Final Workday

What a week.  Over the course of four days, we have many accomplishments.  Here is a list for now, with pictures to follow (when we have better internet!).

Reinforced the existing joists and installed a new tin roof

Stripped wallpaper, painted, and installed new blinds in Rochelle’s son’s room

Installed and painted fascia board and soffit around the addition

Textured ceiling & drywall repair in the addition

Kitchen floor removed (several layers), new floorboards and linoleum installed

Installed new sink and countertop

Upper and lower cabinets installed

New light fixture installed above sink in the kitchen

Cleaned stove & refrigerator

Washed windows

Cleaned lower section of exterior mobile home

Installed kitchen valances/curtains and blinds

Installed new wall paneling in the kitchen

Swept and vaccumed thoughout the home

Put everything back in place for Rochelle

In addition to building onto Rochelle’s home, we built relationships as well.

Daily conversations with family members

Nature walk with Rochelle’s sister Nikki

Today we presented prayer shawls for Rochelle, Nikki, and Pamela (Rochelle’s Mother)

Keep checking back to this page for more content.  Many of our group took pictures that we will spend time sorting through and we’ll try to match photos with our description of events.  We also may write a bit more about our experiences as we have almost certainly left something out.

Thank you for following us on our journey.  God was with us every step of the way.


3rd Workday (Addendum)

The guys doing the roofing had to be very careful with their footing due to the wet conditions yesterday morning. However, the rain stopped upon our arrival, and we had only a light sprinkle once through the day. Some of the women stripped two layers of wallpaper and painted one of the boy’s bedroom. Terrific improvement. The new floor in the kitchen has been installed and the cabinet installation, complete with a new counter and sink, will be done this morning.

Again, we made enough progress that we are on or even a little ahead of schedule. We should finish the actual work by noon, and then we will reestablish normal living conditions for Rochelle and her boys. That will take a long time this afternoon. We will knock off a little early to return to Red Bird so we can unload the Red Bird construction van we take everyday and load it for the first day’s work for a new team next Monday.

The Talent/No Talent show last night was fun. Our group sang two songs: “This Little Light of Mine” and “I Saw the Light.” It’s a good thing it wasn’t a competition; we would have won hands down.

One highlight was a quartet of residential students from Rwanda and the Congo who sang a couple songs for everyone. There was a lot of laughter and good fun through the evening.

-John Flora

3rd Workday

I’m sitting here this evening collecting my thoughts while eating freshly popped popcorn, compliments of Jeff Salsbery!  Our busy day ended with the St. Mark’s team kicking off the talent/no-talent show with a rousing rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” and “I Saw the Light”!  We were clearly (at least partially) in the “talent” category!

What an amazing transformational day we had at Rochelle’s house today.  The day started a bit rocky.  We arrived to find that our partially finished re-roofing project had not entirely withstood the night’s rain.  Unfortunately there were wet pieces of furniture, flooring, and household items in the main living area when we arrived to greet Rochelle, who was eagerly awaiting our return. 

In spite of last night’s rain and morning mist, we were blessed to experience a break in the weather and were able to once again begin working in earnest on all our projects.  As our day started, the team began work on many fronts: Kitchen, Zach’s bedroom, main trailer roof, and the add-on room roof and ceiling.  As our work day ended, we looked back in amazement at what we were able to accomplish.  In the kitchen, the new floor was in place, the new base cabinets, counter, and sink were in place, all appliances had been cleaned and returned to their new locations.  Outside, the new add-on room roof was completed and the main trailer roof was well over halfway done.  Inside, the ceiling repair for the add-on room had made miraculous progress and Zach’s bedroom walls had been stripped of wallpaper and received a fresh coat of paint.  Zach’s bedroom work wasn’t on our original project list, but after talking with Rochelle, the women on our team were inspired to attack this extra task.  Rochelle and her sister Nikki also eagerly joined in.  Spirits were soaring as we began to sense that with one more day of work tomorrow, we’ll have had a significant impact on Rochelle and her family and at the same time received so much in return.

-Doug Brown 

Day Off (Wednesday)

Today was our day of rest, but there wasn’t much resting. We started the day with a tour of the school at Red Bird. It is a K-12 accredited Christian school with amazing facilities. Students milled about as we learned about all of the programs they offer. We met several teachers and administrators, and one enthusiastic music teacher who led his class in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” for Bill Horton.

Then it was off to the Cumberland Gap. We walked about the small, sleepy town visiting a bicycle museum, an art gallery, and an antique shop before settling at the Gap Creek Coffee House & Cafe, where we all ate our lunch outside.

We decided to go up to Pinnacle Overlook. We drove up winding roads to park and it was a short hike to an amazing vista where you could look over three states, including directly down on Cumberland Gap.

On the way down, we stopped at the National Park visitor center and then to a trailhead where we hiked up 1.2 miles to Tri-State Peak, where we all took turns standing in three states at once.

Then we split up, and one group went to the local Wal-Mart to purchase additional improvement supplies for Rochelle’s home. Tomorrow morning, a separate trip will be made to a larger town to get construction materials from Lowe’s.

Dinner was at Pine Mountain Resort State Lodge, where we met up with Larry and Judy Grandey. Larry is Janet Brown’s cousin. We had a massive three-hour dinner while sharing stories and laughing entirely too loud for the local patrons.

Tomorrow we get back to work, our batteries replenished and ready to complete our projects. May God watch over us in the final stretch.

-Mike Bultemeier

2nd Workday

While working today, we were struck by all the sounds of our worksite-hammering, laughing, talking, and birds singing.  What a joyous place to be.  Although we’re not finished at Rochelle’s, we left with a dry roof and new flooring was placed in the kitchen.  We weeded a garden, washed windows, and visited with Rochelle, her sons, her sister Nikki, and her father Tony.  We also completed the outside painting, the outside cleaning, and even took a walk through the bamboo down the lane.  Our bodies are weary but our spirits are soaring.

-Kathy DeaKyne


1st Workday

It is doubtful that anyone on our Red Bird team could have found our way to our worksite without the guidance of our project leader (from Red Bird), Dawson. We took twisty mountain roads and narrow bridges, but, going slowly, we made it. Rochelle’s trailer is in a valley which actually has several homes. Rochelle’s sister lives in the trailer next door, and her parents live in a home next to her sister.IMG_1728

Rochelle is a single mom living on a limited income. She has an autistic son who is six years old and a son who is nine. Another older son lives elsewhere with his paternal grandparents. Rochelle met us upon our arrival and shared a bit about herself. Other Red Bird projects have been completed at her home, and Rochelle said she can feel the “Spirit of God” when we are there.IMG_1757

Our project plans call for us to replace the roof on the trailer and to replace the kitchen’s floor and lower cabinets. Upon inspection, we determined that the upper cabinets were in poor shape also, so we will kick in a little extra money to replace them.IMG_1759

We worked hard and made good progress. By the end of the work day on Monday, we had torn off the roof on the extended part of the trailer, torn out the part of the kitchen floor to be replaced, and taken out all the kitchen cabinets. We covered the roof with tarp before we left in anticipation of rain. We have quite a burn pile; only some of the roof can be used for salvage.IMG_1769

A light rain started about dinner time and continued through the evening. After dinner, we had a presentation about the many services provided by Red Bird Mission. There are several other offerings to the community other than our “work camp” projects in the surrounding area. These include a school (232 K-12 students including some who live on campus), a dental clinic, a visiting nurse, a craft store, and clothing and food banks.IMG_1720

We also practiced our songs that we will perform on Talent/No Talent Night. After devotions, our weary band retired to our cabins for the night.

We will likely be visited by remnants of Hurricane Irma tomorrow (Tuesday) which may limit our roof work, but there is plenty of work to be done otherwise.

-John Flora

Arrival & Orientation

Happy to report that the St. Mark’s team has all safely arrived at the Red Bird Mission in Beverly, Kentucky!  For some of us, this is the fourth or fifth time we have participated in a work camp here and we are in familiar territory.  For others, this is their first trip here and everything is new.  For all of us however, we are excited to be here and are anxiously looking forward to representing St. Mark’s and serving as Christ’s hands and feet here in Kentucky.  Tomorrow morning after breakfast, we head off to meet Rochelle and her two sons to begin our work at her house. 

For our dinner devotion, Todd reminded us that the only qualification for any of us serving at Red Bird is our love of Christ.  During our opening session this evening for the 100+ folks at camp this week, Bob (our work camp leader) assured us that we were all here for a reason.  It may not be just the work project that we have been assigned.  It may be simply spending time with a local homeowner, a staff member, or maybe even with someone within our team.  God’s plan for the week may not be our plans and we need to be open for whatever lies ahead. 

Red Bird mission is for “praying people answering people’s prayers”.  I love the sentiment behind this statement.  At our opening worship this evening, Bob and Jason (Red Bird staff) lead us with great music and message.  The lyrics of one of our songs reminded us that “There is no place that I’d rather be, no place that I’d rather be, than here in the love of Jesus”.  What a great way to start our week here!

 -Doug Brown


We are on our way! Our group was commissioned by the congregations of both the 8:15 and 9:40 services, where we received blessings for safety throughout the work week and fellowship in Jesus Christ. We are so grateful for this opportunity and look forward to representing St. Mark’s as we try to make a difference. Check back often – we will try to post every day.


Check this site for (hopefully) daily updates of our mission trip to Red Bird!  We will be commissioned on September 10th at the 8:15 and 9:40 services, and will begin our adventure shortly after.  We’ll do our best to provide pictures and stories as often as possible.  Thank you for your support!