Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Car Guy's Comments

Some of Car Guy's recent musings that I didn't want to forget:

Driving through the mountains of southwestern Virginia this weekend, seven-year-old Car Guy dreamily remarked, "Sometimes I feel so small in such a big world."

The other day Car Guy tried describing his sister by using adjectives starting with different letters of the alphabet. He didn't get very far, though, because Curly Girl and I couldn't stop laughing after Car Guy began with "A for academic, . . . . D for diplomatic." Too cute and what a vocabulary!

Reverting to his dress-in-a-different-costume-every-day phase, Car Guy spent this afternoon channeling Darth Vader. He was especially cute wearing his black cowboy boots with his Darth Vader costume, and Curly Girl loved it when her brother wore the costume to pick her up from a Youth Club meeting.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Biking the Virginia Creeper Trail

Our family spent a great day biking seventeen miles of the Virginia Creeper Trail. We began our day at Blue Blaze Bike Rentals in Damascus, VA where we rented two bikes (a mountain bike for Patrick and a tag-along for Car Guy. Curly Girl and I brought bikes with us.) After loading up all the gear, Blue Blaze shuttled us to the top of the trail at Whitetop Station.

Once we were situated on our bikes, we began the descent from Whitetop to Damascus. Along the way, the trail averages a four percent drop over seventeen miles so it made for a very relaxing ride.

The Creeper Trail used to be a railroad route and now traverses a number of bridges as it winds along and across a rocky river.

Even though the trail dips gently through forest most of the way, it also ventures through meadows and by Christmas tree farms.

The Virginia Creeper Trail also offers several rest stops such as the Green Cove Station, a former railroad station, and the Creeper Trail Cafe, a popular lunch spot in Taylor's Valley.

On our journey, we saw many other bikers, a few people riding horseback, and one or two hikers who ventured off the Appalachian Trail, which intersects the Creeper Trail at several points.
The entire Virginia Creeper Trail spans 34 miles from Whitetop Station to Abingdon. We just biked the top half from Whitetop Station to Damascus, but would like to bike the entire trail at the later date. To do so, I would need to train a bit to accustom myself to biking longer distances, though. I am currently suffering from a case of sore tushie and think that I would be in major pain if I tried to bike more than seventeen miles at a time.

After an enjoyable day of family mountain biking, we made it back to Damascus to return the bikes before driving home.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Things I Learned in Kentucky

1. The joy of serving others without desiring or expecting anything in return.

2. Learning how to use a drill and realizing the pleasure of pounding a nail into a board with very few strikes of a hammer

3. Two Chicks in Vinyl- "We lock it tight."

4. Getting to know people in our church whose paths usually do not cross

5. Dwight's experience as an Army tank commander explains his approach to driving the bus.

6. Overcoming a fear of ladders

7. The gratitude of the family we served

8. The teamwork of our group

9. Chigger bites

10. Sporadic cell phone reception on the calling rock and hiking to the mission dorm for wifi

11. Being in awe of people who choose to spend their lives serving the under-represented, uncared for, and unheard in society

12. You don't need a radio when Chuckles is around.

13. Feeling much more appreciative of my lifestyle and my blessings

14. A building trip is a great way for teens to learn life skills such as carpentry, measurement, etc.

15. The men's latrine and the females' excitement about being allowed to use the indoor restroom

16. Trying to understand the locals' tug-of-war between trying to leave such an impoverished area vs. staying near family and comfortable surroundings

17. The pleasure of not thinking about my appearance or minutiae of my life for a week

18. The thrill of seeing Curly Girl enjoying serving others

19. Getting to know the family we served

20. Trying to figure out how and when I can serve on another mission trip

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Frakes, Kentucky- Final Day

Snapshot of Day 5 in Frakes:

We worked from about 9am to 9pm.

The gang working on the new room finished the walls, put on the roof, and covered it with tar paper.

The vinyl siding crew worked feverishly to complete the siding, but ran into some snags when the siding would not fit exactly into place. Just remember that buildings, especially trailers set on cinder blocks, settle over 35 years and hardly anything ended up being square. We also learned that measuring and cutting siding to fit small areas takes forever to do.

The family we helped was absolutely fabulous. They helped us work and even prepared a fabulous lunch for us on Friday.

Near the end of the week:

Our work team in front of the completed home:

The family in their new room. They plan to use the addition as a living room, and the current living room will become a dining room. Before the room was added, the trailer only had a small bar-like counter where the family could eat together.

Going to Frakes was a fabulous experience, and I look forward to working on another building team in the future!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Frakes, Kentucky- Day 4

Snapshot of Day 4:

We worked ten hours.

It rained a lot last night, so we had to battle mud this morning.

We made great progress today.

We met more of the homeowners' family when they stopped by this afternoon to express their gratitude for our work. Their excitement lessened our aches, pains, and itchy bug bites.

Siding crew:

The room addition gang:

End of Day 4:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Frakes, Kentucky- Day 3

Wednesdays are officially scheduled as off-days for Henderson Settlement work teams. Our gang opted to work this morning, though, and take off the afternoon to go into town. At breakfast this morning, the homeowners' daughter who works at Henderson Settlement, stopped by our table to say hello and thank us for the work we are doing for her parents. Better yet, she brought us a homemade German chocolate cake she made- yum!

When we arrived at the work site, our crew broke into the vinyl siding group and the gang working on the room addition. The homeowners' son and grandson came over to work again today, and we also met Tommy's sister-in-law who stopped by to introduce herself.

After installing the strips which the vinyl siding will fit into, placing and securing the vinyl siding moved rather quickly.

The group finished securing the floor joists, placed black plastic under them, and installed the sub-floor for the additional room.

Here is where we were at the end of Wednesday, Day 3.

Please keep us in your prayers on Thursday since we are planning to work a longer-than-usual day so we can make a lot of progress on the home.