Thursday, March 14, 2013

Have you thanked a Farmer today?

Today was a very humbling experience (even though I spent much of it holed up in the van with the chills and a cold).

A large number of us went up to a 1700 acre produce farm to help clear some fields that have recently been cleared of bush and will be used to plant more than 1 million pounds of food for the Northern Neck Foodbank.  This is a new initiative that has been started between the farmer and the foodbank. 

It was an eye opening experience about the amount of food produced and not used as well as the importance of getting fresh produce into the food bank food chain.  The Northern Neck Foodbank provides food to five counties in the immediate area but are hoping that with partnerships like the one they are forging with Parker Farms that there may come a time where they are providing fresh produce to foodbanks across the state.  Always dream big!

Lance and Brad were great hosts for the day.  They too were up to their knees in the fields we were clearing of sticks and logs.  We tried to explain to the youth that at home, this task would more likely include the picking of rocks which has to be done annually as they are tilled up to the surface.

Tom, Raymond & Carl stayed behind at the house to get the last of the flooring done - which is obvioulsy easier when there aren't 18 additional people walking around.  They are almost done and should get the last few pieces in first thing tomorrow.

Peggy and Marjorie spent the day at the Northern Neck foodbank facility sorting potatoes and canned veggies.  Peggy was impressed with the facility which is quite new and modern.  It was well run and they enjoyed their day.

There was a fierce wind blowing on this sunny day but the our youth treked on and did a great job.  We had some wonderful guests that brought lunch and shared some stories with us.

As is tradition, we had dinner at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church and had creamed grits, shrimp and pulled pork sandwiches.  We took a few minutes after our meal to practice the two hymns we are singing at the dedication tomorrow - we don't sound too bad!

Tonight, the group planned our service we will be presenting on April 7th at both services.  We invite all of you to come and join us to hear our stories.

Details, details, details

It's hard when you work all day but find it hard to see what got done.  Today there were alot of "details" taken care of and we were able to see the progress, thankfully!

Outside, the landscaping was started with the moving of dirt and the laying of 4x4 ties.  The shed got a ramp and doors that close properly and the front windows were cleaned (there are still more outside windows to do but those are the most important at the moment).

Indoors, the bathroom vanities were installed, the last of the closets received their shelves, there was paint touch ups, window washing, the installation of the kitchen countertops and the laying of paper over the floors to protect them.

After a hard days work, the young people went out to bowl at the local ally, which they had to themselves, and had a great time.  They were cheering eachother on and supporting each other regardless of whether the ball hit the gutters or some pins.  It was 10 pin they were playing, something they aren't really used to.  So they had to choose their ball at the proper weight and with the correct hole sizes for their fingers.  There were some strikes, some spares and plenty of laughs.

For dinner we tried a new place which turned out to be a great evening of seafood and karaoke.  Some of us partook of the all you can eat shrimp that was on offer and it was great! The youth signed up to sing Don't Stop Believing by Journey as a group and then there were a few who went up as duets and trios.  All in all it was a new experience for everyone.  We were made to feel very welcome and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Our evening ended with the making of thank you cards that will be distributed to the many folks who take care of us during our time here in VA.  We are truly blessed.

Tommorrow also holds a new experience for many....but that is a story for another day.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rain, rain go away..

Today's rainy weather put a little damper on the work we could get to.  There is plenty of outside work to be done but instead, all 18 of us + the 5 HFH volunteers worked inside today.  It was a little cozy to say the least. 

Tom and his crew headed under the house to insulate some pipes and do some clean up in the crawl space.  What they weren't expecting was to get wet from above when someone turned on the water in the bathtub which was leaking in the crawl space.  I guess it was a good thing that they found out now and could get it all fixed up, which they did.

Carl and his crew worked on putting the storm doors on the front and back of the house.

Peggy's crew, with directions from the homeowner, were responsible for putting the closet organizers in the three bedroom closets.  They were tricky at first but once they got the hang of it they were off to the races!

Pam's crew found new uses for their hotel room cards in the bathroom - they make great putty knives which don't scratch the bathtub insert.  She was also see with her hand in the toilet but we didn't ask....just kept walking!  She and her crew were also seen putting door handles on cupboards and caulking in the bathrooms.  She was a "jill of all trades".

Ruth and her crew were putting up the blinds in the 6 windows in the bedrooms.  It was truly a team effort with adults using the power tools and the youth following behind with the manual labour.  Ruth could later be seen armed with a caulking gun filling in the nail holes.

Bev was busy following around the messes with the vacuum and was instrumental in getting the vent covers on in the bedrooms.  She also spent time putting the paper down on the floor in order to do the last minute touch ups.

Our lunch providers brought in some great sandwiches and Bev and I have decided that we won't be vying for a job at Subway anytime soon!  A special treat were the lovely decorated cookies which had been made with plenty of love (and icing) by the kids at the church.  They were lovely!

There was some sitting around today as many of the "detail" tasks are hard to do with large volumes of people.  The youth headed out early for a little relaxation before we headed out for our evening.

Our evening meal was hosted at Ernie and Nan's...without Nan.  She is attending an International Habitat conference in Atlanta and will be home in time for the dedication on Friday.  Ernie was wonderful in opening up their home to us.  A tour of the chicken coop and even the collecting of some eggs.  We were noisily welcomed by Jimmy Dean and Sadie (the dogs) and the cats ran around the yard upon our arrival too.  Ernie and his sous chef Larry prepared a wonderful meal of chili, rice & johnny cakes and a banana cream pudding for dessert.  The young people provided a wonderful show of a "cup" routine which we could hear them practicing throughout the evening.

We returned to the hotel and had our evening circle time.  We practiced our hymns we will be singing at the dedication on Friday and sounded pretty good!  Folks were saying they couldn't sing but I though we sounded great.  We will hopefully have an opportunity to practice on Thursday night with the piano at the Presbyterian Church.


Tomorrow is another day on the build site.  Hopefully it will be a little drier and brighter.

Monday, March 11, 2013

To the Dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump

Day 1 was a day of clearing out the old to make room for the new!

We started as a group at the Boys and Girls club by clearing out a storage unit of old "stuff" that needed to be tossed or stacked appropriately.  With great teamwork, the space looked incredible when we were done with it. (done by 10am)

Then the group moved to the back of shed to the wood storage area where we needed to stack wood according to size and type.  It is a great way to learn the sizes of wood - 2x4, 2x6, 2x10, 2x12, 4x4 and it goes on.  We disrupted some furry friends but left them lots to go back to when we had moved out.

Next, we loaded a large trailer of stuff that needed to be relocated permanently and off to the dump it went with a team that helped unload it at the other end.  The rest of the group did the last of the clearing up and before heading over to the Pond Park Road house to do some more clearing up to help get the property ready for its dedication on Friday.

During the day, Carl & Raymond were working at the Wiggins St. house digging a hole for the temporary utility pole, headed to the dump and learned alot about the Habitat program.  They also assisted Duane at transferring supplies to the new house.

Bev was excited about getting a chance to go to the dump.  Last year it was one of the things she wanted to do, but didn't get a chance to.  This year she did go, but it wasn't as exciting as maybe she had hoped.  No bears....just metal bins to put your garbage in. 

At the Pond Park House, the group picked up debris, moved sand and helped get the site prepared for grading.

We are due for some rain tomorrow so most of our work will be inside.  There is plenty of work to do; painting, flooring, and insulating of pipes.  The day may also include a trip to the bowling alley, but we will wait to see what the day brings.

Tonight's dinner was a wonderful meal of fried chicken and beans provided by Brownie & Tom.  They welcomed us into their home and offered wonderful food and fellowship - not to mention a beautiful view of the creek.  On the adjacent dock when we arrived we were greeted by a bald eagle and a great blue heron which flew back and forth a few times.

Our friends here are truly wonderful and we are blessed to be with them, even if it is for only a few days a year.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The prodigal son, geo caching & the beach....

That is what our day was all about today.  We had the pleasure of worshipping with the folks at Bethel Methodist Church today.  It was a lovely service with a sermon that sparked much discussion with the group this evening during our gathering many possibilities!  We were served a wonderful lunch which included a wonderful soup/chili and many sweet treats.  There was some recipe swapping...which should give an idea of how good things were.

Then we were off to Belle Island State Park for a wonderful afternoon of geo caching.  There was about a 50/50 split between people who had geo cached before and the "muggles" who were those who had never done it.  Charlene was a great teacher and help all us "newbies" get the hang of it.  All groups were successful in finding 4 caches in the park.  It was a beautiful afternoon to spend outside in the park - I have a red nose and forehead to prove it!

To take full advantage of the beautiful day a bunch of us headed out to our favourite beach area (really the only beach area we know how to get to) for a quick visit.  It was so calm...there was no wind and although the water level was high, it was so calm and allowed us to see jellyfish, some loons and even some boats on the horizon.

We all enjoyed a mexican meal at El Charrito, a local mexican restaurant with great food and wonderful and attentive service.

Our evening was topped off with a wonderful discussion of our day and wonderful, insightful words from Stephane.  You can check out his message to the crew here:

Since I missed posting yesterday - with the loss of the hour I ran out of time before I thought I should be in bed...we had a wonderful day for driving.  The sun was shining, the tunes and the company were good.  We made great time and the Shea's weren't too far behind us.  We gathered as a group at Anna's Pizzeria for a wonderful meal and were joined by Nan & Ernie.  Great to see some of our Kilmarnock family and catch up.

It will be a busy day tomorrow!  The weather is supposed to cooperate.  So here's hoping!

Friday, March 8, 2013

What a great day to travel

Today God provided us with a fantastic day to travel! The sun was shining and you could feel the warmth of it coming through the windows as we headed south.  The border was very quick with only two cars ahead of us (probably the shortest crossing ever) and the roads were dry.

The three large (metal) crows were in the field greeting us as we drove by and the snow covered ground seems to get greener as we moved south.  There is still a little snow on the ground here in PA as we have stopped for the night.

The roadside trees were great places to spot a variety of hawks who were also enjoying the sunny day.  A few successful hunts but most were watching guard in the trees.  A few deer were also in our sights along the side of the road.  Thankfully that is where they remained to graze.

Stopped for dinner and then on to the hotel.  We all commented how nice it was that there was still some light in the sky at 6:30pm.  I guess tomorrow that will be 7:30pm as we "spring ahead". 

The young people took to the pool for some play time and Ruth used the time to try and figure out how to use her camera.  We are awaiting the arrival of Cara and Carl who left a few hours after us.  Hopefully they were blessed with an easy crossing also.

Shea's should be along the road also, making their way south.  Who knows how far they have come but we will catch up with them in Kilmarnock tomorrow evening. 

Drive carefully everyone.  See you all tomorrow.

All our bags are packed....

And we are ready to go!  We will be heading out soon and making what has become our annual trek down to VA.  The 18 folks who are participating this year will offer a diverse group of people that will bring us close to the community of Kilmarnock.  We look forward to sharing our journey with you and keeping you posted on our activities.