I think coming back to the houses and seeing all the work we did already really rallied us to push ourselves today because everyone worked really hard. I split my time between both houses to catch some video footage so I can give you some fairly accurate updates that hopefully don’t have too many holes in them.

At the first house, we sanded down the kitchen ceiling we mudded yesterday and added another coat so we could sand that, too. Finally, we taped the trim we laid down and primed the ceiling for a future paint job. Considering how many hours people have put into this ceiling, I hope the task of painting falls to us; everyone who did the “grunt” work deserves to put on some finishing touches.

The adjacent laundry room got the most attention today. We needed to disconnect the hot water heater, severe (saw through) the steel pipes, take out the door and put in a new door, take out the washer and dryer, shore up part of the floor, lay down plywood, finish the floor off with… I forget. Some sort of wood that is named after a woman. I think it begis with “L” (sorry, I’m still learning all of the technical carpentry terms). Speaking of terms, Steve C. introduced me to my new favorite verb, “wang.” He told me it’s the word carpenters use if they don’t have another word. For example, when he marked off a circle on a piece of plywood and asked me to drill holes in it’s diameter so we could cut it out, he asked me to, “Wang out a circle.” Later, when Kent had me do the same thing to a piece of drywall at the other house, he asked me to “wang” it, too. Apparantly, I really know how to wang.

The laundry room was labor-intensive because it was full of little projects that had to be done in a particular order. We couldn’t shore up the floor until we moved the hot water heater, which we couldn’t move until we took out the door, and so on. Pete S. and Kelly M. became quite the power tool team, while Kristen H. lead a squadron of young women in the kitchen. Steve C. and Dave S. lead Pete, Kelly, Trevor N., and me in working on the laundry room. Unfortunately, when reinstalling the hot water heater, we found some old pipes were broken and the family would go without hot water for the evening. Definitely not ideal, but hopefully fixable as soon as possible this week.

After lunch, I moseyed on down to the other house to get some video footage of the rest of our group hard at work. As you’ll recall, this was the house needing a window boarded up, finishing work on another set of windows, and new vinyl on the bathroom floor so the toilet could go back in. Today had two new projects added to the list – install a new door and mount a new drywall ceiling in the bathroom. By the time I arrived, Chris S., Leah K., and Kelsey W. had filled in many of the holes, dents, and crags of the closed-up window and had done finishing work on the other windows. Pastor Kent was working on the bathroom while Ken S. and Jerry M. worked steadily on a new front door. I helped get some drywall on the ceiling before we called it a day to go grocery shopping for tonight’s dinner, burgers on the grill.

Highlights of the day include dissecting a long-forgotten pack of Juicy Fruit gum found underneath the hot water heater (yes the rumors are true – I ate a tiny, tiny bit and lived to tell the tale), Molly N. lying on top of a refrigerator to get a good angle to paint the ceiling, Steve C. teaching Pete S. and me how to use power tools like circular saws, Trevor N. having to walk six blocks to a Shell gas station to use the bathroom after we shut the water off in the house, Dave S. working with his head underneath rotting steps as people kept walking on them, Pastor Kent making crepe-thin pancakes with the last of the batter, Texas resident Ken being able to point out some window frames we neglected to drywall because in Minnesota we’d be used to wood, Jerry explaining to me that after seventy-plus years of life the arthritis might be starting to kick in, Kristen H.’s meeting and talking with Mrs. Perez – the owner of one of the homes – and telling her, “Your mother has a good daughter,” Chris S. finding a new disciple of random singing in Kelsey W., yesterday’s nailgun exploits for Kelly M. matched only by today’s power-sawing through steel pipe, Molly D. getting a mysterious drywall handprint on her tummy, Leah K. and me moving a ladder a mere three feet approximately three-dozen times in thirty minutes, and Piper C. responding to one of my stories with, “Yeah I know, you’ve told us that story before.” My apologies to her parents, but for her insolence, she will be remaining in Texas. 🙂

Tonight we head to Beaumont for the Crockett Street dance. We’ve decided to take a little “horizontal time” after dinner to rest up before going out tonight and I think I’m almost looking forward to that more than the street dance. Also, I’ve learned from the local newspaper’s website that discharging firearms within city limits is a misdemeanor with an up to $4,000 fine and a year in jail if one is caught, so I’m glad we didn’t bring any guns with us because wow, the temptation to ring in the new year with a bang is tough to say ‘no’ to, you know…


P.S. If I have time to retro-actively post photos in other days’ posts, I will, but I don’t have time today. However, here are new photos of today’s activities courtesy of Piper:

Sanding the new drywall in the laundry room so we can move the hot water heater.
Sanding the new drywall in the laundry room so we can move the hot water heater later in the day.
Kelly power saw's through steel pipe on the hot water heater while Pete sprays on a ton of DW-40.
Kelly power saw's through steel pipe as Pete sprays the whole mess with a can of DW-40. The pipe still ends up smoking as the saw bites through it.
Molly D. shows us how to prime a ceiling with quiet dignity.
Molly D. shows us how to prime a ceiling with grace, class, and quiet dignity.
Piper poses with the new table created to lift the hot water heater up off the floor to keep the new floor clean and add some storage space.
Piper poses with the new table created to lift the hot water heater up off the floor to keep the new floor clean and add some storage space.
A group of us prepare to do some final mudding in the kitchen.
A group of us prepare to do some final mudding in the kitchen, laundry room, and beyond.Some irresponsible adult decided it would be a good idea to give Pete a circular saw. Luckily, we all survived.
Mission: Texas – Day 4, Part 1
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6 thoughts on “Mission: Texas – Day 4, Part 1

  • 12.31. 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Sounds like you are all working very hard and getting a lot accomplished. That’s great! I hope “y’all” aren’t too tired to ring in the New Year at the Street Dance. Have fun!! Oh, and Happy New Year!!

  • 12.31. 2008 at 10:13 pm

    WOW! What a full day you had!
    I hope you did get to rest before heading out to the street dance.
    Burgers on the grill – yum. One of Kels’ favorites. Sounds like quite a treat this time of year.
    Happy New Year to you all! Us older folks will not be up to see 2009 arrive so we celebrated at 10PM EST.
    We are thinking about you and all of the good work you are doing and are so proud of you and your extraordinary efforts. May tomorrow be a GREAT day for y’all!

  • 01.01. 2009 at 1:15 am

    One hour into 2009 and our thoughts are on Piper and Team Excel down in the Lone Star State. We hope you all had fun tonight. I’m sure a Southern Street dance on New Years Eve won’t be an experience any of you will have again soon. Nothin’ like kickin’ up your heels with thousands of good ol’ boys and girls.

    Thinking on it, the work that Team Excel is doing, including how you are touching each of the people you’re encountering, is a great way to be starting out a new year. Your efforts should stand as an example to the rest of us how we should address our attitudes for this coming year. And for this, we also thank you!

    Love to you all!

  • 01.01. 2009 at 10:24 am

    Happy New Year to all! What a blessing you all are to Texas and the people you are helping. Thanks to Mama Stone for keeping the group fed, thanks to Nate for allowing us to discover your exceptional and entertaining writing, and thanks to God for keeping you all safe from power tools. Carry on and safe travels!

  • 01.01. 2009 at 3:25 pm

    i love reading about the updates. you guys are so busy and are getting so much done. it’s amzaing all of the things you are doing to fix up the two houses. you should be very proud of your work – it means a lot to the people who own the houses. i am anxious to hear about what else you are seeing around that area. is the condition of these two homes typical of what you see of other houses in area?

    happy new year, and have a safe trip home. anxious to hear all about it and see your pics.
    Amy Grimm

  • 01.01. 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Hello to all of you! Just have to share how much we love these updates – Nate, you are a great writer! It sounds like so much fun and incredibly productive – it is amazing how much a pretty small group can accomplish. We, too, have been thinking about the next trip and I know there is a parent or two in our home who would love to be on the next trip. Mike is actually kicking himself for not going this time (if he is able to get Molly’s permission he could also bring his guitar). Anyway, we can’t wait to hear some details about New Years in Galveston. Keep up the great work and we are so proud of all of you! We love you Molly and don’t worry we are keeping Anna and her friends out of your room!


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