Today we worked on Ms. Carol McNair’s house. She has the black shirt on and her sister has the red shirt on. She has lived in this house for 57 years. She is 65 years old. We worked on her bathroom, front porch, installed a new front door, painted her house, painted all the window trim. We will spend Friday there as well, finishing the drywall in the bathroom, Tiling the floor and finishing the paint on the outside. She was so grateful, she gave all of us hugs. We also got a chance to drive to Biloxi and do a little site seeing. There is still a lot of damage but a tremdous amount of work has been done. We finished the day at Sonic for ice cream.
This is camp Victor where we are staying. We heard that this camp is planning on being active for another two years. They are doing a fabulous job of helping the people in the area with food, home improvements and encouragement. God has provided everything they need to meet the needs of the people. We heard many stories of how God brought just the right people and supplies at the right time in amazing ways. I hope we can send more teams down here. They feed all the volunteers three meals a day and coordinate all the work for the many volunteers. All volunteer hours are recorded and the county gets credit for those hours from FEMA. They are averaging around 24,000 hours per month which translates into about a 400,000 credit of the counties bill.
Today the real work started. We headed out at 7:30 a.m. and drove to the job site. When we got there we met John Sizemore the home owner. He was a big man and very friendly. We soon got to know him, some better than others. John Troyer ended up driving him around to get some supplies we needed. Our John heard a lot about the area and Big John’s life. The work to be done included finishing his roof which was about half done. So Todd got some of the crew going and soon they were roofing. Terri Hupp, Todd, Randy Emler and, Roger Bond were on the roof all day. Nick, Chelsea, Carla and I ended up helping out here and there on the roof. We spent most of our time tearing out drywall and old insulation. There was a good bit of mold in that room as well. We got it all tore out and cleaned up. We nearly completed the roof, it was huge! We will need to send two or three back over in the morning to finish it off. We will also look for a new job site in the morning. We are all very tired and a little sore. We also got some sun in the afternoon. It ended up being 82 degrees and beautiful. All in all it was a very good day. John Sizemore was very grateful, he has lived here for 31 years. He works at the shipping yard and specializes in robotics. He seemed to be very intelligent. He is also a Christian and chatted with John Troyer about the Bible and God. Well, I am off to an orientation and a short meeting with our team to brief for tomorrow. I will try to load some pictures for you to enjoy.
Hey, we made it to our final destination. We arrived in Ocean Springs, MS at about 2:00 p.m. The drive was long and pretty uneventful after our tire fiasco. I bought a GPS for Christmas this year and does that thing rock! It talks and tells you exactly where to turn. We got some laughs when we would make stops or drive a different direction. The lovely ladies would voice would say “recalculating” like she was annoyed. She even told us to make a u-turn and that there is a better route. Technology is truly amazing, how did I get around before? Well, to be honest I often get lost, so that is why I made the investment.
After arriving this afternoon, we got a short orientation and a tour of the facility. This is a great place. It is a large building that is split into several sections. One area is the sleeping quarters. Around six different areas that have rows of bunk beds. They can accommodate nearly 200 volunteers. There are around 60 volunteers here this week. The other areas include a food distribution area, a cafeteria and showers area, and a tool warehouse. There is also a small office area where the Camp staff works.
After we finished the tour I met with the construction coordinator. We got our job assignments for the first couple of days. We were assigned to a house that needs to have the shingles finished on the roof and some inside gutting and new drywalling. They also asked if we could work on a plumbing and cabinet job. We decided to go check out these sights today to see what to expect, so off we went. The roof is partially finished and the inside is a total mess. Very dirty and junk piled everywhere. I spoke with the owner on the phone at his workplace and he told me some of the work he wanted done. We then went over to the other site and happen to run into the lady that owns the house. She was originally from Ohio and moved done to MS in the 70’s. The house was nearly finished. We are doing some of the finishing touches so that she can move in. I hope we can get both of these jobs done in the next four days. It is supposed to be nice weather, in the 80’s and sunny the next two days.
We will start the day at 6:00 a.m. breakfast and then pack up our tools, shingles and head out to the Sizemore roofing job. I think I will work on the inside, tearing out drywall and insulation. I am not much of a roofer. We will work until 5:30 and then head back for dinner. Tonight we are watching a documentary about Katrina – Or maybe I will watch American Idol instead.
One last interesting thing I learned today is that the Lutheran Camp we are at has coordinated around 1500 work sites. They currently have 100 jobs going and have another 700 waiting. That is just one organization. So there is plenty of work to do the rest of this year and probably next year as well. I hope we can bring several more groups here to help impact this area. Some amazing things are happening. God is Good, All the time. I want to thank the great team that is here with me:
Todd Kandel – our construction expert
Chelsea Kandel and Nick Kandel – Todd’s children
Terry Jones – Comic relief
Terri Hupp – Fitness expert
Cathy Capuano – Friendly and fun
Randy Emler – The only one that can sing
Roger Bond – I think he is related to James
John Troyer – Most likely to get injured
Chad Stutzman – Food coordinator
Well, we left early Monday morning for MS. It was an interesting day as we found it was difficult to get out of Ohio. We discovered we had a nail in the rear tire of one of the vehicles at one of our stops, so we went to Walmart and bought a plug and plugged it. Well that didn’t do it, so we found a tire & lube at the next Walmart and waited for them to fix it. Well after about an hour there they told us they couldn’t fix it and sent us to a Tire Discount place. After checking all over we settled on the Tire Discount place with an hour wait. So we ate lunch and hung out until they installed four new tires on the Expedition (Todd Kandel didn’t want to take any chances). So we were back on the road and drove another 6 or 7 hours. We were trying to make Birmingham AL but we were too far behind. We decided to try for Huntsville instead. It was about 7:00 p.m. and we were all getting hungry. John Troyer was with me and he called his brother James to see if he knew of any good BBQ places in Huntsville (You have to try BBQ when in Alabama). James travels in the area a lot on business. Well he highly recommended Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ. We said it was world famous and is very very good. So off we went. It was amazing, we all ate BBQ of some sorts and were very satisfied. I guess the good news was that if we had not been delayed we would not have experienced Big Bob’s in Decatur Alabama. Two thumbs up on that call. Well we are getting ready to eat breakfast at our Comfort Inn and then on the road again for another 6 hours. That will bring us to Ocean Springs MS. We are staying at a Lutheran Camp in Ocean Springs. The ten of us have already had a good time and are getting to know each other better. I will keep you posted.