French toast this morning!  Just what we needed to charge us up.  Thursday on a mission trip can be the hardest day of all.  You’re tired, you have blisters from doing things all day long that you don’t usually do at all, and you aren’t sure you’re going to get done with everything you wanted to.  Thursday is the day that we need to charge our batteries.    

Project Manager Tom found that out today when he went to leave for a meeting this afternoon.  He discovered that if you leave your flashers on, it might run your battery down and your truck won’t start, blocking in the volunteers.  Pastor went in the other van back to the camp so they could get supper started (Scalloped potatoes and ham. Yum!) while the other van waited for the diagnosis.  A new battery is needed!

No Spark

Today we:

  • Finished tiling the laundry room
  • Grouted the laundry room, 2 bathrooms, and the kitchen
  • Installed casing and base
  • Stained window frames and trim
  • Varnished trim, door frames and doors
  • Filled nail holes
  • Touch-up painting

The quilting group at Shepherd of Peace in Sergeant Bluff sent along 20 quilts for us to give to the camp.  They are amazing quilts lovingly made by amazing women.  We laid them all out on a table so we could oooh and aaah over them.  Then we had the guys pick one out to give to Raymond.  The rest will go to the camp to given to survivors or be used by volunteers.  (Probably when it snows and gets to 7 degrees!!)

Shepherd of Peace Quilts

On our mission trips we never know how we touch people.  We trust that God has chosen the right people for us to help.  The quilts from the ladies remind me of wrapping the love of Jesus around us, keeping us safe and secure.  May the people whom we have helped, like Raymond and the elderly couple, see our love for others through our actions and these quilts, just like a hug from God himself.



Scrambled eggs, sausage, and toast today.  We needed the sustenance, for the day ahead.   The third day of the mission trip is when we waffle between thinking we’ll run out of work, to that we have too much to do, to that it will be just right. 

When Tom, our Project Manager, arrived on the job this morning, he told me that the potluck that Celebration Lutheran Church had planned for us for this evening was cancelled due to the weather.  Now, I’ll have to admit as a seasoned Iowa driver, this seemed a bit extreme.  At the time, the sun was coming out every now and then, and the icicles were melting.  But this is what we drove “home” in:

Tennessee Snow

But before this drive home, we:

  • Finished installing all of the wood flooring
  • Finished staining the trim and doors
  • Adjusted doorways and got some doors hung
  • Finished varnishing the trim
  • Sorted and mapped out where the trim goes
  • Started varnishing the doors
  • Patching and taping drywall

Raymond was around this afternoon.  He and Tom both helped install one of the vanities.  Raymond sure seems to be smiling a lot.  That’s our goal!

Judy used a gift card that she had been saving for just such an occasion and bought us pizza and salad from Painturo’s.  And she had a birthday cake for Tom for dessert.  Tom’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago and Tom’s wife had left money with Judy to get a cake.  Wasn’t that thoughtful?  The pizza was very good.  Pastor Martin from Celebration Lutheran stopped by to meet us.  We sent one of our pumpkin pies home with him; he’s going to serve it Sunday morning.  Kind of a reverse potluck!  And we got to sing “Happy Birthday” to Tom.

Pizza "Potluck"


The second work day on a mission trip is typically a good day.  You don’t have the awkwardness of not knowing where to go.  You’ve been to the job site so you know your way around the area a bit, and, once you get there, you can usually pick up where you left off.  You’ve met most of the people you  need to meet.  You’re still enthused and maybe even a little energized about the task ahead.  And you feel like you kinda know what to expect.  After all, now you’re experienced! 

Today was that kind of day.  We had breakfast at Camp Faith – cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt, milk and juice.  Marc made oatmeal.  (Thanks, Marc!)  We made our sandwiches and packed our lunches in brown paper sacks.  Pastor made some tuna salad for sandwiches, plus we still had some delicious roast beef left from the Super Bowl party.  We were on our way to Raymond’s house by 8:00.  It’s about a 20 minute drive.  When we arrived, we all had our places to start, from where we  left off yesterday, and got to work.  It wasn’t long and we had the place buzzing with saws, sanders, and even some sweat!

Raymond was around more today so we all got a chance to visit with him.  He is a likeable guy whose trade is upholstery.  He is currently laid off, but he has some interesting stories about jobs he has done and places he has worked.  His house is the perfect job for us to do.  It is utilizing the skills of each of us.  It is so amazing how God can send the right people at the right time to the right place. 

Roy, Tom, and Judy went first thing this morning to the home of the elderly couple that we had  thought we might be able to work for, but their funding hadn’t been approved yet.  Roy was initially asked to help provide a materials cost estimate.  After meeting with the couple and seeing the home, a new option became apparent.  Amazing!  Hopefully, armed with a new plan this special couple will be able to have their home reevaluated and approved. 

Today, the second work day, was also a day of accomplishing things. The tile in the kitchen got laid, so it was on to the bathrooms.  The flooring in the bedroom did indeed get done by noon, so it was on to the next bedroom.   The trim moved to the next stage – varnishing, although there is still prepping, sanding, and staining being done.  Most of the trim is stained so we’ve on to the doors.  All of that trim stacked up behind Ruth — she stained all of that just today.  She is one trim woman!

Ruth -- One Trim Woman

Our Living Quarters

Here is the picture of our sleeping quarters, or our caboose as Larry calls it!

Camp Faith Sleeping Trailers

Day 2

Today we met two new people. We came all the way to Tennessee to meet someone from Iowa. Tom, our Project Manager, is from eastern Iowa. This is his second week here and we’re his second group.

Then we met Raymond, the homeowner we’re here for. We learned from Judy in orientation that Raymond had lived in a trailer on his land then bought an existing house and moved it to the lot, placing it on a new 8-course high foundation. He had been working to fix up the house so he could move into it when the flood hit. He had eight feet of water in his front yard and a foot of water in his house, for three days. He has received the max of FEMA money and Lutheran Disaster Response is helping him get his house back to where it was at the time of the flood so then he can move on with his original plans.

So we got busy helping to make that happen for him! Here’s some of what we did today:

  • Secured outside steps
  • Installed wood floor in one bedroom and half of another. (Pastor knows they will be done with that room by noon tomorrow…!)
  • Installing ceramic tile in the kitchen
  • Getting the bathroom ready for tile
  • Sanding casing and base that had been removed, and re-staining it.

A special thanks to “Meals with a Mission” for the meal while we’re on a mission! The spaghetti, garlic bread, and pies were the perfect ending to our day. As you might guess, we’re all exhausted. The shower trailer keeps tripping a breaker. Fortunately there is one shower in the church so we are able to use that.

We really feel blessed that we planned inside work this year — since it snowed this afternoon! We didn’t mean to bring it with us!!

Here was the view out of our room this afternoon on our return.

Room With A View

We’ve Arrived!

It’s 11PM and I’ve had some technical difficulties, but I’m hoping to let you know what’s up.  First, thank you for all of your prayers and thoughts.  We can feel them! 

We left Chesterfield a few minutes after 8AM.  We drove by the St. Louis Arch; Pastor explained it was built to represent the Gateway to the West, but according to him, the Gateway to the West is actually Yankton, South Dakota.  He did have a lot of good trivia about St. Louis and the Sem. 

It is Sunday, so of course we had a devotion.  It was about salt, and what type of salt we might be.  That has led to some good discussions that will be continuing, and I think maybe even a sermon will be forthcoming! 

We saw empty barges on the Ohio River, the snow was gone by the time we got to Kentucky, and we saw green grass just south of Paducah.  Lunch was at Patty’s Restaurant in Grand Rivers, Kentucky.  Roy and I had eaten there several years ago while on vacation and wanted to share the experience.  It is part of an 1880s settlement.  They’re known for pork chops and delicious desserts.  No one left there hungry!

 We had a safe trip and arrived at “Camp Faith” around 5PM.  Judy and Pastor Matt from Faith Lutheran met us for a quick tour and orientation.  Our lodging units are two 50′ shipping containers from Orphan Grain Train that have been converted into sleeping quarters.  One of them is totally open inside and has about 10 bunk beds in it — that’s where the guys are.  The other one is subdivided into five separate compartments,   their own door and window. Four of the compartments have two bunkbeds and the fifth has three.  Roy and I have the room in the middle.  Its an 8’x8′ room.  Cozy!  We’re sleeping on the top bunks so we’ll see how that goes!

A local pastoral counselor and her husband were generous enough to have all 15 of us to their home for a Super Bowl party!  (Go Packers!)  We had an enjoyable evening of fun, fellowship and football. Thank Evonne and Norm! Pastor Matt and LeeAnn, too.

The reason for our journey will start tomorrow. We’ll be meeting with the project manager at 8AM.  Plan to have pictures available tomorrow.

Day 1

From early morning breakfast to dinner in a mall food court, its been a nearly perfect travel day!  Here are the highlights:

  • Breakfast send-off prepared and served by Lois, Pam, and Deanna.  A prayer by PR started our journey out on the right note.  Then the group picture beneath the cross.
  • Lunch in Chillicothe, MO, at “Washington Street Food & Drink Company.”  (Thanks to a Redeemer member for paying for lunch! That was a nice surprise and appreciated!)
  • We had a bald eagle fly along with us for a while on Highway 36.
  • Spent a little bit of time at the Welcome Center in Hannibal, Missouri.
  • Traveled on Highway 61 South, known as “Avenue of Saints.”
  • Saw a hearse stalled along the road.  That sparked some interesting speculations and conversation.
  • Arrived at Chesterfield, Missouri, Hampton Inn at 5:00.
  • Left at 5:45 for the Chesterfield Mall to eat at the Cheesecake Factory.
  • 6:15 – Plan B — 90 minute wait at Cheesecake Factory.  We headed to the Mall Food Court.
  • Spent an hour or so milling about at the mall.  Some of us rode the Victorian Carousel  – which was well worth the $2 token!
  • Back to the motel a bit after 8:00 to relax and turn in for the night.  Good night!


Volunteers to the Volunteer State

Clair, Pastor Z, Edda, Marc, Ruth, Carole, Jim, Fred, Roy, Melanie, Donna, Larry, Dick, Bill, Randy

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