We were involved in the SOWER project for December at Way of the Cross in Harlingen, Texas. We all kept busy in the first part of the month with repairs at the Training Center and on a recently purchased ministry motorhome. Later in the month there will be opportunities to help with the Big Feed in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Also for Juanita and me, we will be preparing to leave for Nicaragua in early January and preparing our fifth wheel for storage for the month and to be ready to head to our February SOWER project when we return from Central America.
SOWERS at Way of the Cross
There were five SOWER couples on the December project at the Way of The Cross and a SOWER couple "On Assignment". Some we have worked with before and some are new friends.
Training Center & Director's House Repairs
Most everybody stayed busy on the director's house with some effort diverted to the training center and the motorhome.
The original "white" rubber (EPDM) roof had weathered in its sixteen years to a chalky black. The only place you could tell it was originally a white roof was when the areas under the fixtures were exposed.
The black came off easily onto you anywhere you touched it. Working on the roof to remove the fixtures left one looking like he had crawled through a sooty stove pipe. During breaks one could sit if one had a garbage bag to sit on. At the end of the day it was necessary to undress into a garbage bag.
The black had run down the sides of the motorhome where it perversely and tenaciously resisted all initial attempts to remove the black streaks. It scoffed at "Black Streak Remover" that normally cleans RVs fairly well.
The roofing had split at the seams of the wood unlayment and had thinned enough to make it hard to pull off the roof without tearing. As one pulled a little wave of black sooty particles formed and they broke through and got onto the roof anywhere the material seperated as you pulled. Once the old roof was off I swept the luan underlay and put the old material into the dumpster and went for a shower and a change of clothes before startng the next step.
December 8th, several SOWER couples and a couple from the WOTC ministery attended a concert of selections from Handel's Messiah at the University of Texas campus in Brownsville. The group did a fine job. Hours of driving in the old blue truck with a cassete tape of the Messiah playing made the words of the songs a lot more distinguisable to us than if it had been our first concert, but the first timers survived.
Hidalgo Festival of Lights
On December 13th all but one (flu-bound) SOWER couple from the WOTC project made our way to Hidalgo to meet up with a SOWER couple from the Cavalry Commission SOWER project.
Each Saturday in the late afternoon/ early evening people bring their tricked out cars to the parking lot at one of the local Dairy Queen. Some are incredible. Some are works in progress with more emphasis on powertrain than cosmetics. A few examples from this winter are shown above. There might even be a few from other parking lots.
We bought and planted some tomato plants on October 5. The one in the bucket of Magic Grow dirt and placed under the run-off from the fifth wheel air conditioner has done the best. We ate the first tomato on December 15th. Delicious!
The WOTC training center garden I spent a few hours helping Byron plant and set-up a sprinkler system for in mid October is also doing well.
The following is the text of the letter we e-mailed to about half of the people on our mailing list. Only half because of some finger problems transferring the addresses.
Merry Christmas from Paul & Juanita Alton
Today finds us alive and well in Harlingen, Texas. We trust that you are alive and well and celebrating our Savior's birth.
This past year has been busy for us (as usual). Here's an overview below. Click on the links for more information:
After spending Christmas at home in Meadow Lake with family we flew to Nicaragua on January 3rd. While there we helped out the Way of the Cross with their Medfest near Granada. on Lake Nicaragua, did some touring, then helped Food for the Hungry with some renovations in Somotillo near the Honduran border. Then some more touring and, finally. language lessons. Nobody ever accused us of doing things in the correct order.
We returned to Canada in March and spent some time in Meadow Lake before heading south, in April, to Regina for the annual shutdown at the Co-op refinery. Juanita volunteered with the MCC thrift mission there.
The shutdown ran on into start-up and running maintenance in May and we stayed in Regina except for a week in June for completing the electrical work on the shop/studio which has morphed into a house.
In July and part of August Paul took off five weeks from work in Regina and we worked like mad on said house before returning for five more weeks of work. Then in September we headed south to Texas where we have been working at Way of the Cross as SOWERS ever since.
October and November we were alone as SOWERS here, but the past month we have worked with four other couples and a SOWER couple "on assignment" here.
Today we had a brief Christmas experience using MS Messenger with daughters Deborah and Rebekah and their families (Ernie, Sonja, Sasha and Kohen; Nick & Ezekial) celebrating Christmas in Nick and Rebekah's new home in Edmonton. Not quite the same togetherness as last year. Next year we plan to be in Canada for Christmas. Family makes up for the trade of shorts for snow. Today we ventured out into the warmth and headed up valley for a buffet and a visit with a friend.
For next year? One never knows. Plans change. We had planned for Juanita to go to Canada in January, but events in October changed those plans. Currently our plans include January in Nicaragua for language school and helping with Medfest again. In February we plan to work at a SOWER project at Victory camp in Alvin, Texas. Then we we plan to head north for the Spring and hopefully work again in Regina. This year's shutdown is supposed to be only three or four weeks and we may stay around Meadow Lake all summer and Fall until after Christmas before heading south to Central America for a few months. Or, who knows? Maybe we'll try a bicycle tour of Iceland in the summer. Or maybe not.
Life goes on without Grandma and Grandpa. Daughter Deborah and her family (Ernie, Sonja, Sasha & Kohen) travelled to Edmonton to celebrate Christmas with daughter Rebekah's family (Nick & Ezekial) in their new home. Here are some pictures from the occasion.
New Year's Letter
New Year's Eve I figured out the problem with the list and updated it and sent out the following:
Happy New Year from Paul & Juanita Alton
We trust you had a good Christmas break and a good year and wish you all the best in 2013.
This comes as the second e-mail from us in less than a week for about half the mailing list. The other half didn't receive our Christmas greetings and update letter so it is repeated below. Sorry for any inconvenience.
The only new stuff for us since Christmas was the Big Feed. Three SOWER couples went across to Matamoros with Way of the Cross and a bunch of volunteers from Oklahoma and Texas to paint seven houses that were donated through the WOTC. They also cooked chicken and beans enough to feed 5,000 people. Juanita stayed on this side of the border and helped prepare meals for the work teams. Paul helped very little with this by running a few errands for supplies, but mostly puttered around getting the rig ready to be stored and then ready to head to our next SOWER project near Houston. That is scheduled for February. Most of January will be occupied in Nicaragua. We leave Thursday. Pray for us and the WOTC team members that will follow there for Medfest, a medical outreach.
Tonight we will join the WOTC in their annual chili cook-off and fireworks and probably be in bed a few hours before midnight. (Please don't call at midnight. Thanks :0) )
Paul & Juanita
Last Year we were in Canada during the Big Feed and this year we lurked on the USA side of the border, but Leonard Cook went both times. His pictures are below. In 2012 seven pre-fab houses were purchased for needy families and painted by SOWER couples and WOTC volunteers. At $1,000 for 12 foot by 20 foot buildings with a door and two windows I don't know how they do it. Of course they don't have quite the snow load or insulation issues we deal with in Canada.