We needed to rest Friday after the physical week of work, so rest we did. We also did some laundry and bought groceries. The fresh local strawberries are in so we had angel food cake with fresh strawberries and whip cream for Max’s birthday. (We waited for the weekend to celebrate.) That night we enjoyed another Zoom meeting with Anne’s family.
Saturday we used All Trails app to find some local hiking. Number one on the list was the park we drive by on the way to work every day – Caloosahatchee Regional Park. The park is about 770 acres along the Caloosahatchee river and through mangrove areas and subtropical habitat with hiking trails as well as separate dirt bike trails and equestrian trails. There are primitive camping sites but unfortunately no RV parking. Beautiful, peaceful park and not crowded. We would definitely recommend it.
Today, was another beautiful sunny day but started with a heavy frost and a temperature of 36. We failed to check the forecast last night were a little surprised when we had to turn the furnace on this morning. Guess that is what happens when you become accustomed to always having moderate temperatures and don’t think about it changing. We of course enjoyed worshiping online with our home church this morning and then had a quiet day at the RV park, resting and taking care of some mail and paperwork. It was a very nice weekend.
This week the entire team has worked very hard doing strenuous manual labor. Sorry, we were very tired in the evenings and basically took showers and collapsed. So, to catch you up: Tuesday was another beautiful day but it was 39 degrees as we drove to work. The cold front had arrived in south Florida. We were all bundled up to start the work day but the sun and the strenuous work had us shedding layers by morning break. We began the day with everyone back at the bamboo pressure treatment area, BPTA, (our highest priority task) taking down the remainder of the bamboo structure, cutting it up and hauling the pieces to the recycling area. We then tackled digging out the French drain that ran beside the building. It had to be removed in order to set the forms for the post footings for the new structure. After getting all the demolition completed and debris cleared out, we divided up the team. While some of us were working on the French drain at the bamboo treatment area, others built forms for the footings, and others began working in another area of the farm prepping and setting forms for a new slab for the seed dryer. The building materials for the new bamboo pressure treatment area were also hauled to the site.
Wednesday morning it was all hands on deck at the BPTA to dig 12 holes for the post footings for the new structure. We were all really surprised that we had all the holes dug by lunch. What a team! Then began the slow work of working with Elliott on the exact placement of the forms in the holes. While Max, Anne, Ken and Vi worked on that portion of the project, Suzan and Kevin completed the forms for the slab for the seed dryer, and began work on emptying the storage container with Wanda and Janet. As usual, team leaders Greg and Karen were helping out everywhere.
Thursday was the big day. Thursday morning we completed setting the footing forms and cleaning out the storage container. We then got everything set up for the concrete. Beginning about 2:30, we dumped 80 pound bags of concrete mix into the concrete mixer, added water and then transferred the concrete to wheelbarrows and shoveled it into the holes. It was about 38 bags of concrete mix. We complete the pour and finishing about 5:15. What a week! We thank God for safety and health.
Sunday was a beautiful day. We of course began by watching the Lester Memorial worship service and were so glad Pastor Harvey was feeling better and was able to preach. Afterwards we did some more hiking around the camp and some cooking for the week. We had our team meeting in the afternoon. We have one new NOMAD on our team, Janet and it will be fun getting to know her. We have not worked with Ken and Vi so we will get to know them better over the three weeks too. We also have Kevin and Suzan who worked with us in Hattiesburg, Wanda, and Gregg and Karen our leaders, we have worked with previously. This will be a good team and a fun three weeks. After the meeting we all walked around the campground and did some more exploring. We keep finding additional areas.
Today we went to ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) for the first time. ECHO is about 20 minutes from the campground and is a 55 acre global farm and research center. After devotion with the ECHO staff, we spent the remainder of the morning touring the farm. This is an amazing place and we would encourage you to visit their website and read and learn. They are working to relieve hunger by teaching people to grow their own food using sustainable resources. We look forward to working to help the ECHO team reach their ministry goals.
We began that work this afternoon by moving a lot of bamboo out of a lean-to and then removing the machine to pressure treat bamboo. We will be rebuilding this area over the next several days. Hard work but very rewarding.
Friday morning we were on the road at 7:00 am as planned. Of course we did not stay up to welcome the new year’s arrival Thursday night. We were fast asleep and since we were in a state park there were no fireworks to wake us either. It rained most of Thursday night and unfortunately was still raining at when we started out. We had intermittent hard rain until we turned south on I-75 from I-10. After that turn to the south the weather improved each mile. By the time we made it to Ocala, where we called it a day, it was 81 and sunny. Hopefully the great weather will continue.
We continued our trek south this morning, arriving in north Fort Myers shortly before lunch. We will be staying at the Riverside Camp and Retreat Center while working a mission project nearby. We spent the afternoon setting up FRED, cleaning and settling in and visiting the local produce stand and Publix. Then we took a walk around the camp. We found a great pier in the camp on the Okeechobee Waterway where we will be able to watch great sunsets. Looking forward to more exploring. Hope you all have a great weekend. Stay safe!!