The team spent all of Christmas Eve 2019 at Big Pine UMC. We decided early on in the project that we would spend some time working at the church to thank them for being such welcoming hosts. The church was flooded during Hurricane Irma but is mostly rebuild. There are still a few things that need to be completed. The sound booth needs flooring and a door to cover the HVAC unit. And there is always painting to be done.
Then tonight was the traditional Christmas Eve service with carols and the reading of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke.
Last night was along night for the team. During our team meeting we learned that our county was placed under a tornado watch. We told the team what to do if we went under a warning and after our work was done we all headed back to our rigs. Max was in storm mode as there was a water spout headed straight toward Key West. Anne went to sleep – for about 15 minutes when we were suddenly placed under a tornado warning. All our team received their phone alerts and all gathered back inside the church as we had requested. Max didn’t think the worst of the storm was going to pass our way and thankfully it did not. When we experience severe weather when we are traveling, we learn how blessed we are with the TV and NWS coverage we have in our area. Since Key West is 150 miles from Miami, the stations there – the closest TV stations – don’t really cover the lower keys. The tornado warning wasn’t canceled until 11:00 but most of the team was so wide awake by then that there was little sleep to be had. Key West received 5.5 inches of rain from the storm and the streets were flooded. We had a lot of rain but no wind damage. This afternoon some of the side streets in Big Pine Key were still under water.
Today Max took Glenita and Steve to Sugarloaf Key to continue work on Bob’s house. Today they hung 2 sets of closet doors, repaired a hole in the ceiling drywall, touched up some paint. The rest of the team – Larry, Kathy, Elaine and Anne returned to Dennis’ house. Larry installed the four new kitchen ceiling lights while the rest of us did the final sanding/prep on the walls in the kitchen and living room. He also did some work on the hall and bedroom drywall. After lunch the ladies, with the help of Dennis, began the priming of the walls. By the end of the day one short section of wall was all that was unprimed. We were very pleased with the appearance of the walls with the primer in place.
Today was Elaine’s birthday and the 10 year old daughter of our homeowner Bob was scheduled to sing at Boondocks, a local restaurant, so the team decided to head to Boondocks after work. Unfortunately the young lady was ill and unable to appear but we all still had fun celebrating Elaine’s day. Since we are all so tired, we made an early night of it and headed home with everyone planning an early bedtime. Hope everyone is ready for Christmas.
We enjoyed another Advent service at Big Pine UMC this morning. The sermon was about Joseph and how little is written about him, but what an important part he played in the life of Jesus. Interestingly, one of our team devotions this week was about the same thing. After the service we had some fellowship time with our new team members, Steve and Glenita. It was great to learn more about them. The rest of the day was spent walking and getting ready for tonight’s team meeting.
We walked past the Monroe County Fire Department Big Pine Key station which is just a block or so from the church. We found this beautiful mural painted on the side of the station. Look closely and you can see the flag is made up of firefighters in SCBA’s. Beautiful.
Our newest members of the team, Glenita and Steve arrived about 6:30 tonight. Thankful for their safe arrival and safety parking after dark. So now all our team is in place again. We can relax a little.
The rest of the day today we did some serious walking (wind only 26 mph sustained wind today but it still shakes FRED at times). We have discovered we really like the ability to walk anywhere we need to go on Big Pine. We walk across the street the grocery store, across the highway to the flea market, down the highway a ways to one of many restaurant choices. One of the places we walked today was to a new seafood and produce stand that was having it’s grand opening today. We met the two owners earlier this week and promised them we would visit today. We bought some key lime pie, fresh salsa, grapefruit and oranges. We tried some fresh watermelon juice, fresh guacamole, and fresh shrimp ceviche which were all excellent and will be on our list for next visit. As a lot of you know, we frequently prepare snow crab legs for our Christmas dinner along with some other not so traditional but favorite items. This little market has stone crab claws. Since we are in the Keys, we decided to go local and they will be steaming us some fresh stone crab claws for our 2019 Christmas dinner. We came home and looked up stone crab since we have never eaten it and found that when they catch the crab, they harvest one of the claws, release the crab and when the crab molts it grows another claw. Who knew? Certainly not us. We had another great day in the Keys. Hope everyone has finished their shopping and is ready to concentrate on the real reason for Christmas. Stay safe.
FIVE days till Christmas!! Hope you are all ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
Today we slept in. Yea!! We were up in time to get our hugs and say our “see you down the road” to Mary and Ron who had their motorhome packed and pulled out a little after 9:00. We so enjoyed working with them again. We wish them safe travels to their next project. A little later in the day we took a long walk. We also spent time reorganizing our tools and truck and meeting with Jim, the construction coordinator, about next week. The weather is quite brisk for Florida and we have winds 28-32 MPH. We had to weight down our carpet outside the door with large rocks, and we might still have to go look for it in the morning. It was a quiet but busy day.
I think the entire team is glad it’s NOMADS Friday. (Thursday for folks not fortunate enough to enjoy our four day work weeks.) It’s been a physically tiring week. It rained almost all day today and when it wasn’t raining it was misty and the wind was blowing 29-32 MPH. It would have been a good day to stay at home and sleep. We didn’t of course and Elaine led devotion for us and read a piece on the childhood of Jesus. Interesting to think about what Jesus was like when he was two or three or six, etc. He was fully human, yet fully God. He had to learn to walk and talk just like we all did. Thanks, Elaine!
After devotion and planning tonight’s dinner, Max, Kathy and Larry drove back to Sugarloaf Key to a new to us house. Bob’s house is almost completed and they went there to work the punch list. There was some touch up painting, installing trim, and cabinet parts, repairing “plumber’s” hole in drywall and caulking. They will have to return on Monday to continue working the list. The rest of the team went back to Dennis’s house and were joined by the team of college students who worked at the Sugarloaf Key house yesterday. The students joined in sanding drywall in the back bedroom and then in the living room. They seemed to be a good group and we enjoyed having them join us. While the students were sanding, our team textured the kitchen ceiling. Dennis made the final decision to texture the walls too so guess we will work on that next week.
We will loose Mary and Ron tomorrow as they drive back north to the mainland. We have really enjoyed seeing them again and wish them safe travels.
We had lots of rain overnight and into this morning. No getting to morning meeting with dry feet today. Mud puddles everywhere. It rained off and on throughout the day and then a cold front went through and our temperature dropped to 70. Our low tonight is 67 which is quite warm compared to the 26 degrees at home but the locals are complaining of it being too cold. Of course they are still wearing shorts.
Kathy and Larry led devotion this morning and Larry shared a little of his life story. He told of a glimpse of heaven he saw when he had a near death experience after a fall from a ladder a number of years ago. Thanks, Kathy and Larry for sharing with us today.
We all headed back to work at the same locations as yesterday. At Dennis’s Anne, Elaine, Mary and Ron worked primarily on the back bedroom drywall and hallway drywall. We also worked with Dennis on the walls in the living room and dinning room. Those walls are about ready for texture. Dennis has decided rather than flat walls he wants a knock down texture. Down at Sugarloaf Key Max, Larry and Kathy had help from an International Orthodox Christian Charities mission team. Nine college aged students with their leaders came to paint the ceilings for us. There was also more caulking, touch up painting, finishing the transition strips and putting down edging strips. One more door sweep is needed and we will be complete on this house (until the scope of work changes).
Tomorrow we will have the college students at Dennis’s and go back to a house worked on by previous NOMADS. Should be a good day.