Our NOMAD Trails and Tails

This is the post excerpt.

Our NOMAD adventure has begun. I think we were both at peace with the changes our lives would take. I say think because the preparations required to make this change were exhausting to say the least. When we finally drove away from our home of 12 years, there were no tears really; just a huge sigh of relief, as all the work in moving and preparing was ending. We can’t possibly thank our family and friends enough for all the support (physical and mental) and prayers. We couldn’t have done any of this without you all. Marty

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Our first project didn’t start until August 7th. We left the house on July 31st and spent some time at St. Francois State Park before heading to Pontiac, Illinois. We couldn’t help but to take a detour and take a couple of pictures in front of the Church and the flagpole dedicated to my dad and uncle. Marty20170731_154130 - Copy20170731_153943 - Copy

We had a week of camping before leaving.
Humbling; alone; that’s how I feel right now. As we arrive at our camp sight to take a respite before our departure, we pull into a very quiet state park surrounded by…. nobody, very few campers – few and far between. As we pull into our sight, a sign has been placed on our post. Welcome home Marty and Donna. How sweet, someone has gone through the trouble to make us feel loved. We have our suspicions who. As Marty prepares camp outside, I open the door to our new home to find…..A DISASTER. The floor, walls, cabinets and doors are flooded with a gallon of sweet tea, watermelon, smashed Tomatoes, and food splattered EVERYWHERE!!! Our refrigerator has opened and dumped it’s contents despite our strapping the doors closed. I run to tell Marty “Houston…we have a problem” (these are NOT the words that came to mind immediately). Marty in the middle of his own duties seems frustrated that I needed him now. I start cleaning and cleaning some more, did I mention it was sweet tea??? I then notice after scrubbing the bathroom floor (after all there’s not much difference or distance between the kitchen, entry, living , entry and bathroom area) that the bathroom door was also torn off the frame, no the entire door jam ripped out! As I finish up, I throw the cleaning rags and towels into our new washer and I can’t get it to work either!!! As I go outside to tell Marty I open the awning only to mess it up!!! Satan has surely followed us out. Leave us Satan in the name of JESUS!
Tomorrow will be better…..Donna

This was the start of the next day…Donna

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We will be here a few days – not liking it, dirt, lots of flies! Marty tells me this is the life we’ve chosen! Really I don’t remember choosing mud and flies!! We have had time alone, sharing a visit to a beautiful, peaceful winery. We have had some amazing visits with family and friends – some sweet enough to bring dinner – some even preparing it. Laughs, celebration, fun, hugs, cries……goodbyes. Donna

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What an honor to serve the Lord. He has called us to serve in a capacity that we feel very comfortable with, but truth be told it was hard to get our minds around his plan. To leave our family and friends will certainly be the hardest. We miss everyone already and we haven’t even arrived at our first mission site. Today will be the hardest. I know He is with us now, I have felt and seen his presence today – a beautiful day, the best so far this summer, several butterflies floating around (to me a sign of loved ones past that I miss too).  We will say our goodbyes to our kids and grandkids. We want to be joyous – maybe tomorrow. Right now we need to just “enjoy this”. Donna

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Well, we have departed. Bittersweet for sure. But we trust the goodness God has in store for us. We truly have to be a team now in every way. Setting up camp, organizing, planning, working , worshiping, playing and tearing down camp. We pray this will make our relationship closer and stronger. I pray we will be able to comfort, encourage and love each other through this new season in life. Anticipating the arrival of our new temporary home.

PS the dogs eagerly jumped into their kennels thinking they are going back home. SURPRISE!!! NOT!!! Donna


We arrived in Pontiac on Saturday, the 5th of August about 2 hours later than planned. Our crew leaders – Gene and Carolyn Freeman greeted us and helped us get set up. Our first NOMAD campsite is at the 4H campground on the outskirts of Pontiac. Marty

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Pontiac reminds me a lot of Washington, MO. It’s a community that’s trying to keep some of it’s identity by maintaining a vibrant historic district – Walmart stays over by the highway and the downtown district keeps it’s charm. It’s been a great first stop for these NOMAD newbies! It has dozens of hand-painted murals on walls of buildings and of course a Pontiac automobile museum. Marty

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Project 7 – St. John’s United Methodist Church – Tucson, AZ


Our project at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Tucson AZ is just awesome. It’s a church family that is in obvious need of our help and our team, which is larger than most (11 members) is outstanding. The church is small and was built in the 1930s. Its early membership was largely service veterans and their families. There is a VA hospital and care facility within a couple of blocks of the church. The area is now largely Latino and poor. Most all the homes are in disrepair with fenced yards and bars covering the windows of the homes, businesses and sadly the church as well.


The church is in need of an ADA compliant ramp and Marty has agreed to take the lead. They want the main portion of the ramp and landing to be concrete with short wooden decking ramps into the church and Fellowship Hall. It’s a big undertaking – nearly 30’ long and will require 3 cubic yards of concrete that will have to be wheel barreled in. Marty and I are building forms and removing a couple of sections of existing sidewalk. We will have help pouring the concrete and building/painting the short decks and railings.




A big part of what we are doing is to improve handicapped access. We’re replacing doors and widening doorways in the sanctuary and classrooms.


Another big project is redoing the children’s Sunday School classroom. We’re replacing windows and flooring; adding electrical outlets and painting. We’re also painting the Pastor’s office, stripping the tile floors in the bathrooms and hallways and more painting. Oh, and we’ve added about 20’ of sidewalk that we will have to mix about 30 bags of concrete to pour.



One of the church members is an incredible artist who is a disabled vet. They are hoping to have him paint a mural in their newly remodeled children’s Sunday School Class room. His name is Mac and he’s been working with our team.



I had the incredible blessing of seeing and reconnecting with my brother and his family. We haven’t seen each other in nearly 10 years. We’re hoping to spend a lot more time together before we leave Arizona. We both agreed that we hadn’t changed a bit!


Some of the team members have come down with the flu including me. I missed a couple of days work and spent two days in bed.

Seems we’re all back to work and mostly over our sicknesses. It’s our last week and still have many things that we need to complete. We’re installing the flooring in the children’s Sunday School classroom and finishing the railings and decking on the ramp. Unfortunately they damaged a water line digging holes for the posts, They apparently don’t bury water lines very deep in Arizona – who would have guessed? But as Nomads we have to be flexible, right? We have 1 man and 4 women installing the floor today. I think he has turned his hearing aid off and to be honest, I don’t blame him. The Pastor keeps coming in to check on him. I really think he’s praying for the poor guy!


We’ve had fun going out with fellow NOMADS; with our family and doing our own sightseeing at some National Parks. God’s amazing creation is everywhere for us to enjoy! We visited a cute little artsy town south of Tucson and have gone out several times for some great Mexican food. It always amazes us how we can meet new people (our team) and become such good friends so quickly. Sharing our faith and beliefs each morning during devotions I’m sure is a big part of it.



The weather has turned much colder in the last couple of days, down to the freezing mark the last two nights. By noon it’s back in the 60’s though. No wonder everyone’s sick! Next week in Phoenix it’s supposed to be in the 80’s.

The Tails have been very bored this last 3 weeks. There’s not a good place for them to go for walks or runs. They seem to be catching up on their rest. We hope our next project will be better accommodations for them even though we’ve had a lot of fun.


Off to our next adventure in Phoenix. Even though it’s a short trip we still have to pack our home up to hit the road. Praying for travel mercies and a drama free trip!


Christmas Break – No Place Like Home

SO good to be home again! We were able to reconnect with almost everyone while back in Missouri. It was a very good time away, but busy and COLD!!! Along with friends and family, we had doctor, dentist, accountant and other appointments to keep.
Our time with family was good. We spent lots of time together, staying with Justin and family after the weather turned so cold. Staying in the camper after Christmas day wasn’t possible. Even though Marty had taken all precautions to prevent freezing, we woke up Christmas morning with one hot water line frozen – time to depart! Thank God we have a family that lovingly provided a place for us to stay. It was all good – providing us quality time together. We enjoyed celebrating Christmas morning with them. We received this really cool gift from Megan & Justin; a continuous playing picture frame that they can upload us new photos of them and all the Grandbabies with a phone app – Love it!!


The Tails are worn out from being around all the activities too. They also got to reconnect with their cousin Frankie.

Puppies (7)
On the road again! Our Christmas break was over before we knew it! As we’re now driving on these Arkansas roads, we feel like we’re bouncing down the road and getting REALLY bad fuel mileage to boot. We’re trying to reach Texarkana before sundown. Our moods are somber; a range of emotions filling us today. We intentionally left early before Megan and the grandkids got up. Too hard to say goodbye again. As hard as it is to go again, we feel led to continue on and know a God had a new adventure awaiting us. Right now we just want to have a drama free trip and arrive safely.

We made it to Texarkana last night and stayed in a RV park. Not one on TripAdvisor’s top 10 list for sure, but we were just parking and sleeping for the most part. The only reason I’m bringing this up is I need to remind myself to never complain. Today we drove past dozens of gravel lots with RVs in them. A lot of the Texas’s RV parks we saw leave a lot to be desired. I kept commenting that surely our next overnight stay won’t be that bad – right? Well we pull up to our second night RV park and – not so bad. They had a check in office, propane and WiFi available – but still just a gravel lot which the dogs don’t care for. But as I’m walking Summer I realize that on one side we have a busy highway; another side is working oil rigs. But the topper is that we are right next to the dump!!!!! There’s a wooden fence – but the dump??? Marty says he used a coupon for the RV site!!


Our 3rd day on the road and we’re hoping to get to New Mexico this time. Praying for traveling mercies once again. Note to self…not coming back to this place for vacation next year! Our day of travel has been pretty uneventful except for Marty deciding to quickly exit to this incredibly disgusting truck stop so that he can save 20 cents a gallon. Not a Flying J for sure! Now we’ve driven ALL the way through northern Texas; just not seeing the attraction, at least from the road.


The topper of this particular journey is when we pull off the highway to stay at a KOA in Lordsburg, NM. We pulled onto the street the GPS tells us is the road to the KOA and my heart just sank. I had just been saying that maybe tonight for a break, we can venture out into town for dinner……NOT!!!! This was the absolute sketchiest part of town. As we drove down that street of run down trash filled yards and dilapidated trailers, I just wanted to cry. We pulled into a decent camp fenced off from the reality on the other side…. no venturing out tonight. The sunset was spectacular though, Thank you Father God – needed that.


We’re on the last stretch of highway heading into Tucson, AZ. We should arrive by noon and I can’t wait. We arrived safely – thank the Lord. We are in tight parking to say the least. But it will be fine, the Tails can’t run anyway, there are sand burrs everywhere. We had to go out and purchase a rug for the dogs to potty on outside. They are obliging. Hopefully we haven’t created a monster problem.



Project 6 – Crystal River United Methodist Church – Crystal River, Florida

We are in our final project of the year already! We’ve been working with our new team members in Crystal River, Florida at Crystal River UMC. This facility is beautiful! The Church itself is rather large and they have about 165 active members. There is also a Chapel on the grounds that was built in 1902 and moved to it’s current location in 2002. It’s used mostly for weddings and baptisms. It has about 6 pews on each side and is soooooo cute. It reminds me of the church that Marty and I got married in over 40 years ago and shares the same name – Bethel. It looks like I’ll be hand painting a new chapel sign.


We were originally told we would be doing community outreach and storm repairs in the surrounding area but instead are doing repairs and apdates here at the church itself. Again, we have to be flexible, but are disappointed that no community work is available.

We are camping on the Church property about ¼ mile north of the Church itself. We worked on the laundry hut in the campground. It is used by NOMAD campers and by the Thrift Store volunteers cleaning donated items that will be sold. It will also be used as our meeting place in the future. We painted and made cabinet fronts from scratch and installed them.  Marty has worked in the old chapel on the HVAC system. He also put up a block retaining wall behind the outdoor service area. We have painted everything that could possibly hold still in this campground yellow! Every post, sign, parking stop, you name it, it’s now YELLOW!!! Most of us have helped dig and cover up trenches, run underground conduit and pull electrical cable. We’re all pretty exhausted!


This church has a live nativity/walk to Bethlehem event every year and guess what we Nomads are doing? We are helping build Bethlehem! It’s a huge undertaking but in the end it is so cool. They have it at night and it’s lit up with torches and lights. People are dressed in period costumes and you are taken around by “Joseph” the tour guide. We will also be helping take down Bethlehem when it’s over.


The Thrift Store I mentioned earlier is quite busy. They are open Wednesday thru Saturday each week and some of our team have worked there as well helping out. I co-hosted a Christmas Party for our team, complete with invitations (bought at the thrift store), decorations (also thrift store), and we decided to have a rob your neighbor gift exchange, with the condition that you had to buy your exchange gift at the thrift store! The exchange gifts that appeared went from pinatas to a singing squirrel! We had a lot of fun and laughs!


The little town of Crystal River has a village shopping district that’s very cute. They had “Grinchmas” last weekend. The whole town is decorated with Grinch theme items and the locals dress up in Grinch story costumes. They also all gather round and light the town Christmas tree. What fun!!!!


We’ve enjoyed going to church together with our team and our daily devotions are always great. We’ve heard personal faith stories and inspiring readings.

Summer, one of our ‘Tails’, gave us quite a scare while in Crystal River. We came home from an outing and she was yelping in pain and was struggling just to move. We took her to an urgent vet facility and it appeared as though she had some sort of back injury. When we took her in we thought we may have to put her down; she was that bad. We both were an emotional mess. But after the examination we were told that it may not be that bad. She was put on a couple of medications and sent home. The next day we had to take her back – she seemed worse – and wouldn’t eat or drink. She had to have an IV for dehydration and an appetite stimulant. Thank God for guiding us to this vet who was so compassionate and knowledgeable. After a lot of prayers, medications and keeping her immobile for a few days, Summer was miraculously back to her old self.


God’s beauty is everywhere and this place is certainly no exception. We got to witness an amazing sunset on the beach – beautiful, peaceful and calming. It’s great to just relax and enjoy the sites. We also went to a manatee wildlife reserve, but no manatees were out the day we were there.

We traveled across the state to see Marty’s cousin Susan who we hadn’t seen in several years. We got to meet her friend Wayne and his son Evan. We went out to eat at a beach-side restaurant and enjoyed some fresh seafood and watching the waves. We had a great visit and of course revisited childhood memories.


I have to say it’s hard to even get this blog together this time because we can’t seem to focus on anything but going back to Missouri for Christmas! Seems like this camping trip is never ending – LOL. Can’t wait to see everyone, especially Justin and Megan and the grandkids!!!

We were asked again about being leaders for NOMADS. We weren’t looking for that position – we just wanted to just be team members at least for a while. But we trust God’s plan for us and have accepted the leadership position and will complete our training before we leave Florida. Who knows where God’s going to lead us next.

Our days here at Crystal River are coming to an end. We will be traveling back to Hillsboro for Christmas. Hopefully the trip will be uneventful and we will get to see everyone soon.


Merry Christmas to you and yours. Blessings on this Christmas Season.





5th Project – Wesley Glen Ministries – Macon Georgia

We’ve headed south from Beersheba Springs to Macon Georgia for a project at Wesley Glen Ministries, a group home and life center for developmentally challenged young adults. We were originally told we would be camping at the United Methodist Children’s Home, but our NOMAD team has been moved to a Shriners campground about 15 minutes away. Being flexible is important as a NOMAD and this project is no different. The campground has a banquet hall nearby that has been booked on a couple of weekend nights. The events are loud and continue late into the night, much later than us old folks like to stay up. But it provides us a lot of extra space that we wouldn’t have at most campgrounds.

Macon is not our favorite place to be so far. Not much to see that we find interesting. But being fair, there is a great deal of Civil War history in the area. The project also started out a bit disoriented. The home is understaffed from a maintenance standpoint and they have recently lost a couple of employees. Again, flexibility is one of the keys. But our team – which consists of one other couple and our leader, who is a single lady – has adapted.

The first day, guess what we did? PAINTED !!! WOW – like we didn’t get enough of that on our last project. We also put new shutters on one of the group homes. We are now working our way through a list of repairs in those group homes that’s about 15 pages long. The tasks range from furniture repairs to plumbing, electrical and carpentry jobs, siding repairs and of course painting.


The first week here, we were introduced to some of the residents. We counted our blessings and were very humbled by them. One young man gave Marty a picture that he had colored. We now have it on our refrigerator. We were asked to attend an awards banquet for the residents, employees and board members. We had the pleasure of observing some of the residents receive special ‘Olympic” like awards. They were sooooo excited. It brought joy to our hearts and tears to our eyes watching them be so excited and happy. We had just prayed the day before that these young men and women could still have joy in their lives despite the disabilities they live with. God revealed it to us in 24 hours. Watching their eyes light up and squeal with delight as they received their awards was a blessing for us!

There is a beautiful little church on the campus here where the residents attend services. What’s even more beautiful is the name of the church. “The Church Of The Exceptional “. There is a huge cross in front of the church. The inside is smooth representing how we are all the same to God, perfect in His eyes. The outside is rough representing how we are all rough and imperfect on the outside yet God loves each and every one of us the same. Behind the altar in the church is a hand painted mural depicting some of the former residents with Jesus. It’s pretty cool.



About midway through the project now and we are rebuilding, or should I say tearing out and starting over, on a group of raised flower beds in the shape of a cross. Marty and I have been hoping since we got here that we would get to do this particular job. There are 6 sections, each section representing one of the campus group homes. After a couple of days some of the residents came down to do some gardening. They found us working and building the new raised beds. Some immediately wanted to help. One young man – Avery, helped me measure the boards so I could cut them. Johnnie wanted to be involved, too. Marty helped them use the drill to assemble the boxes. They were so excited about getting to help. Avery is like a gentle giant. We asked if he wanted to help us pry and lift out the old lumber and before we knew it, he had it out and tossed to the side, just like that!!!


Our new friends came down to help again the following day, bringing others with them to help. Avery came down, still proudly wearing the special Olympics metal around his neck that he’d received at the awards banquet. When he saw Marty and I assembling another box and using the drills, he immediately went over to the truck tailgate to get my tool belt (which had my tape measure and pencil, and safety glasses in it) handed it to me and told me ” You go saw”. He wanted to work with Marty – and wanted me to do something else! Marty couldn’t build them fast enough!

Avery was all over it, telling Marty “It’s good, it’s good” – wanting to go on to the next task. Some of our new friends helped plant and weed. Others helped build the new boxes and haul off the debris from the old ones. We kept being told what a blessing we were to them. The real blessing was ours. God so clearly showed us why we were there – showing us the importance of the plan he had orchestrated for our lives. Thank you God for the reminder. I think both of us felt that this NOMAD experience was the most personally meaningful so far. We lose focus and sometimes begin to question why we’re here – not this time.

There is a beautiful memory garden behind one of the group homes. There are fountains, waterfalls -even an empty tomb. Several statues grace the gardens.


The Tails have enjoyed being ‘free range wieners’. We take them out in the campground fields and let them just run! Summer runs like the wind – so excited. Bratwurst runs like he’s finally loosening up a bit. He marches like a show dog – so handsome.


Our project here is complete. The cross planter is finished along with dozens of other tasks. I pray we don’t soon forget or take for granted how God sees us – smooth and perfect on the inside even though we’re not on the outside – just as the cross outside that church represents. In so many ways we are all the same – all needing to feel loved, receive kindness and encouragement, and have joy in our lives. Just as we sometimes feel let down or discouraged, He reveals to us His grace to let us know He is ever present in our lives. What a sweet reminder of God’s grace this project has been.


We celebrated Thanksgiving in our camper with each other. It was a bit lonely for us missing family. AND, the washer broke down. But we are so blessed. Saturday we head to Crystal River, Florida for our next adventure. We are so thankful and grateful for this season of life that allows us to be doing what we’re doing. But, we’re so excited that we get to return to Missouri for Christmas to reconnect with family and friends. We love and miss you all!

4th Project – Beersheba Springs Assembly – Beersheba Springs, TN

We have arrived in Beersheba Springs, Tennessee for our project at Beersheba Springs Assembly. This place is beautiful; very much a step back in time. We are now in what’s called the Cumberland Plateau at just under 2000′ elevation. It’s a very remote, wooded area, with rustic buildings, cabins and homes. The Assembly complex is quite large and extremely old. It is listed on the Historic Registry. The main hotel was built in 1833. Several structures, cabins and lodge type buildings have been added through the years. It was originally started as a tavern. Later the hotel was built because of a nearby spring that was discovered that was thought to provide health benefits because of the high iron content. A luxury resort was ultimately built that included a huge ballroom, grand lobby, billiards rooms, grand dining hall and even a bowling alley. Visitors arrived by stage coach. The hotel rooms were considered very luxurious at the time even though they had no bathrooms. They included a fireplace, beds and small closet with an attached room that often housed their servants.

The Assembly, which included the hotel, was purchased by the UMC Tennessee Conference in 1941.


There is an incredible overlook across from the hotel. Our project is on the front of the hotel and we’ve witnessed the season change each day.



We have a great crew of 7 for this project. We are mostly a younger group (younger being a relative term). I think God put this group together knowing we were going to need a little extra strength and stamina. The only problem is one by one 5 of the 7 have gotten sick. When we arrived I was already having problems -coughing, sore throat, congestion, etc. Another lady arrived sounding worse than me. The closest conventional health care is down the ‘mountain’ in McMinnville – about 40 minutes away. The only exception – a free clinic in Beersheba Springs open on Mondays and Wednesdays.  I went on Wednesday receiving the same care that Rhonda, the other lady in our group, had received on Monday – an antibiotic, a shot in the rear and get this….a urine specimen cup filled with something only marked as “cough syrup”. I was told to only take it at bedtime because it’s going to make you very sleep “cause it’s got the vinegar in it” (funny how I never knew vinegar had that effect!). AND…”now, It’s gonna taste bad so take 2 tsp. but if you can’t stand the taste, at least take one”. Now I don’t know what this stuff is, but if I were to guess, I’d say that they were making it in a still around back. It took the cough away instantaneously and then it was good night Irene!!
Marty and Bill, one of our team leaders, are now sick and going to the mountain Doctor today. Ronda just wants a refill of “the cough syrup”.

Several of the staff members here are new; the camp director, cleaning staff and maintenance director. It’s been stressful for everyone to adjust to each other. They work very long hours here. They have over 190 guests coming Friday for a retreat. We’ve been able to share a few meals with different groups.

We’ve had a lot of fun and laughs with our team. By the way, our job this time is to scrape, prep and paint the front of the old hotel!!!! The work seems overwhelming at times. The cold temperatures, wind and rain have added to the challenge, but we have a great crew and are getting it done.


We have enjoyed some nature hikes in the area and the surrounding state park. Lots of waterfalls and rock formations. It’s the perfect time of year to witness the beauty of God’s creation. The Tails have gone with us, but would prefer their long walks through the beautiful streets of the community.


We traveled 35 miles to the grocery store and Walmart. Walmart was even more crazy here it seems. Remember how I mentioned that I hadn’t had any alone time? Well even going to Walmart can be challenging, so I sent Marty off with his own shopping list and while I’m browsing through the meat section I come across these……CHICKEN PAWS!!!! WHAT???? Who eats this stuff? So I take a picture and text it to Marty asking “how many pounds would you like”? He texts back – I’m good. We’re wondering what kind of dipping sauce goes well with them?


As you can imagine the eating establishments are very limited here but there is a video rental store/restaurant that serves a ridiculous burger! And the 2 Mexican restaurants nearby don’t serve Margaritas. WHAT? I’ve never been more disappointed!


We visited Sewanee, TN, home of the University Of The South. Wow! This campus is unbelievable! Absolutely beautiful. The chapel is amazing. Who wouldn’t love going to school on this campus?


7 working days in and our crew has accomplished scraping every inch of the hotel front and finished the caulking. We’ve also have the entire upstairs including windows, doors and some railings. We’ve also put new skirting around the pillar bottoms. I think that’s quite impressive considering most of us are under the weather. Still plenty to do though.


It’s 31 degrees here this morning along with a dusting of snow. That ought to change the trees. I can’t believe it’s already Halloween. Happy Birthday to our beautiful granddaughter, Joanna. Time sure flies!!

Last day of the project and after 39 gallons of paint, we’ve finished making this lady beautiful again. I have to say that we’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. Thank the Lord for the opportunity to be a part of it – for the incredible fellowship and the new friends we’ve made. We’re off to Macon, Georgia for our next project at Wesley Glen Ministries – a Methodist facility that serves adults with developmental disabilities.



Vacation Between Projects

When we left our last project in New York, we had a week break to recharge a bit.  We went to Punderson State Park in Ohio just south of Cleveland/Lake Erie. This area is home to the 4th largest Amish community in the U.S. That was obvious when you went to town – buggies everywhere. They even have covered stalls on the parking lots of Walmart and grocery stores to park the Amish buggies.


The State Park was very nice. The park lodge was beautiful. Even though we were camping, we could see it directly across the lake from our spot. It had a boardwalk along the lake that was really neat. Princess Summer thought she may have found her new home. Sometimes I think her and Bratwurst can’t understand how we could have gotten so lost for soooo long and why we don’t just ask someone for directions back to Festus.



After a few nights in Ohio, we headed to Kentucky to camp at Land Between the Lakes. 570 miles in one day; towing our house – won’t be doing that again.


Our days in Kentucky were great. It was hot – for us anyway. We were spoiled with mid to low 70’s in New York and northern Ohio. Remember NOMADS stands for Nice Old Methodists Avoiding Deep Snow (not really, we like to avoid heat, too) We visited Paducah’s brick district – very cute. Best of all, Justin, Megan and the grankids came to see us. We had a great visit and lots of fun. It was great to reconnect. We celebrated our son Justin’s 36th birthday while we were together. Hard to believe we have a son that age. Our visit was way too short though and emotional to see them leave knowing we wouldn’t see them again until Christmas. But we are grateful and blessed for the time together.


3rd Project – Lakeshore United Methodist Assembly Eva, Tennessee

Heading to Tennessee for our next adventure. We are staying in Eva, Tennessee at Lakeshore UM Assembly. It’s a beautiful setting here on Kentucky Lake. A very busy camp where over 3500 kids can attend through the summer and they have retreat use year round.


Our work at Lakeshore is physical. We have done remodel demolition on the interior of a large dorm cabin, removing all trim and paneling down to the studs (all done in one day by 3 women – look out Fixer Upper!).


We constructed a 16′ x 10′ building to accommodate 2 composting toilets and storage at their Wilderness Lodge site (only accessible by foot or their Polaris 4 wheeler).



It’s been pretty hot here – not so much fun, but we’re getting it done. We also have painted a large basketball court/parking lot by the recreation center. AND we’ve gone through 34 gallons of bleach to clean decks & railings on 16 cabins!!! I didn’t work this hard before I retired!!!

While out to dinner one Friday night with our fellow NOMADS (which by the way we found the best food on the lake at Beaver Dam Marina) we came upon this:


This group was just paddling in on this contraption – constructed from 4) 55 gallon barrels ratchet strapped to a picnic table . I asked what the compartment in the center of the table was for (they had made a cutout on the picnic table and inserted a cooler)?? “Fer da bare”.  Marty asked what the shovel was for??? “Batry’s dead. It’s the paddle”!! I then asked if it was available for rent?  “No way – we jus’ made ‘er!!

This past weekend was amazing! We were blessed to have so many of our friends travel  long distances to spend time with us!! We didn’t do much but hang out together and play games. We rented a cabin and took turns with sleeping arrangements between the cabin and our camper. Kayla’s daughter Carly wanted to sleep in what she called “the tour bus”. So, Kayla, Travis and the kids spent the night in our camper. Carly now says she can check this off her bucket list and asked her dad “aren’t you glad you can check that off your bucket list too? AGAIN, so hard to see them all leave, knowing we won’t see them again until Christmas time. This certainly is the hardest part of our journey – missing family and friends. It was great to receive a pile of cards from our church family that they brought to us. Loved it!


I haven’t driven the truck since our first project. That means Marty and I haven’t had any time apart for over 8 weeks. Also, we’ve had terrible phone reception since we’ve been in Eva. Our phone has to sit on the cellular amplifier with the speaker on in order to talk. It’s been tough – no privacy!!! Not much space to separate us. Say a prayer or two – would ya’?

Our leaders on this project have had to leave due to a family emergency.  Just 2 couples left and we are installing laminate floors in two cabins this last week. So far we haven’t seen many signs of fall colors here. Hopefully that will happen in the next couple of weeks.


We had a few hours of time on the last day to finish trimming out windows and a door  on two cabins and manicuring some overgrown plants and trees around the camp as well. Our work is complete for this project. Mission accomplished!


One of the hardest things about Nomads is moving on to our next adventure. Even though it’s exciting, it seems just when you really start to build relationships you have to move on – all too quickly. So off we go today to Beersheba Springs, Tennessee to another church camp. It looks to be an exciting ride according to the map; quite hilly and curvy. Hang on TAILS!! I think they are finally figuring out the routine!! Summer will truly miss running in the open field here.




2nd Project – Asbury Camp, Silver Lake, New York

Our 3 week project here is coming to a close and way too soon. This place is beautiful and very peaceful. The ministry that comes out of this camp/retreat center is special. We were able to witness a couple; one being a group home for young men with disabilities that were here the first week. They had so much fun boating, sharing meals, playing basketball and going on outings. Experiences that I’m sure they don’t normally have. We shared conversations and meals – what a great opportunity for us. We’ve attended a church service with the lake community and realized this area is largely a big family of generational ownership of lake homes and shared memories. Donna


Our team is wonderful – full of gentle souls. We have really enjoyed this project and would jump at the chance to return. Our projects have been making new curtains for the cabins, lots of power washing, staining decks, staircases and railings, repairing and painting wooden picnic tables, painting a huge porch, pillars and window frames. We completely remodeled a bathroom and did numerous electrical and plumbing jobs. Donna



One of the couples, Martin and Beth, are from Ithaca, NY. Both are in there mid 70’s – both have metastatic cancer and are currently on oral chemo and he is diabetic. Yet, here they are, doing what they can to serve. Just an amazing couple. It’s a privilege to serve with them and very humbling.  Marty

Martin and Beth

I have taken lots of pictures these 3 weeks. We visited Geneseo. A charming college community north of the camp. We toured a creamery and saw how they make cheese. They have a vending machine outside where you can buy cheese. ($10 /half pound!) Who would have thought?? Donna


The Tails were having a great time spending a lot of time with me watching us make curtains for the cabins. We have our sewing ‘sweat shop’ set up on the porch of a nearby cabin which has been a lot of fun. They haven’t gotten much sleep staying up watching us. Two of us have made over 50 curtains! The Tails had to get a bath in the kitchen sink this week and they were not happy about it! But boy do they smell better. They have been very spoiled – spending the day with me while I work. Next week will be different. We will be painting the front of a house on the property along with a long list of repairs that need to be done. We won’t be taking the Tails. Donna20170905_11071220170903_14433720170903_142908

We visited Letchworth State Park. It’s called the Grand Canyon of the East and for good reason – it was incredibly beautiful. The waterfalls were enormous and the scenery was gourgeous. Gods creation is amazing!! A great day of sharing fellowship with our team. Donna


Methodist are known for fellowship involving food, right? Well, NOMAD fellowship is no different. Going out to eat as a group is also a great way of sharing our faith with others. You see, wherever we go, we ALWAYS wear our NOMADS name tags.  People are curious and ask  who we are and what we represent. It’s always fun to see the look on people’s face when you explain your journey. Hopefully, it’s spreading a faith seed every time you explain. When you’re in a group setting, it’s neat to see where and how far we’ve all come from to help on a project. Having the signs on our vehicles is another way, and as we pull in and park, people are curious and ask.
We again have shared and enjoyed our morning devotions and church experiences together – listening to each other’s stories as to how God has lead each and every one of us on our faith journeys. Donna
We can’t seem to have a drama free departure. I was able to get the problem with our leveling system that temporarily stranded us in Pontiac resolved. It was a simple, inexpensive fix (a $5 part). It just took some time figuring it out. We had a lot of rain while we were at Asbury Camp. I was pretty certain we would get stuck getting out….and we did. I had arrived early and parked in the back of the grass area trying to leave room for the others when they arrived. NOTE TO SELF: DON’T DO THAT. We were prepared for it and the camp maintenance man, Keith, was ready with a 4 wheel drive tractor that was able to pull us to the gravel road. Lesson learned. Marty20170828_182710 We’re off for a week and will be staying in northern Ohio for 4 days and then down to the Land Between the Lakes near Paducah, KY for 4 days. Justin and family are coming over to spend a couple of days. Can’t wait to hug those grandkids! Marty

We are both crying as we say goodbye to our new found Brothers and Sisters. This team and this project has been incredible. So much so, that we have ALL already signed up for the 2018 project here at Asbury. To John, Jill, Lewis, Martin and Beth, God Bless you all and we’ll see you next year. I’M NOT PARKING IN THE BACK!