Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Night

Back Bay - Wahoo, Gumbo, and Shrimp Creole
Who changed the weather! We left Mississippi at 7 AM and it was already 70 degrees. Someplace along the line the temperature dropped and now here we sit in Bowling Green, Kentucky at 35 degrees! Oh well, I know that won't get any sympathy from those of you at home but it's a bit of a shock for us.

It's been a good week but a hard one. We mudded and sanded for 5 days and used muscles some of us hadn't used in a while. But we found time for fun, food, and fellowship. Last night, rather than writing the blog,  we went to a restaurant called The Back Bay near Gulfport, Mississippi. Many of the group had Wahoo for dinner. What's Wahoo, sorry, you'll have to ask them.

Larry did say something about sharing the pecans but ...
We did stop at Priester's Pecans on the way home. We were lured in by the promise of free samples. However most of us seemed to leave with bags in our hands.

Guess who played charades while waiting for dinner at Olive Garden?
It's been a successful week. One more day's drive and we'll be back home with stories to tell and plenty of photos for our presentation to the church.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday January 19

Eating PoBoys on  the Gulf
Today was another beautiful day, brisk in the morning, but sunny, breezy in the upper 60's.

The crews headed to their homes by 9am for another day of mudding and sanding...teams Fritz and Cunningham picked up a tasty lunch from Bozos (specializing in PoBoys) and headed for the Gulf shore to enjoy our lunch by the water.

After an afternoon of exhausting hard work, the crews returned to camp to celebrate Nancy Merrell's birthday complete with a surprise birthday bunk, crown, gifts, cards, and cake.

Our evenings are spent knitting,
There's nothing more relaxing than knitting after a hard day's work.

reading, puzzling,  and writing blogs......
The thrill of a victorious puzzle piece and the agony of defeat.

Until tomorrow....good night!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Jan 18

During the night, the area experienced thunderstorms. This morning, though, the storms had moved out and the day turned out beautiful with a high of around 60°. Our two teams each started out at their own project homes.

Can you find the 10 hard working members of our team?
Mudding is such exciting work, ask Connie.
The group at the Cuningham house found that the drywall compound they had applied the day below hadn't dried – probably because of the moisture and low temperatures. They sanded what they could and finished some seam taping, they headed over to the Fritz house where they joined our other team for lunch. Then the entire crew worked together at the Fritz house taping and mudding more seems, and sanding, sanding, sanding. This was one long day of work resulting in a lot of sore muscles.

Pastor Bob is experimenting with a new form of
baptism for crew mwmbers who do not follow OSHA rules.

For dessert tonight, we enjoyed the Van Cleave UMC's fantastic bread pudding – something we've been looking forward to since last year. We also got to hear the story of how the Van Cleave and Mt. Pleasant churches (they're a two point charge) got started hosting work teams from around the country. They did this for over two years before UMCOR established a presence here. Now, seven years after they started, approximately 100 of the church's 200 members still volunteer in some way to support the teams that come here to help rebuild the area.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Greetings to Our Church Family!
We have ended our second work day in Ol' Miss.

Tai Chi Master Ron Smedley leads the group
Today was in the upper sixties and low seventies so, temperature wise, it was a grand reprieve from the frosts of Michigan. We began our day at 6 A.M a little before sunrise, had a bountiful breakfast, a devotional from Nancy Merrell and a Tai Chi warm up directed by Ron Smedley. We got to our two worksites (the team is split into two) by 9 0'clock. Though we are involved in two different homes, our work has been fairly similar. All of us are sanding and mudding dry wall. The sanding is gritty work to say the least and it requires lots of shoulder motion so at night we open the bottles of Ibuprofin, Aleve, and Motrin to keep the old bones moving.

Nancy and Joyce deciding what to do first.
One of the homes we are working on is totally new. It sits in the spot of the owner's original home which was swept away during Katrina from a bayou surge 600 yards away. Though the Gulf has had thousands of volunteers like us, there are still many people like our homeowner, who wait for a very long time to accumulate the resources or the help enabling them to return to home.

Peter, Rena, Frank, and Estelle are hard at work.
Drywall work is time consuming. After two days we have now finished sanding a second coat of mud on walls and ceiling and and have begun more mudding where needed. Much more to do tomorrow when we will again bring you news from ol' MS.

A P.S. on the weather. We understand there were tornadoes in northern Mississippi but near the Gulf here we have been safe and sound. We send you our very best wishes and love in Christ.

2012 Katrina Mission Team

Monday, January 16, 2012


Off to work on Monday Morning
Your mission team had a safe but tiring trip to Vancleave on Saturday and Sunday, but we were rewarded with warm,sunny weather in Mississippi and an opportunity for a photo op with Ronald McDonald when we took a break in Smith's Grove, Kentucky. In order to obtain our preferred lower bunks, we zipped down as fast as we could on Sunday, only to learn, upon our arrival, that the other church group had canceled their visit, so we have Camp Hope to ourselves.

Frank's Team's House
We split into two teams, led by Ron Smedley and Frank Wassilak, to perform similar tasks on two homes: drywall sanding and mud application. Frank's team is working on a new home, replacing the home which had to be demolished, because Hurricane Katrina caused the roof to collapse. Ron's team is working on an older home which has been totally gutted and rebuilt inside. We may not be able to meet the homeowners, because they are living elsewhere during the rebuilding. We have learned from the staff at Camp Hope that the owner of the home where Frank's team is working is owned by a woman who is caring for her blind mother, and temporarily living and working in Mobile.

Ron's Team's House
We returned to Camp Hope this afternoon, weary and very dusty, but looking forward to continuing tomorrow, so we can help these families return to their homes and continue the process of rebuilding their lives.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


As your 2012 Hurricane Katrina Mission Team makes its final preparations for our departure to Mississippi on January 14, we wish to thank the members of Farmington First for your prayers, donations and support of our project.   Since 2007, we have sent five teams to the Pascagoula area, helping to rebuild the homes and lives of families affected by Hurricane Katrina, who came from a wide variety of backgrounds and economic conditions.   It has been an enriching experience for all of the members of our teams who have participated, and we expect the 2012 team to be similarly blessed.

We will be posting comments in this blog about our experiences during the week, along with photos.

Your 2012 Team:

Pastor Bob and Joyce Brenner
Connie Haase
Peter and Estelle Kalakailo
Nancy Merrell
Larry and Nancy Molloy
Ron Smedley
Rena Swanson
Frank Wassilak