Tag Archives: SOWERS

April is full of surprises!

I know it’s not quite April yet – but still, there are exciting days ahead!
We’re hanging out at the SOWER headquarters in Lindale, TX this month for a two-fold reason. One is that we’ll be working on the new SOWER building at the SOWER office, which involves Gary installing the HVAC.

The building is nearing completion, so I know I’ll be busy working with the team to finish up many of the other odds and ends!
But the second reason is pretty exciting to us too! Come Monday (4/1) we will be the owners of this sweet little (but more than twice the size of our dear Lizzie) cottage in the Bass Lake Christian Retirement Community.
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I’ll have lots to share in the weeks ahead as we once again (after almost 20 years) enter into this adult thing called homeownership – but for now I just wanted to share that we are here and safe (and maybe just a little overwhelmed!). Are we really ready for this?
Later, friends!
Steph

PS – We’re not coming off the road – just finally setting up a “Home Base”. In the map below, the star towards the bottom of the map is where son Josiah and his family live! Not quite next door, but way closer than we’ve been for many, many years! Sweet!

Remember Speed Dating?

Well, this is Speed Blogging – my attempt to get this little corner of the internet caught up! Here we go-
February project – Word of Life Conference Center! I did a bit of sharing about our time there, but I don’t think I ever mentioned that we were able to enjoy many of the speakers and concerts that are held there during the winter months!
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While WOL’s main mission is to disciple young people, this particular location is also home to a large RV community of (mostly) seniors. We didn’t realize it when we signed up, but there were several retired SOWERs in the RV park and also in the general area that we were able to connect with! Another surprise connection was when I ran into a friend from Montrose, PA. I guess I know more snowbirds than I thought! But while it was fun to interact with the guests and speakers, it was even lovelier to work with a great SOWER team. One couple we’d known since our early days, one couple we’d worked with more recently, and one couple we’d never met before. I love it when our SOWER family grows!
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Next was my weekend back in Pennsylvania. Check.
Back from PA and on to the SOWER Florida Reunion/Rally. Check.

Our time here at Hope Children’s Home. Wow! I hardly know where to start! We’re in our final days serving at this ministry, and it’s been a grand three weeks. This time there was a nice long job list (for the guys especially), and we all just Got.To.It.  Here’s my Group Leader Report for this month:
We all kept very busy. Two of the ladies helped out in the kitchen each day,- helping with meal prep and also cleaning and organizing supplies. The other two ladies did some cleaning along with sorting and organizing various donation areas. The men worked on repairing and repainting fencing, and then pressure washed and stained many sets of steps (with over 1000 spindles!), decks, houses, and other fences. We enjoyed helping with the annual GIANT yard sale – both in organizing and shopping! We had a group outing to enjoy some strawberry shortcakes and enjoyed several game nights. It was wonderful to learn about the ministry of Hope Children’s Home – and be a small part of their mission to rescue children.
First the work –
After the guys finished repairing and repainting the front fence (no photo documentation of that, sorry), the guys moved on to painting and power washing almost the entire campus – or so it seemed!
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Two of the ladies (and the SOA (longer-term SOWER)) worked in the kitchen every day,  preparing meals for the students and volunteers. And when they weren’t cooking, they were organizing supplies, cleaning chairs, and lending a hand wherever it was needed.   Sondra and I concentrated mostly on donations. Now this ministry relies almost exclusively on donations, and donations of food, household products, clothing, etc., etc., etc. arrive almost every day. And all of those donations require massive amounts of organization. We sorted and organized and tidied and repackaged. And did a bit of cleaning too!
Many donations go to their two thrift stores, but certain items stay on campus to be used by the houseparents of the cottages or by the various staff that live on campus.
Like the Clothes closet –
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or the can shed –
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or maybe the household goods room –
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Every year they also have a Giant Yard Sale (and I mean GIANT!)
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Shoes – $2.00/pair
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Clothes  – $10/bag (large white trash bag) or a $1 per item.
There were lots of new-in-box type bargains, plenty of gently used items, and a nice selection of furniture. It was advertised as 10,000 items, and I can easily believe it!  We SOWERs ladies got to help with the set-up and pricing – and then we came back to help support the ministry by shopping! I came away with lots of treasures – now to  find places for all of these wonderful new items.
But it wasn’t all spraying and sorting and shopping – there were some fun outings too!
Like a field trip to have some famous Plant City Strawberry Shortcake –
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or an afternoon in Tarpon Springs, complete with sponges
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and flaming Greek food!
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This was a great project to wrap up our Florida winter! We made new friends, were introduced to a wonderful ministry, and enjoyed some of the sights (and food delights) of the area!
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Well, I’m not sure just how speedy this post was – but at least I’m officially up to date! We head on our next adventure tomorrow – which might just be our biggest one yet! Stay tuned!!
Happy Spring, friends,
Steph

 

From the plane to the party

No –  really.
Gary picked me up from the airport after my trip north, and we drove right to the 2024 SOWER Florida Rally/Reunion. He’d already moved Lizzie to the reunion site (Groveland, FL – west of Orlando) and the party was well underway by the time we arrived. In fact, we arrived just in time for the group picture!
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While what we both really wanted was a nap (I’d been up since 4:30 am to catch that 6:30 am flight home), we decided instead to give the cornhole tournament a try.
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We lost the first game, but (surprisingly) won the next two, and somehow became the first-place winners of the losers. Who knew there was such a thing? Our prize was being one of the first couples through the dinner line! Whooohoo!
The reunion party did not disappoint! We loved catching up with some of our old  dear SOWER friends, and we also loved meeting some brand-new couples! Two couples hadn’t even been on their first project!! I love to see the excitement as these new folks are beginning a journey that has meant so much to us!

We were inspired to “Stay Strong in Today’s World”,
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and enjoyed a musical evening with Dane Bailey,  the Singing Auctioneer,
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(who then did a grand job the next day being an actual auctioneer!).
We also enjoyed several meals together – all excellent, and all lots of fun!
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Someone just couldn’t resist!
We did manage to sneak in a much-needed nap, but it was just a quick power nap because we didn’t want to miss the wonderful fellowship with friends old and new that these SOWER Reunions afford.   We’re so thankful for the team that put all of this wonderfulness together! And for all the love that was in the air the whole time!

Almost caught up!
Steph

Where have I been???

Oh my! It’s been almost two weeks since my last post – and much has been happening! There have been RV moves, airplane rides, family and friends, hugs and tears, memories made, and memories remembered! I’ll try to catch y’all up with those comings and goings in the days ahead, but meanwhile – here’s a real-time update!

We’ve arrived safely at our March SOWER project location –  Hope Children’s Home,  located in Tampa, FL.

This ministry is less than thirty miles from where we were serving last month, but it certainly feels like a whole new neighborhood! We’re much closer to Tampa (Bad news – traffic. Good news – Costco is nearby!) and the ministry here is completely different. Here’s a little excerpt from the Hope Children’s Ministry’s website-

Hope Children’s Home cares for neglected, abandoned, and abused children – loving them and equipping them for the future.

Hope Children’s Home originated in Florida, and we have been rescuing children giving them a safe, loving, Christian home for over 50 years! We have an open 55-acre campus tucked away in the middle of Tampa. Among many buildings, you will find a fully-functional Christian school and six cottages where the children live. 
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We’re working with four other couples, three of whom we have never worked with before. So we’re looking forward to building new relationships and helping out at this very special ministry.

There may even be a baby to hug now and then!

Winding down

We still have several more days of SOWER work for this project, but since the next few days could get pretty busy, I figured I’d get a head start on the wrap-up!
Last week we ladies concentrated on rags. Yep – every housekeeping department relies heavily on rags, and when there are always towels that are not up to snuff for guests, why buy rags when you can make them? So we cut up towels and zig-zagged around the edges of a multitudinous pile of towel sections!
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One of us cut, and two of us sewed.
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It was a bit of a linty job
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but still fun to sit at the sewing machine and enjoy each other’s company.
As for the guys – well, they had a list of lots of smaller jobs, so I really can’t report on what exactly they accomplished. But I know they were busy –
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and they came home tired.
Oh – but I can report that the sign lighting job was a grand success!
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Speaking of lights – today we ladies joined the men at the start of the day in changing out all of the fluorescent lights in the kitchen to LEDs. It was quite the task, and our jobs were to be the hander-upper-tool-getters for the guys on the ladders.
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And I did get a rare picture of what appears to be men reading the directions.
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Shhhhhhh…..

It hasn’t been all work around here, but it’s getting late and that alarm is going off at 6 tomorrow. So the fun stuff will have to wait until tomorrow!
Thanks for stopping by!
Steph