Friday, July 27, 2012

Alabama Mission Trip Day 6

Thursday is usually a very fast paced and hectic today and this one was no different. It started out great with Rich, Nancy, Becky and Richard doing eggs and bacon for us all. Even Davis got up early so he wouldn't miss any. There was a little more moaning and groaning around the tables than earlier even with the hardy breakfast.
 
On Thursdays we work a little harder and a little longer because we know that we need to be done on Friday. Once we got to the jobsite and unloaded one of the task for today was to haul off some broken materials to a landfill. We had the use of a dumpster earlier in the week but that was now gone. So we loaded up my pickup and we found one online about 10 miles from us. No problem I thought (hint, hint). Well after traveling for about 30 minutes due to traffic and winding roads I finally found what I thought was the landfill. I pulled up to the office and went in. I explained to the guy who I was, what we were doing and asked where I could dump the trash. He said not here. I'm sure he enjoyed my surprised look. He then proceeded to tell me that the landfill I was at was no longer taking this type of debris but the one in the city of Albertville did. He gave me directions like I knew what he was talking about. So I headed back out the way I came in and finally found the City of Albertville. After driving around a bit and being followed by a police car I finally found the Post Office. I thought for sure these people would know this place I was looking for. I go in and explain to the nice lady behind the counter where I was looking for. Now it was her turn to give me a surprised look. She had no idea of what I was talking about. I could see those guys back at the landfill laugh their heads off at this out of towner with a load of busted sheetrock trying to find this mythical dumping station. As God would have it an angel walked in about that time. She stepped up and said I think I know where you are talking about and if you'll just follow me I'll take you right to it. I thought about giving her a hug about then. I followed her out of the parking lot and after 1 turn there it was. Thank you Lord! I quickly unloaded then headed back to the jobsite which was now only about 5 miles away. And no it didn't take me 30 minutes to get there.
 
Finally back at the houses. Everything was running smoothly. At Carol's house the paneling was all up, one of the bedrooms was painted, the sanding had been done and the primer was being put on. At Grannie's house the bedrooms were painted, doors were being worked on to be hung, the front room had at least one coat of paint on, the ceiling had been painted, corner beads were going up and work was going on in the bathroom. It was humming along.
 
We broke for lunch but quickly got back to our sites. Melanie (Grannie's granddaughter) stopped by and said that they had brought Grannie up on Wednesday night to check it out. The word I got was she was very happy with what has happened. Unfortunately we haven't seen Carol or Matthew. Pastor Marvin McCormick dropped by too. When he walked in I was about to open a can of paint. He asked to get a picture of that because he wasn't sure I ever did any work because he never sees me in any of the pictures.
 
Some folks wrapped up around 4 and headed back to clean up and start supper. The next crew wrapped up around 5 and headed back and the final crew headed back around 6. It was spaghetti tonight. Everybody was really hunger so the clean up was pretty easy.
 
Our devotions were lead by Brittney and Rich. It's a two part devotion with the second half coming tomorrow night in the sanctuary. Afterwards we talked about how we are feeling (tired, exciting, anxious, overjoyed). The team is working well. Attached are pictures of each team member and no mine is not staged. It has been a great week. We have encountered Christ in various ways. In each other, in a stranger at the Post Office, in the homeowners, in a lady who stopped by today to ask who we were and to thank us for helping out, to the owner of a local restaurant, in the members of Henryville UMC and in the folks back home who wrote the team members notes. It really does make a difference.
 
Tomorrow is going to be a busy day. We are close to completing the projects that we were given but most of all I feel that we have all experienced Christ in new and amazing ways. We thank you for your prayers as we continue to lift you all up in our prayers. God bless!
 
In Christ,
Jeff
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Alabama Mission Trip Day 5

 
 
Wow, can you believe it is Wednesday already? Sleeping in is getting more and more precious these days. I'm not sure if it is exhaustion or maybe the air mattress is starting to really conform to my body. Thank you Lord for Bland who get's up early and gets the coffee going. Our breakfast are do it yourself types. We try to be ready to go by 7:30. A few stragglers roll in the kitchen area about 7:15.
 
Today was our planned half day of work. In the afternoon the team had been invited out to one of the members of Henryville UMC to hang out at Guntersville Lake. But first the work. It hasn't gotten any cooler but our bodies are adjusting to it. The task for today was to get the final coats of paint on the bedrooms at Grannie's house. Along with getting the front and middle room ready to be painted on Thursday. We had early removed the hot water from the only closet in the house so it could be put into the bathroom. All the plumbing for that has now been run and we are hoping to have the electrical wiring run for the bathroom on Thursday. When we broke at noon today all of these task had been completed except for a little more sanding and mudding. Rich and Kevin stayed an extra hour to get these done. Unfortunately Grannie didn't show up today.
 
Carol and her son Matthew were at the other house today. Carol came by to check on her 5 dogs. She gave them all baths. Several of the team members took the time the talk with Carol and Matthew during the morning. We always stress that on mission trips it is the relationship with the homeowner or people that is the most important part of the mission. When Carol and Matthew came inside and saw the paneling and sub-flooring along with the painting that had been done through out they house they were amazed. It was really starting to look like a home again. We found out that Carol had been living in this house for over 60 years. The attached picture is the team with Carol and Matthew. When we broke at noon at this house Richard and Colin continued on a bit to also get more mudding and sanding done.
 
The rest of the team headed back to the church to get cleaned up, eat lunch and to get our stuff together to go out to the lake. A member of Henryville UMC had gracious offered the use of their lake house for an afternoon of relaxation. Lynn Thompson explained that he doesn't mind sharing what he has to those that take the time to serve God. So for about 2 and 1/2 hours we swam, sat on the dock, had boat rides and even took turns on their two jet skis. Bland said that we made a mistake coming out here because now the youth who came will expect this every mission. I'll say this if the youth that come in the future work as hard as the 4 youths that came this time we will do our best to make this happen. Everyone had a good time at the lake.
 
After the lake we came back and quickly changed to go out to eat. We ate at a local place called Papa Dubi's. They served seafood with a Cajun flavor. It was very relaxing and very good. Nobody left there hungry.
 
After dinner and a quick stop at Wal-Mart to restock on water and Gatorade and get a few things for dinner we headed in for the evening. Our devotion for tonight was done by Tony. He played a song that he heard at the Voices of Youth concert that was recently at our church called "We are Called". Tony said that when he heard the song he knew that he had to play it for us while on the mission. After our devotion we had our team meeting. All said that it was another day filled with excitement. A lot of the team expressed that they could really see where the work was starting to pay off in that the houses both look like houses. We talked about what needs to be done to wrap things up on Friday.
 
Thursday is shaping up to be a long day with a lot to do. So for tonight it is good night. Thank you for your prayers as we are praying for you.
 
God Bless,
Jeff
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mission Trip Day 4

Good evening all!
 
What a great day. It started off like most Tuesdays on mission trips, more coffee and extra ibuprofen. Slower starts and a few more aches and pains than normal for everybody. The weather forecast was for another hot one. After a quick breakfast and loading up we headed out.
 
At the jobsite we unloaded and headed for our jobsites. After a short while the granddaughter and grandson in-law came by to check on us. We asked about the homeowner (her grandmother) and Melanie said that she was staying with them. I asked her if she was able to come over to she the house. Mel (what every calls Melanie) said that she didn't want to get in our way. We explained that that would not happen. They left to go get Grannie. Well soon the car pulls up and Grannie gets out. When we met Grannie (which is what everyone calls her) she started giving hugs to everyone. She explained that she is Grannie to all in the area. A very sweet 84 year old lady. Well she talked to everyone on the team and then some. She said that she hadn't been back to her house in several weeks. That when she'd drive by she'd wave and say hello house I hope to be back soon. I think she enjoyed sitting out front watching the cars go by as much as she enjoyed talking with the team members. A strange thing happened shortly after Grannie got there. Prior to her arrival we were all kind of dragging. But after meeting her and putting a face to the house everyone's pace picked up. It wasn't quite as hot and the tasks had a little more purpose. She stayed until just before we broke for the day. She said she'd be back tomorrow.
 
After lunch we switched up some team members to get different jobs done. I went over to the other house to help paint one of the back rooms. I'm really not very good at sheetrock work to be honest. The other house (Ms. Brutley's) is coming along. The sub flooring is all in, painting in a back bedroom is almost done along with priming the wall in a front bedroom. Tomorrow we are hoping to get the insulation and paneling up in the kitchen.
 
We got back to Henryville a little later than normal but we got a lot done. Dinner was baked barbecue chicken, creamed potatoes, steamed broccoli, Bland's sweet tea and various desserts. We were really slow moving afterwards. Parker Kelly lead our devotions. After a brief team meeting folks started to head for bed. Some of us stayed up later than we should to discuss the day and future plans.
 
Wednesday is our planned half day of work. Pastor Marvin has arraigned for us to spend some time on Guntersville Lake. I'm sure that will be an adventure in it's on.
 
I forgot to mention earlier about the delicious cookies that Gail May sent us. As good as these cookies are I am surprised that any survived the trip from Chicago! THANK YOU Gail, we miss you!
 
We pray that all are well back home. The attached picture is of Grannie, her granddaughter, her grandson in-law and some of the team that has been working on her house. Please continue to pray for the team and the people that we serve. God bless you all as He has blessed us!
 
Peace & Grace,
Jeff
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pictures of our Mission Team in Alabama!

Click Here to see the awesome work going on in Alabama this week!  Great Pictures!

Alabama Mission Trip Day 3

Holy cow was it hot today! Despite the heat and being Monday we got a lot done. The morning started out with plenty of coffee and excitement of what the day would hold for us. Once we got out to the sites and started moving around in the 96+ heat and humidity you quickly felt a drain on the system though. Rich and Richard had the plans for both houses and we quickly set about to get our task going. We had people sanding sheetrock, mudding sheetrock, priming trim and cutting and hanging sheetrock in various parts of both houses. Everybody was in good spirits even in the heat. One of our youth, Davis, took to working in sheetrock like a pro. Our other 3 youth, Peyton, Katy and Kaelyn, enjoyed priming the trim boards outside.
 
It wasn't long before the granddaughter of the home owner came by to see us. Her name is Melanie. We asked her about what damage was to the house. She explained that parts of 3 trees fell on the house opening in up to the elements. Unfortunately the house sat that way for several months before a roof was put on the house. The entire insides of the home had to be gutted. All of the possessions that could be salvaged are now in two pods waiting to be moved back into the house. Our hope is that we can get most of the rooms completed to a point that we can unload the pods before we leave.
 
In the other home, like I said earlier, it's a little more complicated. That home also had roof damage and sat open for several months. The owner of the house was so overwhelmed by the disaster that she had a breakdown and could not deal with it. From what we have been told she basically closed the house up with her 5 dogs inside. While she did come by and feed them she didn't clean up after them. When she finally got some help on the house you can imagine how the house smelled. On top of that when earlier teams came in the clean up she would go out to the dumpster and bring the items back in. In this house we are also hanging sheetrock, taping, mudding and sanding along with painting the walls and putting down sub-flooring in the kitchen.
 
We worked on both houses until around 3:30. By then we were dragging. Thank you to all that donated water and Gatorade! We have gone through a lot already. We cleaned up, packed up and locked up the two houses and headed back to Henryville UMC. Tonight's dinner was a special treat. Rich had cooked his special barbeque pork and Colleen had made us a chocolate ├ęclair cake. Thanks to both of them for this meal.
 
When we arrived back showers and getting into some air conditioning was primary. Everybody was exhausted. One of the youth commented that if Mondays are normally our slow day then what was the rest of the week going to be like?
 
During dinner we had a surprise guest. A lady named Mildred whom we had met back in March with Wesley came by. She is 92, still drives her car and volunteers twice a week at the courthouse. She had brought us some cantaloupes, strawberries, grapes and candy. She also had a handwritten card for the team. She was grateful that we were down at her church helping the folks in her community. She has no idea how much she is serving us. It never ceases to amaze me at where the face a Jesus will show up.
 
Everyone has gone to bed earlier tonight. Even the youth are wondering how they will feel in the morning. What ever the day holds for us we go forward with the confidence that God will be there with us. Thank you all for your prayers and responses to the Facebook pictures. We heard some good news from home today in that it has finally rained in Farmville! We continue to lift up you all back home. Oh and the attached picture is our first team photo. The head bands are courtesy of Janet Stoner.
 
Rich is the one who came up with the subject line of this email. When we got back into our rooms he laid down on his air mattress and said very sincerely "Thank you Jesus for air conditioning and air mattresses".  Amen!
 
Peace to all,
Jeff
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Alabama Day 2




Good evening all,
Well all are here! The last group (Rich & Parker) pulled in around 9:45 PM CT. The Illinois crew got here about 2:00 PM CT. Shortly after they got here we headed out to the jobsites for a tour. But wait, I'm getting ahead of my self here. Let's start a little earlier.
Last night most of us headed for bed pretty early around 10:30. The younger ones stayed up awhile longer conversing on their phones with those back home. After a 10 hr drive the air mattress felt pretty good. Why I woke up at 3 AM I'll never know. So laying there in the semi quiet with the AC turning on and off, a few snores from across the room and the hum of the fan I said a prayer, "Lord please be with us this week. If at all possible keep the heat down. Help us to be safe and may we serve the people as you would have us serve." I drifted back to sleep. Just before the alarm was to go off at 6 I got up. Bland and Tony were already stirring. Apparently Richard's double stuffed air mattress sprung a leak in the middle of the night so he didn't sleep as well. Davis never stirred. Before heading for the shower I gave the keys to Tony and he and Becky made the coffee, Bless them!  After a refreshing shower I headed over to the kitchen.
Now Henryville UMC has there coffee fellowship at 8:30. The team was up, some slower than others, and got our breakfast and was ready to go by then. After being greeted warmly by everyone that came in we were then invited to eat some more breakfast that a women's group had made for themselves for their 8:00 meeting. Being good Methodist we didn't turn down food.
We broke up and went into various Sunday School classes. The one that Becky, Brittney, Nancy and I went to was taking a contemporary Christian song and breaking it down and explaining what it meant to them. The song we discussed was one by Chris Rice, "The Color 9". The service today was about the Great Commission but about the fact that God would be there at all times. Through the entire service it just felt like waves and waves of the Holy Spirit were washing over us. Afterwards the people kept coming up to us thanking us for being here and welcoming those of us that had been before back. It was like a homecoming. Even the youth on the team spoke up on the ride to the restaurant about the energy and excitement that they felt during the service. What a great way to start off the week.
After stuffing ourselves at a local all you can eat dinner called Bruce's we headed back to the church to change to go out to look at the jobsites. After a quick meeting and welcoming the May's (Ed, Kevin & Colin) we were meet by Pastor Marvin whom we followed out to the jobsites on his motorcycle. We have two houses to work on. Both received roof damage in the tornados. The first house. Ms. Lang's, is mostly sheetrock finishing, painting, some framing, hanging cabinets and some trim work. The other house, Ms. Brutley's, is a little more complex. I'll give more info on both of these people a little bit later.
After our tours of the houses the team split and some headed back and some headed to Wal-Mart to get our supplies for the week. Several team members picked up Alabama t-shirts.
We headed back to unload and relax a bit before dinner. Dinner was much lighter than we had planned thanks to a very big lunch. A few brave souls (or foolish depending on your view) went for a run. Fortunately they all made it back. The rest of us pulled out some leftover pizza and sandwich items and got dinner laid out. A little while later we had our team meeting. Nancy lead us in a get to know you game where we were sorted by our birth month and then we gave our name and said why we were here. After the icebreaker Peyton, Katy and Kaelyn lead the devotion. Peyton read from Ezra 3: 10 and the foundation of temple. Katy and Kaelyn then talked about how a house must be built on a strong foundation and this being their first mission that this mission was laying the foundation for their faith. Wow, what amazing youth we have with us.  Afterwards  handed out the cards that Melissa Ward hand made for each of the team members. There were a few teary eyes as folks read what she had written to each. We discussed our plans for tomorrow and then we broke.
Everyone but Rich and myself have headed for bed. I'm going very shortly. Thank you all for your prayers and support. We mention you all in our prayers. We shall see what the Lord brings us tomorrow. So from Guntersville, AL good night and God Bless!
Jeff

Alabama Mission Trip Day 1



Hey All,
 
The first wave of the mission team (11 of us) made it down to Guntersville fine. It's hot and humid. Our internet connection is iffy so I will do the best that I can to get info out to all.
 
We were greeted to today by Pastor Marvin McCormick and his wife Kim. It was great to see them again. Once again we were given the keys to the church and he went over the only two rules, Have fun and make yourself at home. Once we unloaded and had a tour we headed out for pizza. Everyone is settled in and looking forward to seeing all tomorrow at church.
 
We know that we have two houses to work on. It sounds like sheetrock and painting mostly. Will know more tomorrow afternoon.
 
Thanks to those that came out to see us off. A big thank you to those that donated drinks and snacks!
 
The rest of the team will becoming in tomorrow. Please keep them in your prayer. We will be praying for each of you throughout the week.
 
More as it develops!
 
In Christ,
Jeff
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