Monday, June 30, 2008

Another trip over

We arrived home last night about 8pm very tired after a week with high school students and a 2 day drive. It's always great to serve our Lord through these trips and this one was no exception.
The California and Vermont teams were staying at the same church we were so it was great getting to know them better. Friendships were formed and some of them are talking about coming back when our team is there again over Christmas break.

It was also nice to have time for some quality conversation with Pastor Teresa and Pastor Larry and hear the vision they have for this ministry. Pastor Teresa has a vision of His Hands 2 Go becoming mobile, not just local in New Orleans. She would like to be able to come alongside pastors in disaster areas and help them get their churches back up and running. The idea was birthed out of her experiences after Hurricane Katrina when there was no one to come alongside her. She knows the frustration of trying to start a church up, organize work teams and be a light in the community by yourself. It will be exciting to see where this leads.

I have just a few more pictures of interest to share.

While working in a location like New Orleans in the summer, a person must continually drink water. You can get dehydrated much quicker than one would think. After all, Old Spice did a survery and found that New Orleans is the 12th sweatiest city in the nation. Now isn't that something you want to be known for?!? Just a little tidbit of information we learned this week. :)

This is the first year the palm trees have looked healthy and really green again. The flowering bushes were blooming nice and full as well.

Did you know honey bees get extremely ticked off when you spray them with gasoline? This beehive was in the wall of the house Dan and his team were roofing. The bees were not happy when their territory was invaded by humans and got rather violent. It took two days to get rid of them. It was either get rid of the bees or get stung. But look at all that honey gone to waste!

This is one of the reasons we continue to go back to New Orleans. This home had over 8 feet of water in it. The occupant of the home spent days in their attic and had to cut a hole in the roof to be rescued. These homes are getting fewer every year but there is still along way to go until they are all fixed.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Red beans and rice for 125

Red beans - $30

Rice - $10

Salad - $20

Dessert - $25

Pastor Teresa cooking outside in a downpour - Priceless!

Sorry for the delay in posting the last couple of days. We lost internet connection sometime Wednesday night so I haven't had access until on the way home tonight at the hotel.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

If these walls could talk...

Wow, if the walls to this old theatre could talk, I can only imagine what stories they could tell. This is the building that the Virginia team is working on that was a theatre but is now a church. I went to take pictures of the team but found myself taking more shots of the building itself. I have no idea how old the theatre is but am guessing early 1900's. Old buildings and different styles of architecture intrigue me, always have. New Orleans is such a melting pot of so many different styles. I wish I had more free time on these trips to wander around and look at more, but glean what I can as we're on the go.

The theatre is located across the Mississippi River in Algiers which means I have to cross this extremely high and long bridge. Now, those of you who know me, know I like bridges about as much going to the dentist. However, I have been over this nemesis 4 times now. Who needs a shrink? I can conquer my fears head on! :) Did I also mention it's 4 lanes of traffic going 65+? Yup, I'm all about this!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Today's projects in pictures

Now that's a yellow house!

Virginia team members sanding drywall in the yellow house

The Virginia team stripping trim, hanging sheetrock and doing general clean-up in an old theatre turned church

Viriginia sanding walls

More Virginia team members digging out a stump. The stump started out 3' x 18". That's one way to take our your frustrations!

Virginia roofers

Gary from Vermont laying tile

The California team wrapping Rose Stevens home

More California team members hanging sheetrock in the same house

Feeding the multitudes or how to cram 111 people in 1000 square feet!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Morning chapel service

We start every morning out with a 7:30 am chapel service at the Franklin Avenue church. The sanctuary there is the only room big enough to hold everyone. The large team of 82 is staying there and all the girls are sleeping in the sanctuary. The beds gets stacked, shoved out of the way and everyone sits on the floor for chapel.

After chapel, jobs are assigned and work begins. There are teams hanging sheetrock, putting in isulation, painting, siding, laying floor tile and roofing. Susan's roof project that Dan is in charge of turned into more than expected. The roof had been replaced a year before Katrina so it was assumed the sheeting was good. Unfortunately, as the shingles were scraped off, it was proved otherwise. They were able to resheet it today and hope to start laying paper in the morning, weather permitting.

I went to Sam's first thing this morning, which will porbbaly be a daily occurrence, and cooked all afternoon. Tonight's supper was spaghetti, garlic bread and salad so it was easy enough. Tomorrow night is jambalaya for 100+.

It's pretty quiet around here tonight. I think everyone is whooped after working in the heat, including us.

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Calm before the storm

Today (Sunday) was great day. Dan & I left early this morning and took a driving tour through the Canal/St Charles Avenue neighborhoods of New Orleans. What beautiful old historic homes. The wrought iron and columns on the homes are so unique to New Orleans as well as the hurricane shutters on the windows. One of these trips here we are going to make time for a trolley trip through those neighborhoods. There is so much history in this city, I am dying to learn more. Whenever we leave I say to myself that I am going to study up on it but never do. This time I will. Well, maybe I will...hopefully...possibly...probably...okay highly least the thought to do it is in my head. Doesn't that count for something?

We had just a great church service this morning. Coming from church services where everything is very well orchestrated, it can be refreshing to come to a much simpler, more unstructured service. Plus, Pastor Teresa sure can preach! Afterwards, they have what they call table fellowship. Everyone who wants to can stay for lunch. Members of the church take turns providing the meal which is no small or inexpensive task. They could have anywhere from 50 - 100 people there on any given Sunday. Today, a woman in the church, Carolyn, made some of the best meatloaf I've ever had (and I make a killer meatloaf) with mashed potatoes, peas and french bread.

We then went to look at the project Dan and a team will be starting tomorrow morning. They will be putting a roof and siding on a home for a sweet, energetic lady named Susan.
I will be cooking tomorrow for just 20 of the volunteers. The large team of 82 will be going out to eat Monday & Wednesday night so I only need to cook for 100 two nights instead of 5. On the big days I will be working with a summer volunteer, Cassandra, who is Pastor Teresa's daughter-in-law. The days I am cooking for 20, I will be on my own. 20 is pretty common for us when we have brought teams down so it shouldn't be a problem.

Tonight we grilled burgers and had Pastor Teresa and Pastor Larry over to the our FEMA penthouse for dinner complete with fresh watermelon. What a treat. We don't see watermelon up home until at least the end of August.

Until tomorrow night...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Too funny

You will either get my sense of humor after this or think I'm a complete and utter weirdo, but I have to share about our trip to Lowe's tonight.

Keep in mind, Dan & I are from small town Northern Illinois so coming to New Orleans can be somewhat of a cultural eye opener for us. You know the ole "your not in Kansas anymore Toto" thing.

As we are standing waiting in the check out line at Lowe's tonight, this fellow walks by with skin tight bright yellow pants, the most psychedelic platform sneakers I have ever seen, Elton John glasses and a double star shaved into the back of his hair. I'm really not trying to be judgemental here but this is just not something we see everyday back home, ok? Anyway so I got to giggling a little bit about "only in New Orleans do I see things like this."

Then this very nicely dressed lady is having trouble with the self checkout. She must have decided she was tired of waiting for assistance so she sat down on the shelf where you bag your purchases. Now think about what happens as you bag purchases in a self checkout. If you put something there that hasn't been scanned, what does the machine say loud & clear? You got it, as she is sitting, the machine says over and over again "unidentified item in bagging area." You bet it is! Just how is a machine supposed to identify a butt when there isn't a barcode to scan?!? Then it says "touch skip bagging to proceed". Ok, I've totally lost all composure at this point and am doubled over. Poor Dan is trying to keep a straight face through it all and I'm in a heap! She just kept sitting there as the machine repeated itself over and over. I don't know if I'll ever be able to use a self-check register again and not laugh.

If you don't see the humor in this, feel free to totally forget you ever read this and pretend you don't know me!

We're here!

We arrived in New Orleans last night about 9:00 pm and have been busy settling into our FEMA penthouse suite for the next week. We've usually slept in teh church on bunk beds but since this week we are functioning as "staff" we get teh deluxe accomodations. :) We're happy with it. It will afford us privacy and a quiet place to retreat to at the end of the day.
We just returned from the WalMart where we purchased our necessities for the week. They feed us while we are here however, one shouldn't be expected to do with out certain necessities, like ice cream and diet Dr. Pepper, now should they???

We drove down through through central Indiana and saw the remnants of some awful flooding they had a few weeks ago. The force that water must have come through with is unfathomable to me. Trees were broken off, crop ground is still cluttered with debris and railroad tracks were washed out. It's been a strange spring for the midwest this year with an excessive amount of storms and heavy rains.

We picked up my motorcycle in Tennessee Wednesday night, stayed overnight at Columbia, TN and arrived Foley, AL to pick up our toy hauler camper trailer Thursday night. Larry & Kathy, who we purchased our trailer from were extremely gracious. Kathy insisted on feeding us supper and that we spend the night sleeping in the trailer in their driveway! It was getting late and would have been a 30 minute trip to the nearest campground. Plus we would have been setting up the trailer for the first time in the dark, so we readily agreed.

We had breakfast the next morning at the Foley Coffee shop, which has to be one of the friendliest places we've ever eaten. We took some time after breakfast and wandered through a beautiful city park across the street. The landscaping was gorgeous with a fountain, an old locomotive and many plants we don't typically see up north.

We stopped at a Coleman outlet store on the way by to the Gulf. I have found my new favorite store! The clerk told us there are only 16 Coleman outlets in the US so that would stand to reason why we'd never seen one before. We purchased a couple of new chairs for the trailer and a new propane camp stove which also converts to a grill. How cool is that? One less item we need to haul along with us. Lisa, you would have loved this store! I thought about you many times while we wandered through it.

We spent a few minutes in Gulf Shores at the beach. And I do mean minutes. To say the beach isn't Dan's thing would be a very accurate statement. But hey, I can still say I was there and had my feet in the Gulf of Mexico.

Then we took the 45 minute Fort Morgan/Dauphin Island ferry ride across Mobile Bay. I will admit it was a little daunting pulling a truck and trailer on and off a ferry boat but what a relaxing ride. It sure beat going all the way around through Mobile and fighting traffic on the interstate. We got our lawn chairs out, let someone else do the driving, sat on the upper deck and enjoyed the ride.

We meandered our way to New Orleans on Hwy. 90 which runs along the gulf through Pass Christian and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi where Hurricane Katrina came ashore. The old homes in Pass Christian are so beautiful and soooo close to the water. What a nice view for those residents but I can't even begin to imagine what is was like there during Katrina.

One of the teams for the week, (a mixed team of adults and young people of 17 from California) are coming in tonight at 6:00, so our tasks will begin then. The other two teams; 3 men from Vermont and 85 high school students and chaperones from Virginia will be here sometime tomorrow. Then the real work begins - no more "vacationing" for us!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In the morning on my way to work as I come over a rise on the highway, I am greeted by this view. These pictures don't begin to do justice to the lush green landscape as the morning sun shines on it. This very much represents the Midwest for me with farms dotting the landscape. The last couple of weeks I've been thinking I need to take a picture but have either been running late or didn't have my camera along. This morning I left early enough and remembered my camera to boot. So I finally get to share!

Tomorrow morning the view will be a little different for me as we are leaving at 6 am to head back south to New Orleans for ten days. His Hands 2 Go has a team of 100 volunteers coming in next week that Dan & I will be "trying" to help lead. I'm not sure lead is the correct term as 85 of them are high school students. Yikes! Can a person actually "lead" 85 high school students?!? I am hoping to blog the trip as long as my Internet connections hold out.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fun Sunday

What a fun Sunday yesterday was. Well, that is after the nasty thunderstorm that roared through again first thing in the morning. Nothing like 70 mph winds and pounding rain to get a person out of bed in a hurry on a Sunday morning! Nevertheless...

Our church, Crossroads Community Church in Freeport hosted it's first annual Dad's Day Motor Show to honor our fathers. If it had a motor, you could bring it and display it. We had 43 entrants. Not bad for the first year. We had a little bit of everything. Classic cars, drag cars, trucks, tractors, and motorcycles.
Dan & I were in charge of the food for the event. We grilled 530 burgers, brats & hot dogs and had root beer by the keg to make root beer floats. Yum!

We were blessed with a wonderful group of volunteers who helped grill and serve. It was a great day, but I can definitely tell I have a job that causes me to sit on my backside most of the day. My feet aren't used to that kind of workout. Can you say blisters??? All in all, the event was a great success and will more than likely be bigger and better next year. Ya'll come!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New perspective

I received this email link from a web friend. Mary, I thank you for it. I need a reminder every once in a while that the people I encounter day by day may be struggling with some kind of burden in their life. I hope I'm not being presumptuous in thinking others need the same reminder. I tend to get wrapped up in "my" schedule, "my" agenda, "my" hurried pace. I forget that everyone else is not here to make my life easier or to intentionally frustrate me . Have a watch and see.
Cut and paste into your browser.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Rockin' our weekend...

Storms, storms and more storms...

It's been a very stormy, rainy time here in Northwest Illinois. However, I'm thankful we haven't had the extreme rains like central Illinois. Our son, Luke, who lives by Springfield,said they had 10" of rain in the last few days. But my oh my have we had some nasty storms.

I love to sit on the porch and watch the clouds and lightning roll in but once the wind starts up, I turn into Chicken Little. Our home sits on a hill in the middle of farm fields. We jokingly call it the "Big House on the Prairie." If there is any wind, we're going to feel it.

The picture above is of clouds that rolled in last night just before dark. Fortunately, we got mostly rain out of it and not much wind, so I didn't feel the urge to go to the basement. Yes, I said basement. I told you I was a chicken. I take a book, a flashlight and my cell phone and sit in the basement while Dan stays upstairs and watches. Once in awhile he'll come down but I think it's just to humor me.

The picture below is of our big pussy willow bush that was uprooted by a storm a week ago. It seemed like most of the roots were intact yet so we stuffed it back in the ground and are hoping for the best. It's such a nice, full bush, I really hate to lose it. Plus the bonus is it hides the propane tank from view.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandma Great!

Last night we had the honor of celebrating my mother-in-laws 82nd birthday. My sister-in-law was gracious to open up her home and do all the cooking. I for one was extremely appreciative of that part! What made the evening even more special was it was the first time all of her Great-grandchildren have been together at the same time, so of course we had to take a "generations" picture or two. The first one is of the great grandkids(from left,Tyler, Madison,in back, Ava and baby Owen) with Grandma. The next would be her kids, grandsons who are now Daddy's and the greats. From left:GS-Vince, D-Kathy, GGS-Tyler, GS-Jason, D-Sandy, GGD-Madison, Grandma, GGS-Owen, GS-Jon, GGD-Ava and S-Dan(my sweetie). I love pictures like this that show the heritage of a family, don't you?

A friend of mine, upon her retirement gave me a pillow with the following saying about friends but the same could be said for family.

"A person goes through life meeting all different kinds of people. They will go in and out of your life, but some of these people really get to know you and accept you for who and what you are. These people are called true friends and are always close at heart."

Families accept each other for who you are, good qualities, bad qualities, quirks, and all. I have also been extremely blessed to have some friends in my life that are more like family than friends. They know what I'm thinking without me saying a word. All it takes is "the look." They seem to know when I need a call or email even when I haven't realized it yet. These are the people (friends and family alike) I know will always be part of my life no matter what. I praise God for each and every one of you!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Relaxing Sunday

What a relaxing Sunday! We went to church last night so we could get up late (7:00 am - sad isn't it when 7am is considered late) and have a relaxing, non-hurried morning.

Joe rode his motorcycle home from Island Lake today to help Dan buff out a tractor. Here he is showing his Dad his expertise. He has come so far in his abilities. He has definitely inherited his father's perfectionist eye when it comes to paint and body work.

I made a nice big Sunday dinner. I grilled BBQ ribs, and made macaroni salad, potatoes, corn bread and dessert. There was something kind of comforting in making a "traditional" Sunday dinner again. Then Jon, Heidi and the kids stopped on their way to an afternoon in the park. Owen is getting so big and Ava talks more and more all the time. Dang, grandbabies are alot of fun!
After lunch, I actually got a chance to sit on the deck in the sun in a lounge chair I bought two years ago and have probably used twice! I finished up a book and just relaxed. To top off the day, tonight we went for a motorcycle ride. It doesn't get much better than this!