Saying goodbye on the first of January, we parted not knowing exactly when we’d see each other again. Cathy’s sister Chris needed hip replacement surgery, and we weren’t sure how her recovery would go, but Cathy wanted to stay long enough for her to feel comfortable she no longer needed the extra hands. The week before the surgery was filled with a myriad of small tasks for Cathy’s mom and enjoying some extended time with her.
Well. . . the snow started overnight and didn’t stop again until after sunset. This was a lot for this region and everything shut down. That is almost everything. Mom was supposed to have an appointment that morning that she had waited over 6 months for. When she called to see if the office was open, it was. That meant we were going. Imagine the looks we got when Mom arrived walking with a cane and on oxygen through the snow that had most of the doctors and patients staying home. Needless to say, she got her appointment. And with the amount of snow that had fallen, Cathy also got a reminder of what she had missed from spending so much time down south. It took several hours with snow blower and shovel to clear the driveways and sidewalks of Mom and Carolyn’s house, helping out Clint. Can’t say that it’s something she’s missed.
Arriving back in Jacksonville on New Year’s Day, it didn’t take long for Dave to be immersed in projects around the church. There was a smaller group of drop-in Nomads for the first week of the year. Supporting the work of this group’s work around the campus, he found himself beating a path between the church and various hardware stores or researching parts for purchase on the internet. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t getting his hands dirty. When a newly-installed water heater failed, he was under the cabinet installing the new one. By the 2nd week, another project team had arrived and the campground was full again. Dave was once again the focal point, coordinating campsites, giving tours of the campus, and coordinating activities between the drop-ins and the project team.
The cold weather in the rest of US didn’t spare Jacksonville. The campground water lines that fed all the RV’s froze when the temperatures dropped into the 20’s. On Sunday morning, when the boiler woudn’t fire for services, Dave was tasked with figuring out why. Pastor Barry said that one thing was certain. It wasn’t out of fuel. How do you know? He could see the fuel. Hmm . . . After checking other possible problems, Dave cycled back around to diesel. Are you sure there’s enough fuel? Eventually, the problem was determined to be – you guessed it – not enough fuel. The fuel pick-up sat too high for the fuel level in the tank. Adding some more diesel solved the problem. Or at least most of it. Dave’s experience maintaining the diesel engine on Orion made him suspicious of the behavior of the fuel filter. So he had Fred install a replacement and purchased a spare “just in case”. In the interim, he checks the boiler on Sunday mornings and makes sure it stays on during services.
Given the cold weather in Jacksonville, it wasn’t too much of a surprise when we got an e-mail from our friend Sue’s mom, Sandy. Spending the winter up in Rochester, she was wondering if we might be able to use some help here in Jacksonville. It would certainly be warmer than upstate NY. By mid-month, Dave had worked out a plan and she drove south to join the team already in place. Arriving just before dinner time, she had barely finished parking before she was joining the group for a trip to Captain D’s for dinner. And the next morning, Dave had her working with Barb to start staining the deck. Surely she didn’t think this would be a vacation?
The first Sunday back, Dave went with a group of Nomads to Mt. Zion UMC, where we’ve visited in the past for the Brothers concert. This is also our friend, Ervin’s church.
“The fortress anchor you sold us saved Melinda Kay”
That was the subject line of an e-mail that began to describe a harrowing experience by a couple of friends we had made in Marathon back in 2014. Moored nearby, we spent time together, watched their boat when they took a trip by car, and yes, sold them Orion’s Fortress anchor for their boat. As is the way of these things, we hadn’t seen them since. They had moved further into the Carribbean and we had moved onto our RV. But they didn’t forget us.
And when the e-mail arrived, we both immediately remembered them. They had found themselves in Puerto Rico, expecting it to be a safe location for the hurricane season. Only to discover that 2017 was the worst year to find their boat anchored there as Maria bore down on the island. They had to secure the boat as best they could and then leave it, hoping for the best. Weathering the storm ashore, they then had to evacuate the island without knowing the fate of their home.
It was with relief they finally got the word from friends on the island. Of all the boats in the harbor, only 4 stayed secure and afloat. Melinda Kay was one of them. It was a thrilling story to hear, and one we were humbled to have a small role in.