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