It was another wonderful week. It began with another inspirational worship service with the ECHO Crew Monday morning. It was so great for our team to become part of the ECHO community over the past three weeks. After devotion we all started back to work, basically where we left off on Thursday.
Max and Anne returned to the Appropriate Technology Center bathroom and finished the removal of the ceiling and declared that job complete only to find that we also had to install the new ¾ inch plywood on the walls and ceiling. We worked with two ECHO volunteers on that and made two new friends. Anne moved onto other work and Steve took her place for the last few days. Our portion of the bathroom work was completed Thursday morning. The plumbing and the rest will be completed by other ECHO volunteers. We learned at a Volunteer Brown Bag Lunch on Wednesday that Worldwide ECHO has only a total of 75 employees. Greater than 50% of the work of ECHO to end hunger around the world is done by volunteers. Pretty amazing and we feel honored to be part of their team.
Also finished this week was the bridge between the visitor center and the library. A good portion of the team worked on that bridge at some point so I won’t list names for fear of missing someone. However, the final four that spent so much time on that project were Dan and Marlis, Phil and Steve. They did an excellent job rebuilding the bridge.
Almost everyone on the team worked on the new plant tables at some point. The highlight of that work this week was the moving the plants off the rusty old tables, removing the old table tops, then moving the new structures into place and placing the plants on the new tables. The last two tables were quite large and HEAVY! Eight of our twelve team members moved the first one and had to stop and put it on the ground and rest numerous times while moving from where they were built to the propagation area. We were all huffing and puffing and straining and didn’t know how we were going to move the last one into place. Susan enlisted the help of our two ECHO volunteers who worked with us on the bathroom. It was totally amazing. None of us could have imagined the difference it made to have two more helpers. It lightened the load for us all to a level we could much more easily handle. We all agreed there was a big lesson to be learned for all of us. It would even make a good sermon. More hands certainly made the work so much lighter.
There was also a lot more accomplished at the A-frame cabin. We totally stripped the second floor. All the appliances and cabinets that were removed from the walls were taken to storage. All the trim was removed, the tile removed from the walls and all the floor tile broken up and removed. The tile was very labor intensive work done with sledge hammers, scrapers, pry bars and brute strength. One half of the flooring was on top of cement board that was screwed down with hundreds of screws that also had to be removed. Lots for sore arms and backs at the completion of that work. Most of the team worked on that big project at some point.
There was also more pressure washing this week again with most of us doing that at some time too. We were glad to be able to get the buildings looking better in preparation for the 40th birthday celebration for ECHO taking place in February. Wish we could be here for that celebration. Wednesday night we had a team dinner at the campground with every one contributing to the potluck. It was a time for the team and celebration for all we accomplished. Thursday we celebrated again with ECHO as they treated us to a Chick-Fil-A luncheon. Another special time with the team and our ECHO friends. This was one of those projects where it’s very had to say goodbye to everyone. But it had to occur and we left Riverside Campground this morning and arrived in Tampa shortly before lunch.
We are boondocking at the state fairgrounds and attending the RV Show until Sunday when we will be back on the road to Alabama. It’s been a great week! Safe travels to all the NOMADS on the road this weekend.
We have had several folks who saw news of the tornadoes in southwest Florida contact us to make sure we were okay. We are. A cold front passed through this part of Florida this morning spawning a few tornadoes and damaging an RV resort as well has several other locations. A tornado warning was issued for the area to our southwest so the team turtled up our RVs and gathered in the nearest substantial structure – the bathhouse/laundry. Fortunately, all the severe storms passed either to our north or south.
Today has been another beautiful winter day in Fort Myers, FL. We have really had beautiful weather since arriving, with only an occasional shower. Watching the weather over the remainder of the country we are certainly concerned for everyone experiencing such a rough winter. Y’all be very careful as you are out and about!!
Last Saturday was the day we elected to celebrate Max’s birthday. So along with catching up on the laundry, we cooked up some of our red snapper that we brought from Gulf Shores. It was so good! Anne also made Max a from scratch vanilla pie using his Mom’s recipe. It was a first for her because we always just got our pie fix when we visited Juno. She was quite the pie maker. Thanks to Debra who shared the recipe and skill, pies will now be back in our diet – but not too often. Saturday afternoon we took a nice hike with two of our team members in one of the county parks. It was such a nice day.
We again began the week with devotion with the Echo family – such a good time of worship and song. After devotion we all headed back to work with Max and Anne back to the duck pond dock to meet with Elliott. Over the weekend it was decided that the dock looked so good that Echo wanted to replace all the wood above the deck of the dock. That meant we went back into demo mode. Marcia and Phil joined us to help unload all the new material and work on the rebuild. By Wednesday we were ready to install the new balusters and we set up an assembly line with Marcia pre-drilling, Anne starting the screws and Max and Phil installing. We were surprised at how fast that went and by Wednesday afternoon the deck was completed.
A new assignment the team began this week was the cleaning out of the A-Frame house used by interns and other guests. At some point the second floor kitchen will be moved downstairs and the bedrooms on the first floor moved upstairs. Voni and Mary began that process of packing up everything into storage boxes and others helped out taking the furniture apart and except for the appliances everything is now in storage.
The team also built additional plant tables – these even larger than last weeks and dug and set new footing for a hoop house in the propagation area. Work continued on the large bridge with all the supporting beams being replaced. That was a huge, heavy job!
Max and Anne began the demo of a bathroom in the Appropriate Technology area with Elliott. All the fixtures and walls were removed. That was also a very physical job. Anne was a little stiff on Friday. All that is left to remove next week is the ceiling. Don’t think we will be involved in that rebuild, but we do enjoy demo.
For Anne Friday and much of today was spent on NOMADS business but she did take time this morning to host a cheese grits cooking school. With Marcia, Mary and Voni, Anne had fun showing them how southerners make cheese grits. Phil who said he didn’t like grits, decided the ladies cheese grits were pretty good. Anne also shared Juno’s sausage and grits recipe and the ladies are looking forward to giving that a try too. Some of the team also played some corn hole and ladder golf this afternoon. This is a great team. We are again enjoying our time at ECHO.
With great team leaders, great team members and a host agency with a truly great mission how could we help but to have a great week? We started the week with a joint devotional time with the ECHO staff and other volunteers. That is how each week will start. In additional to the devotional time, we learn a lot about ECHO (Hope Against Hunger) and their mission. After the devotional time everyone breaks into small groups to pray for each other and ECHO.
Then our NOMADS team was treated to a tour of the farm by one of the docents. Most of the team had not been here before but it was still very interesting to those of us who have.
After the tour our team leaders, Susan and Kevin, gave us our marching orders. Top priorities were to repair some walk bridges and the duck pond dock, install a vent fan in the mushroom house, build some potting tables and build some steps to a goat birthing house.
Today was spent doing laundry, grocery shopping, resting and enjoying the sunset.