PDA Mission Trip #27 (Cumberland, MD): Day 1

Ahh Spring . . . grass greening up, redbuds in bloom, and time for the 27th annual GPC Mission Trip!

Faithful volunteers started arriving at First Presbyterian Church in Cumberland late afternoon/early evening on Easter Sunday. Those who arrived by 6:30 p.m. joined together for a festive kick-off meal at the Applebee’s in LaVale. Guess where everyone in LaVale who wants to eat out on Easter evening goes? Although the service may have taken a little longer, that just meant more quality reunion time for us.

Anticipation was high when the sun shone brightly on Monday morning. Our group was divided into two work teams: one assigned to a house on Race Street where we had worked last fall, and the other tackling a new assignment at a house on Eastern Avenue.


The “Race Street Rascals” spent the day getting down and dusty while mudding and sanding drywall in the dining room and stairway hallway and replacing the kitchen’s suspended tile ceiling. With all faces appropriately masked, we became one with the drywall dust and spray paint fumes from painting the metal grid of the suspended ceiling. We thoroughly enjoyed unmasking during an al fresco lunch in a nearby park gazebo.  The team of Carol Anderson, Alexandra Parker, Lucille Baur, Elisa McClelland, Maxine & Bob Aldridge, and David Mecklenberg all agreed that it was a very productive first day.
And there were the antics of the “Eastern Avenue Engineering Experts.” They started by removing the old, slightly rusty roof supports on the front and back porches, through a combination of unscrewing and Sawzall use, using jacks to support the roof in the interim. They then started replacing the supports with wooden uprights, 4x4s. They also got a start on the horizontal railings around the porch.  Steve Ward, Bob Aldrich, Fletcher Tukes, Bruce Andrews, Abby Lindstrom, and Stuart Morrison had a very good first day and look forward to continuing the second day.
As exciting as our first day was, we really missed our Mission Trip buddies Maxine and Jerry Brown, Fred Hebron, and Charlotte Spencer.  They are in our hearts as they continue to mend and tend to family health challenges. 


PDA Mission Trip #26 (Cumberland, MD): Day 3

Day 3 started with a bang! – Breakfast was Eggs Benedict – Yumm!

The Race St. house crew worked on the porch! Much planning and skill were required prior to removing and replacing the front and side rim joists on the porch floor. The crew stripped and replaced the old flooring. Planning stages are beginning for tomorrow’s addition of lattice work under the porch.  The porch floor will be painted prior to departure.

All the drywall was mudded. A new electrical circuit and light were installed for the homeowner in the attic and bathroom. She can now use the plug in her bathroom without danger of electrocution.  A window was repaired with new glass and the front door installation was completed.

In the bathroom, work was done to upgrade the sink. The team had to reinforce the sink to attach it to the wall. Faucet supply lines were replaced.

They plan to do a lot of sanding and painting tomorrow!

The National Highway house crew continued the work on the basement for the homeowner. Much elbow grease was exuded in scrubbing the floor, prior to painting.  Cleaning efforts on all surfaces were completed. Two workers replaced a piece of mildewed wallboard. In order to repair the wall the power was cut. The rest of the team had to work in the “dark”. (It was interesting to paint without adequate light). Phone flashlights were used in the interim. Such a great team of trim painters! It looks so much lighter and smells sooooooo much better.

Repair work was completed on the basement house door. Two crew members replaced temporary window wrap with a thin piece of tricky plexi-glass. Some interesting comments were heard as they worked. An attempt was made to locate a replacement cardboard to cover the electrical cords on the rear of the refrigerator. 7 appliance part providers were called with no success. A replacement part was invented from silver duct tape and cardboard! 

Organization efforts have begun. Several team members spent time with the homeowner separating items for donation from those that will be kept. A few touch ups will be completed tomorrow on the walls and floor.

An excellent meal was provided by our excellent kitchen team. Both homeowners and the Nails coordinator were invited and partook in a meal of Chicken Pot Pie, steamed veggies, salad and COCONUT MACAROONS with ice cream!

Organization efforts have begun. Several team members spent time with the homeowner separating items for donation from those that will be kept. A few touch ups will be completed tomorrow on the walls and floor.

An excellent meal was provided by our excellent kitchen team. Both homeowners and the Nails coordinator were invited and partook in a meal of Chicken Pot Pie, steamed veggies, salad and COCONUT MACAROONS with ice cream!



PDA Mission Trip #26 (Cumberland, MD): Day 1 & 2

 You know it, you love it, you guessed it…it is the Mission Trip Blog!

Day One was Sunday which began with an 11 a.m. Blue Shirt service led by our Sunday School students, and the perfect send off, a Lindsay Hall potluck lunch. Mary Beth cautioned us to take small servings, but in the end there was more than enough to go around for all who came to enjoy.  

Many of us driving got caught in an I-270 five-car crash (thankfully not involving any of us) which delayed us or detoured us, but it was still a beautiful day to be driving into the mountains. 

Sunday’s Send Off Potluck at GPC

The Race Street House group consisted of most of the men and two ladies. Their biggest job was the front porch which was jacked up today, and tomorrow the support beams and the decking will be replaced. But that wasn’t all, not by a long shot. They replaced the whole dining room ceiling with new drywall and also hung it on the hallway upstairs. They got a new front door from Craig’s List, but had to redo it from right opening to left opening and that is quite a feat with old hardware. There were also several people doing electrical work in the attic that amounted to be much more than they had originally anticipated. It was also really hot up there. The upstairs center front window needed new glass which also entailed glazing it. And we can’t forget the bathroom repair, but we’ll spare you those details.

The National Highway House group was the location where most of the ladies ended up with one intrepid male to assist (all right, he did take a leadership role)…but really we all worked together as a harmonious team. We were to be the artistes, the painters. But first we had to clear out our basement quarters and clean them up. This house is home to 7 inside cats, 15 feral cats, and a dog. We were appropriately gloved and masked for the task. We made great progress today, with cleaning behind us and paint on most of the walls. Tomorrow we also need to paint the concrete floor.

This morning started with below freezing temps, but blossomed into a 60-plus degree afternoon. We had a special guest join us for the dinner wonderfully prepared by our cooks, minus crowd favorite, Carol Bunch. She needs to recoup after a nasty trip and ankle injury while involved in helping to carry a communion table down steps at her church. But I digressed. Our special guest was Carvel Graves, now a sophomore at Frostburg. Carvel had gone on previous mission trips with us. It was a treat to have him with us for a visit.

We look forward to another beautiful and blessed day tomorrow. So stay tuned because who knows what wackiness we’ll get involved in and what wonders we will see.





PDA Mission Trip #25 (Gatlinburg, TN): Day 5

This morning the Beards and Bastines cleaned much of the church in order to give the cleaning lady an easier day.

The city of Gatlinburg has installed warning sirens now!  Yeah!

A University of Tennessee biologist says that an old tree slice from the Smoky Mountains shows that it was burned from a fire every 16 or 17 years from the 1830’s to the 1950’s. The amount of dead branches, trees, and shrubs in the park has been building up. He does not believe that the November 2016 fire was a once-in-a-100-year fire; fires will happen there again.

The good news is that the codes in Sevier County require all Mountain Tough fire victims to clear out the dead trees on their property now. Mike has 100 dead trees, which Darryl says should fall in a year. They are far from his house. The priority for the tree cutters is to remove charred trees that could fall on newly rebuilt houses.

I mentioned the need for more flame-retardant siding and roofs, but was reminded that the fire was so hot that it melted glass and aluminum!

Noel and Betty have planted 39 new dogwoods and 1 redbud tree. The dogwoods alternate – one white, one pink, one white, one pink.

We volunteers are very enthusiastic about the heck of a lot of work that we accomplished! It was a treat to see the progress that has been made since last October on Noel’s and Mike’s houses! In the fall of 2017 one of our PDA teams had just started framing Noel’s house. Noel, who is living with his son, who is a city planner in Pigeon Forge, hopes to move back in in 2 months, although Fletcher says it will take longer. We admire Noel’s work ethic – he leaves his son’s house at 5:00 a.m. to start working on his house early in the day!

In conclusion, Darryl, one of our coordinators from Hearts in Action, texted, “Fletcher’s team is the best!”

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, . . . to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes . . .” (Isaiah 61:1–3)

We look forward to helping folks again somewhere in early October possibly.  —Diane


PDA Mission Trip #25 (Gatlinburg, TN): Day 4

Today has been wrap-up day! Fresh snow fell again on the tops of the Smoky Mountains; it’s 51°F in Gatlinburg.

Noel’s House

No more painting outside today because of cold weather tonight. The PDA team loaded up all the sheet-rock trash into Noel’s trailer to take to the dump. Then they headed over to Mike’s house.

Mike Morgan’s House

We had an energetic baker’s dozen of PDA volunteers at Mike and Diana’s today. With a new and improved Wagner stain sprayer, Maxine and Diane finished staining as much of Mike’s ramp and deck as we could; we got to the back of the house! We saw a great blue heron fly overhead! They are uncommon permanent residents in Cades Cove according to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website. Cades Cove is far – 36 miles away.

Bob brushed stain on the supports of the sunshade over the wheelchair ramp. Alex, Lucille, Elisa, and Bernadette stained all the basement log siding. Dave finished attaching the last remaining siding in the basement. Bob Beard, Sam Glasgow, Dale, and Duane had to undo part of the wooden hood over the stove, which was started by other workers, because it wasn’t flush. They almost finished the hood before running out of materials!

The Far-Away Group

Many things were accomplished inside the trailer:  We finished installing the vanity in the master bathroom, installed the toilet, installed the support flange for the old bathtub in the other bathroom, rehung the antique door to the master bedroom and re

installed the original hardware, reinstalled the water heater, installed a back door, hung the door to the smaller bathroom, put in additional outlets, installed door surrounds, and generally cleaned the interior. Outside, we installed the stair to the deck and eased the edge of the handrail and guardrail. We met the owners – Ann and her daughter – when they visited the site in the afternoon and gave them a faux stained-glass banner signed by our team. We played with the dogs and shared our lunch. Ann and her daughter will be able to move in soon!

We left a bit of work at each homeowner’s house for Patty, Darryl, and the next PDA team.

Noel giving us a tour of the stained glass windows at Gatlingburg Presbyterian Church

Before dinner, Noel and his wife gave us a wonderful tour of the Tiffany stained-glass windows that he and an assistant had spent 1 year installing in the Gatlinburg Presbyterian Church! They are stunning! They are only visible from inside, so make a point of attending church on a Sunday when you go to the Smokies! Or plan a church retreat there; it is an official Presbyterian retreat center. The church membership is only 20 so it really helps them pay their bills when people stay there: just $20 per night per person, self-catering!

During the spaghetti dinner, I asked Mike how his fire insurance turned out. He said that the insurance payment for his house and its contents covered only about 1/3 of the costs to rebuild under the new building codes. In addition, Dolly Parton gave each fire victim $1,000 per month for 5 months and then another $5,000 lump sum, so $10,000 total per fire-victim family. She, with the help of East Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville, founded Mountain Tough, which receives tax-deductible financial donations and manages each family’s case. Mountain Tough provided Mike’s kitchen counter and paid for cutting down 25 dead trees. The code says he must cut down another 100 dead trees on his property. 

After dinner we had a 25th mission trip celebration for our expert work coordinator Fletcher. Then our two homeowner families gave highly appreciative talks. Noel told us that his faith never wavered after the fire, but many homeowners in Gatlinburg blame God for the fire burning down their houses; Noel asked for prayers for them. Dessert featured a birthday party for Bernadette, which was a fun way to top off our final evening!  
We presented three faux stained-glass banners that we all had signed to Noel and Betty, to Mike and Diana, and to Gatlinburg Presbyterian Church. The youth at First Presbyterian Church Cookeville had made the banners which featured their mission trip theme “Be strong!” based on “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me . . .” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)  — Diane