Sunday, March 26, 2006


The month has now wound down – we left Moss Point on Saturday with mixed feelings. We have made many friends, here at the church and those that have come through the doors of Dantzler Memorial UMC.

A recap of this past week:

Ken has been working with more volunteers at Mrs. Finklea’s house laying wood flooring. In fact, the last couple of days he has been with students from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD and they want to do a TV Home Improvement show called: " Ken and Katrina". He has been teaching these young women how to use a circular saw, power miter saw and a coping saw along with how to lay flooring. They have been students anxious to learn. Each day Ken had a different group of ‘students’.

I finished up the spreadsheet on the volunteers on Friday morning and helped Ken finish the floor installing transition strips in doorways, installing base trim, and touching up paint on walls and trim. We gave Mrs. Finklea a hibiscus tree to remember us and she had us plant it in her front yard. I caught her during the day sitting in her living room looking at it.
Mrs. Finklea makes 120 min-pies, twice a week, for a local BBQ restaurant here…pecan and sweet potato pie. We have had both and they are exceptional.

One day this week she went next door to her daughter’s house and asked Ken to answer the phone. He did, and it was her daughter from Chicago calling wanting to talk to her mother. It seems Mrs. Finklea went to her daughter’s house and told her Ken was leaving and she was crying tears of sorrow. Her daughter from Chicago was calling to console her and find out what had upset her. She wants us to come back next year to visit her and see how her house looks with furniture in it. Mrs. Finklea was so appreciative that she made us two more pecan pies which we will be sharing with our family in GA. She gave me a hug and told me that she loved us both for helping.

Last Sunday evening, Frank (the supervisor) and his wife, Laverne invited us out to their ‘camp’ on the Pascagoula River. What a beautiful camp – built on piers and such a view of the river. They sold their home in Moss Point and moved out to the country and this ‘camp’. The camp is quite large, about 2500 square feet! We had a lovely dinner and sat out on the deck overlooking the river, in front of an outdoor fireplace.

Monday was Pastor David’s birthday and I had talked with the teams that were there this week and we did a surprise birthday party for him. …and he was surprised! I made a chocolate Texas Sheet Cake and with candles that relight after you can blow them out.

We were dinner guests of the Pastor and his wife, Sandra on Thursday and went to a seafood place, Seaman’s Cove. You must get there early or you have a long wait. Fortunately, Frank and Laverne were there before us and we were able to get seated right away. Shortly after, the line was quite long.

The other team that was here from Jacksonville, FL finished sheet rocking the house of Mrs. Kirkland (the house that looked like a barn) and did as good a job as could be done with the walls that were bowed. We stopped in to say good bye to her and she was so excited about her house. She can’t wait to get into it. In fact, the group had made her an archway with ledges and put flowers on them for her.

I mentioned in one of my previous updates about the shower situation – there are the ‘towel ladies’ who come in every day and wash and dry over a hundred towels for the volunteers to use. What an undertaking, but they are so happy to do it.

Sandra, the Pastor’s wife, came over to give us a going away gift…jellies (fuzzy navel, apple and cumquat), a ‘hooked’ pin (she is one of the ladies known as the "Happy Hookers", they do hook rugging), an Easter bear not saying good-bye, but saying ‘come back soon’, two volunteer certificates of appreciation and our lime green VOLUNTEERS IN MISSION t-shirts!

We will certainly miss our new-found friends and look forward to going back next year!

See most of you soon.

julie & ken

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Update # ? (can't remember anymore) - days are flying!


The days seem to run into each other and it is hard to remember what we have been doing. We come home exhausted, but with a feeling of fulfillment.

This is Mrs. Finklea!

This is Ken's Flooring Crew (notice they are two women!
Last Sunday we went out to lunch with Pastor David Greer and his lovely wife, Sandra. Cracker Barrel was their choice and we had a lovely lunch and a wonderful time getting to know them even more. That evening we were treated to a Songfest! What beautiful voices – there was a man who sounded exactly like Willie Nelson (and he doesn’t care for Willie either). I was asked to go to choir practice and sing on Sunday but after hearing all the talent, I knew I was out of my league!

Ken continues to work at Mrs. Finklea’s home. I helped him prime the closets with Kilz and then painted them. Ken finished doing the last of the touching up and putting in the a/c filter and told Mrs. Finklea that he was done. She asked Ken if the church would let him put in the flooring in if she got it…Ken checked and found out he was on the flooring installation. It is a lovely Armstrong interlocking floor. Ken had two women working with him and they finished three bedrooms. Mrs. Finklea was so excited to get into her bedroom. We put up sheets to cover her windows, but she didn’t care – she was in her room. She told me her faith was what kept her strong and knew that the Lord above sent us (especially Ken) to help her finally get into her home. She continues to look for things to keep Ken there.

We just got back from measuring the rest of her house for flooring. She has decided that she wants her den, living room and hallway done in the wood flooring. We know where Ken will be this week.

Ken spent a day and half cementing posts and putting up a fence for a woman who had a tree fall on it. She wanted the original fence, although it didn’t look too sturdy, Ken put it back up for her (with the help of two college boys).

We celebrated our 14th Anniversary on Thursday and had lunch with a group of new ‘friends’ from Oletha, KS. The city of Oletha, KS has adopted Moss Point and they donated a fire truck and six police cars to Moss Point so we were invited to their picnic of beans and franks and potato chips to celebrate!

I continue to work in the office trying to keep organization of all the volunteers. I go out with Ken in the morning and come back and work in the office in the afternoons. Pastor David is so excited about his spreadsheet and all the information on it, he is looking for ways to use this information. In fact, the Bishop wanted information on everyone that has come through these doors, along with church names and Pastor David was so elated that he could just print out the information and send it the next morning. In fact, I had it printed for him within the hour and he was addressing the envelope to send it out. He said this was the first time he didn’t have to look for information to send to the Bishop – it was at his fingertips!

We are becoming known as the ‘camp hosts’ as we greet everyone that comes in on Saturday. That is all for this week ~

Julie & Ken

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Second Update

MOSS POINT, MS UPDATE ~ March 12, 2006

Things have been quite busy here.

Pictures are of me painting and the other of one of the houses that is still standing, across the beach – you can see right through the front, only the pillars holding it up.

This past week there were close to 60 people here. Spring break brought students from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA and Scranton, PA. (I talked with a girl, Clare who was from Marywood College in Scranton, PA.) She and her friend, Danny, helped Ken out one day doing some painting. Mrs. Eliza Finklea (who I called Fitzlea in my last update) was so grateful she made two pecan pies and sent them with Ken. We split the two pies amongst the group of us and what a faboulous pecan pie it was – very rich and very tasty!

We continue to work in Mrs. Finklea’s home and it is almost to the point of being finished! Ken has been painting, drywalling, hanging fixtures, etc. I have been helping him put up the crown molding and also painting and cutting in along the crown molding so he could paint the ceiling, along with putting face plates on outlets and light switches.

It has been quite an experience here with the college kids and spring break. Can you imagine all these 60 people and only 2 (yes TWO) showers? They developed a system – a numbering system and time limit. If you wanted a shower, you signed up and you were allotted only two minutes per shower. With all these people, the church has never run out of hot water. This morning on the shower wall there was a sign that said there was a Friday special for showers: 5 minutes per shower. At least there was a sense of humor.

The temps have been in the 80’s. Okay Asbury team – if this is any indication of what April and June will bring – you better be bringing cool clothes!

I worked the early part of the week with Pastor David Greer and set up an excel spreadsheet on all the volunteers that have come through these doors. As of Monday there have been over 700 volunteers since Katrinia hit! This coming week there will be close to 100 people and more spring breakers! What a better place for the college students to be on spring break – helping out those less fortunate! One college student was on TV last week and he was quoted as saying, “I don’t think those other students on spring break in FL or wherever they go are having as good a time as us.” What better place for these students to be – helping others less fortunate and making new friends.

As I am typing this, an older lady (Tony Morre) came to the door to use our cell phone. Her van has broken down and she needed to call someone. After chatting with her for a bit, she wanted to know where we were from and how long we were here. I told her and she just broke down crying. She said that so many people from all over have come to help out here with no questions asked. The churches do more for the people than all the red tape they must go through. She said when they were in temporary housing, they had to fill out a form for a bottle of water….and it was 100 degrees and lines. She just cried. I tried to comfort her, but she was so overwhelmed that people who don’t even know anyone down here come to help out. I was beginning to feel like I hadn’t done anything and after talking with her, she gave me an awakening that we are, in our little way, helping out.

Ken was on the roof of the RV “cleaning and washing” it. It is quite windy here and I can hear him moving around up there – is it a man thing that they like to live dangerously?

Next week we will be finishing up Mrs. Finklea’s home and moving on to another house.
Pastor David says he has some more ‘office’ projects for me to do. His secretary says that he was so excited that someone was able to get a spreadsheet set up.

Before each team leaves, the Pastor has a communion service and as he was talking about the people we have been helping…he mentioned one elderly man (107 years old) who wanted a tin roof put on his tiny house. He was told that he should move in with his granddaughter or to another place. He said this was his “home” and he could not go anywhere else. That brought to mind Mrs. Kirkland whose house looks like an old converted barn. The ceiling could not hold dry wall without being reinforced and it looks like it should be bulldozed down. She told me that this was her “home” where she was when she married, had her children and her husband died here. She didn’t want to leave it…this was her home. She said she has never been flooded since she bought the house in 1948 and didn’t think it would happen this time. She was ready to ride it out, but her daughter made her leave – the house was flooded to the tops of the windows with water from the bayou.

Signing off till next Sunday.

julie and ken

Sunday, March 05, 2006

First Update from Dantzler UMC, Moss Point, MS

Sunday ~ March 5, 2006

Hello from Dantzler Memorial UMC in Moss Point, MS!

We arrived on Wednesday, March 1, got settled in and started to work on Thursday. There was a group here from Brookville UMC in Frederick, MD we teamed up with and shared meals and work duty.

The “in-charge” man here, Frank, has a HUGE list of things to be done. He informed us that Rev. David Greer (pastor of Dantzler UMC) has groups booked into 2008!

Frank asked Ken what he could do and when he saw that Ken brought his power miter saw his eyes lit up and was so excited when he found out Ken could do crown moulding. He knew exactly where he was going to put us…FINISHING!

Frank assigned us to put the crown moulding on in one of the houses belonging to an 83 year old woman named Eliza Fitzlea. She had about 4’ of water in her house. We were shown where the crown moulding was ~ in a stack without markings as to what room and what walls they came from. First we had to identify these pieces and there were not a few – there were three rooms and a long hallway. Ken being the ‘engineer’ in the group measured and layed out the pieces – it was like putting a puzzle together. Once these were identified as to the rooms, then the task was to put them up – easier said than done. The original walls were paneled and ripped down and sheet rock was put in, making the moulding necessary to be re-cut and ‘coped’. Along with that, we had to glue pieces together because they had split. I even got to run the power miter saw! I’ll tell you, I’m not sure I want to do a lot of that – it is a big machine and can do a lot of damage to fingers! I did the “smidgen” cutting. I was helping Ken glue some of the pieces together and in order to get a better grip, I sat down on the grass. Before I knew it, I had red ants all over my shoes and my hand. A little remembrance of being in the south. Needless to say, I ran into Eliza’s laundry room to make sure they didn’t crawl up my legs. Shudder!

Eliza was quite a spry woman of 83. She was always up when we got there at 8:00 and left the house to go do “work” – not sure what her work was, but we caught her outside picking up limbs and puttering around outside her house. Her daughter lives next door so she was over there a lot. She was telling us that every Friday she has to make a lot of pies for the soup kitchen. This particular Friday she made 50 little “tart” pies. A man comes around to all the houses on the street and picks up the pies to take them to where needed.

While the team from MD did drywall, spackling and priming we were able to get two bedrooms and half the hallway done. I’m sure that is where we will be this next week, finishing up the rest of the crown moulding in the other bedroom and dining room and hallway.

On Friday, since we were at a standstill at Eliza’s house, we went down the street about two houses and started on a house owned by Mrs. Kirkland. This had been almost all gutted with the exception of the ceiling. We tore the ceiling down and removed all the staples used to hold it up. Someone got a little happy with the staple gun. I’m going to try to attach a picture (not sure if it will work). But, this house looked like it had been an old barn – the slats on the walls you could see right through.

Mrs. Kirkland is an 85 year old woman who had been married for 65 years before she lost her husband. She had moved to this house in 1948 and the water had come up over her windows…and this is only two houses from the house with the 4’ of water. She told us that she has never been flooded before. The street we are working on sits on a bayou and the water surge and wind was so powerful it flooded its banks. Mrs. Kirkland said her brother got out of MS and moved to Aliquippa, PA and planned never to return to MS.

Ken and I spoke with Mrs. Kirkland and she said that we looked alike – like brother and sister. I told her we were married and she said it was because we were married for so long we were beginning to look alike – minus the beard.

We took a trip to outside of New Orleans to see the devastation and there were two bridges still out. We drove back on Highway 90 and the amount of rubble along the beach is horrific. TV just doesn’t put it into perspective…you really have to see how badly they were hit. On our way over, we noticed that a shrimp boat has been stuck under I-10 and they cannot seem to get it out of the muck and mire.

There are about 60 people that have arrived for this week from OK, NH, VA and PA. Some of the teens that have come are on spring break from James Madison University.

That’s all for this week – watch for an update on Sunday.

Julie & Ken