PDA Mission Trip #25 (Gatlinburg, TN): Day 3

It’s hump day, and I think we made it through the first hurdle just fine. However, as you know we’ve been missing Mary and Bob Wasik terribly, and today it just boiled over into having to express our emotions in a musical tribute. So, lucky blog readers, you too can see our raw response to the absence of Mary and Bob on our mission trip participants. It may not be appropriate for young children, so exercise your best judgment about who you show this moving musical extravaganza to! Click on  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Pq6L_RT1wjTft7nD217t50A38jhyLPTj/view?usp=drivesdk

Now back to the daily basics of what we are really here to accomplish….

Noel Ball’s wife and daughter came to see the progress this afternoon. All the sheet-rock walls are painted! The ceilings were painted north to south yesterday, and east to west today, to make them perfect. After lunch, part of the group painted the second coat on the exterior back of his house – a festive pearl gray that Noel’s wife had picked out herself. Teamwork was evident for this task. Lucille, Dottie, and Maxine painted the low-down siding while Lynn, Bob, and Dave Francis manned the ladders to paint the high siding. We were able to paint the whole back of the house (a fine day’s work, by George!)  —Maxine and Lucille

P.S.  Noel had a hip replacement since we were here in October, so he can stand up a little straighter.

Six of us went over to Mike Morgan’s house, the veteran who some of us helped in October. Alex, Elisa, and Bernadette sanded the log siding in the basement. The siding had weathered various shades of brown while stacked outside. Sam sawed and installed shelves for Mike’s tools in the basement. I spray-stained the pickets a red mahogany along his amazing wheelchair ramp, with Dinah wiping the drips. Thanks to the blowing wind, the white streaks in my hair as well as my shoes are now red mahogany. Mike says he likes my new, hip spray-on tan.

Mike moved into his house last November 30 and the next day had brain surgery to have a stent put in. He had been told last year that he had only 6 months to live, but now he can walk without a cane and he spends much less time in his motorized wheelchair! In March 2018 he had arm surgery because he had lost the use of one hand. He can use his thumb and two fingers, so he says he’s clumsy and drops things a lot. His wife, Diana, has a heart murmur. Tank, his therapy dog, is as lovable as ever! Mike and Noel are very appreciative of our help. It means a lot to us that they help as much as they can.  —Diane

Over at the “far-away” project (an hour east of Gatlinburg), Dave Bastine, Edco, Bruce, and Stuart continued refurbishing two bathrooms – installing toilets, door molding, and a bathtub. Fletcher and Jim joined them in the afternoon, with Fletcher supervising the interior work, and Jim joining Fred and Hunt in cutting steps for the front entrance. Bob Beard with just the right tools and Mary Beth also made an appearance at the “far-away” project.  —Jim

Dinner tonight was two varieties of baked chicken, rice, peas, salad, and freshly baked cookies.

The photos below are from Noel’s and Mike’s houses.

Tomorrow night we will host our homeowners and Hearts in Action work coordinators for a spaghetti dinner. Noel will give us a tour of the beautiful stained-glass windows, which he installed here at Gatlinburg Presbyterian Church, where we eat and sleep. The windows were donated by a church in Chattanooga.



PDA Mission Trip #25 (Gatlinburg, TN): Day 2

What a difference a day makes! We moved from winter to spring . . . thank goodness! Waking to full sun and the promise of a warmer day truly energized us. I will start with the info on the Noel Ball tree house. And then you’ll be treated to the inside scoop on the other worksite.
Yesterday, we had just about finished putting a coat of paint on all the walls and ceilings that were ready for painting. Today we could see our triumphs and our flaws. Coat number two needed to be perfect and we were prepared to do our best. Many of us had never used long-handled poles on hand rollers and had to pick up the proper rhythm. When we ran through all the paint we had on hand, we took an early break for lunch. While we had to sit in the sun room yesterday, today we could sit out on the deck and enjoy the sunshine. It was once again a BYOB affair (bring your own bucket – to sit on). When we ran out of paint a second time, we ended our workday early. Some came back to hang out at the church, some went on a hike to Porter’s Creek (a raging stream in the Smoky Mountain National Park), and some enjoyed the more commercial parts of Gatlinburg. On these trips we rarely have time to sightsee, and it was nice to have the free time, especially on such a nice day.

Tonight’s menu featured meatloaf and baked potatoes, along with stir-fried veggies and roasted carrots. I have been remiss in not mentioning that we have had devotions each morning and evening. Tonight they were led by Lynn Cairns. Maxine Aldridge took the lead this morning. We are getting a full measure of faith mixed into our fun. And speaking of fun, we are in the second evening of “Game Night.” It is amazing how much fun we can have with dominoes and “Scattergories!”  —Lucille



We are blessed to be here before the crowds come for the annual Gatlinburg Wildflower Pilgrimage next week! Bob Beard led Dottie & Lynn Cairns and me on a gorgeous 5-mile hike around Porter’s Creek among rare yellow trillium that smell like lemons, white trillium that turn pink, lavender and white showy orchis orchids, wild blue geraniums, blue phlox, dwarf iris, white fringed phacellia, and many others. We crossed the rushing stream on a narrow log bridge which was almost as dramatic as the Royal Gorge! We heard a pileated woodpecker and spotted a pair of them, each with a red top-knot. Two of us saw a bat sleeping on a rock! So refreshing to be away from paint fumes!  —Diane


Seven Presbyterian Disaster Agency volunteer team members had come from North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, and Maryland. We met our contact for the day at Lowe’s on one of his several trips picking up supplies for the project. He is a story of grace. Building his own house a few years ago until he could no longer afford to do so, he said it became necessary for him to humble himself and go begging. He asked for food at a place where eventually he was able to make a deal: he would volunteer two days a week at the agency in exchange for assistance completing the construction of his home. He learned of the hungry and poor and was given a job with the organization that had helped him. He is compassionate about his care for those who have fallen on hard times. He welcomed our help with the rebuilding of the house of a woman who lived in a dilapidated trailer home. 

Dave Bastine, Russ Madsen, Fred Hebdon, Edco Bailey, Bruce Andrews, Hunt McKinnon, and Stuart Morrison spent the day building railings for the front porch, installing faucets, upgrading electrical outlets, hanging doors, and installing a hot water tank. Tomorrow we are planning to rebuild the front entry stairs and assist with plumbing and other details. We hope not to find rattlers or copperheads that our contact has warned us to beware of.  —Edco


PDA Mission Trip # 25 (Gatlinburg, TN): Day 1

Here we are starting Mission Trip #25 . . . our silver anniversary! So glad to report that everyone made it to Gatlinburg safely. Our final two arrivals showed up today at dinnertime. But let me step back a day. Sunday afternoon/evening was reunion time with a big group southern dinner at the Dolly Parton “Stampede” restaurant (just kidding). We ate at the same Mexican restaurant we went to in October . . . ”No Way Jose’s Mexican Cantina.” (This time I’m not kidding.) The portions are large and delicious, but it’s not a Southern gravy and biscuits kind of place. Back at Tennessee’s GPC (Gatlinburg Presbyterian Church), Mary Beth and Fletcher led the evening welcoming ceremony and prepared us for Monday’s work sites. Everyone was tired and by all reports slept very well.

?Meet Noel Ball, on the right, a 72-year-old retired mechanic, stained-glass installer, and furniture carpenter who went to school with Dolly Parton.

Today, many of us got to go back to Noel Ball’s house. This was one of our worksites last fall, when we were putting up 2 x 4 framing and it was open to the sky. Now we were pleased and impressed that so much had been completed and our work on this day would be painting dry-walled interior walls. And thank goodness for us that we were able to be inside, because temperatures today were only in the 30’s and we had snow flurries. Fletcher and a couple of others headed up to another location to check out work that needed to be done on a double-wide trailer that was being renovated. 

We reunited back at the church for a delicious ham dinner, complete with pumpkin cake and carrot cake for dessert. The most valuable players on every trip are our cooks, and they never disappoint.

?His granddaughter Jessica made him leave his house.


As happy as we are to reunite with long-time friends like Bob and Jean Beard, we are missing our regular favorites . . . Mary & Bob Wasik, Jerry & Maxine Brown, Karen Smith, and Carol Anderson. We miss you guys!!!

Well, now you’ve got a first taste of what’s happening here . . . can’t wait for warmer temps tomorrow and the opportunity to share more mission trip news.  —Diane

Noel’s house rising from the ashes 18 months after the wildfires.