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.