It has been a very busy week. Also a very hot week. Close to record highs each day. We are 10 or more degrees above normal for this time of year every day.
We hit the ground running after the long day of driving last Friday. On Saturday Max worked on the drive way that had washed a little due to all the recent rains. After that he was on the bush hog until about 7:30 Saturday evening with a little break for lunch and lots of breaks for water. Anne worked on laundry and started the process of emptying closets in preparation for selling the house. Sunday we met dear friends Barry and Donna for breakfast before church and then went to church and Sunday School. We heard a great message from Pastor Harvey. During the Sunday School hour the Director of Kids International Mission, the children’s home and school in the Philippines our church supports, spoke to everyone about the work being done and needing to be done in the Philippians. It was a wonderful time. After church we headed to the nursing home to visit with Aunt Jean and Aunt Helen. They seemed very happy to see us and we had a good visit. Randy and Debra, Max’s brother and his wife, arrived Sunday afternoon. They came with materials and tools for working on Max’s grandparent’s house.
Monday morning we started bright and early working on what we all call “Granny’s house”. It’s a farm house that is now over 100 years old. Therefore, it always needs work. This time we worked to cover the fascia boards with metal, replace some of the masonite siding with cement board and replace the ceiling and lighting in the kitchen. We worked twelve hour days more like Constructors for Christ projects than our NOMADS schedule. We were able to complete all our tasks late Thursday. It was a hard week but we got it done plus some additional items that came up like getting our air conditioner repaired, repairing a toilet at our house and two at Helen’s. Debra and Anne also began work on cleaning out some of the items we quickly moved to Helen’s when Jean had to go to the nursing home. They also put together some birthing kits for our mission team to take to the Philippines next week. We then took Friday for all four of us to visit with the Aunts, friends, and run a few errands.
That brings us to today. Randy and Debra left around 9:00 heading back to South Carolina and we left shortly after that heading to Red Bay, AL. This evening we are again parked in the Tiffin Service Center campground in Red Bay. Our rear air conditioner is not working properly (remember how hot it is?) Fortunately, the problem developed now because our two year warranty expires June 7. Hopefully we can get it replaced early next week. Maybe we can get a little rest while we are here.
The past two days were beautiful although a little too hot. Yesterday we didn’t really do that much. We decided to go to the Chatham Cafe for breakfast. The country skillet was just as good as we remembered it. Glad we also remembered to split it because it was even larger than we remembered. We went to the Interurban Trail that runs from Chatham to Springfield get our exercise. We didn’t get the bikes out but did some good walking. Otherwise we cleaned out the truck, put tools away and readied things for travel today. Richard and Dianne came for a visit and we said our “see you down the road” with hugs. We have really enjoyed spending these last few days with them. All four of us have been through a lot of stuff since we were last together in 2016 but as it is with good friends, we just picked up like it was yesterday. We will really try to not let three years go by before we get together again.
Today we were up early, completed our packing and were on the road before 7:00. We originally planned to make it a two day trip home but just kept driving until we got home at about 6:30 this evening. Long day, but we shared the driving and stopped and walked around every few hours. With no bad weather it wasn’t too hard. Now it’s like we gained a day because we can get some work done here tomorrow. There is always so much to do when we get back to Alabama – lots of grass to cut. We are so thankful for another day of safe travel. Hope everyone has a great weekend.
We had rain and storms with thunder and wind during the night last night. More rain is the last thing needed in this area. The farmers still do not have the crops planted. Corn should have been planted a month ago and it’s still too wet to get the equipment in the fields. The talk here is that corn prices are going up because there will be a small crop this year. That means gas will also be up. There are a lot of fields that are still under water from the flooding. Sad.
Today was a finish up, clean up day. All the scaffolding that we built was taken down. The front exterior was completed, over the loading dock. The metal arrived and took quite a while to get unloaded. Large heavy sheets of metal. It was decided that we would not start installing the metal roofing system since there would not be time for us to complete it this week. We completed the framing and will leave the rest for someone else.
Tonight we went to dinner at Sugar Creek UMC, next door to where we are working. They always invite the volunteers working at MMDC to their Wednesday night dinner. It was good pulled pork sandwiches with the trimmings and nice time visiting. It was a good day.
Today was another beautiful day. It was a little warmer and then we had a very light, short rain this afternoon. We were very busy working. The hole in the roof is now closed with the decking and the holes on the side are closed with the sheathing and the holes are all cut for the windows and fans. Decking and sheathing are now finished. All the wall braces are down and about half the soffit on the front is complete. It was a very productive day.
After work we headed to Scoop Du Jour for ice cream. It was our favorite place to go after work when we were working here in July in 2015 and 2016. It’s never too cold for ice cream so back we went today. It’s still just as good as we remembered.
Another great thing also occurred today. Last week in Baton Rouge at the dinner the church gave us, a lady asked if it would be okay for her to call the local TV station and get them to do a story on NOMADS. They have a local section called 2 Make A Difference and the church member wanted to tell them about NOMADS making a difference at Francis Asbury and the community. Of course we said sure, never thinking they would actually do the story. Late Tuesday afternoon just before we left for the Bible presentation on Norwich they came to “get the story.” Gary tried to throw us under the bus and get us to do the interview but we threw him under the bus since he was the leader. He did a great job with the interview and we were so disappointed that we never saw the interview air. Then this morning it showed up on the Channel 2 web site. So proud of Gary! Be sure to take a look before it falls off their website. (Click here)
Sunday was dreary, rainy, and cold all day. The temperature never got above 42. Time to pull out all the layers to stay warm.
We went to Chatham UMC with Dianne and Richard for worship. Sara, who was the pastor at Chatham UMC when we were here last, is no longer here. She became such a precious friend through Mary Alice’s illness so we really missed her. However, the new pastor, Miriam, was very good. After church we went out to lunch at Steak and Shake. Those shakes are so good. Then is was home to wrap up in a blanket on the sofa for a nap. That was about all we did yesterday.
Today we met Richard, Dianne and Rich at 8:00 to start working on the warehouse extension. The sun was shining brightly!! Still cool but no rain. Later two other volunteers also joined us. Last week they got all the walls up and started on the roof decking. Today we continued working on the decking. At the end of the day there were only eight more pieces of decking to install. Really good progress made. We also got to visit with Pat the former director of MMDC. It was great to see her. She retired a few months ago but is still doing some work for them. We also got to meet the new director, Chantel. Such a joy. She brings so much new energy to the agency while continuing the mission. Things seem to be going great at MMDC. It should be a good week.
Yesterday we set the alarm for 4:30 to check the weather. There were differences in the predicted time of arrival of the heavy rains. We reviewed the radar and decided we had to either hurry and get on the road immediately or we would need to wait until 11 am or noon to depart. Heavy rain was on the way. We decided to leave and jumped out of bed and started doing the last minute packing. Joe, Charley, Gary and Abby were real troopers and got up to give us hugs. We pulled out of Francis Asbury campground at 5:34. It was lightly raining at that time. We were very blessed with only light to occasional moderate rain and no storms for the long travel day. We headed out on I-12 and then turned north on I-55 after about 30 minutes. We remained on I-55 crossing into Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and finally into Missouri. After Jackson, MS, we left most of the rain behind and picked up the love bugs. We prefer the rain. We stopped about every two hours for walks in the rest areas and driver change. The interstate was the worst in the Memphis area.
Shortly after crossing into Missouri, we stopped at the Welcome Center in Hayti. This rest area has a short walking trail and lots of sidewalks to walk. When we went inside the Welcome Center they were celebrating tourist information week by giving visitors free hot dogs and cookies. Nice. Also nice, Missouri allows overnight parking in rest areas so we parked, walked, ate and called it a day. We had been listening to a hilarious audio book, Murder Makes Waves by Anne George for he whole trip and only had about an hour left on it when we arrived. So after our walk we finished listening instead of writing a blog entry. The book is part of a Southern Sisters series that is set in and around Birmingham, Alabama. This particular book was mostly about the Destin area. We laughed a lot on our drive yesterday.
We slept well and were on the road again about 7:00 this morning. We continued north on I-55 through St Louis. We noticed yesterday and again today the severe flooding of the MS river. We also learned that Zachary, a community a little north of Baton Rouge was evacuating some people from their homes due to the rain of yesterday. We passed the beautiful arch in St Louis and it was on to Pawnee, IL and Midwest Mission Distribution Center. We will be helping to complete an addition to the warehouse. It was pouring rain when we arrived so we haven’t toured the job site yet, but we did spend the afternoon visiting with our dear friends Richard and Dianne. Thankful for safe travel.
Today started cloudy and very humid. We tried to make sure we stayed hydrated. After lunch the storms came. Lots of rain. Serious flash flooding. Thankfully we all made it back to the RVs safely but it took considerably longer than usual. When we watched the videos on TV of cars floating down the streets, and water on Interstate 10, we were even more thankful.
Today’s devotion was done by Gary. He shared a devotion by Charles Stanley encouraging us to be available. God wants to use us and will use us if we will just make our selves available to Him.
We all headed back to our regular homes to begin our last day of work. The mobile home movers were at Norwich when we arrived, readying the mobile housing unit (FEMA trailer) for moving to the FEMA collection center. Our homeowner had to be out of the trailer by the end of April. She is now staying in a hotel until her house is complete. The power company came by earlier in the week to pull the power meter but since we were there working and needed the power, they say they would come back Friday. The guys doing the work today were really nice and let us keep using power until the FEMA office told them to cut it off shortly after lunch. Then in a few minutes they set up their generator and let us have power from that. About 2:00 the storms really came and when the truck came to get the trailer you could barely see to drive. They decided they were not pulling it today and left. The moving guys could have left then too, but hung around and let us continue to use their generator until we were done for the day. Really nice.
Today we placed the trim in the channels for all the transition strips. The transition from the ceramic tile to the wood laminate looks really good. Joe did a great job. Max, Anne and Charley worked on installing baseboard and caulking. Good progress was made. We have completed much of the needed work on the house. If our team had about one more week we could probably complete both houses. Unfortunately, there are no volunteers scheduled here for several weeks. Makes us sad to leave. We wish we could have done more.
Out at Groom Road good progress was also made. It was raining so hard and water was rising fast so we did not get to go to the Bible presentation at Groom but from the pictures, the kitchen looks very nice. Nice counter tops, Bob and Gary! Sharon and Virginia also completed the portion of the flooring they were hoping to do.
It’s been a great project from the beginning in February through to this week. NOMADS worked 10 weeks last year and 12 weeks this year helping the people of Baton Rouge rebuild their homes and lives. What an honor it has been.