Sunday April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!!! Hope everyone has had a wonderful day. We started the day when the alarm clock went off at 4:00am. It seemed like such a good idea yesterday. This morning at 4:00am it was really questionable. Not really. We love sunrise service. The entire team including Richard’s brother-in-law Joe, went to Lester Memorial UMC sunrise service at Palisades Park in Oneonta. It was a wonderful service, led by our youth pastor Skyler Jones. Some of the youth also participated playing the part of the women that went to the tomb to anoint the body and found the tomb open and Jesus not there. They did a great job! The sunrise was awesome. Up on the rocks at Palisades is a great place for sunrise service with the birds, the trees, the views from the top of the mountain. Great way to begin this day. After the service we went back to the church and had a wonderful breakfast. The team was surprised that there was no cost and thought it was the best breakfast they have had while here. As usual it was very good and we all ate too much. We visited and talked until time for the 8:30 service which was held in the sanctuary today. The music was very good. The acoustics in the sanctuary are better than the fellowship hall so the music sounded especially good today. Barry’s message was from Luke 24:13-35. Barry talked about our freedom in Christ and remembering our walk to freedom and encouraged us to share that freedom walk because it’s just too good to keep to ourselves.

After worship we returned to Camp Sumatanga. Most people were primarily interested in naps. There was a lot of sleeping going on. Later in the day there were lakeside walks, bike rides, laundry, reading and sitting around visiting. It was a wonderful Easter Day.

Another Beautiful and Laid Back Day

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Native azalea
Native azalea

Spring has really sprung in Alabama over the past week. The trees are so much greener and the flowers are in full bloom. The dogwood is beautiful, as is the native azalea. We always love when the native azalea is blooming beside the lake here at Sumatanga.

Wild irises
Wild irises

The little wild irises are blooming between the campground and the lodge and one of Max’s mom’s favorite, sweet shrub is everywhere.

Tax time
Tax time!

Anne however, didn’t get to enjoy it very much because she was still working on taxes. Such a PAIN!!! Oh, almost forgot. The blackberries are starting to bloom here too. Makes us wonder what the weather is going to do. We usually have a blackberry winter cold snap when the blackberries bloom. The forecast isn’t looking that way this week but….. don’t be surprised if we have some cold mornings in the next week or two.

Blackberry blossoms
Blackberry blossoms

Some of the team went to the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham today and thought it was very well done. Others hung out around the campground and did mundane things like laundry, and other chores. There was some hiking, baking and exploring today, too. Barry and Donna came by on their way home from riding the Chief Ladiga from Cedartown to the Alabama state line. When we notified the people that made the part for us that they didn’t but a valve core in it they immediately shipped the stem and tool for installing and were very apologetic. So, Barry finished the repair he started for us last week and now FRED has wonderfully cool air coming from the dash air. I’m sure we will really appreciate that dash air when we made the drive to Hayesville, NC at the end of the week. Thank you so very much Barry and Donna!!

The team plans to go to our church’s sunrise service at Palisades Park in the morning and then have breakfast at Lester Memorial afterwords. We will stay for the 8:30 service and then probably everyone will come home a take a nap. We will be wheels rolling for Palisades at 5:15. Guess we better go get showers and head to bed pretty soon. Hope everyone enjoys the beauty, miracle, and celebration of Easter tomorrow, but never forget the sacrifice that Jesus made for you – and us.

The Rest of the Team Arrives

Friday, April 14, 2017

Another beautiful day in Alabama. The weather people say we are running about 10 degrees above normal for this time of year but our dogwoods are in full bloom and we have beautiful blue skies so we are really enjoying it. Four members of our team, Bill, Marty, Patrick and Harriet, went to Cullman to tour Ave Maria Grotto and have dinner with another NOMADS couple that lives near there. We had errands to run to gather some information to finish our tax returns and get ready for our cookout tonight and await Carol and Dave’s arrival. Carol and Dave are fulltime RVers that previously lived in Maryland. We worked with them on both our Sumatanga projects last year and they have become dear friends. We were so glad when they arrived. They will also be at our project in North Carolina next period. They arrived around noon and after getting their motorhome set up we sat around outside enjoying the beautiful day, and caught up with all that’s happened since we last were together. Well we didn’t have time to cover it all but we got a good start on it. We have four more weeks to get caught up.

When the rest of the team returned from Cullman they told us about their road trip. They all seemed to be glad they had gone to the Grotto and of course enjoyed their time with our Cullman NOMADS. A little later, Jim started a really nice fire in the fire ring and let it build up a good bed of coals for our planned campfire/cookout to welcome Dave and Carol to the team.  Campfire to welcome Carol and DaveAround 6:00 pm everyone started gathering around the fire. We had different kinds of hot dogs, chips, dip, fresh sliced vegetables and the makings for s’mores. The team seemed to enjoy the time to visit and eat. As usual when we are together there was lots of laughter. Tim, who we have been working with at the new base camp, brought his wife, Susan, by to meet us. Susan is the summer camp nurse here at Sumatanga. She too came to Sumatanga as a young person so it was fun to share memories of camp. So glad she and Tim came by tonight. Hope you are having a wonderful Easter weekend and be sure to remember what it’s all about.

NOMADS Friday, Second Week

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Before we start today’s report, we wanted to tell you that we changed some of the pictures on yesterday’s blog after the email notifications went out last night. So, that means that if you want to see all of the pictures you will have to go back and look at yesterdays blog again.

Marti bringing devotional. Amanda and Lottie attended today.
Marti bringing devotional. Amanda and Lottie attended today.

This morning Marti led a wonderful discussion of grace during our morning devotion. She started by asking, “What is grace?” After a few answers from others, Bill said insightfully, “Willingness to have dinner with Judas even though Jesus knew what Judas would soon do.” We then drew lots to read various verses about grace and Marti read a story about a professor teaching about grace through a practical application of it. It’s a very good story so check out the link.  Marti asked for our memories of examples of grace in our own lives and Patrick shared a touching story from his childhood of a learning moment he experienced with his father. After some good-natured ribbing, we ended by singing “Amazing Grace.” By the way, the ribbing of Patrick continued most of the day. It came up again at lunch and we all laughed our way through the meal.

After devotion, some of the team headed up the hill and others waited down below to help transfer lumber and supplies from one trailer to another to make the trip up. Once we were all on top, the ladies began stacking fire wood for camp and everyone else worked on setting the ridge beams to their (hopefully) final heights. Dennis agreed to lowering the highest one a few inches instead of trying to raise all the others several inches. That saved us some work by making it necessary to replace only one ridge post, instead of two. After stacking firewood, Marti, Harriet and Anne went back down to the administration building to work in the flower beds until lunch. The rest of the team continued to work on the last tent platform. By the end of the day, the frame and decking were completed on that platform and the ridge beams are at the correct level on platforms 1,2 and 3. It was a tiring day, but we felt we accomplished a lot. Before lunch, Tim and Bill brought down a tall dead pine tree that would have posed a threat to the campers this summer if left standing. The tree didn’t come down quite as easily as we all expected but it was eventually on the ground.

Resting and joking around after workAfter getting back to the campground after work the tired team sat around for a while and talked and laughed. There was also some more good-natured ribbing going on.  Bill came up with the idea of code naming the team “Ringling” because we are a three ring circus. We have to admit, this team is unique in it’s chemistry and laughs a whole lot. Such a great team! We love our wonderful NOMADS friends. God has really blessed us in our retirement.

Spy Wednesday

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Patrick sharing devotionIt was another beautiful day today even if the forecast contained as small threat of rain. It was cloudy part of the day and at one time we had about 4 drops of rain but great working temperatures. Patrick shared a very educational devotion today by starting with the question “What is today?” After several serious and not so serious responses we found out the answer he was looking for was “Spy Wednesday”, the day of Holy Week that marks Judas Iscariot’s decision to betray Jesus to the Sanhedrin. Patrick, a former Catholic priest, then led a discussion about the differences and similarities between then Protestant and Catholic religions. We also discussed the stations of the cross and the Via Dolorosa. He ended with the main point that as Judas betrayed Jesus centuries ago, we sometimes betray him now by our thoughts and actions.

Back on the hill we started by changing out the ridge beams on the first two tent platforms to the 20’ ones we learned about yesterday evening. Meanwhile, Harriet, Marti and Anne started demolishing some parts of the old ropes course so it could be loaded for a trip to the dumpster. They really enjoy being destructive. We also removed an old swing obstacle left over from the ropes course, since it would be an attractive hazard for some of the campers. Platform three was decked and the ridge beams installed just before lunch. Since today was the monthly full staff meeting for Sumatanga the team stayed around after lunch to put food away and wash dishes so the kitchen staff could attend.

After lunch we loaded the trailer with the scrap wood the Destruction Divas created. The ladies started to fasten down the 2×2 border around the edges of platform three, when a question arose as to where the entrance would be. Amanda and Dennis came up the hill to answer that and in the process determined that all the platforms would have to have steps built because of the sloping terrain. We also found out they wanted all of the ridge beams the same height because they ordered all the tarps the same size. We had just been making them as high as possible based on the height of the 6×6 poles that support them. More change orders. That happens at all our projects to some extent, so we always tell our teams to remember “Semper Gumby” – Always Flexible.  Anyway, we completed erecting the frame for the fourth and last platform and tomorrow we will see what Dennis has decided about raising the ridge beams.

Even with the changes and redo’s the team is maintaining a good attitude. Everyone is constantly cutting up and joking around with each other. Makes for a fun, if physically tiring project.

Another Productive Day

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

We know you are getting tired of this but wow – another beautiful day. Wonderful day to be working outside.

Bill provided us another inspirational and thought provoking devotion this morning about excellence when doing God’s work. He mentioned an incident on another project where someone did a less than acceptable job on mudding some drywall and then left with the statement “That’s good enough for NOMADS.” Bill took exception to that. The central message of his devotion was that anytime we do something as “God’s hands” we should do it to the very best of our ability.

After devotion, we all went back to our duty stations from yesterday – Bill and Marti to Little Brown and the rest to the new base camp. By the end of the day we had completed (we thought) the two tent platforms that had already been started by another group and installed the frame and most of the decking on the third. Getting the posts set in the right place and plumb took the longest time. While the guys worked on that, Harriet and Anne completed the trim work on the first two platforms. Right at the end of the day, Dennis came up the hill and pointed out that we had used the wrong ridge boards so we will have to change those out when we go back. Bummer. Other than that it was a very productive day working outdoors in beautiful weather with a great group of servants.

After completing the installation of the new breaker box at Little Brown, Bill and Marti joined us on the hilltop and help with the decking. It was good to have the whole team in one place again. This is a fun team to work with. Always a lot of laughter.

Start of Week Two

Monday, April 10, 2017

These wonderful days are habit forming. A little cool this morning and then beautiful blue skies and t-shirt weather.

Today starts week two for our team at Sumatanga. Amanda did devotion for us this morning using a cracked and broken clay pot that water poured right through. The pot of course represented us in our broken and sinful state. She then used it as a lamp shade and the light shown through very nicely representing how God can use us even if we have a broken past. There was some good discussion and sharing.

Of course, we then went to work. Bill and Marti continued to work in Little Brown. They replaced the old fuse box with a breaker box and have most of the rewiring done. Marti also sanded some of the mudding we did last week and they may put on another coat tomorrow. The rest of the team went up the mountain on the McKinney side of the road to what is becoming the new base camp. There is no electricity, or water, at the site. There are 2 old out houses. It’s suppose to be a primitive camping experience so we don’t know what amenities will eventually be added, if any. The “road” up to the base camp is more of a rough trail through the woods. When we went up on the wagon first thing this morning the wagon didn’t quite clear a tree and we had to back down a ways and try again. There is a walking trail up the mountain that has switch backs so is not quite so difficult to walk. Not an easy walk but better than the straight up “road.” Due to the distance, we took our breaks on the mountain today. While there we built the frames for the next two tent platforms and holes were dug for one of them. There was a problem with the tractor brakes so the holes for the other will hopefully be done tomorrow. We completed the decking on the frame that the previous group had built. We still have to put the railing around the sides and the beams across the top. Progress was slow this morning, but once we got things sorted out, things started moving pretty quickly this afternoon. It will probably take another couple of days to finish the four but hopefully we will complete that task this week. Tomorrow we will need to get Sackrete and water to the site to set the all the posts for the last two tent platforms. That may be a challenge. The trip up the mountain is really rough in the wagon or truck so we decided to walk it except the first time when we went up with the tools. Max ended up walking it once and Anne twice. Yep – probably going to be sore tomorrow but we are trying to build back up to full hiking condition. May be there by the end of the next 2 weeks at this rate. Hope you are having a wonderful week and check back in with us tomorrow.