Tag Archives: SOWERS

A Different Plan

We were disappointed when we got the call in June that we had been canceled out of our August SOWER project at Shoshanah Ministry in upstate NY. Apparently the ministry realized they did not have enough work for five SOWER couples, so the last two that signed up were canceled. We fell into that category. This was the second time we had tried to serve there, the first being the summer of 2020. (And we all know  New York wasn’t letting anyone into the state that summer!) We had been looking forward to serving there, getting to know several SOWERs we hadn’t yet met, enjoying many of the classes the institute offers, and exploring a new area. But (once again) it wasn’t to be.
We regrouped quickly, though, and signed up for High Braes Refuge – also a new-to-us project in a new-to-us area of NY. But we were going to be the only SOWERs there.
Turns out it was a practically perfect combination!

This is a relatively small ministry, with essentially one main building.
And we were a small group. Just the two of us! They had one big project they were hoping we could accomplish – renovating a bathroom and repainting the guest room where it was located.
As sometimes happen, when Gary didn’t need me, there wasn’t a lot of other SOWER work for me to do. Sometimes that can be frustrating. I mean, after all, we came to help. But this month having a ‘modified’ work schedule seemed just about perfect. Some mornings I would go to work with Gary to see if I could help with anything, and some mornings I would just hang back at home and he would call me if I was needed. Once they got to the paint stage, my work hours ramped up.
But still – it’s a small empty room so it went pretty quickly.
Once the painting was done, then came the floors
and then the trim
and I think by the end of today, even the toilet was installed. But again – no photographic evidence of that! There’s always tomorrow, right? Lots of cleaning up was done today – along with gathering and organizing all the tools.  Due to some groups coming in over the next couple of days, we won’t be able to get the guest room painted, but overall I know our hosts were pleased with the work that got done.

But while the guys (Gary and Jeff (the host)) were busy in the manor house, I was taking full advantage of my mornings at home.
I got the SOWER newsletter put together TWO DAYS EARLY. I don’t think that has ever happened!
I got caught up with lots of computer/bookkeeping and housekeeping/clothes sorting chores and even put together a couple of bags of clothes to go to the local thrift store. That felt pretty good!
But my biggest joy was being about to pull out the sewing machine and work on a quilt for one of my granddaughters! She and I had shopped for the fabric when we were together in July, and those beautiful fabrics had been calling to me ever since!
The top is complete, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out! It still needs to be quilted, but I’m excited that I was able to get it this far!

So our August was different than what we had originally planned. But of course, our LORD knew just what we needed!

The heart of man plans his was, but the LORD establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9



It’s hard to believe, but we’re already halfway through this project. And the bathroom renovation is coming right along. Here’s a photo-a-day (or 2) of the job –
Job assignment – move the door and the sink so a new shower can be installed. It sounded pretty simple to me, but Gary knew it was going to be a big job!
Day One –
It started with a ‘delicate demo’ since we were trying to save as much of the trim as possible. But by the end of the day the fixtures had been removed and Gary was beginning to remove the many layers of flooring that had to come up to be able to move the plumbing for the sink.
Day two – finally got all of the plumbing exposed.
Still fighting the flooring though!
Day 3 – beginning to move the plumbing and adding boards to the joists to adjust the floor height.
(The hole in the floor is where Gary fell through. I was back at the rig and got this text – “Bring the first aid kit.” Oh, my! A pretty big abrasion down his shin and a good size gash on his arm, but we patched him up and he went back to work. He’s healing up just fine!)
Day 4 – the new plumbing was moving right along…
and the new door opening was cut.
Also – the floor was beginning to be laid! Yea!!!
Day 4.5
He put in a couple of extra hours on Friday and got some framing done for the new door and the new wall.
Day 5 – Let’s hear it for a solid floor!!
Day 5 addendum – This was also the first time in our 19 years that we evacuated the RV due to a tornado warning. We hunkered down in the neatest basement I have ever seen on a SOWER project. We weren’t there for long – and were thankful that although the rain persisted through the night, the tornado watch/warnings were no longer an issue.
Day 6 – By lunchtime today the electric was roughed in and the plumbing was ready for fixtures.
Just waiting for the drywall and flooring!
Rumor has it some drywall was installed this afternoon, but I didn’t get back to document that, so I’ll just have to take Gary’s word for it. But he’s a trustworthy guy, so I’m sure it happened.
So that brings us up to date! I’ve been on light duty this week, mostly staying home but always ready to come when he needs an extra set of hands (or the first aid kit!). But once the finish work kicks in (i.e. painting), I’ll know I’ll be doing double duty so all will even out!

Thanks for stopping by!

Mondays are for Memories

As I was thinking about doing a Mondays are for Memories post for today, I thought I would look back to the last time we stopped by here at High Braes – September 2010. It was just a quick overnight, and I documented it in a blog post called (wait for it) – Catchin’ Up. So apparently, I’ve been backlogged for a Very Long Time!
But anywho – here we go!
Catchin’ Up – September 2010

There is soooo much catching up I need to do. Bookkeeping, thank-you notes, journaling, blogging, bank statements, emails…..the list is long. Too long. But this post is about some catching up we were able to do as we traveled from Ontario to Ohio to meet that new grandson. Each night on the road we stopped and were able to catch up with old friends.
Monday night we stopped at a SOWER project in upstate NY –
and had a lovely evening catching up with the folks we worked with on our very first project six years ago. We’ve seen them a couple of times over the years, but not recently. It was great to enjoy a cup of coffee and some very good brownies with them and catch-up.
Tuesday morning we traveled to North Chili, NY (near Rochester) for a lovely afternoon and evening with SOWER friends, Dave and Edie. We worked with them on our third project, have seen them a couple of times since then and were delighted to be able to spend some time with them.
(That’s the Erie Canal they’re standing by. Did you know the Erie Canal is still a viable (363 mile) waterway that stretches from Albany, NY to Buffalo, NY? We were touring an historic canal barge – very cool!).
Wednesday we headed into Pennsylvania. Even though PA is where I grew up and raised my family, we were heading into totally new territory for us. My best friend from high school lives just outside of Mansfield, PA and since we hadn’t seen each other in 30+ years, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to make a little detour to catch up with her! We’d lost touch over the years and only recently “found” each other through the miracle of the internet (and a sweet mutual friend who had an old “where are they now” class list!).
Not only was Gail my best buddy in high school, she was also one of the two attendants in my wedding.
(This was a good summer for reconnecting with the wedding party for me. Back in July we spent a night at Deb’s house – remember?)
Deb and Me
Thursday morning we left Gail’s (with great hopes for staying in touch) and continued on to catch up with another SOWER couple that we had worked with a couple of times.
Green Isle GroupThey were also on that third project back in 2005 –
(that was our first “big” project – and it was lots of fun. Earlier this summer we had stopped to see another SOWER that we had met at that project, so you can tell it was a very special month!) We’re delighted to be working with them again this winter in Florida. Such a blessing it is to be part of the SOWER family!

By Friday morning we were heading to Ohio – and those grandbabies!!!!!!!
And although little Noah was (given the newness of his status – oh, and the fact he is a he) the star of the show –
we certainly had lots of fun with the girls (who actually knew we were there!).
Ohio Conrads 9_10-3_edited-1

And as startling as this may be, there are a bazillion other pictures of ALL the Conrads HERE if you’d like a peek!

Fair warning, there’s a lot of cuteness going on there!

So now it’s on to the rest of the catch-up. I think I’d better start with those thank-you notes! Or maybe the bank statement. Or maybe that new book……

Last [SOWER] Month

In my catching-up mode, I figured I’d better start with our July project – Longview Camp in Arcade, NY. (Especially since today was the first day of our August project!)
Last month went by in a blur – or so it seemed! We loved our time at Longview – where we were working with some good SOWER friends and alongside the staff at the camp. Longview has a very interesting history but has only been in its current configuration (as an overnight camp) since 2015. The two full-time staff members are young (to us!) men with young families, and I don’t think any of the summer staff/interns were older than 26. Youth = Enthusiasm!! And there was lots of that!

Linda and I kept busy with quite a variety of tasks! We started on the serger (a bit of a learning curve on that machine!), moved to staining and sealing some trim, popped over to do some gardening, pulled out the regular sewing machine to make some skit curtains, got started on a mailing, and finished up with filling some gaps during the camp weeks – which included learning the ins and outs of snack shop and some dish pit work (that always included great conversations!)! None of that ‘same every day’ for us! It was fun to do different things as the needs arose. Here’s a little slide show of some of what we did:

Gary and Dick also moved easily from task to task! They started with some concrete work, making entries and equipment platforms. From there they helped out with finishing up some siding and installing the trim that Linda and I had stained and sealed. Gary got the A/C running at the director’s home (lots of happy faces there!), and then they both got started on insulating and hanging the drywall in one of the new buildings. They needed a couple of extra hands occasionally, but those boys worked hard every day. They just don’t have much photo documentation of that! Sorry! But here are a couple of photos from their jobs:

Of course, we were having some fun during all this work too! Another couple was working at a nearby project (Odosagih Bible Conference where we had served last summer) and we got together with them several times. It’s so fun to have SOWER neighbors! We also enjoyed several weekend concerts and Fourth of July fireworks down at Odosagih as well! Plus we had a mini SOWER reunion of SOWERs working or living in the area which was very special! We also squeezed in that trip to Columbus to hang out with the grands, so we were very thankful for the project’s flexibility with our goofy schedule! Such a fun and busy month! Here’s some of our fun:

We love working at “new to us” ministries, and this had the bonus of being a pretty “new to the camping scene” ministry. It was exciting to see what the Lord is doing through this young ministry, and very encouraging to see so many young people purposely serving Him! We might not get back to this area again, but we will surely be carrying Longview Camp (and its folks!) in our hearts and prayers!

Behind again

Ah – I’m beginning to sound like a broken record! Days whiz by and suddenly I’m trying to catch up with all of the comings and goings since my last post.  Which was over a week ago!  We finished up our July project, spent time with friends and family during our ‘off’ week, and are now parked at High Braes Refuge for our August SOWER project.
We’re working by ourselves, and it feels like it will be a productive month with very few distractions. So maybe, just maybe, I’ll get caught up here with some of the fun things we did during the last week, and even include a little wrap-up of our July project.

One final thought before I start looking for a hymn for tomorrow’s Sabbath Rest – although the first part of our trip today did include the traffic model in the header picture, there was also a fair bit of highway driving. Which also included a bit of this –
There was rain most of the day, but once again we are thankful for safe travels and a lovely resting spot for the next three weeks! Praise be to God for his mercies to us today (and everyday!).