Category Archives: Pictures of the Adventure

Photos of our travels and stops along the way

These Guys

Dundee thrift shop
I am often quite apologetic about the lack of pictures I have of our SOWER men working, but this month since we’re all working at the same location (though in different areas) I’ve been able to snap some photos of the guys. Plus – my co-workers are also good about sharing ones that they’ve taken!!
So the men are in the back of the warehouse constructing these giant shelves to help organize the incredible amount of donations this thrift shop received.
Dundee thrift shop
As you can see, they’ve gone to new heights and depths to complete these shelves!
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After two weeks (and a new shipment of supplies) everyone is getting into the rhythm of team work!
Measure, Cut, Construct. Measure, Cut, Construct.
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And when they have a unit complete, they all work together to get ‘er upright!
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It truly is amazing what a bunch of four old dudes can get done! (OK, so one of the guys is just 60, but three of them are 70+). My mama used to say, “Many hands make light the work”, and that is so true with SOWERS (even if the work isn’t light at all!).

Thank you, LORD, for these willing hands!

Week one and some fun!

I think we finished our first week strong.  We ladies managed to keep ahead of the customers (in inspecting, sorting and hanging clothes) even through the half-price day on Wednesday! Phew, that was crazy!
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I’m happy to report my ‘take home’ pile has remained manageable, and I’ve been doing a pretty good job of following Gary’s rule of “One in, Two out.” Pretty good.
The guys are ramping up their shelf building system, and actually ran out of materials by the end of the week.
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These are massive shelves – but then again, there seem to be massive amounts of donations!
It was a good week, but we were ready for the weekend! (I know, I know. We’re quite spoiled with these four day work weeks. But at this point, we’re pretty used to it!)
Saturday One (aka Friday) began bright and sunny, and the perfect day for a sweet golf cart tour of the campground where we are parked – Lake Aurora Christian Camp.
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This camp has a rich history (founded in 1947 as a youth camp) of presenting the gospel to youth (and eventually adults) in this central Florida area. Oh, and it’s quite beautiful also!
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Lake Aurora is considered alligator free because it is spring fed with no outlet or inlet. And that’s a really good thing!
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We can only imagine how amazing this beach area must be when all of their ‘water toys’ are out for the kids!
Our tour also took us by some amazing live oak trees.
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Probably the most spectacular one was actually too large for my phone camera to capture (from my spot in the golf cart!), so here’s a shot from my SOWER friend, Deb –
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Since the Care Center really has no place for us to park, we are blessed to be able to park here at Lake Aurora! There are many other volunteers here and they’ve been welcoming and helpful as we learn the ropes. God has certainly provide a ‘place beside the still waters’ for us this month!
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Saturday Two (aka Saturday)
We had hoped to catch a Farmer’s Market in Lake Wales, but alas had the wrong Saturday. (Thankfully there are lots of great produce stands around, though, so we’re staying stocked up on cucumbers and broccoli!) But we did make it to the Sunshine Flea Market just up the road a piece.
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We weren’t looking for anything in particular, but found a couple of treasures nonetheless! And some interesting characters too!
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Our ‘out and about’ was complete with a quilt shop stop (for me) and a truck wash (for him!). Of course. We were home in time for a nice afternoon snooze and even got a couple of chores in before one of us headed to bed!

As I’m writing this all out, some of it seems pretty ordinary.  And it is.   I believe God  graciously gives us these “ordinary days” to refresh us and I’m so thankful that He does!
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…and now it’s time for the other one of us to head to bed! =)
Steph

Through Day Two

Well, friends, we are through Day Two of our January SOWER project and I thought I’d give you some insights into how this month is shaping up. First, the ministry where we are serving. To say that Lake Wales Care Center is a ‘multi-faceted’ mission is quite the understatement. What began as a clothing closet and food pantry in 1985 has grown to include family services and resources (short-term financial assistance and tangible resources such as clothing, food and furniture), transitional housing (support for homeless families while they work through a structured program to “get back on their feet”), a free health clinic (a valuable resource to community members without health insurance), a pregnancy care program (providing support and appropriate services for women facing unplanned pregnancies), Holiday assistance (where parents can come and shop for their kids), tutoring (all ages and ESL), financial counseling, life-skills counseling, home repairs assistance done through a “Stay at Home Mission” program with local youths, and because they don’t seem busy enough, they have also started a community garden.
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Yesterday (our first day of work) we met the director at one of their locations, and he gave us a walking tour of their different buildings in town (offices, warehouses, bookstore, “Christmas Store”, etc.) and then took us on a drive to show us their different transitional housing options. I have to tell you, it took my breath away! They also have two large thrift stores which along with generating needed income for this ministry, also provides quality items at reduced cost to the community.  Phew.

With our heads still spinning over the breadth of this ministry’s positive influence in this community, we loaded into our own trucks and headed north to where we would be actually spending our working days – their new(-ish to them) 36,000 square foot building in Dundee which houses their second thrift shop and more donations than you can imagine!
The guys are building massive shelves in the back
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(Can you see how they’re already filling the shelves even before the guys are done with the section! Crazy!)
And after a two months of painting and one month of siding installation helpering, I’m happy to report that we ladies are working in the thrift shop. (Yes, I’m pretty happy about this!).Untitled

We’re sorting through donations, putting them on hangers, delivering them to the correct sections in the store and then when we need a change of pace, we head to the ‘floor’ and “police” the racks to keep them neat and in order. It’s a big job, friends, but someone has to do it!! Of course the biggest challenge is not filling up my own basket with items to buy. This could be a very challenging month, indeed!

We’re working with one couple we’re very fond of and have worked with before and one couple who are on their very first project. So fun! This project is a little different since we’re not parked right at job site (and in fact have about a 30 min drive to our Thrift Store),  but so far even with the travel time, it’s been a wonderful experience.  God is at work here in Lake Wales, for sure!

Oh, and Gary found a car wash that’s just off the road from our drive to and from work, so he signed up for the monthly pass. So we’ll be havin’ a shiny truck all month too!

Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your support as I find my blogging ‘rhythm’ for 2021!
Steph

I guess it’s ’bout time!

It’s been more than two weeks since my last “non-holiday’ post, and I figured it’s about time I get this whole blogging thing back on track! We’ve returned from our lovely time at the beach, and are sifting through all our post-vacation debris and getting ready to hit the road tomorrow for our January SOWER project in Lake Wales, FL.  New adventures await!

But first – The Beach!!
Ahhhh……
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I’ll be honest with you, Gary & I are not really ‘beach people’. We gravitate more towards mountains and cabins than sandy beaches and condos. But we truly did have a delightful time in our little ‘condo by the sea’.
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No alarms, a fair bit of eating out, and even a bit of time on the beach.
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We weren’t sure what bird made these footprints
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but I am glad I never ran into whatever it was on a dark night! (Probably a Great Blue Heron, though we never actually saw one!)
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While we had some beautiful sunshiny days, the temperature never got up high enough to tempt us to pull out those swim suits. In fact, on Christmas day – high of 46.
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Brrrrrr…. (If you can zoom in on that picture you might see some crazy folks in the water (with wet suits on)!.
We were on the fourth floor of a 16 floor condo, and were pretty much lined up with the boardwalk out to the beach.
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So even when we didn’t feel like heading to the beach, we could still watch the ocean (and all the folks coming and going!). I never tired of the view, and was delighted with both the sunrise
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and the sunset
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most days.

It was a very different Christmas for us, and we did indeed miss seeing our kids and grands. Zooming is fun, but it’s not really quite the same thing, is it? But for this year, and this season, our little beachy Christmas was just the right thing.   Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of the sea!

As always, thanks for stopping by!
Steph

PS – If you’d like to see more pictures of our time at Orange Beach (’cause you I took MORE!), you can check them out HERE!

Tomorrow

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we are heading out for our Christmas Getaway – 12 days at a “Gulf View” condo in Orange Beach, AL.
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Even as I dig out the beach towels and bathing suits from under the bed(rather optimistically since I’m pretty sure the temperatures aren’t even supposed to hit 70 while we are there!), and organize the power cords for packing, I must admit I am a bit conflicted. Oh, we’ve had several years when we haven’t been with family on Christmas Day, but I cannot think of a Christmas Season where I wasn’t kissing little faces or snuggled up with a slew of kidlins watching Christmas Story or playing games around the kitchen table at some point. We would be the “Phase II” Christmas, and it worked pretty well (plus the kids loved having two Christmas mornings!). But this year, long before the huge up-tick in COVID-19 cases and the “stay home” recommendations, we had decided to do Christmas just on our own. (We actually had considered taking a cruise. But you know…cruises and pandemics….no. Just no.) We have no agenda for our time at ‘the beach’ =). I’m bringing books and my cameras and my computer and I’m sure the days will fill up just fine! Along with the beach towels I’m also packing hats and scarves and warm jackets so we can take long walks on the beach regardless of the ambient temperature! And with today’s wonderful technology (and WIFI at the condo) there should be lots of opportunities to be part of the family festivities without anyone actually having to find us a place to sleep!!

Before we head out tomorrow, though, I wanted to give you a quick wrap-up of the work here at Teen Challenge. With the help of that fine tool (the Gecko Gauge), the section we were working on went up like a dream. We completed the entire section in just 2 1/2 days,
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and that left plenty of time for clean-up and fine-tuning some of the ‘mechanical’ areas around back.
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Next month there are three SOWER couples coming so they should be able to finish off the front with no problem (we’re leaving them that miracle tool). I don’t know if they’ll tackle the end of the building, but once it does get all done, everything will get a fresh coat of paint so it won’t have such a patchwork look (from the different ages of the siding). We might have to stop back next year to see how it all comes together!

Praying you all have a blessed Christmas week! I know there is a lot going on, and for many of us it will be a Christmas like none we’ve had before (kinda like 2020 in general!). Don’t know how the blogging schedule will develop over the next two weeks – but just in case –

Steph