

A sign in the swamp

Tangier from the boat

Crab cages

On the back of the Joyce Marie II



Why is my shoulder hurting so bad this morning? Oh yeah, from toting shingles up and down that ladder. A quick downing of Excedrin and a couple cups of coffee and it’s better.  Everyone is a little slower this morning. We’re all discussing our unknown aches and pains but despite all of that everyone is in a good mode and ready to get started.

We head out a bit earlier to try and beat the heat. Bland and I go by the firehouse for our ice, thank goodness. We get to the job site and of course they are saving the last bundle of shingles for me. Everyone gets busy quickly. This will be our only day with a full team of 11. Bland, Rich, Renae and Eric are on the roof. Colleen is under the house working on plumbing. Pat and Becky are working on the soffit vents. Tony has gone off with one of the Habitat guys to get a metal break. Regina and Holly are working on digging out a spot for the pad for the front porch steps. And me, well I’m the gopher and taking pictures.

The sun comes up quickly and it gets hot really fast. They were only calling for it to be about 93 today and it is past that by 9:30. We were able to meet the homeowner today. Her name is Danielle Harmon. Three of her five kids were there putting in their sweat equity. A nice lady and very friendly. The kids were very busy getting up the trash and cutting the grass around the lot.

About noon we break for lunch. A local couple brings us lunch today. Wow, what a spread. Barbecue pork, homemade pasta salad, homemade refrigerator pickles, angel food cake (with bits of pineapple in it), tea and apple cranberry drink. Can beat it with a stick!

After lunch we head back to the roof. The sun is at its peak and we quickly discover that the tar on the shingles is sticking to everything. While the roofing crew is trying to get some more done the rest of us keep busy on the ground. Pat, Becky and I are setting up scaffolding to work on the siding on the ends. Tony is bending metal, Regina is working inside while Holly is working with another volunteer on the porch. About 1:30 the Habitat lead person says that the heat is too much for the roofers and the shingles. So they call it a day. We aren’t too upset because the heat is starting to get to us all.

We get back to the church for showers and some cooling off. Rich and Colleen are going to see family tonight so the rest of us are planning our evening. We decide on an early dinner then heading to Cape Charles for our devotions. Eric use to live over here so he was our guide. We get down to the beach and Cape Charles and get out to stretch our legs. It’s about 6:30 when we get there and a little bit cooler but not much. The beach is nice. It is on the bay side and there are not many people on it. Some of us walk down the beach while others are walking on the sidewalk. We head to the pier to see what’s happening there. On the pier folks are crabbing and fishing. We watch some families crabbing with chicken and nets. It fun to watch the kids pull up a crab and to see how excited they get. There are plenty of Osprey nests and they are letting us know they are there.

We head back toward our vehicles for our devotion. Eric has the devotion tonight. We set up our chairs on the sidewalk and we have a great view of the bay with the sun setting. We sit and watch the sun sink behind the horizon. What a peaceful feeling it is to just sit and watch all of God’s beauty around you.

The mosquitoes quickly make us realize that it’s time to head in. We head back to the church for a quick team meeting and to get ready for tomorrow. We are off to Tangier Island in the morning.

We thank you all for your prayers and know that we miss you all and are praying for all!

Another day and another adventure awaits.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New pictures

Getting an early start.

Colleen working on the plumbing.

Becky on the scaffold.

A meeting of the minds.

Holly and Regina really digging it.

Tony operating the metal break.

Taking a break from the morning sun.

Eric and Jeff working on the shingles.

The team at the end of Tuesday's workday.

The team at the Cape Charles boardwalk.

Watching the sunset over the bay after our devotions.