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. Around 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.
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.
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.
After 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.
It 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.
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.