PDA Mission Trip #29 (New Bern, NC): Day 5

Day Five – Time for Some Reflecting!

Today we start on a serious note. All the work that we are putting our hearts and hands into is to restore the home of Ms. O. She is 62 years old, uses a wheelchair, and was denied monetary assistance to repair her home four times. The title of her home was in her son’s name not in her’s, because he was supposed to outlive her. But that wasn’t God’s plan. Without her name on the title, she couldn’t quality for financial assistance. Thank goodness for the reasonableness of the Craven County Disaster Recovery Alliance, and their willingness to take on her case. Her son is buried across the street from her home, and she finds comfort in being able to see this place of rest.
Our own Laura Wilson penned these thoughts after she and Abby visited the grave.

Draped through the pine trees, and brush, the lavender wisteria perfumed the drifting air.

Sun filtered through the glen, and lit the raised concrete sarcophagus adorned in weathered plastic flowers, and inscripted with family fingerprints.

The young man’s photograph gazed from the tomb to his home across the street from where his mother had kept watch.

Destroyed in silence by storm and flood, the home was now alive with sounds of workers, hammers, and saws – breaking through the past, disturbing the quiet – to open doors and windows to new life.”
Tonight, we also remembered Bob Wasik, on this, the first-year anniversary of his passing. We were privileged to share a zoom memorial with his wife Mary, other family members, and a few close friends. Bob and Mary had organized so many of our previous mission trips. They swelled our volunteer GPC roster with several friends and family members. One of our devoted cooks, Ella, is Bob’s cousin. Mary said that with all the wonderful vacations they shared together, Bob always relished the mission trips more. And we relished him right back. We all have our warm and wonderful memories of Bob that lighten our hearts and still brighten our work trips.
Lifted up by those warm memories, we pack our bags tonight and get ready for our final half-day of work tomorrow. I bid you good night with this cliffhanger…will Fletcher finish the kitchen countertop, will Jerry and Lucille finish putting down flooring in the hallway, will Laura finish the mudding in the purple-walled bathroom, will Mary Beth and Lisa finish painting the doors, will Carl complete the railing on the front ramp, and will the hole in the master bath get repaired? Keep positive thoughts for us faithful blog followers…please, keep positive thoughts.


PDA Mission Trip #29 (New Bern, NC): Day 4

Day Four – The Clock is Ticking!

Our fearless construction leader Fletcher Tukes, who personally feels responsible for getting as much work done at our house each day as possible, is fond of saying, “Time is not your friend!” In other words, we are racing the clock to complete as much of this house as possible before we leave on Friday. Did we kick it up a notch today? We tried, but everything seems to take longer than anticipated.
Does that dampen our spirits? No way. Each of us took on our assignments with a goal of moving them along as fast as we could. Did more painting, mudding, vinyl floor laying, trim installing take place? Yes, it definitely did. But added to our caper chart today was a very precise cutting of the countertop for the kitchen, removing the subfloor in one bathroom, and adding a moisture barrier wallboard to the other, as well as adding another level of side railing to the outside wheelchair ramp.
We all felt busy and productive. What about the ladies who are working themselves to the bone back at the church? Let me just say this, if you have a power sander in your house, hide it if Mary Beth comes to visit. She is now an expert sander and will want to show off her new skills every chance she gets. She and Lisa not only sanded doors but started painting those doors today. They are anxious to have them ready for the house. Ella, Carol, and Marjorie finished their “Won’t Stop till it Glows,” appliance detailing work. Mr. Clean could take lessons from them.
We were all ready (and most of us showered) for the delicious dinner of Hawaiian meatballs and rice, salad, and cornbread. Topped off with caramel nut brownies and ice cream for dessert. True, we may work hard, but we eat even hardier! Of course, we must be fortified. Because, can you believe it, tomorrow will be our last full day of work!  


PDA Mission Trip #29 (New Bern, NC): Day 3

Day Three – In the Zone!

I think everyone slept well last night, and we found our work rhythm today! The first day is always a little choppy as we figure out what needs to be done, how to do it, and who should do it. But today faithful followers, we were in the groove. Some of that groove, I must say, was pretty messy.  
Those priming walls and painting trim today (Elisa, Abby, Charles, Maxine, and Karen) couldn’t get the paint to wash off their hands, so we certainly expect it will make a lasting impression on the homeowner’s walls. And I think everyone would agree you haven’t really experienced messy until you mud wall board and then sand it. Just ask, Carl whose hair turned white, and his blue PDA shirt turned light blue as he put his whole efforts into the job. Others of us (Edco, Bob, Jerry, Laura, and Lucille) tackled installing vinyl strip flooring — sort of like laying out a giant floor puzzle with no pretty picture to enjoy upon completion. 
And then there are the volunteers with varied engineering backgrounds (Stuart, Steve, and Bruce) who spend a lot of time planning with Fletcher and googling how to do some of the specialty projects, and then just follow how Fletcher has told them to do it. Seriously, thank goodness we have so many men and women who know their way around a renovation project.  
Back to the mess, Lisa joined Mary Beth in the sanding of eight doors that will be painted and rehung in our home, as well as sanding down two other doors for a totally different project. Our revered cooks, Ella Bastine and Carol Bunch, joined by the always capable and game-for-anything Marjorie Tanner, cleaned and sanitized donated kitchen appliances which they brought back to appliance store showroom condition.
If you are thinking, “What in the Sam Hill are they going to be working on tomorrow?” I can assure you that there is still plenty more to occupy our time. We need to put flooring down throughout the whole double-side trailer home, install the painted trim pieces, finish painting, install those doors, and kitchen appliances, and…. you get the picture. We definitely welcome your continued prayers.


PDA Mission Trip #29 (New Bern, NC): Day 2

Day Two – The Gloves Come On!

The work gloves, that is. Yes, finally time to get down and dirty. The sun rose in a beautiful Carolina blue sky. After a hearty breakfast we were anxious to caravan to the work site. Usually, a portion of the first day is spent getting the lay of the land, so to speak. But because we had worked on this house in the fall, we felt very much at home, and it didn’t take Fletcher long to determine exactly where we needed to focus our first-day efforts.
There is a lot of pressure on us this trip. We have a “We Can Do It Well” reputation to uphold from last fall and our Craven County Disaster Recovery Alliance (CCDRA) managers expect us to make a lot of progress this week. So…some of us put up moulding (trim), caulked it, put up some sheets of drywall, mudded them, pried screws and nails out of a bathroom subfloor, scraped and sanded hardened glue off bathroom walls, then washed those bathroom walls. Other volunteers, with engineering backgrounds, spent hours figuring out the plumbing logistics of unhooking and moving a sink and vanity from one bathroom to install in another bathroom. Others enterprised jobs such as washing and rehabilitating numerous paint brushes, rollers, and paint trays. We painted two ceilings. There was a veritable smorgasbord of activities today!
And yet, one of our “Safety Officers,” Karen Smith, lamented that she only had to give out one Band-Aid today. Karen is high energy and is equipped and ready to deliver a baby if necessary. Not happenin’ with this group, Karen! But you can freely dole out the Bengay and Tylenol.
At dinnertime the minister of the Neuse Forest Presbyterian Church (where we are lodging), stopped by with two loaves of rye sourdough bread that he had personally made. It was delicious! He is also the person responsible for creating the CCDRA and helped rebuild the church when it was damaged by Hurricane Florence. He gave us a very heartfelt thank you for coming to help his community.

That’s all we needed to make those sore muscles feel better and rev up our engines for tomorrow’s adventures!




PDA Mission Trip #29 (New Bern, NC): Day 1

Day One – New Bern Revisited!

Welcome back, faithful blog readers! Has it really been almost six months since we’ve brightened your lives with our tales of mission trip happenings and hijinks?

Rest assured that this trip is unfolding with the same tried and true traditions that have become a hallmark of an Adult GPC Mission Trip. Many of us started our day in the GPC Sanctuary and greatly appreciated the Prayerful Dedication Send-Off from Pastor Mary (who for the first time is entrusting us with the care and feeding of her dear husband Carl). Naturally, one of our two favorite cooks, Ella Bastine, has taken him under her wing. So, no worries, Mary. Between Mary Beth, Fletcher, and Ella, he’ll be in very good hands.

I am also very pleased to report that there were no traffic delays coming down, and everyone arrived in very good humor – which kicked up to an even higher notch – as we reunited with some of the Mission Trippers who we only see on a mission trip. And once we were all around our very large dinning table, plates piled high with a delicious chicken dinner, we were totally back in happy Mission Trip Mode.

We are very much looking forward to starting our work tomorrow, going back to the double- wide trailer that we worked on this past fall. Covid-19 has sadly caused a lot of PDA volunteer cancellations, and our home did not get completed by Christmas as had been planned. This March has brought 200 volunteers thus far due to college spring breaks, and we can’t wait to see how much progress has just recently been made.

Tomorrow we’ll have much more to report. For now, please keep us in your prayers. We are anxious to be God’s hands and feet here in New Bern and reflect his love and support to those who still suffer from the extensive damage left in the wake of Hurricane Florence back in 2018.