Field Trip

Friday, April 07, 2017

Today we went on a field trip! It was a cool, windy, but beautiful morning. We left around 9:15 to make a 10 o’clock appoint to tour the Blount County 9-1-1 Center in Oneonta. This is the new center that Max was responsible for starting and getting close to completion before retirement in April 2014 – 3 years ago. The team was met at the center by 9-1-1 Director, Caleb Branch. Caleb discussed the history of the center then showed the team some geographical information system (GIS) maps showing the emergency response density around the county. Harriet and Jim, who had experience in a volunteer ambulance department were very interested in how those maps were being used to improve emergency medical service (EMS) and ambulance response for Blount County. He then took the group into the dispatch room and talked about the computer aided dispatch (CAD) system and all the other electronic tools the dispatchers use to help them do their jobs faster and more accurately. Of particular interest were the large monitors on the wall showing images from the surveillance cameras mounted on the covered bridges we were going to tour when we left the center. Caleb also told the team that Blount County is one of only a few 9-1-1 systems that has implemented “text to 9-1-1” and recounted some instances where it was used when it was not safe for the caller to talk verbally. Once instance was when a lady’s house was being broken into. The dispatcher had her get in a closet and hide and continued to communicate with her by text until law enforcement arrived. Caleb also reminded the team that it is always better to call by voice if that is possible. At the time of our visit, there were almost 60 years of dispatch experience between the three dispatchers on duty this morning. Yes, we remain proud of our 9-1-1 dispatchers and center.

After we left the 9-1-1 center, we drove just north of Oneonta to Horton Mill Bridge, the highest of the three covered bridges still in use in the county. From there we drove to Easley Covered Bridge, the oldest one. Then we went to Cleveland to see Swann Covered Bridge, which is the longest of the three.

O' So Good
O’ So Good!

We then drove back to Oneonta to stop at the O’ So Good barbecue trailer in the Hometown Market parking lot. Everyone selected and bought their lunch and we went across the street to Woodland Park for a chilly and breezy picnic. Then Anne had to leave to pick up Max’s mother for a doctor’s appointment and the rest of the team loaded into Pat’s truck and returned to camp for an afternoon of rest and house cleaning. The team seemed to really enjoy seeing the bridges and tour of the center and since there were no leftovers, we presume they liked Oh, So Good too.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Jim and Harriet provided our devotion todayToday started cloudy and dreary and much cooler. Later in the day the sun was shining brightly but with a strong wind it was still quite cool. Harriet and Jim gave our devotion reminding us that sometimes we never know the impact we are having on others lives, but rest assured others are watching and noticing. She told us of how honored she was when a nephew asked her to read some scripture and say a few words at his wedding. She and Jim had kept the two brothers at times when they were young to help their dad (Harriet’s brother) after their Mom abandoned them. Harriet said they never thought much about keeping the boys. “It was just what we did.” Because of the wedding her nephews told her how much their time with Harriet and Jim meant to them. We all need to remember this. As Christians we may never know the impact some of the “little” things we do might have, but God can and does use those things. When we were working the disaster rebuild project in Maysville, Oklahoma, Anne and some of the other ladies were outside cutting some lumber. They had noticed a car going back and forth, up and down the block. After several passes a lady stopped in the middle of the road, got out of the car and came over to talk to the ladies. They were afraid she was going to complain about us parking on the side of the road and slightly in the road. WRONG. She wanted to know what we were doing. She had seen the NOMADS magnets on our trucks. We explained what we were doing and then all of a sudden she started telling us her life story. Most recently she was dealing with drug addiction and was now sober. She told us how hard that was in Maysville where drugs are so prevalent. She then asked us to pray for her and Maysville. What an awesome experience that was and what an honor to be able to pray with this woman. Just being there, with some magnets, and a “God wink”, as a friend would call it, occurred. God can use us all, wants to use us all, in all sorts of ways we can not even imagine.

After devotion, we got busy working in the Pool Camp kitchen in order to get the kitchen back in working condition for the weekend. They will actually be feeding 140 people each meal from that kitchen this weekend. Bill and Jim worked on plumbing, Patrick and Richard reinstalled the large sinks, worked on the exterior wall putting up batten strips and the interior pipe cover along with Max. Anne, Marti and Harriet worked on cleaning, and getting the kitchen back in order. Bill spent most of the day on his back working on the sink drain. We think he was actually sleeping part of that time. After lunch, the ladies went back to Little Brown to sand and mud the drywall the guys mudded earlier this week. It was a busy but productive day and the kitchen is ready for guest this weekend. YEA!!!

Stormy Weather

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Driving to devotion and team meeting this morningToday was a day of weather preparedness while we were working. It started with another deluge and ducks swimming in the yard again. After devotion, we set up a computer at Pool Camp to monitor the National Weather Service radar and emergency manager chat room. We kept the team close together so we could get any weather information to them quickly. Rains came and went with no warnings for this area until after 6pm when a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for this part of St. Clair County. Radar showed a large storm cell tracking northeast along I-59 but spreading out laterally. Max was on his way back from a doctor appointment and arrived at the campground at the same time the edge of the storm passed just to the south. By that time Anne had warned the team and the ones that were here pulled their trucks and cars under the roof of McBee pavilion. Bill and Marti had gone to Walmart in Springville. While they were there, the store closed for lack of power and the Subway lost some ceiling tiles to the wind while they were eating. Just a mile or so south of us they had baseball size hail. We are so thankful that we and our motorhomes were spared that horror.  We are also thankful for a good report from the surgeon for Max.  He is to slowly resume his normal activities.

Otherwise, a good bit was accomplished today. Before lunch Pat, Richard and Jim finished the casing of the new door and mudded the drywall around it, and Max and Bill worked on building a frame to protect some pipes in the Pool Camp kitchen. After lunch Max went to his follow up appointment with the surgeon in Cullman and Bill, Jim, Richard and Pat went back to the Pool Camp to work in the kitchen. They got the plumbing in the wall for the sink and the back wall insulated, plywood installed and caulked. Anne, Harriet and Marti continued reorganizing the storage rooms at Little Brown and inventoried a few more closets. Tomorrow we must get the kitchen back to the usable stage since we found out today that they must use it to feed about 70 people Saturday and Sunday. We will be busy.

Work Day Two

Tuesday, April 5, 2017

Beautiful evening on the lake makes it hard to believe severe weather is expected
Beautiful evening on the lake makes it hard to believe severe weather is expected

Today was another gorgeous day!! The high was in the low 80’s with beautiful blue skies and puffy white scattered clouds. Bill had devotion this morning. He and his wife Marti are very dear friends of ours and we are so glad they are working with us here at Sumatanga. They have never been here before and are really impressed with the camp. Actually we are the only members of our team who have been to Sumatanga before. We love to spread the good word about Sumatanga. Bill’s devotion was on justice and equality and as usual had it’s funny moments but was thought provoking and resulted in some good discussion. It was then time to go to work. Bill had completed the plans for the lakeside bathroom last night and reviewed those and the materials list with Dennis and Max. Work was begun with a search of the shop for plumbing parts, then scraping of walls and some inside demolition, and cleaning of floors. Bill and Jim got lots done in one day. Richard and Patrick continued to work on the rebuilding of the new door opening and wall in Little Brown. Max, Richard and Pat hiked up the mountain to base camp where the tent platforms will be built and Richard and Pat unloaded the trailer. Of course, Max can still only supervise which he HATES. It was a big job to unload all the lumber because there were some really big boards. They were pretty tired after they hiked back down the mountain but then returned to work in Little Brown. Harriet, Marti and Anne, continued the work with candles, material and other worship props and completed that task. They then continued clean up in the Little Brown storage areas. They also completed an inventory of five large storage closets at the Retreat Center. Max worked with some of the Sumatanga guys on closing in some large double doors at the kitchen loading dock at pool camp kitchen. The maintenance guys here are great. They made sure Max didn’t over do it and lift anything over his weight limit. Max goes back to see the surgeon tomorrow so we are praying for a good report. It was a busy day but we accomplished a lot. Oh, and we had a wonderful lunch of made from scratch lasagna with garlic bread, salad and fresh chocolate chip cookies. Yep, got a feeling we are going to gain weight. Sorry we didn’t take many pictures of our work today – we were just too busy. Will try to do better tomorrow. However, don’t know how much work we will get done tomorrow. We have a horrible forecast with a Moderate risk of severe thunderstorms with possible long track tornadoes. A Moderate risk is the second highest risk level the Storm Prediction Center uses.

We will have the motorhome all secured and weather radio in hand by about 4:00am when the first line is suppose to arrive. It may be a long day. Everyone needs to be very careful and pay attention to the weather tomorrow. Praying for safety for everyone.

First (Soggy) Day of Work

Monday, April 3, 2017

Ducks swimming in the yardWe had WHOLE LOT OF RAIN last night and today. There was some thunder and lightning but mostly rain. It was really pouring this morning at devotional time so we met in the Retreat Center and as we were leaving the camp ground we spotted some of the ducks swimming in the giant puddles instead of the lake. Too funny! We we drove over to pool camp after devotion, there was more water coming over the falls into the old pool than we have ever seen. Last fall when we were here there was almost no water flowing and it was a stagnant pool of water. Gorgeous today!!

Torrent of water flowing into the old pool at Pool Camp

When we are leaders, we always like to be responsible for devotion the first and last day so today was our day. Interesting, we had put a devotion together a week or two ago about first responders and how we can all be responders for God and our “first response” should be to pray and then to act. It was based on the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37. We decided to go ahead with our devotion as planned even though the team heard this scripture preached on yesterday. Sometimes we need to hear things more than once to really get God’s message.

After devotion, we went to work. We will be doing a little upgrade to the pool camp kitchen. There was a lot of moving of appliances etc. in preparation for redoing the floor. Today it was pressure washed and scrubbed with a floor buffer and now we are awaiting the final decision on if they want it painted or tiled or some other surface applied. There are also a couple of walls to be built in the kitchen. The team also worked at Little Brown. Little Brown is the first building you see when you come into camp and is now the summer camp office. There was a new door to cut in, some additional removal of tile flooring, and sorting and organization of the worship supplies – candles, linens, and other items used in making nice worship settings.

Tonight the camp provided us with a lovely “Welcome to Sumatanga Dinner.” Lee Padgett, camp director and his wife Debbie, Bishop of our North Alabama Conference, joined us as well as Dennis and Amanda. What a wonderful group of people. They are a joy to work with.

As usual the team has really come together even though this was our first day of work. Great group to work with! We all just pray that God blesses our efforts so that we may accomplish what he wants done in this place.

Getting Ready For Work

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Bluegrass service at Springville FUMC
Bluegrass service at Springville FUMC

Wow! Another wonderful spring day. It was a little foggy early today and a little cool. Had to run the heat pump this morning. The team left for church at 7:20. We headed to Springville First United Methodist Church for the 8:00 am bluegrass service. The service is a regular worship service, but with the music being of the bluegrass genre. The musicians are quite talented. They have written some of the songs, some of which you would probably recognize. You could tell the congregation really enjoyed the service. They were very welcoming to us. Since everyone needed to go to Walmart we had breakfast at the Waffle House that is located on the same property as Walmart. They were very crowded and it was quite noisy making it difficult to have conversation.

Resident ducks enjoying the shade of our car
Resident ducks enjoying the shade of our car

After shopping it was back to the campground for Sunday afternoon naps for some and hiking and biking for others. Just a few minutes after parking the car we went back outside and were surprised by ducks resting under the rear of the car. They really weren’t bothered by us but we were sure glad we didn’t jump in the car and back up. We have not seen them come up into the campground and get under the vehicles before.

We cooked a peach cobbler to have for the 6:00 pm team meeting, the first official activity of this project. There is always a time of sharing to start to get to know the team and then some paperwork and safety items to cover. Dennis, the facilities manager, met with us and went over the top five items he hopes we complete. Don’t think we will have any problems completing those items but we will see what else comes up. Hope everyone has a good week.

The Chicks Are In The Barn!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Today was another glorious spring day in Alabama. We started the morning with a 2 mile hike/walk on the Lake Trail.

Protected campsites
Cordoned campsites

What a great way to start the day. After breakfast we worked to cordon off the camp sites because we learned there would be a wedding here at the McBee pavilion which is right at the campground. We were concerned that we would not be able to get the incoming rigs parked if wedding guests parked blocking the sites. Mid-morning the wedding planner arrived and we learned it would be a 4:00 wedding.

Not alone in the campround anymore
Not alone in the campround anymore

Fortunately all our team members were able to arrive by 3:00 so we were able to get everyone parked before the wedding began. It was so great to see Bill and Marty again and to meet Patrick, James and Harriet. Most importantly we are so thankful for safe travels for them all. They all had uneventful travel days. Thank you Lord!! All our chicks are in the barn and we are very happy. We can relax now. We were all making jokes about crashing the reception which of course we did not, but after the reception was over the caterer gave the team a large tray of barbeque pork, chicken salad and rolls. Wow. It is very good and we have plenty to eat for next week.

The team decided that they would like to attend the early (8:00 am) bluegrass service at Springville UMC in the morning. After that there will probably be a brunch stop and a Walmart stop for most. We will see what people want to do tomorrow afternoon. Don’t forget, we all need to be in prayer for our church services and pastors. Go to services tomorrow looking forward to the opportunity to worship. It’s about our Lord, not about us.