Darla is a 43 year old single parent, mother of 3 children and grandmother of 4
between the ages of 7 months and 5 years. Caleb is her youngest son, 16.
She has had numerous difficulties of late including:
- Divorce in March 2005
- Mother died in April 2005
- Katrina destroyed her home in August 2005
- Back surgery in September 2007 to have a disc removed
- Near fatal auto accident suffering a broken neck in March 2008
- She is currently without income
In addition to spending some time with Sheila, Stephen and Sheila’s parents (Operation Stephen); seeing Rhonda (Operation Isaac), Regina, Doug and Macayla (Operation Macayla) during the home dedication and dinner for Georgia and Amanda (Operation Amanda); and working at Floyd, Virginia and Emily’s (Operation Emily) we were able to do a significant amount of work here at Darla and Caleb’s. I hope you get the feeling that we are building relationships first and houses second. Our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to be in relationship with those in need. We come to know and truly love the families we work with. Darla and Caleb are certainly no exception.
We first learned of Darla’s case in through Brian Bishop and his team from Forestville Baptist Church in Travelers Rest, SC. They had been the initial framing team back in March and began the process of hanging insulation and sheetrock on our October trip. Our team in November consisting of Rev. Jerry Hill, Teddy Littlepage, John Tomlinson, Bill Hagler, Doug Stanbaugh, Skipper Snipes, Daryl Rishforth and Nelson Chandler continued the process. During the week Rev. Jerry “The Insulator” Hill was heard to mutter, “I have to find another skill.”. I think Skipper decided he would rather mud the rock than hang it. Through their persistence we were able to get all the insulation in except for the vaulted ceiling and all the sheetrock hung except for the upstairs room, second bathroom and vaulted ceiling. There was a conscious decision made to save the vaulted ceiling for Nelson’s highly skilled team coming down in January, unless someone else wants to tackle it between now and then. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor!
Darla is a wonderful lady with a heart of gold and a strong faith. She lives out in the country north of Kiln, MS. She is also a fantastic cook and likes to prepare lunch for the teams. One day we had to force ourselves to eat crawfish and shrimp etouffee! Mission life can be tough sometimes.
In addition to Op. Emily and Op. Lynda, the Western NC Team dedicated their time and talents to Op. Caleb. The team consisted of Nelson Chandler, Lee “Miracle Man” Fears, Phil Elyea and Craig Kirkpatrick. Their job was to take care of the remaining framing jobs in the house. They included:
- adding a closet, a door for attic access and knee-wall for the upper room
framing-in the guest bath tub and shower unit
- framing for the master bathtub
- framing for the fireplace insert
- hanging the attic stairs
- cutting the concrete pad for a raceway for the kitchen island wiring
- general clean up
In spite of the cold, they completed their tasks with the attitude of Christ. Fortunately, Darla has gone back to work. Unfortunately for these men, she was unable to cook for them! She seems to be particularly proud of her fireplace, See below.
Since we were there the remaining sheetrock has been hung in each of these areas. According to Darla she can really begin to see what the house is going to look like. She has now submitted the bids for the sheetrock finishing, counter tops, flooring and misc. finishing items to Kim Cheek, Case Manager, in order to process a grant request. Please pray that she will receive a grant for these items so she can get into her house this spring.
Visit to the hospital:
The end of March Darla had a near fatal single car crash that left her with a broken neck and compound fracture of her left ankle. As bad as it was it surely could have been worse. She suffered the “hangman’s” fracture of her vertebrae. This is the same fracture that paralyzed and eventually killed Christopher Reeve. The Lord was obviously looking out for her that morning. The following pictures are of the hospital visit by the teams from Simpsonville UMC from South Carolina and Mid-Atlantic Community Church from Maryland on May 1st. Both teams had been working hard on her house all week. Rev. Pat Gannaway led a beautiful service that had Darla calling us her “angels”.
Darla has been doing so well that she was released form the hospital on May 6th. The family had obtianed a two bedroom handicapped equipped MS Cottage which was delivered by the state and ready for her return. She will be able to use the cottage until we get her house finished. God is good…
The combined teams from Simpsonville UMC from South Carolina and Mid-Atlantic Community Church from Crofton, MD were literally “God’s Hands and Feet” this week. They certainly spent enough time on their knees as they installed 2000 sq. ft. of wood laminate flooring, 220 sq. ft. of ceramic, installed 23 kitchen cabinets, began finishing the steps to the upper room, located hidden outlet boxes and even installed some outlets. All this work was made possible due to Brother David Baldwin at the MS Baptist Convention Board sending a team of nine folks to texture and paint for a solid week before we arrived. It never ceases to amaze me as to how God always puts the right people on the teams to get the job done. Many thanks to Captains Scott & Linda Latchaw, Bill Keener, Rev. Pat Gannaway and Reggie Brown from SUMC; Jim Johnson, Don Swisher and Scott Owen from MACC for answering God’s call to come give of their time, talents and resources to help get Darla and Caleb back into their home.
I believe they are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Darla is so excited to see the progress that had been made while she was in the hospital.
We also owe a debt of gratitude to Steve Garrett of Forestville Baptist Church in South Carolina for sending down the five ton heat pump for Darla’s HVAC system. It is on site although it has not been installed yet.
Finally, for the “it’s amazing how God works” category, I would like to thank Jamie Necaise for donating the ceramic tile that we used in Darla’s home. If this name sounds familiar it is because he is Jerred’s brother from Operation Stephen, our first rebuild project. Someone had given him the tile after the storm but he was unable to use it. He has kept it in his storage shed all this time. Sheila, Jamie’s mom, had told me about it last year but the right opportunity had not come along, until now. This is very nice glazed tile; and, oh yea, it matched the wood laminate perfectly. How does that happen? I guess God must have a plan! Amen.
The ladies of the Seekers Sunday School Class from Buncombe St. UMC, Bobbie Pritchard, Jane Peden, Mary Helms and Margie Gust slaved away in the heat and humidity to spackle, caulk and paint the doors and trim. They did a beautiful job. Fortunately, they were able to spend time with Darla as well. She treated us all (the guys came over from working on Op. Haleigh) to her special crawfish etouffee for lunch. After that somehow the guys were able to hang the bifold doors in the bedrooms and nail down the previously cut base molding.