Monday, June 28, 2010

Well, it is now Monday and we have been home for about a day and a half. I miss seeing the teens everyday, but love taking a shower in privacy and sleeping in my own bed. :)

We got up on Saturday and ate donuts, bagels, and juice in the chapel as a group. Promise and Kelly met us there, so we got one last group photo with all of us in our new Team Effort shirts. After packing the van and truck, we drove down the park to see the rapids that were made by the dam release. We made it just in time to see the water level rise where we were swimming the day before. It was fun, but not as dramatic as they make it seem in the movies. hehe

After a sad goodbye, the teens and adults packed back into the vehicles and started the long trek back home. We ate lunch at Wendy's in Jellico and made it all the way back to Cincinnati before we had our first real incident with driving. Somebody in a mini van decided to play bumper cars between the high speed and middle lanes. After barely avoiding the accident, we turned into a blind corner and one of the drivers of a hit car decides to jump out of his moon roof into the high speed lane. I am sure God had his hand in my driving, because their was no room on either side of me to go and I had to make a split decision on whether to hit the one man or throw all of us into traffic. I chose the man (sorry sir) and God blessed us with not hitting anyone or anything. I haven't been that scared driving in forever!

We made it back to church with no other issues and everyone went home to their families. I want to say a huge thank you to all of the teens and adults who went to TN with me. They were respectful, hardworking, and lots of fun. It is the first time in 20 years that I can honestly say there wasn't any drama all week. . . .well, that I was aware of anyhow. :) I look forward to spending time with them next summer as well.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cherokee National Forest
Playing at the Blue Holes

Looks like gopher holes with gorgeous teens popping out. :)

Alanna showing us how it's done.

What a Looooonnng way up!
Another view.

Double teaming it.

It can be a little scary. Priceless!

Look Mom! I am in two places at once.

The best group ever!

Rounding Third and Heading for Home. . . .

Hello from our Last Day in Tennessee! What a great day it was. We got to sleep a little later (7:30. woo hoo!) and then had breakfast. (They ran out of milk. How do you run out of milk?) We left camp and went back one last time to Minister Galloway's to put all of his stuff back on the porch. (Swing, plants, glider, rugs, etc.) While we were putting away his things, John ran some caulking down the seams between the corner posts and the house. When he saw the finished project, he was very excited and thanked us profusely.

We then left the work site and headed to the Cherokee National Forest and the 'Blue Holes'. After many times being told "you can't miss it", we finally found the blue holes they were talking about. The Cherokee National Forest was the site for the 1996 Olympic Rafting games. The park still runs the route on the weekends, but during the weekdays, it is low water and you can swim between all of the rafting rocks. (Some are man made and some are natural.) The guides told us that when the dam is plugged, the river runs at 1100 cubic feet per second. When they release the dam on the weekends, the river runs at 2500 cubic feet per second! That is a huge difference!

We found the blue hole site and dove right in. The water was awesome and it was so hot out today that it truly was refreshing. I just realized I never told you what the blue holes were! They are rafting rocks that have holes in them you can swim through. (The teens looked like gophers popping up everywhere!) It was so fun! The whole swimming area is called the blue holes, and when you are in the water, you can see over 6 feet down clearly. It is easily the cleanest river I have ever swam in!

We left the park and went to grab a quick snack since we skipped lunch in order to swim longer. After our snack we did the high ropes course at camp. Ok, the teens, Erich, & John did the high ropes course. Maureen and I took pictures and cheered them on! It was scary looking at them up so high even though the guides were wonderful. They caught everyone that 'slipped' and were encouraging to everyone. We took lots of pictures, so we will try to post a couple of them on here.

After the ropes course, we cleaned up and left for lunch at Subway. Promise and Kelly met us there and we walked to the Georgia/Tennessee line. After much picture taking of all of us being in two places at once, we went back to the van and drove to Mercier Orchards. What a fun place. They let us try their fresh off the tree peaches. Yum! We did a little shopping and decided we wanted to rock out to some music while finding a park for all 16 of us to run around in. We ended up going to an elementary school not far from the orchard that had massive amounts of swings and toys. We played ladder ball and ultimate flip flop (because we
didn't have a frisbee. hehe) It was a lot of fun and we got packed up just in time for the rain to come.

We proceeded to Pat's Kountry Kitchen for dinner and to ride out the rain. It was a little like a cracker barrel back home, except everything is homemade in the store. (I tried turnip greens for the first time. They were ok, especially after I doused them in salt and butter. haha!)

After dinner we went back to camp for fellowship (free time with all the groups around a campfire) and had our closing prayer service. It will be sad to say goodbye to Kelly and Promise tomorrow because the teens (and the adults!) have gotten really attached to them. They did a great job!

We are planning on driving by the Olympic site on the way home tomorrow to see the river at it's high point. Hopefully we should be on the road home by eleven. We promise to call when we get close to home since I know many of you are dying to see your children. (And they missed you too!)

Thanks for praying for us all week. Please keep the prayers coming for a safe trip home. See you soon!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Finished Product!

Some of our dedicated teens! :)
Great job finishing the floor!


The finished view from the other side!

Our Day from a Different Perspective

Good Night! (Well, it is here anyways.) Today was a really busy day, and I just couldn't stand the thought of waiting until 1am to get a shower, so I took some time in the middle of the day to get in the cold water and rinse down. Usually, I will 'pre-write' part of the blog so we aren't up all night, but the teens told me they would help with the blog so tonight, you get their perspective. . .Thanks Caitlin & Emily for writing it, and all of our teens for the input. (Anything in blue is added by me.)

So this morning we got up super early and had nasty cheese omelets waiting for us. We got up earlier than normal so we could finish the Galloway's house before going white water rafting. At the Galloway's, we finished priming and painting the front porch. Once we got as far as we could, we departed (and came back to eat lunch) and prepared to white water raft. Rafting was so much fun and everyone loved it. There are tons of funny stories.

As soon as safety precautions were told to us, we headed into the water. As the river guide said, "This is the worst part to fall out in", Emily goes under and comes up to the laughing of everyone in her boat. (I was in her boat, and we made sure she was ok. . . .then we laughed with her!) Of course the Sara/h's didn't notice much as they were chatting it up in the front of the boat as the key paddlers. As their raft dipped into the water, Sara became flustered and somehow her paddle left her hands. In rough waters the guide would make us scurry to the middle with our paddles up. Every time Lori Anne would either get tackled by Brady, tackle Brady, or get beaten with a paddle by Emily all the while laughing hysterically. As they continued down the river the other raft got stuck in the 'hydraulics' and was pancaked by another raft as we watched. Our lives flashed before us and Maureen swallowed half of the river. All of the guides during the roughest waters would jump around flying in the air leaving us in awe of their crazy skill. During one crazy incident Caitlin and Olivia gracefully tumbled into the river almost dragging Alanna with them. Luckily Daniel rescued them safely and all was good, as John C. laughed in their soaking wet faces. While little has been told about Erich and John's boat, sources have confirmed that they for sure tipped intentionally, got stuck between rocks, and allowed John to ride the bull at the front of the raft. To sum up all of our thoughts and feelings about our rafting adventure, Olivia says, "It was amazingly awesome!" It was loads of fun and we can't wait to do it all again sometime.

After we rafted, John, Erich, Lori Anne, and four teens went back to the Galloway's to finish up while the others stayed back and chilled. The hard working John and Erich stayed even longer to put the finishing touches on the screened in front porch. Job Well done! Woooo Hooo!!! We all came together to eat pulled pork sandwiches and Maureen's favorite, peach cobbler.

(Don't you think they did a great job!) They wrote this before free time, so I get to tell you about the rest of the night. We were all sitting around getting kind of bored and had plenty of time until worship (or so we thought) so we all got in the van and headed to Walmart to get some beach toys for the park tomorrow. (And of course, some water balloons and paint to have a water fight between Team Sara/h and Team Alpha Dogs. . . .Don't ask. I'm not sure about it myself.) We plugged in the GPS and it was short about 10 miles. It took a long time to find something open at 7pm at night to give us directions, so we were almost late for worship.

The Team Effort counselors led prayer again tonight and Promise led the music. They had the screen working again, so our teens could follow the words. He does a great job! After the opening of stupid human tricks and a closing video, Promise played his guitar and sang while the TE staff painted a really neat banner with Christ's heart in the center. They discussed taking away our scaffolding and letting the new, improved, stronger Christian shine. They then led us to the outdoor field and as we were leaving, handed each of us a piece of metal scaffolding. As we made it to our tiki torch (small group area) we were asked if their was anything we wanted to leave behind and make ourselves 'anew' for God. When they were ready, they could drop the piece of metal into the bucket at the foot of the cross and were handed a blood red ribbon to remind them of Jesus taking away our sins and making us anew. When we got back to the chapel, we then split into small groups of two and three and took a walk around the grounds discussing the closing scripture and what we felt about this week. Butch, the contractor came and sat with us and shared some fun stories with the teens. He was wonderful to listen to and asked us to pray for a friend of his, so that he will come to know our Lord.

Tonight's 'lights out' was a little later, so the teens took showers and went to bed. I'm sure they will have lots more to share with you when they get home.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pictures from Day Four

Kelly & Promise, the best TE Members ever!
Sara with a drill! Awesome!

John rocking the drill!

The crew banded together to finish the porch!

The frame job. Perfect!

Look at this masterpiece!

Day Four and on the Floor. . . .

Hooray for a good night of sleep! The screens worked wonderfully and it was a little cooler because of the rain. All of us met up at the end of the boardwalk to trek to breakfast, and pray for a wonderful day. This morning was the first meal that most of us disliked. While it sounds good, we had omelets with cheese-wiz, mushy tator tots, and (I swear!) little baby metts. (We thought they were sausages, but nope, they tasted just like metts.) Kind of like the little sausages you put in BBQ sauce at parties. :)

After loading up the van and truck with our allotment of water, we took off for the work site. (We started a little late because I had to run back to the cabin and get the camera. . .and one of the younger girls in another group was very homesick and was crying by herself in the cabin. I couldn't just leave her, so maybe God knew I needed to forget my camera today. :)

We went back to Minister Galloway's home and got started. We worked (in 97 degree heat) on the outside decks. We finished building, scraping, and framing the front porch also. We left around one (an hour late) to go to a restaurant named Zaxby's that Promise and Kelly raved over. (It was kind of a cross between B-dubs and Chick-fil-a). It was good, but kind of spicy for some of our teens. (I tried fried pickles for the first time. . . .they were good, but better with ketchup. haha)

After lunch we went back to the Galloway's and continued on the deck/porch. We stayed through our free time in order to get more done, and made it back just in time for dinner. It is really fun to spend dinner time together outside. I am amazed at how well everyone gets along. We really have a neat group.

After we scarfed down our food, half of us left to go back to the Galloways to get a jump start on tomorrow. (We gave the teens the option to go or stay with Maureen and Promise because it was so hot, and some were just not feeling well.) As we were driving by their bank, the reader board stated that was 6:15pm and 91 degrees. . . .when is it 91 at 6pm?? We finished the back deck totally, primered the front porch railings, framed in the screen door and hung it, took the screen off the door so it could be painted tomorrow, and cleaned off the floor so we could primer and paint it also.

Butch, the contractor, stopped by and said how amazed he was at how good it looked. We laughed and asked him what he expected. He said that while most groups said they knew what they were doing, most didn't. We did phenomenal and he was extremely pleased. At 7:30, Kelly's alarm went off and she said we had to stop because at this time, team effort counselors all over the world stopped to pray. It was neat to be with her and get to experience this. . .although, we thought she had to be with the other counselors and about had a heart attack thinking we made her miss it to be with us. She explained that wasn't the case. They just prayed where ever they were. We left right after prayer to get back to camp in time for worship.

Promise led the music tonight and he is amazing. He plays the piano, drums, and guitar. Unfortunately for us, the projector wasn't working, so the words weren't available. The rest of the groups seemed to know all of the music, so maybe I need to use more music in our ministry with the teens. :) Our teens were very respectful and listened intently, but to be honest I don't think any of our hearts were in it. It was a video that wasn't the best (let the teens tell you about the 30 different screen shots, etc) and the prayer leader at the end wasn't sure of herself and kept getting lost in her bible. It was sooooo hot and yet the teens never complained.

After worship, we did our group time, and I just couldn't see making them stay in the hot room any longer. Instead of doing our quiet personal devotions, I had them pick a partner that they weren't close to and go for a fifteen minute walk talking about what they had gotten out of this trip so far, and how they would live the changes when they got home. When they got back, we had a great discussion about how it was easy to be a Catholic Christian here because everyone was so faith filled and all about God. It is so much harder to keep it up when you get home. (Something tells me these teens will prevail though!) We did our Hey Gods, Yah Gods, and Mad Props and sent them to the showers.

We are planning on getting up early to get to the Galloway's at 8am so we can get lots done before we leave to go rafting. The kids deserve the rafting trip, and we are excited to get to experience it with them! They have already told us that they want to work on Friday even though it wasn't supposed to be an option, but they want to finish the house we started. Have I mentioned in this paragraph how proud we are of them? :)

Going to post a couple of pics and heading to bed. (BTW~It is 11:33 and still in the 90's! Yuck!)It's going to be an early start. Miss and love you all! May God Bless you as you continue to bless us with your prayers.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A few more pics!

The group enjoying our lunch break.
Sara, John, and Emily working on their awesome deck!

Kelly & Caitlin piling the scrap porch!

The front of the Galloway home!

Volleyball Champs!

The view from the dining cabin. (The bldg in the pic is the outpost we blog from!)

Megan playing in the rain.

Guess who forgot their rain jackets? (Guess who it bothered? jk!)

Day Three, and our Feet Hurt! :)

Hello from the great state of Tennessee, and Georgia, and North Carolina. (We are never really sure where we are since the state line's aren't clearly defined. Thank goodness for Gertie & Samantha!)

We had another very productive day. The second house we moved on to was owned by Minister Galloway and his wife. They had us tear down their old back porch and steps and rebuild them with better lumber. We also tore out their front porch screening and rails to replace with fresh lumber. It was HOT today! When we went on our 'courtesy' break (as John A calls them) the radio stated it was 96 degrees with a high humidity index. We all just laughed because we knew that already.

Emily, John, & Sara helped Erich build the back porch, and did most of the work by themselves! They were phenomenal with the power screwdriver! Daniel, Olivia, and Megan used the power table saw to cut the wood to the desired sizes. (No one cut their fingers off, and they wasted very little wood! I was impressed with how well Megan picked up the tool, since she hadn't used a saw before!) Caitlin, Maureen, and Alanna scraped, and scraped, and scraped the peeling paint off of the porches so we can give them a fresh coat tomorrow. Brady, John, and Sarah worked on the front porch, and all of us cleaned the siding on the house, cleaned up the yard, and drank tons and tons of water/powerade. I got to float around with Kelly helping out where needed.

When we were tearing down the old screened in porch, Brady salvaged some of the used screen to bring back to camp with us. (The girls have to keep the windows shut in their cabin due to not having screens, so last night no one slept. It was awful hot with the door and windows shut with just two fans!) Daniel helped us duct-tape the screens to the outside of our windows, and it is much cooler!

While on the work site, we found out that Team Effort didn't have screws for the deck, so we made an executive decision to go to Home Depot to get some. (Sorry Dad, no Lowe's around town.) I drove with Maureen and Alanna through town and Gertie told me to take a couple of back roads. It was the scariest drive I have ever made. The van is very large and the roads are very small. So small that the two way street wasn't quite wide enough for the van, let alone two cars and it had a hairpin turn at the bottom. We made it safely without any accidents, so after a quick thank you to God, I told Gertie to find me another way back. :)

We get back to the work site and John A meets me at the door of the van. This has never happened before, so I should have known it was going to be an issue. He had a little situation with the drill and needed a bandaid for his finger. I thought he needed to have it looked at, but since he was an adult, I got over-ruled. hehe. He seems fine tonight though, and said that it only throbs a little. (It must be a boy thing. . . .Just Kidding!)

After we got back to camp, the teens played volleyball with Promise, and then we went to the outpost for dinner. (Tonight was mostacolli with garlic bread and corn. Yummy, but no one ate too much because it was to hot.) After dinner, we taught Promise to play SPUD until the heavens opened up and dumped water all over us. :) It was very refreshing, but made walking up the cliff to our cabins a little challenging.

After a quick, yet wet run to the chapel, we had our worship and group time. I let the teens know how proud of them I was and that they needed to keep up their good work for God. We also talked about Kelly and Promise asking them questions about the Catholic faith. (They knew tons of answers and were spreading the Good News! Our teens rock!) Since the Catholic Bible is different from other religions bibles (we have more books), they asked to see one of ours. We had brought a few extra in case some of the teens forgot theirs (which they didn't), so we all signed two of them and will give one to each of our counselors later in the week.

I keep telling you how great the teens are, yet I forget to mention how great our leaders are. Erich, Maureen, and John are wonderful teachers and have the patience of JOB! They taught our teens how to use power tools safely, and are very respectful when speaking with them. I only bring up the respect issue because of an incident tonight at worship. One of the other groups was acting up, and was bothering the people around them who were trying to participate. One of their leaders got angry and literally cussed at them while the rest of us praying. I probably should have said something, but was to shocked to even move, let alone respond. We prayed for the teen and the leaders and hope that tomorrow is a much better day for their group. (And thanked God for our WONDERFUL Adult Team!)

Hope to have lots more ton share tomorrow, but now it's time to hike back to our cabins! Hope all is well at home! XOXO

Monday, June 21, 2010

Our wonderful group with Kelly and Promise (hugging the swing.)
The gang again. . .silly Promise!

Seeing our 'worksite' for the first time

They own chickens. . .and let them run free. (There are two here. Can you spot them?)

First time I have ever seen a chicken in a tree.

Working on the back trailer. (Notice all the lattice work that needs to be painted.)

John and Brady working on the front porch.

Erich and Kelly taking down wires and putting up facing.

The back porch painting crew!

The boys on the roof. . . .

Mr Kimsey with Kelly & Promise (and we think Mr. 'Kims' brother.

Sara(h) squared painted themselves into a corner. . .literally!

Promise helps them out. :)

Mr & Mrs. Kimsey with the whole group!

The path to get to our cabins. (It is seriously steep!)

Caitlin rocking out the game!

Congrats Caitlin!

Worship music with 'piggy back' dancing!

Promise & Caitlin with half of Sara's group!

Maureen & Sarah getting into the act!

Our cabinet. . .there really isn't a closet!

A look at one side of the cabin.