Thursday, March 29, 2012

Heading Home

Our trip is fast approaching the end.  We traveled to visit with Ken’s previous secretary, Jackie and her family in Dallas.   Unfortunately, Jackie’s granddaughter was admitted into ICU and we were not able to have our yearly visit.  Prayers go out to Kensley, who is less than a year old and has leukemia.

Onward we went north to visit with my sister, Helen, her husband, Mike, and our nephew, Blake.  Blake is in a play this week and is very excited about it.  He has also become an avid fisherman – where ever there is water, he takes his fishing pole.  He called me a couple of weeks ago to tell me he was starting a blog on ‘fishing tips’ and asked me for some so he could put them on his blog.  Me, who always had to have someone bait my hook and take off the fish, give him tips.  So, I ‘googled’ tips and gave them to him.  Ever since Helen and Mike went to a cottage on the lake, Blake cannot seem to get enough fishing.  My brother, George and his wife, also arrived to visit with Mom. 

Helen, George, Julie & mom in front at Rehab Center in IL

We meandered our way back south to Arkansas to babysit our great-nephew and great-niece.  Our middle great-nephew (Keifer) was having testing done at the Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, AR  which is about four hours away.  My niece, Aly, has waited all year for this appointment and we told her we would babysit the oldest and youngest.  Austin is 11 and Airyanna is 4 (she was born on Leap Year Day, Feb 29).   We took everyone to putt-putt golf and the two youngest, Keifer and Airyanna each got a hole in one!  And they beat us with their final scores!  We all did a hold in one eventually, but not until we took a ribbing from the young ones.  We also went to their baseball practices a couple of times and played in the park.  It brought back memories of when Karen (our daughter) was young – she (like Airyanna) just could not get enough of swinging and the trampoline. 
Alyanna & Austin playing Putt-Putt

Airyanna playing Put-Putt

Keifer lining up for a putt

Airyanna & Ken on the trampoline

As I post this, we are beginning our trek home and leaving temperatures of high 80’s.  We will pick up our “rolling condo” in IL at my sister’s home.  It seems like we have been gone a long time this year – it will be good to get home.

See ya’ll when we get home.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mission Accomplished!

Hello all,

This Monday was our final work day for this Mission trip.  We had volunteers from Flordia,  Alabama,  and Ohio.  A total of 20, but only 8 at our site.  We accomplished quite a bit, finished wood laminate flooring and installed base molding in both bedrooms,   grouted tile in the bathroom, cut the kitchen countertop and installed the kitchen sink, and put final coats of paint on the exterior doors.

Ken & volunteer cutting out for sink

Ken laying laminate floor

Kitchen getting ready to cut countertop
Ceramic done!

Volunteer laying flooring in bedroom

Volunteer installing trim

Group that helped with flooring, ceramic, etc.
As we left the site for the last time, we said good-bye to those we have worked with and enjoyed being a part of their lives.  We have finished our recovery work for this winter and have been asked to come back.  But, as we told them, we are not sure what disaster we will be sent to next year.

We said hello to people at Dantzler UMC in Moss Point, MS where we enjoyed a Lenten dinner with friends we have made over the years.  Seafood Casserole was the meal of the evening.  Azaleas are mostly in full bloom – there has been no winter here either.    

Sandra & Pastor David Greer
We made our annual trek to visit with Ernest & Callee and found out that Ernest was in the hospital where he had his leg partially removed.   Callee said he was a bit down and we asked if we could visit him and she said he would probably enjoy that.  When he saw us his eyes lit up and he wanted to jump out of the bed with joy.  He was so thrilled that we took the time to come to the hospital to visit with him.  He said he was sorry he was there and wouldn’t be able to deep fry us a turkey – we told him next time.  Callee is still suffering with her cancer and she says there are days it is unbearable.

We took a side trip along the coast to Biloxi to see the rebuilding.  A lot of the homes that were destroyed on the shore are for sale.  Of course, the casinos are being rebuilt right on the beach – what a sad sight to see – the beautiful white beaches with these huge buildings on them.  The lots where once stood beautiful southern mansions, are now vacant.  The once beautiful spreading live oak trees are diseased and dying from the salt water infusion.

Next we traveled to Beaumont, TX where we met Pastor Billy & his wife, Dawn, and caught up with their lives.  Pastor Billy and Dawn left Galveston and moved to Beaumont, TX to be near their son and granddaughter, after monies ran out in the Galveston area for rebuilding and his previous church could not continue to pay his salary.  He has started a new church called, “The Gathering” in Beaumont, TX.  We reminisced about our days in rebuilding Galveston and how much fun we had and that we did make a difference.

Dawn & Pastor Billy Graff
As we continue to drive to our next stop, Dallas, the wisteria are in full bloom!  What beautiful lilac colors.  We are also on the lookout for bluebonnets, the state flower, which emits a delicious aroma – a fragrance so strong that a patch can give you an instant headache.

Wisteria in full bloom

Wisteria & BLUE BONNETS! (in front)

Azaleas blooming

See ya'll soon.

julie & ken

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Doors and Floors

This was our last week at 122 Juanita Drive and a lot has happened in this short time. 47 volunteers from Wisconsin descended upon us – one carpenter, one painter and all the rest - amateurs, but willing to learn.  At one point, there were toooooo many people in the house and not quite enough jobs to go around because of some ‘re-dos’.

Volunteers everwhere!
  Monday started out relatively calm, but then when the doors were to be put in, it was determined that the rough opening frame for the door was too small for the standard door that came in.  So, Ken re-worked all the openings so the men could get the doors in. 

Ken fixing the first of 8 incorrect door openings
Ken and Chuck(from Wisconsin) installing door


Of course, that put the painting behind schedule so we had about six women who had nothing to do. 
Painting trim
Painting Doors

But then it all seemed to come together.  Painting was completed, interior doors installed, trim around windows and doors installed and painted, kitchen cabinets were installed, electrical outlets and covers installed, ceramic tile installed and laminate flooring started.

Hanging Kitchen cabinets
Installing fans

 Ken did make the people who trimmed out the window, take it all down and re-do it.  He asked them if they would like to see that in their house and they said no.  So why would you do it in someone else’s home, he queried.  Once they re-did it, the remainder of the window trim was done correctly.  One lady insisted on putting a ton of nails in one spot (to make sure it was secure).  I counted ten nails in one seam.  Marvin gave them the correct way to do it and said that if you put it in the right spot, you won’t need ten nails. 
Cleaning and prepping floor
Installing Ceramic tile
Bathroom floor 

On Friday we had a very short day.  We were under severe storm alerts, the schools closed at noon, and UMCOR pulled all the volunteers off the job site at 10:30 am.  We listened to the storm reports all evening.  We got a lot of rain and wind, but no tornadoes in Tuscaloosa.  Our electrician however lost his roof to straight line winds Friday night.

Wisconsin Volunteers leaving after a short day on Friday
I have been doing a lot of ‘go-for-ing’.  In fact, the cashiers at Home Depot began counting as to how many times in one day I would be there.

Along with ‘supervising’, I got handy with the screw gun.  Here I am screwing down the permaboard before the ceramic was being put down.

Julie hard at work
Her favorite new toy!

Left to be done this next week is laminate flooring, plumbing fixtures, final electrical and plumbing inspections -- Then Deloris will be moving in.  How exciting to see completion nearing the end and how exciting it would be to see her face when she sees this.

Ken installing wood flooring
Kitchen base cabinets installed

At church today, the pastor brought us up to the front of the church to tell of our workings here in Tuscaloosa and other areas we have done disaster recovery.  Of course, Ken would not say much – he let me do all the talking (go figure).

On Tuesday next week, we will be heading to Moss Point, MS where we began our inaugural initiation into becoming Disaster Recovery ‘Junkies’.  We received a note from the pastor’s wife wanting to know when we would be arriving, as people have been expecting us.  Then onto Beaumont, TX to visit with Pastor Billy and his wife, Dawn, who we worked with in Galveston. 

Make a note:  those of you planning on doing a mini mission trip, please sign up for June 11-15 to eastern PA to help with the flooding.  If you have never done one, this is an experience you won’t forget and will learn more about helping others.  Who knows – maybe you will become a Disaster Junkie!  So keep posted as we lead members from our church to experience this wonderful ministry.
More to come as we come to an end of our mission trip. 

Posted:  March 4, 2012

Saturday, March 03, 2012

(Our 15 sec of fame!)

Julie was interviewed by an AP reporter during our work here in Tuscaloosa. I show up in the video briefly (wearing a black Purdue sweatshirt). 

Here is the link to the video:

If you want to read the complete interview, go to this link:

Then go to the search box on the left side, Search for "Disaster Junkies" .

(Our 15 sec of fame!)