Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nicaragua: July 30th

"Today was a better day. After I sent last night's e-mail, I began thinking about the last day of VBS (which will be tomorrow (Thursday, or today for those you reading this "hot off the press"), and how it would feel. I expect tearful goodbyes. I was thankful that Tuesday was not our last day. It would be awful to leave on that sour note (that my heart was feeling). Then I also remembered we are not promised tomorrow.  So I began today thinking that if something happened and THIS were our last day, how would my attitude be different?

The team did a really great job of helping keep the kids under control today. It didn't seem as chaotic as yesterday. Though I admit there are a few naughty kids (no way!) and I might have wanted to *swat* a couple (shame). ;) Our translator, Hayley, is a natural teacher (like Mitch) and she uses her gifts sooooo well. Today she had the children quite obedient. We also worked on getting the children to clean up garbage. It can be so frustrating to see them just throw things on the ground. On the other hand there are no garbage cans to be found on a regular basis and most kids don't have pockets either.

Today we gave an alter call and quite a few kids raised their hands to receive repentance and the grace of Christ. The presentation was so good!

The poverty is overwhelming. It is hard enough for me to remember that our visit is temporary, and for Fridat and every day following, the children will go on living in it. :(. I wonder how our teens see this. Our discomfort is so temporary while they must live with it as a constant companion. How can we encourage them?

Tonight we did not have a service at church. We went to a store similar to Sam's Club and had supper (pizza for me!!). There's more to that story but I am running out of time of course.

Tomorrow (Thursday/today) is the last day of VBS and will be our longest, hardest day. Pray hard.

Add me and several others to the list of people with swollen feet/ankles. That is a surprise for me. A rare event. One kid has a scratch in his throat (possibly from swallowing a small bone). His throat is very sore. Heat rashes and a few sunburns to go around...all minor.

We have a few important decisions to make about how to spread around our resources so please be praying for wisdom and good judgement."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nicaragua: July 29th

"Today was tough.  I am short tempered and snappy.  I'm having a hard time thinking of positive things to write. Anna's feet/ankles started to swell.  She and Mitch got to go shopping for food with Carol so they had a little relief from the heat.  Micah's (heat) rash is worse.  The wifi isn't working so I'm typing on the slow Kindle again.  It's after 10 p.m.. I just ate and still need a shower, so this is it for now.  Praying I get my tank refilled overnight."

Amen! I say.

From Steph's last message, I knew they had a long, hard day ahead of them.  Using the WeatherBug app, I've been watching the weather in Managua.  I felt for them as I watched the "real feel" crawl to 99* and up.  I know I couldn't do it without whining and complaining.

They are over the halfway point now.  As far as I know, they have VBS today and tomorrow and that's it.  Not sure what's in store for them on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday - in the past, they've done a day or two of "debriefing" and some sight-seeing, touristy stuff.

Their flight leaves early Monday morning.  And, of course, they'll have to be there all the earlier just to do all the everything you have to do to fly nowdays.  That will be a long day too, just a different kind of long - arriving in Minneapolis after 7 p.m. and having to get up to St. Cloud...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nicaragua: July 28th

"Today we had VBS two times because the kids have school. Some go in the a.m. and some go in the p.m.. At lunch time it started raining and rained a lot. The kids were very flexible. It's amazing to see how the Nicaraguans deal with their living situations. We all got muddy but some much more than others. I wish I could have captured it fully on camera. It's almost too big to take in.
We saw some men building a door by hand. Yesterday he was planing the wood with a hand planer. Today he had stained it and was sanding it. It was so smooth. 

The church did not have a service tonight so we had a small break. We got back to the compound by 5 p.m.instead of 8. The rain brought cooler temperatures and some of us are actually chilly. I checked the weather and was surprised to see the temp was 79F. Most kids guessed that it was cooler than that. We are adjusting. :)
We are staying safe and healthy for the most part. Just scrapes (Andrew Lindsey especially...I think he's going for a record) and a little sunburn (a couple of the boys). One girl was throwing up last night. :( But thankfully she got some rest and slept in this morning and was able to join us by lunch and even eat some.
I still can hardly believe that I'm here. It is an amazing experience. I love speaking Spanish and learn new words constantly.

Tomorrow will be a long day. We will have service in the evening so we will be in the village from 8:30 a.m. until after 7 p.m.. We will be hot and sweaty and tired with not much opportunity to get very clean. There are not enough seats in the church so it is often full with people standing inside and out (praise the Lord for a full church!!).
Please pray that God would soften the hearts of the people that we meet and that they would hear and receive the Gospel."

I'm also praying for Micah, as the heat is affecting him.  And she updated that her concerns for herself are improving but still in need of improvement.

Josh Johnson posted on Facebook:

It's been a busy couple of days but the Lord has been so gracious to us as we seek to serve the people of Santa Elena.
We began our VBS Sunday and had almost 100 kids attend. The day was filled with singing, Bible stories, memorizing verses, tug-of-war, and a clear Gospel presentation. The team is working very well together and has connected with so many new children and families.
Our team has been very involved in the nightly church services. We continue to lead worship, share testimonies, and have even had some students preach. It has been a delight watching the teens do the work of ministry.
Along with the VBS and church services we are working with members of the church and community in construction. We are painting beams for the roof and mixing cement to finish off the walls.
We are adjusting to the heat and very much welcome the afternoon rain showers each day. The days have been long, and the work challenging, but God continues to strengthen us!
We ask for continued prayer for team unity, our sister church, and prayer for the people of Santa Elena. There is a lot of spiritual darkness and apathy in the village. The darkness coupled with extreme poverty makes for a lot of heart-breaking stories. Pray with us that the light of Jesus would break through the darkness and fill families with joy, love, and hope. Pray that many would submit to our Sovereign King, delight in our Merciful Savior, and embrace our Gentle Shepherd!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Nicaragua: July 27th

Steph's overnight e-mail update:

"I can't believe another day is done. We are home late again.  Tomorrow evening we will not have church so maybe we will eat supper at a normal time. 

Today was the 1st day of VBS. There were a lot of kids!  It was chaotic. The story time went so well. The Calvary kids acted out the story. They did a phenomenal job with limited props. It was so cute. I'm impressed with their resourcefulness and flexibility. Tonight during the service one teen (Darris) brought the message. 

Eden seemed to feel better today and warmed up slowly. Anna is still doing well but today was really hot. She has a rash on her ankles so she took Benadryl.  Micah has bad heat rash.  Mitch is warming up and finding his place.  He has been a constant encourager to me.  Anna says she can't believe how loving the kids are. 

(I omitted the details here, but Steph has not been feeling great - not quite been herself.  She let me know that the struggle continues.  I'm praying for her!)

Felt a little homesick tonight during service. Love the team so much though. Thanks for everything."

That's it for now.  :)

Okay, now she sent more...

"Important detail I forgot to mention:  Some kids have school in the a.m. this week and some in the p.m.  So we will do VBS 2 times each day.  I expect it will be even more exhausting.  We hope to teach the church
that they can do this themselves.  Independence is our goal."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Nicaragua: July 26th

Steph's overnight e-mail update:

"Today we worked on preparing for VBS. I think it starts tomorrow and goes thru Thursday. We went to the village at noon. The ladies cooked us a delicious lunch with gallo pinto (more about gallo pinto here), and shredded meat, and a tortilla. It was kind of sweet, not spicy at all. Delicious, of course.

The kids worked on painting the beams for the roof while I went to market with Carol (she's with them, from Repairers of Broken Walls, the mission/sending agency). In the evening we went to the small groups in the church. Me, Mitch, Eden, and one other kid were in a group with no translator. Challenging. Just now showered and ate supper. Tired."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Nicaragua: July 25th

Steph's end-of-the-day e-mail home:

"Today was amazing! My heart is full. We got out to the village around 3 p.m.  It was fun to meet the kids and speak Spanish. I met a mom of 7 and held her precious 3-month-old baby. They loved seeing pictures of my kids and all the snow. Our teens are doing a fantastic job of being flexible and I haven t heard complaints. Anna loves it here. Eden is tired. So am I. Super exhausted. Thought I would pass out during church. Drinking lots and lots of water."

The Anna who Steph mentions is MY 17-year-old daughter.  (Trivia for those of you who don't know:  Anna is one day younger than Micah.  Steph and I were in the same hospital at the same time having our babies - we just didn't know each other yet.)

Josh Johnson, our church's Youth Minister (who is also leading this trip), posted this picture and message on Facebook late last night/early this morning:  

We arrived late Thursday night after a long day of travel. God was gracious in bringing us to Managua safely and getting us into our hotel to get some much needed sleep before the week of ministry began.
Early this morning we checked out of the hotel and headed to the CNPEN compound. After settling in we headed to the village of Santa Elena to visit our sister church. It was great to connect with the families again and build new friendships. After playing with the children and a prayer walk we attended the evening worship service. We helped lead some Spanish worship, shared two student testimonies, and brought encouragement from the Word.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support. God has been at work already. We covet your prayers for energy and as we start construction tomorrow, do street evangelism, attend church small groups, and try to adjust to the very hot and humid conditions.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Arrived Safely

Hi, Devona here.  I'm one of Steph's friends and the mother of one of the teens on the Nicaragua trip.  She asked me to "contribute" to her blog while they're gone.  Although she told me I could just copy and paste her messages (e-mails) to me, I'll likely add my two-cents' worth...

So...  The team met at church close to 8 a.m.  Each person had a "checked bag" (up to 50 pounds), a "carry-on" (size-restricted as well), and a "personal item" like a (big) purse, backpack, messenger bag, etc.  Josh, our Youth Minister and the team's leader as well, had it pretty organized:  each checked bag was weighed (several times), labeled with a two-colored duct tape "flag", numbered 1 - 24, lined up, then loaded.

Pastor Matthew shared some words and prayed with us.

It took three big vans and a trailer to get everyone down to the airport.  They pulled out around 9 a.m.

I followed them from at home on my computer using the website  (For awhile I also listened in on the Houston airport tower by way of another website - pretty cool.)  Their flight from Minneapolis to Houston was slightly delayed because the plane was delayed getting into Minneapolis from Houston.  Their layover in Houston got even longer as there was an even longer delay.  

I think they were scheduled to leave around 6:30 p.m. but got pushed back to close to 9:30.  Although I wanted to continue monitoring their progress, I went to bed before they took off (I deliver newspapers, so I get up at 3 a.m.).  My husband checked on them occasionally until he went to bed around midnight (our time - that would be 11:00 Nicaragua time) - he said that they were back over land but weren't there yet.

This morning (at 3 a.m., mind you) I woke up to an e-mail from Steph:  

"I think it is like 2am MN time but we made it safely. have to stay in hotel because of late arrival. ready for sleep!" 

and a Facebook post by Josh:  

"After a lot of waiting we finally have arrived in Managua and are checked into a hotel to get some much needed sleep! Thank you for your prayers!"

So that's the latest I know.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

¡Vaya con Dios!

Bags are packed.
Months of preparation have culminated.
We are ready to take flight.
There is so much more I would tell you, but I really instead should go to bed.
Please be praying for our team every single day.
Pray for safety.
Pray for unity among the team.
Pray for wisdom.
Pray for boldness.
Pray for compassion.
Pray for cultural and language barriers to be shattered.
Pray for hearts of Nicaraguans to be tender.
Pray for us.

And pray for our amazing, wonderful family at home who is sacrificing much in order for mommy and daddy to be gone for 12 days.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Micah is 17!!

I almost forgot!  Good thing I was looking through pictures and remembered...Micah is 17!  We celebrated his birthday last Friday.  It was a hot day, and I didn't have the air conditioner on in the house.  Whoo...I feel sorry for the wonderful friends who came over and helped Micah sweat it out.  :)

 Ok, where to start?  At 17, Micah...
~has his driver's license and drives a 1994 Toyota Camry (older than he is!)
~is going into 11th grade, but is also enrolled at St. Cloud Technical College (PSEO)
~lives for hanging out with friends
~loves to play frisbee golf, raquetball, ultimate frisbee, just about anything he can get a group of friends together to do

 ~is a fairly picky eater, but has learned to be polite and reports of all kinds of things he eats at friends' houses that he won't eat at home
~loves pizza, hamburgers (no ketchup!!!), brats, and just about anything sweet
~requested Totinos Party Pizzas for his birthday meal with other "snack/junk food"
~said it didn't matter what kind of cake I made, but in the end said that it was "pretty good"
(it was a vanilla "funfetti" ice-cream cake)

~only let his momma hug him because it was his birthday.  Shame! 

Things I love about Micah:
He's able to do quite a bit around the house (when he's home).
He is able to have mature conversations and express mature thoughts, especially about things from the Bible.
He is developing a solid theological base and knowledge of the Gospel.
He is bold to share his faith and invite people to church.
He loves to read both fiction and non-fiction.
He takes our words to heart (even if it seems like he's not listening).

Happy Birthday, Micah-man!  I love you to the moon...and back.

About the cake:
[I divided the cake batter between two pans to make two thinner layers.  Later I used one of the clean pans and lined it with plastic wrap.  In this pan I placed a layer of softened vanilla ice cream, which I put back in the freezer to harden.  After it was frozen well enough I easily removed it from the pan by pulling up the plastic wrap.  I layered it between the two cake layers.  I put it back in the freezer to get cool again.  I frosted it, cooled it, then decorated it, and kept it in the freezer until we were ready to serve it.  It wasn't super genius, but for some reason it was just delicious this way.]

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Nicaragua Update

It's getting closer to time to travel!!  We leave for Nicaragua 3 weeks from today.  I'm pretty excited.

All four of us have visited the doctor for immunizations and medications.  I still need to go back for my hepatitis shot, but first the doctor is testing my immunity to see if I need both A and B.

We are meeting with the team on a weekly basis.  During these meetings we have a time of Bible study, with particular focus on overcoming cultural differences.  We have been working out the particulars of Vacation Bible School--crafts, games, memory verses, etc.--who is doing what.  Mitch and Eden are working on a team doing crafts.  They will plan what crafts they are doing each day.  We will purchase some supplies and carry them with us.  Other things we will purchase in country.  Micah and I are on a team teaching memory verses.  I was really surprised to learn that Micah had signed up for (or been assigned) this team.  Out of the four of us, he speaks the least Spanish.  In fact, he is not exactly a confident speaker at all.  God doesn't make mistakes, and this just might be the perfect way for Micah to learn some Spanish.  One thing is for sure--those who have gone before told us that we will learn the verses in Spanish as well or better than we know them in English.  I like memory work, and I love Spanish.  I am looking forward to being on this team!  When Mom (Janet) came to visit a couple weeks ago, she brought me some supplies and some great ideas for ministry in the country.  I have my suitcase already stuffed, and I know I'm eventually going to have to make some decisions about what I cannot take with me.  ::grin::  With each week's meetings, I feel like I have more clarity and gain realistic expectations for the trip, and that is helping as I plan.

I have been practicing Spanish every day.  I find it easier to use an app on my phone called Duolingo rather than to make it to the computer to use Rosetta Stone.  Hmmm.  I have put a little effort into learning the Spanish version of Sovereign Grace's song All I Have Is Christ, called Mi Vida Es Cristo.  It is feasible that we could teach this song to the church in Nicaragua.  It is a song we sing regularly in our church, so I think it is neat that we could share the song even though in different languages.

Fundraising is going really well.  The plane tickets cost more than we anticipated, so I upped our thermometer to reflect that.  The amount is very similar to what we wrote in our support letter, but is higher than the $6,000 I originally had on here.  Still, you can see that we are very close to our goal!  $560 to go.

In our support letter Nicaragua was only a portion of our summer missions.  Mitch, Micah, and Eden also participated in Operation St. Cloud.  That is our local missions work, and it took place in June.  I'm waiting for Eden to write a blog post about her experience there, but it may be a day or two before she gets it done since she is feeling sick now.  I know that Micah and Eden both found it a worthwhile and amazing experience.  Mitch didn't put in many hours there, but he was present nearly every day shuttling kids back and forth to the sports camp location.  We praise God for the many things that went well during that week!

Final Update

More pictures...

 Tirzah has a wiggly tooth!  She lost it a couple weeks later...I guess I need to get that "after" picture.  The funny thing was, she actually "lost" it.  She noticed that it wasn't in her mouth any more.  No blood, nothing.  So I think she swallowed it.  :)

 While Micah and Eden were gone at Operation St. Cloud a couple weeks ago, the younger boys really had to step up and fill in as helpers.  Malachi helped me make lunch one day.  :)  Hopefully Eden will get a blog post written about their week at OSC, and I will link it up!

We have some friends who do BMX racing.  My experience with BMX is limited to a video game I used to own for the original Nintendo Game Boy.  Wow, I just dated myself!  Our friends invited Zeke and Josh to come use their bikes and race at the "olympics" night...a free night at the park.  They had so much fun.  I loved watching them.  In fact, I found myself wishing I could take a turn around the track.  Whee!!  So much more fun than a video game!

 Josh used a magnifying glass to burn his name in a piece of wood.  Nice!

 Eden was practicing with my zoom lens and took some pictures of birds.  This one was pretty awesome--you can see the worm in the bird's mouth.

 Last night Malachi got to go have a turn on the track.  He didn't actually race against anyone since it was a "practice" night.  He got many turns around the track, though, and loved it.  He was so excited.

Since we have had so much rain lately, the drainage ponds are much bigger than they should be.  The boys have had fun playing and exploring.  One day they brought home a bucket full of tadpoles.  I thought it would take weeks for them to transform into frogs.  It turns out it only took a few days.  Too keep the tadpoles alive, Zeke switched the water several times a day.

Within a matter of days the frogs grew back legs, then front legs.  One morning we noticed them climbing on the rocks, then within hours their tails were pretty much gone and they were climbing up the walls of the enclosure.  It was crazy how fast it went! 

Sometimes the best learning is not done in textbooks or at prescribed intervals.

One thing I can't find is pictures of the garden.  I'm really puzzled, because I know I took some.  Hmmm.  Oh well, I will get some today!  I planted a couple varieties of tomatoes, sunflowers, cucumbers, peppers, okra, corn, and radishes.  I did find a picture of my first harvest of radishes.  :)  Everything is doing really well, except my tomatoes appear to have a blight (I suspect septoria leaf spot).  I told Mitch that I will not plant tomatoes in this bed again next year.  I know we have had this problem for a couple years now.  So I will have to treat the ground if I want to plant there again.  We want to take this box apart and build narrower boxes anyway, so now I have motivation (I just need new dirt for the tomatoes!).

Oh, I suppose I am going to write at least one more blog post, so this one is not the "final" final post.  In the meantime, I am not alone in being sick.  Caleb has been nursing an earache all week long, taking frequent naps and running a low-grade fever.  The doctor checked him out and says it's swimmer's ear.  He now has some drops but he's still in pain and relying on a steady dose of ibuprofen.  Eden got up this morning and proceeded to fall asleep on the couch.  She, too, is running a low-grade fever.  It looks like we may have to make new plans for the 4th of July if these kids don't perk up soon!

Mercy is 15 months old!

Sweet little Mercy.  June was a difficult month for her!  We weaned (and she was not happy about it).  The weather got hot, and brought back her eczema in full fury.  Overall, she has not been a happy toddler, but we still get some smiles and fun out of her.

 Scratching is a constant thing for her.  She scratches her elbows, her neck, her ears, behind her knees.  She has eczema everywhere.  :(

 We have been dog-sitting for a friend of ours a couple days a week, and Mercy adores the dog.  She was enjoying a cupcake, then enjoyed having Moose lick her fingers clean.

 Mercy loves playing with her baby dolls.  One day I found her in the middle of the kitchen floor with several bibs lying all around.  She was trying to get them on her baby.  :)

 While we worked on weaning, we took many, many walks in the stroller as a diversion.  It is now her favorite way to fall asleep.  She does well sleeping at night.  She typically sleeps with Eden, and I keep a baby monitor so I can help Eden out if necessary.  If she wakes, she usually quiets down again within a few minutes.  This is a huge accomplishment since just a month ago she was waking every 2 hours and required nursing to go back to sleep.  She is still not good at self-soothing, but she doesn't have many options since we are not nursing.  The positive side to weaning is that I now feel confident about leaving her at the end of July to go to Nicaragua.  Oh, and let's not forget how much more sane I feel now that I'm getting sleep on a regular basis!

 She is covered head to toe in bumps and eczema.  She has had a little impetigo in some spots.  We had to do 10 days of prednisolone and an antibiotic to get it under control.  We are now using a topical steroid, benadryl as needed, and zyrtec daily.  

 I am trying to make some new cloth diapers.  I think I started them back in May...and I'm still trying.  Mercy is a big "help."

 Eden was putting her down for a nap on Sunday when she noticed that Mercy had some hives around her eye.  She brought her to me and I quickly gave her some benadryl.  It was so scary!  She was not having difficulty breathing, so I just kept an eye on her.  When she woke up later the hives were gone but her eye was still swollen.  I never saw a bug bite, but I suspect that might have been what it was.  With all the eczema and spots all over her body all the time, it's just so hard to tell.  Poor baby.  :(

Overall, I think I feel so sad for Mercy that it's been a hard month.  She wants her momma all the time, and not many other people can console her.  On the positive side, Mercy has become a really good eater.  I am so relieved about that!  She tries lots of new foods, and seems to be eating well.  She has a high motility like Obi did (ie: she poops a LOT, and the food obviously moves through her faster than it should), but I expect that will slow down over the next year as her body matures.  If she had a favorite food I think it would be chicken.  She also loves yogurt, ice cream, cereal, hot dish, veggies, and more.  I am thrilled that she has figured out that food will satisfy her hunger.  She saw the doctor last week and besides the eczema, there are no problems.  She is my smallest baby at 15 months, weighing in at 19 lbs 3 oz, but she is gaining!

Mercy is also very active.  She wants to be in on the action, wherever that is.  She hates it when the big kids are having screen time.  She wants to be following them around, doing whatever they are doing.  She wants to go where they go, and doesn't want to be left out.  She can climb on anything, and she climbs on everything!  We have to watch her closely--in fact, I never imagined I would spend so much of my summer just following her around.  ::grin::  I love it.

Big Summer Project

We decided to do some pretty big things with our house this year.  Mitch's dream is to own a wood working shop.  We have some nice tools that my dad gave to us a few years ago, and we have never really had the space to be serious about anything.  We considered moving, but it isn't financially feasible at the moment.  So we began to look at what we could do to our own home to make the dream a reality.  I even (crazily, but seriously) suggested he turn our bedroom and office space into a shop.  My dad's shop was in the basement of my grandmother's house, so why not??  ::grin::  We have a small garage (big enough for two cars), but it has ALWAYS been full of junk, with no room to move.  Add to that the major problem that our roof over the garage leaks.  Badly.  Staying in this house means that we MUST fix the roof--not a cheap thing to do.  As we explore financing options (we have applied for some special loans through MN HUD/HRA programs), Mitch has already begun working on building storage space in the garage.  We started by moving our chest freezer and extra fridge out of the garage and into the house.  That took some shifting in my thinking through the purpose of rooms in our house, and their present locations seem a little unconventional, but I realize more and more every day that there is not much conventional about our family anyway.

 Sewing machine moved out of the school room, chest freezer moved in.

Fridge moved into my office along with the sewing stuff.  Actually, this is not a bad set-up, except that the fridge is so far from the kitchen I'm wondering how much we actually need it.

Next came purchasing and planning.  Mitch researched and planned out a cabinet and shelving system to maximize his space.  He spent a lot of time on this (the boy knows how to USE pinterest!!!) so that he wouldn't be redoing it all later.

Mitch shopped a lot at the Habitat for Humanity's thrift store called the ReStore.  He has a "friend" there who often gives him deep discounts.  He pulled out some amazing cabinets, boards, cabinet tops, etc, for crazy good deals.  He was also blessed to receive some good deals shopping Menards' bargain section. I have searched everywhere for a "before" pic and can't find one.  This can give you an idea--you could barely walk around stuff in the garage:
That cabinet front and center is one of Mitch's awesome finds--it has ball bearings in the drawers.  One drawer needed some screws and some minor adjustments.  By design, each drawer can hold quite a lot of weight.  He paid $5 for the cabinet.  I got that jack that Tirzah is holding on to at our church garage sale for $35...another awesome deal.

He also has to work around the leak in the garage until we can get that fixed.  Our weather has been wetter than normal this spring/early summer, which means we have had water in the garage often.  So we work around it.  He started on the back wall, away from the leak.

Josh, Malachi, and Zeke all learned how to use this saw.  Micah, Caleb, and Eden have also spent their fair share of time out in the garage.  :)



He is making great progress in spite of the difficulties!  It is amazing to look in the garage and see the difference.

 Mitch is going to build cabinet doors to cover these new shelves.  The doors will have storage in them in useful places.  He can't wait to get it all organized!

 Mitch bought this cabinet at an auction a few years ago for $2.  He found the countertop at ReStore.  He had it on a cart full of stuff, and the lady said, "How about $5 for the whole cart?"  He cut it to size and used the leftover to make the backsplash.  Amazing.

Soon Mitch will work on wiring new outlets in the garage to power all his tools.  He can't wait to bring over the big table saw!  We have some things in storage, and he plans to spend some time reorganizing that as well.  We will be able to switch some things out, and that will be really nice!

Once the roof leak is fixed, he will build another wall of cabinets above a workbench.  Then he will remove the plywood that is covering the outside wall of the garage so he can insulate behind it.  We will pull all our things out of storage in the attic above the garage (good thing I already purged the clothes by nearly half!), and insulate that area as well.  The tricky part for me will be finding places to store that stuff, but Mitch assures me he has it covered.  Finally, we will purchase an inuslated garage door (already have a great source--Alternative Garage Door Repair) and choose a heating method, so Mitch can work (play?) in the garage all winter.