Again, I have not posted recently, due to wifi connections being too weak at the State Park in Louisiana, the campground in Mississippi, the gulf coast of Texas, and now Beaumont Texas. It is frustrating!  I have been forewarned that Big Sur, my summer destination, has no cell service and the internet is iffy.  My patience will be tried.

(This blog was written a few weeks ago)  In Covington, we were parked at the Fontaine Bleau State Park in Mandeville. What a gorgeous place!  There were six new homes going up in Covington, and though we were temporarily brought to a halt by tornadic activity, we were soon able to return to our labor of love.  We were so blessed to work side by side with several of the home owners to be.  The local high school also sent a team of 30 students over to help one day.  Such enthusiasm!

Caulking and painting for another two weeks is making me quite the expert! Rolling the ceilings was a little tough on the old neck muscles, but someone’s got to do it!  Latoya, the young homeowner was eager to learn how to paint, as her 11 year old son wants one wall in his room to be black.  Her concern was how to cover the black when he leaves or outgrows it.  She was calling me her trainer and mentor.  My prayer is that this home makes a difference in her life and that of her children.

The next label placed on me by my Care-a-Vanner teammates was “Quality Control,” or “The Monitor.” Some may feel it excessive to use a 3/8” artist brush to touch up window frames and doors, but the final result was very satisfying.  Some even asked to borrow my tiny brushes.  So there!

Downtime at the park usually meant early evenings at Lake Pontchartrain’s edge absorbing the beautiful sunsets. Good friends, a cool beverage, a tasty snack, a happy Mojo, and life is good!

Leland Mississippi:  The threat of another major storm had those of us who arrived early scrambling to help out at the Leland build last Tuesday. Our goal was to get the house wrapped and prepared for window and door installation so it can be secured before the electrical goes in.  The most amazing aspect on the Leland build is that it is 100% volunteer – no paid staff, no Habitat office – just dedicated volunteers running a very successful program.  They build one house a year, and many of the same Care-a-Vanners return year after year from all over the country to experience the outpouring of love by the local community.  Even though the build is not official until next Monday, last evening we were invited to the Baptist Church for a delicious red beans and rice dinner.  Next week, several restaurants, churches, and individuals will be providing one and sometimes two meals a day for us, just to say thanks.  Habitat is all about BIG hearts…….and probably big stomachs after this build is over!

By the way, Leland is the birthplace of Jim Hemson and Kermit the Frog!

One very special treat was being given a tour of the US Dept of Ag research facility in Leland, where the volunteer coordinators of the Habitat program work, studying the DNA on cotton, corn, and other products.  Preventing diseases and cross contamination is key.  Leland is an agricultural community with many PhDs working at the research facility.  watching a working cotton gin, still quite similar to Whitney;s invention was fascinating.

Moments of grace:  today and everyday I am so grateful for big generous hearts, for the incredible people who make Habitat what it is, and for the families, both young and old, who shed tears of joy just looking at their new homes filled with hope, symbolizing a life of safety and peace.

Next step: 3/21-4/7:  Mustang Island, Texas for some birding, seeing my brother and his wife, and some R&R.