Saturday, March 27, 2010

We are Home!

Hello from the cold north!

Heading home from our daughter, Karen’s home, we hit snizzle(drizzle + snow) for about an hour outside of Chattanooga, TN. After visiting Karen, our original plan was to head to Illinois, and visit my sister, Helen. While there, my brother George was to come up from Florida and we were all going to help pack up my mother’s ‘stuff’ AGAIN and move it back to FL but George’ wife, Sherry had vacation time a week earlier than we had planned to be in IL.

In the process of moving the ‘stuff’ into the van, Sherry slipped and broke her wrist in several places…OUCH!  She was checked by her ortho doctor, she had surgery Friday where they put in a plate and a couple of pins and a soft cast for a couple of weeks.  She then goes back to get a hard cast for probably about 4-6 weeks.  This is so reminiscent of what had happened to Ken when he fell down the stairs. What a way to remember this trip. And my brother had a bad cold so he was not feeling up to par either.

Despite Ken suffering with another cold, he was determined to get us home. We made it home late Tuesday evening and have been unloading the RV every since – along with taking down the Christmas tree.

Here is what greeted us when we arrived home!

Our updates will be fewer as we become involved in our volunteer activities.
I will be going to Slovakia and Ukraine in June for two weeks to teach English as a second language.  As many of you know, English is my second language - Slovak is my first - so I am quite excited to be doing this.  We will be doing some construction work and also working with the Roma gypsies.  Ken, however, will not be going with me - he said he had enough flying overseas.
Blessings to all and have a very blessed Easter,
julie & ken

Sunday, March 21, 2010

almost home

Hi all,

On our way out of Galveston, we stopped to visit with Jackie & Steve in Rockwall, TX. Jackie was Ken’s secretary for many years at TI. It was a good day for a visit and we met friends of theirs who were also RVing from Illinois. Jackie made a very tasty supper of roast.

Steve, Jackie, Pat & Delaney
We then visited with my niece, Aly and her family in Van Buren, AR. Our newest addition, Airyanna, who is now 2 has Ken wrapped around her little finger…just like her mother did when she was living with us. She is blond, blue-eyed and has Angelina Jolie lips and uses them to her advantage. Airyanna is 3’ tall and for being two years old, the pediatrician says she will be 6’ tall when she grows up! Aly says she is spoiled, but it is because she the last one and her brothers adore her and take care of her, even to the extent of playing dolls with her and having tea parties. She is quite intelligent for a two year old. Austin, our nephew who was the little one I helped delivered at birth, is up to my shoulders and wants to be a football player for the Dallas Cowboys. Keifer, the middle child is just a cuddly, loving and sensitive boy and not growing as fast, but still a cutie and want to be a football player with the Chargers. Keifer is quite artistic (takes after his aunt). They have moved into a new home which is quite nice and roomy. Mike, Aly’s husband, continues to work with Haliburton on the oil rigs…goes out onto the rigs for 7 days and off for 2 days. Quite a tough schedule for a young family.

family photo
Alyanna, Mike, Keifer, Airyanna & Austin

Airyanna & Uncle Ken - adorable

   Aunt "Sis" & Airyanna - can you imagine this identical pose - Ken caught it perfectly!
We took a day and went ‘diamond’ hunting. We were wondering why there was not much traffic going to the Diamond Crater and found out that the second biggest diamond was found the day before we got there and everyone was there hoping to find another. It was packed! We did not find a diamond but did find a ‘conglomerate’, barite, jasper, volcanic rock and a geode with crystals. It was just like a kid – digging in dirt!

We visited with our daughter, Karen, near Chattanooga, TN. She took us hiking to some beautiful waterfalls.   Karen and Ken are too adventureous for me - they both thought it would be great to hang of the side of the cliffs to take pictures.  Karen lives on top of Signal Mountain which is quite curvy and many switchbacks! I was a bit nauseated when we got there. Karen had made up a “daddy-do” list. Her house she is renting is an old log cabin built in the 1800’s…quite rustic and very nice…anyone that knows me, knows that I have always wanted a log cabin.

One of the waterfalls Ken was hanging over the edge to take

Another beautiful shot of the waterfalls

Karen 'hanging' over the edge before she got a picture of a waterfall

Karen's new home - built in the 1800's

Family photo

An end to a wonderful three months in the 'warmer' weather.
See ya'll soon~

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Our last week in Galveston

Hello ya'll ~

Our last week proved to be successful – we completed 3 houses to the point where the homeowners could move in.

Prior to Mr. Abraham’s moving in, Ken was checking the grout on the kitchen floor, grabbed the stove handle and got shocked. After checking, he found there were 100 volts to ground so he had to take the stove out and correct the wiring problem in the socket. That was a shocking situation.

A happy Mr. Abraham

Ken had another plumbing job – just to finish out the six weeks here. He has been trying to get a handicapped shower installed for Mr. Abraham. The plumber did not do a good job – the shower knobs would not fit into the shower so Ken had to ‘fix it’. My suggestion has been to get rid of this plumber and find another one who is more competent.

Then the door on the other shower was creating havoc – it just would not line up. Quite frustrating. As Ken was trying to finish up, I was cleaning Mr. Abraham’s entire house of sawdust and dirt. One of the Mennonite boys was helping doing odds and ends and helped Ken move Mr. Abraham’s furniture into his rooms…it looks quite cozy now and he is so excited!

Ken adjusting the problem shower

Ken had been running around doing deliveries for 3 homes. The other couple which were also Construction Supervisors left for Michigan via the desert and CA. So we were the ones doing most of the running around.

As is customary with each group that comes through the doors at Crockett UMC, we made a poster of our travels from Girard to Galveston.

The weather was rainy, chilly and the point that you could not see more than 50 feet in front of you. Quite dangerous driving. In fact, it was like that for 3 days straight.

One foggy morning this was all you could see!

This is a sight we saw every morning on our way to work ~ trucks bringing in rocks to shore up the damaged Seawall.

Our ‘boss’ gave us a very nice ‘agape love’ gift…a cross in the shape of a hammer and saw – because Jesus was a carpenter and that is what we were ‘carpenters’.

We met many people, made many friends and found out new religious beliefs – they are really not much different than ours – we believe in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the Bible. There are a few different ideas, but basically we are all believers.

We are in transit to home and baring any weather problems we should be home before Easter.

Our last sunrise in Galveston – the promise of the Resurrection.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Week #5

The weather has turned chilly again – we had a nice weekend of the 60’s.

We spent Sunday in Kemah, TX about 30 miles north of Galveston and met our nieces (the ones we have not seen in over 25 years) and had a great time getting to know each other again.

                           Ken, Julie, Jolin (back row); front row:  Moe & Amanda
Well, we were told we would be getting new assignments. The only change was that I worked two days in the UMCOR office organizing the ‘big boss’. Note to Judi: We were offered a job to stay here.

Ken has been working at Mr. Abraham’s house concreting, putting knobs on cabinets, insulating, putting up studs for the shower and helping out the plumber. Ken also put over 250 miles on the SUV delivering materials and checking on the other job sites. There are approximately 10 active job sites in various stages of rebuilding. This week, we finished up on one of the sites. All we need now is the final inspections and then we can turn over the keys to the homeowner. This will be the first house completed since we arrived in early February.

We are having a Mexican buffet put on by three churches in the area this week. They planned on feeding about 150 people! Needless to say, there were about 100 of us so we had leftovers the next day for supper. The temperature was chilly again - in the 40’s. BRRRRRRRRRRrrr.

Ken continues to work on Fridays & Saturdays with the pastor we worked with last year. They have been working on tile in the bathroom and shelving in the closets.

One of the things Ken remembered about Galveston, when he visited several years ago, was the 1000’s of Live Oak trees that lined the boulevard that formed a canopy as you drove into the city. These were planted after the devastating hurricane of 1900, so many of these trees were a century old. When Hurricane Ike flooded the island with salt water, it killed these old oak trees. Last year when we were here, the city was trying to save them by flooding the soil around the trees with fresh water in an attempt to flush out all the salt from the soil. In the end, the city had to cut down all these trees. They have been grinding the remains into mulch continuously while we have been here. Here is a picture of the mulching operation. Now the streets are lined with tall Palm trees, I guess it is more tropical, but certainly not as picturesque.

                                         Live oaks being ground into mulch.

A picture of our RV park where we are staying with the NOMADS, a Mennonite family, an UMCOR 'boss' and us.  Quite packed.

We will close this update with a beautiful sunset we witnessed a few nights ago.

Ken & Julie