Our Appalachia Service Project Teams have been sending back updates as they continue their week in mission. We’re sharing those updates with you - be sure to check back throughout the week as we continue to add news from the teams to this post!
Day 1: We have all settled into our quarters for the week. After the rain, the temperature has cooled to a delightful 70 degrees. It’s OK to be envious. St Matthew’s arrived all decked out in green t-shirts. One of the other churches came wearing red. And Spruce Pine is the Christmas tree capital of the world. Get it…. red. green. Christmas. We are now known as the green church and the red church.
The other church from West Virginia was named the rainbow church when they arrived without coordinated shirts…They were Lutheran so we let it slide…
We have been given out family assignments for the week: Sheila and Ken - Sing along Swordfish - working on a retaining wall. Bob and Karen - Big Band Bobcat - completing a drainage ditch and underpinning. Connie and Leon- Reggae Rooster - they will be working on 4 trailers in the same community - building stairs and replacing bathroom floors. Cathy and Scott - Folk Falcon- don’t have an update on their work. Mike and Barb - Classical Cheetah - no update yet on their family.
Day 2: Today’s word is Mud… It was everywhere and by the end of the day most of us were covered in it. The weather today was Appalachia perfect. Blue skies and delightful temperature. We hope it continues for the rest of the week.
Leon/Connie - Reggae Rooster… Liz and Leon replaced a vented plexiglass window. Connie and Noah installed vinyl tile flooring in a bathroom. Josh,Ted,Anna and Claire start the ground work for stairs leading to a porch by digging holes and installing railing. We have 5 dogs and 1 cat on our site in an area shared by 3 families. Our team enjoyed getting to know the 3 children on our site all 4 and under.
Ken/Sheila - Sing-a-long Swordfish - Our team is working on a retaining walls at the home of Mark and Cathy. We played in lots of mud getting the area behind the trailer ready for the wall. Ashlyn rescued a box turtle from the road. Our mascot was released into the wild. Mark and Cathy have 2 dogs ,Rebel and Suzie. Rebel is our new mascot and loves lunch time. Ally and Will were the mud crew leaders. Lexie, Thomas and Jack were the ‘rock breakers’ that pushed the mountain back up the hill.
Folk Falcon - Scott/Cathy are busy with a fantastic friendly family of 5 with 4 friendly dogs. Michael and Sarah tiled the bathroom including having to remove and replace a toilet. Jessica, Nico, Jacob and Wade sided a home addition.
Classical Cheetah`- Mike/Barbara started Monday by meeting our family. Amanda led us in prayer to get us started. Kyle and Jacob began the morning pulling up carpeting in a bedroom that needs a new floor. Jonah helped problem solve sub flooring removal around an air duct and plumbing. Andrew jumped in,helping with the sub floor removal helping dig a hold for a porch post (as did Jonah,Emma and Amanda). Jacob went under the floor to find where a sub-piece ended. Emma stepped out of her comfort one and wielded a circular saw, making clean cuts on porch posts. Mike and Amanda broke a cinder-block in half- Amanda figured out the ‘breaking point’ perfectly!
Big Band Bobcat - Bob/Karen - We will be spending the week making a skirt around a trailer and building a staircase out of the back door. Our famiy is ‘Tiny’ who lives alone. He has no electricity and no hot water. He loves to help us on our projects and spend time getting to know us as well as us getting to him.. He has 2 cats that love to play and climb up our pant legs. Alex took on the task of building stairs(which involved math). Jack and Alex took turns digging the post holds which is a challenge when it keeps filing up with muddy water. Cara,Gina,Will and Josh were busy figuring out the skirting project. We had to do a bit of undoing before we could really get going. They were all underneath the trailer hammering and pulling staples.
Our group is beginning to mingle with the other church groups here. St. Matthew’s youth continue to amaze our group leaders. Not only are they kind and friendly, but willing to dig in and work hard!!!
We are off to visit the local ice cream place for the first time.
Day 3: Another gorgeous day in Spruce Pine. All the group leaders have agreed that their group is the best. They are such hard workers while also having fun.
Tonight was culture night and we went to an Apple Orchard in Altapass on the Blue Ridge Pkwy. Breathtaking scenery. The Parkway is maybe 15 minutes East of our location. Bill Carlson owns the orchard which has been in existence for over a hundred years with a rich history of the area. We learned that a turning point in the revolutionary war was fought here, the Battle of King Mountain and we learned about a devastating hurricane in 1916. Bill is a great story teller and we were all fascinated by his passion for keeping the history of this area alive and sharing the history with us.
Singalong Swordfish - Ken/Sheila: Our morning started with a breakfast prepared by Mark and Cathy. We dined on homemade biscuits, homemade apple butter, sausage and pork tenderloin. Ally, Will, Jack and Thomas finished installing all of the retaining wall boards. Lexie and Ashlyn learned the fine art of digging mobile home tie down horizontally into the side of a mountain. Everyone got the opportunity to shovel 1.5 tons of grave, first onto the ASP dump truck and then from the worksite pile to the retaining wall. A great day of sunshine and accomplishment serving Mark and Cathy.
Folk Falcon - Scott/Cathy: The Folk Falcon continued working in the home of Ann and David. We had a productive day. Nico, Wade and Jacob added skirting to the room addition. Michael, Sarah and Jacob floored and installed shelves in a new linen closet. Nico was the sawmaster and cut all the shelve supports. We painted the bathroom a beautiful spa blue. Wade and Jessica installed a tin roof on the room addition.
Classical Cheetahs. Mike/Barbara: Jacob and Kyle removed the rest of the insulation and most of the sub floor. They dug out the part of the subfloor under the walls. Andrew and Jonah helped dig a post hole for the back deck to the correct depth and squared it off. Amanda and Emma focused on the deck. The challenge remaining is to get the cap block at the bottom of the hole even so it supports the post. The post off the back deck were put in place. ASP staff determined the direction the team was given for securing the posts was not accurate fro the job to be done and the team will bring L brackets and braces and longer deck nails to the site on Wednesday .
Big band bobcat - Bob/Karen: Alex,Jack and Josh continued work on their stairs. The supports were cut to perfection. Will,Gina and Cara were quickly experts in cutting siding and installing the panels for the trailer skirt only to discover after a couple of hours that we needed to take it apart because an access panel needed to be created. Both Gina and Cara tried their hand with a circular saw cutting 2x4 to create the frame for the access panel. Their cuts received rave reviews. We also met Dunbar the dog today. He is one of the neighbor dogs and LOVES to play fetch. For six hours today somebody had to keep him entertained throwing an empty plastic soda bottle.
Reggae Rooster - Leon/Connie: Today we made progress on building the porch stairs. One of our ASP center directors stopped by and had lunch with the group. Much discussion was had on how to progress with the project. Today we set the posts for the stairs. Liz and Leon cut the spindle at 45 degree angles. Much time was spent with the children keeping them away from the work site. They love playing with our youth. Today was Tattoo Tuesday and we brought some tattoos for the family which the kids really enjoyed.
Day 3: The St. Matthew youth are swagalicous. The group leaders have learned many new ‘youth’phrases. St. Matthew congregation should be very, very proud of these young people. They are an amazing group. All are working in conditions they have never experienced before. Meeting new people and helping those that are not as fortunate. They are digging in,working together,problem solving and mopping shower floors. The adults just can’t say enough good things about them. We do know they are already looking forward to a hot shower, their own bed and something else beside PB&J for lunch.
Pictures attached are from the Ice Cream Deck. Our nightly hangout with amazing flavors like salt caramel, lavender vanilla and ginger molasses.
Singalong Swordfish - Ken/Sheila: Ally,Will,Thomas and Jack did some amazing ‘field engineering’ to provide enough support for repair of the deck. Cinder blocks flat rocks and joist hangers were combined to get it done. Lexie and Ashlyn,a.k.a ‘the tensionettes’ produced a lot of tension for the entire team. They got 9 of 11 cable tension assemblies completed. Each assembly produced a distinctive ‘hum’ when strummed. Mark and Cathy surprised us with breakfast at 11:30. Scrambled eggs, biscuits,sausage, pork tenderloin jello and apple pie helped us to recharge on energy for a major push until we stopped for lunch at 1:30. Another great day of service in beautiful NC. Our youth pitched in and bought a new US flag for Mark and Cathy. They were thrilled and so appreciative.
Classical Cheetah - Mike/Barb: Jacob and Kyle continued to chisel away at the subfloor of the bedroom - literally. Jonah was jig- sawing the subfloor from under the bedroom walls. Amanda’s calculation for wood were exceptional for the deck posts and wood needed. Mike, Amanda, Emma, Andrew and Barbara worked on getting the 2 deck posts setting level on the cap blocks Mike and Emma cut the 45 degree angle to the deck post to accommodate the handrail down the steps. We call Emma ‘the cutter’ because of her straight accurate cuts. We got both posts and cornerposts braced. Found a multi-purpose tool,compliments of Scott Bailey to help get the rest of the sub-floor out tomorrow morning.
Folk Falcon - Scott/Cathy: Warrior Wednesday. Sarah painted the newly built hall closet, plus her jeans, plus her safety fanny pack, plus her hair. The closet looks fantastic. Wade trimmed out the bathroom floor with professional precision. Jacob and Michael rocked out a new built in shelf in the bathroom. Nico practiced perseverance nailing a J channel with a mere 3” hammer clearance. Jessica was chased by thunder and rain off the roof but not before screwing down the last piece of tin. We presented our family gifts and received lots of hugs.
Reggae Rooster - Leon/Connie: Today Anna and Josh successfully calculated measurements for the stair stringers. Leon, Liz and Ted cut spindles,stringers and handrails and Claire attached the handrails to the top of the spindles. The porch and stairs are taking shape. Tomorrow we will start work in the bathroom of the 4th house, just up the hill from the other three.
Big Band Bobcat - Bob/Karen: Our team came out of the shoot like gangbusters in the morning. Alex and Jack tackled the stairs. Will and Josh were under the trailer hanging 2x4 support and Cara and Gina were hanging skirting on the front of the trailer. The front of the trailer is almost completed and we will start on the back tomorrow. and we have 5 more 2x4x8 to install to complete the underpinning. The stairs are looking AWESOME and we hope to put the deck boards in place tomorrow. We spent time with our homeowner ‘Tiny’. He knows a lot about construction and helps us during the day. He is also is a bit of prankster and likes to jump out and scare the kids. We found out that his house burned down about 7 years and he had to sell some of his property to buy the trailer he currently is living in.
Tomorrow is out ASP picnic. More later.
Day 4: We are into the home stretch. Many of us are weary but we all continue to push forward. The first aid kit has hardly been opened except for the occasional bandaid. Weather today was mostly cloudy, With the previous days at full sun, a day of shade was a welcome relief.
Singalong swordfish - Ken/Sheila (the anti-oxidants) have just about completed their work at Mark and Cathy’s house. The retaining wall is complete thanks to the Tensionette’s awesome work today!! What a team Lexie and Ashlyn are! Ally and Will, AKA ‘Simply Decks’ completed the deck portion for Mark and Kathy and tomorrow Ally,Will,Jack and Thomas will finish the railing around the home. Jack and Sheila removed hundreds of nails from the old deck and made a huge pile to be taken to the dump tomorrow. Mark and Kathy ordered pizza and chicken wings for the team to enjoy for lunch. Mark made Strawberry pie for the gang which was delicious. Mark also fried a fish he caught for the whole team to snack on and Will especially enjoyed that. Kathy shared a very personal testimony which moved the team to tears. The anti-oxidants feel extremely bless to have gotten to know Mark and Kathy and feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of their lives this week.
Reggae Rooster - Leon/Connie: We completed Reggae rooster, a bathroom project. Work continued on “Undercover Umbrella”. Anna,Josh,Claire and Ted cut,drilled and nailed spindles. The team completed stair construction. At Disco Dog, Leon and Ted installed roof flashing and Liz, Noah and Connie re-worked the tile floor in the bathroom and got to know the family at this new house.
Folk Falcon - Scott/Cathy: Today’s major accomplishment was the design and installation of hand rails for the front steps. Nico wheeled a mean post hold digger and had 4 holes dug in record time. Wade and Nico stabilized the posts. joined by Michael and Jacob they installed the spindels. The front porch hand rails were completed in record time. Jessica is a our resident cat magnet; two of our families cats, who like no one, love Jessica. Jessica and Sara installed a finishing board to finish off our additions siding. AND IT WAS GOOD. Our day ended on a high note as our family, Ann, David and their 3 boys, joined our team and the whole ASP group for a cook- out in a lovely park. Ann shared her favorite recipes with us. Jessica and Michael took note a will make them at home.
Big Band Bobcat - Bob/Karen- The back stairs are progressing nicely and our home owner should be able to walk down the stairs by the end of the day. Alex and Jack have taken this project on as their own. The skirting around the trailer has been a slow process, since every piece has to be hand cut before it is installed. Gina and Cara are sticking with it and progress has been steady. We figured we need to cut 108 pieces of siding and also the corner pieces. Will and Josh were on their backs all day today hammering 2x4 into place for the siding. After they install the last board tomorrow, they will start on the siding and we hope that adding another team will speed up the process and get us to completion
Classical Catawampus Cheetahs - Mike/Barbara: There was some frustration when all the team had was a T20 drill bit and the deck shelves were only going in part was with the drill. Mike got a T25 bit for Friday and the team is praying for a smooth installation for the rest of the deck screws. Amanda,Emma and Andrew attached the nails to two of the three sides of the deck after Emma,Andrew and Kyle got the boards cut using the chop saw Scott Bailey loaned the team a multi purpose tool which helped Jonah, Jacob, Kyle and Mike get almost all the subflooring from under the walls. Friday will be a big day - Amanda,Emma and Andrew will get the remainder of the rails on the deck and top it with a 1x6 hand rail. The youth working on the bedroom floor are praying to the get the chicken wire stapled under the joists so the insulation can be installed, then the OSB board and the luan. Keep the prayers coming.
Thank you for your prayers and support. It give us much strength knowing you all are thinking about us and the work we are doing many miles away. We have all grown very fond of this lovely community.
Last note tomorrow
Day 5: Friday is always the best day at ASP. At more devotion, Lexie,Anna,Josh and Jacob N sang the Irish Blessing. It was so beautiful and moving. Then off we went to finish up our jobs and spend the last moments with our family and then after dinner we all share the special times we experienced during the week. This week the staff challenged our churches to raise funds for ASP. We reached the goal that meant each work team could throw a whip cream pie in the face of one of the ASP staff. It was the first time this summer that happened. The kids had so much fun.
We are all tired and humbled by our week. All of us out of our comfort zone and spending time with families who have so little and shared so much with us. We were all blessed by the experience
Singalong Swordfish - Ken/Sheila: A leisurely morning visiting with the family Completed the railing around the deck We presented our family with their gifts from St Matthew.
Folk Falcons - Scott/Cathy: The Falcon team made fast and strong friendships with Ann,David and their 3 boys Today was bitter sweet as we finished up projects. We took pictures, laughed,hugged and played with their dogs and sadly said goodbye. Nico patiently and with persistence measured, cut and installed the final section of skirting around the house addition It was a tough and tedious job. Michael,Jessica and Jacob caulked the newly installed tin roof,prepared the roof for the mulehide next week. The family was very happy with the room addition with new grey siding, tin roof and gray skirting Wade and Sara helped clean up the work site in preparation for next weeks crew. Jim S was a great help today and all week hauling away unused supplies and trash. After dinner the entire ASP group joined together and shared their high,lows and God moments from the week. The Folk Falcons were blessed to spend the week in the home of Ann and David. We made good friends with our family and enjoyed getting to know each other better as well. It was a great week to be a Folk Falcon.
Reggae Rooster- Connie/Leon: We wrapped up a great week, finishing the porch stairs and railing at one home and flooring and roofing at another. We ended the day by visiting all of the 4 homes we worked on, taking photos and giving a farewell gift to each. Looking forward to warm showers.!!
Classical Cheetah - Mike/Barb: Amanda and Emma completed the railings around the back deck with the help of Andrew, Kyle and Jonah. Jacob, Mike, Kyle, Andrew, Amanda and Jonah pitched in to get the chicken wire installed, the insulation in and the OSB board over 2/3 of the bedroom floor. There is an issue with moisture and plumbing that will need to be dealt with by next week’s team. The grandmother and her granddaugher were delighted with the gifts the team bought them which include some bedding and curtains for the bedroom. Parents, please have warm showers waiting - we had cold ones all week.
BigBand Bobcat- Bob/Karen: Alex and Jack did an amazing job with the stairs. ASP staff said it was the best stairs they have seen all summer. They finished everything but the spindles on the railing. Cara wasn’t feeling very well today, so the rest of the gang stepped it up on the underpinning around the trailer. All of the front is finished and half of the back We worked on the ends but with advice from the ASP staff decided to hold off since more drainage work needed to be done before the siding went in. We cut about 120 pieces of siding. Our homeowner very much appreciated our gifts and we hope he enjoys his new cooler and grill. He is a great guy and we know we have made his home safer,warmer and drier.
Thank you St. Matthew’s for helping us to send 41 people to serve in Appalachia. We hope to be in the St.Matthew parking lot between 3:30-4PM on Saturday. One more task to unload all the vans and then home to our warm showers and comfortable beds.