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


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.