Friday, August 5, 2016


We wrapped up our week here tired, but gratified by the work we've done, appreciative of the support we've received from A Future With Hope, Bethany St. John's and Crosskeys UMC and enriched by the interaction with our client, Arlene and the bonds that developed among your team members.  We've found ways to help each other work through our problems and challenges, and all shared in the various tasks required at Arlene's and at our host church.

The three key projects we worked on today were installing drywall underneath the first floor stairwell, building a new step at the second floor landing (which will have laminated wood flooring installed over it) and assembling all but one of the IKEA kitchen cabinets, plus all of the drawers.

To celebrate our week we treated ourselves to excellent seafood at the same restaurant in Somers Point where we went in 2014.    We noticed a for-sale sign on an old two-story house across the street, facing the harbor.    Out of curiousity, Kelly looked up in his cell phone the asking price: $395,000, down from $599,000.   The price seemed pretty steep, but the house had docking space for five boats.   We thought that perhaps Farmington 1st could buy it as a permanent place for future mission teams to use.

We thank all of you again for your support and prayers, and look forward to sharing with you more of our experiences after our return tomorrow.

Frank Wassilak

Thursday, August 4, 2016


"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" Philippians 2:4

I am starting at the end of our day, and with good reason. We had a wonderful dinner tonight hosted by two Methodist churches, including our host church."Reverend Lou", who is the Construction Director and Spiritual Advisor for A Future With Hope, gave a wonderful sermon and asked us where we have seen God in action during our trip. I think that this is the quintessential question, and I think it will lead nicely into the rest of my blog entry.

We have been truly blessed during this trip. The person, whose house we are renovating, is such a thoughtful, caring person. She is also so very, and I mean very, grateful for the help we are providing to her through this amazing program. As Revered Lou stated, she does not have a strong religious background, but she is a very spiritual person. She also sees the work of the Lord through us. Hence, we see the work of the Lord through her.

I also see the work of the Lord through our team. We are a group of five very different people, with different talents and abilities, different temperaments, and different backgrounds. With all of these
differences, we have all found our strengths in the project and applied them effectively. None of us have just been "standing around" - quite the contrary. We are on the run from the moment we arrive until the moment we leave. But even more importantly, we have bonded and complement each other in a way that has made this mission trip very successful and rather enjoyable.

The Lord has also blessed us with wonderful weather this week - actually quite perfect. While Monday was very warm, the rest of the week has had moderate temperatures and reasonable humidity. This favorable weather, again through the hands of the Lord, has allowed us to be even more industrious than we had actually expected.

Tomorrow is our last day on the job site. I will leave this place with very mixed emotions. I am proud of our team and our accomplishments. We have done the Lord's work and "looked after other's interests". But leaving here with work still to be done is difficult. It is unclear who will finish the job site where we are working. We leave that answer in the hands of the Lord and trust that He will provide.

We are looking forward to being back in the Farmington area on Saturday and seeing all of you on Sunday.

God bless!

Kelly Brown


As always, we started our day at 6:30, and at the job by 8:30.  We trimmed seven windows and one door, and hung drywall in the stairwell.  We left at 3:30, back to the church by 4:30, then took our showers at the fitness center.  Afterwards we had a nice dinner of stuffed peppers prepared by Pat and salad by Bob.   After relaxing for a little bit, Pat led us in devotions around the topic of willing to help (I Corinthians 12:12-27), which was very appropriate for the work we're doing here.   The owner, Arlene, invited us to have our lunch in her dining room.

Later this evening we went to Atlantic City.   I was personally not impressed.   Ocean City is a lot prettier.

Ron Smedley

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


We are in the third day and we have become best friends with Arlene, the lady who owns the house we are working on.  She bought the house after she retired and had just completed remodeling, when Sandy hit with four and  half feet of water in the first floor of her two-story house.  She had the house raised with a garage underneath.   The contractor quit in the middle of the project and UMCOR is trying to finish it with volunteers like us.  The top floor is finished, and she invites us to eat our lunch in her dining room.  She always has coffee and real silverware to eat with, and tells us of what Sandy did to the area.  She has invited us and our spouses to stay overnight when she gets the house done. 

We all decided before we left that we would all cook our favorite dinners.  Well, mine was stuffed peppers, using my wife Dotty's recipe.  The first night we bought roast chicken from the supermarket and I made the stuffed peppers the same night to have the next evening.  Tonight we all pitched in and cooked spaghetti, with tossed salad and garlic toast.  Bob was our salad man and Ron cooked the sauce.  Kelly bought key lime pie.   I know that we are all gaining weight, because there is a scale at the health club where we take our showers.

Everyone has a job to do and we all work as a team.  The daily devotionals we do are very inspiring.

Pat Bradley

Monday, August 1, 2016


Today was our first day of real work.  We met with the local director of projects in the morning and found out about the house that we would be assigned to.  This corner house is a two-story structure of relatively small size that was damaged by flood water during Hurricane Sandy.  The flood water had reached four feet above the first floor level.  Some time after this, the owner was able to muster enough resources to have the entire structure raised ten feet vertically by a  contractor, which created a space below for the construction of a rather large garage spanning the entire footprint of the house.  Unfortunately for the owner, the contractor botched the job, causing significant structural damage.   A Future With Hope has been able to provide the resources to help resolve the issues.   The owner is very appreciative of our support.  Our job today was to complete some of the work related to the installation and finishing of several windows in the new garage.  Your accomplished team of workers was able to complete much of the window sealing and trim work and additionally worked on the dry wall in the garage. Tomorrow we will probably finish our garage assignment and will continue work that was also started on the second floor living level of the house.

We are appreciative of our team leadership and the guidance they are giving to the less accomplished members of the team.  God has inspired us with a spirit of cooperation and willingness to help each other out.

Bob Rodibaugh

Sunday, July 31, 2016


We've consolidated our posts of Saturday and Sunday because of our late arrival in King of Prussia on Saturday.   It certainly was an interesting day in several respects.   For one thing, we encountered rain - often torrential - from eastern Ohio all the way to the Philadelphia area.   Several times we had to turn on our emergency flashers and slow down because the rain was coming down so hard.   Our van handled the roads very well.

The other unique experience occurred about mid-way through Pennsylvania, shortly before the Turnpike went through the first set of tunnels.   Eastbound traffic was completely stopped, for no apparent reason.   An ambulance flew by on the shoulder, so we initially suspected that an accident had blocked the road.   After about a half-hour, we noticed that the westbound traffic had stopped.   A few minutes later a convoy of busses, escorted by flashing police cars passed westward.    It was the Clinton campaign bus, heading towards Ohio.  We surmise now that the traffic was stopped through all of the tunnels, for security reasons.

The result of this was that we arrived at our motel around 7 pm, over two hours later than we had expected.    By then, we were ready for a dinner and unwinding from our stressful day.    Our motel desk clerk recommended a restaurant a short distance away, adjacent to the King of Prussia mall, which we understand is one of the largest shopping malls in the country.   After some misadventures, we finally found the restaurant and were treated to a delightful dinner.   When our waitress learned that we were heading to New Jersey on a mission trip, she provided us free dessert - a welcome end to Day 1.

Sunday we spend the morning touring the Valley Forge National Park, just northwest of where we were staying.  The museum, film and auto tour of the beautifully-maintained park impressed on us how much we owed the men and their leaders who sacrificed so much for us to be able today to enjoy the country we call America.

As a reinforcement of what we experienced at Valley Forge, we toured downtown Philadelphia in the afternoon, to see some of the sites which cemented our freedom - Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the site of the house where Jefferson drafted the Constitution, the Cruiser Olympia (Admiral Dewey's flagship at the 1898 Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War), and the mighty battleship New Jersey, docked across the river in Camden.    Crowds and time limited us from doing much more than viewing the sites at a distance, but if the opportunity presents itself in the future, perhaps other mission teams will be able to see more than we did.

After walking about six miles around the hot, humid city we completed our final leg of our trip to Pleasantville, N.J., where Pat Bradley did an excellent job assigning us to search for food items for the coming week at a nearby grocery store.  Susan and Jack Perry hosted us with dinner, where we had an opportunity to learn about them, the church (which dates to either 1899 or 1919, depending on which cornerstone one looks at) and the community.    The church was so far inland that it was unaffected by Sandy.    They've been hosting mission teams like ours since the storm came through.

Tomorrow we begin work at a home in Ocean City, coincidentally only a few blocks away from where we worked in 2014.   We want to thank all of you for your donations of snacks and other items, and your prayers as we begin to make our contribution to the rebuilding effort.

Frank Wassilak

Tuesday, July 19, 2016



This year your Hurricane Sandy mission team consists of Pat Bradley, Kelly Brown, Bod Rodibaugh, Ron Smedley and Frank Wassilak.   The base camp we’ve been assigned to by “A Future With Hope” is located at Bethany St. Johns UMC in Pleasantville, a suburb just west of Atlantic City.   This introductory blog will give you some background about the community and church and how the area was affected by Hurricane Sandy, as we currently understand it.

Source: Google Earth


The satellite photo, looking approximately southeast, shows Pleasantville and our church location at 615 Risley Avenue in the lower left corner.  Atlantic City is in the upper left corner and to the right is Somers Point, where your 2014 mission team was based.    Between Pleasantville on the mainland and Atlantic City on the barrier island is a large body of water and low land, which likely played a role in the devastation the area was subjected to when Sandy made landfall.


According to Wikipedia:

“Pleasantville was originally incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on January 10, 1889, from portions of Egg Harbor Township, based on the results of a referendum held on December 15, 1888. Pleasantville was incorporated as a city on April 14, 1914, replacing Pleasantville borough, based on the results of a referendum held that same day.  The city was named by Dr. David Ingersoll for its surroundings.”

The 2010 census showed the population to be 20,249, of which 24.33% were White, 45.94% Black or African American, 0.83% Native American, 2.42% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 22.00% from other races, and 4.45% from two or more races.  Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 41.06% of the population.   The median household income was $36,913.  We don’t know yet whether the recent economic decline in Atlantic City from the closure of some of the casinos has had any impact on Pleasantville, but as of 2011 the Atlantic County poverty level was 10.8%.

Bethany St. John’s UMC

Pastor Carol Hutchinson described her church to me as “The Little Church That Could”.   A look at the church’s web site (, explains part of this.    It physically is a little church, with an average Sunday attendance of twenty.    But they donated over 17,000 pounds of food to the local food bank last year, they distribute food and clothing to the homeless in Atlantic City and they've hosted Sandy recovery mission teams from all over the country since the day of the storm.   This is a lot of mission work for a small church.

The Effects of Hurricane Sandy

The eye of Sandy made landfall the evening of Monday, October 29, 2012, near Atlantic City.  Chunks of its famous boardwalk were torn up and streets flooded.   Throughout the state, the width of beaches decreased an average of 30-40 feet.   Residential and commercial damage wasn’t as severe in Atlantic County, where Pleasantville and Atlantic City are located, compared to other counties, but it was been ranked in one report as the 11th worst impacted county out of 21.   Approximately 8,000 residential storm damage claims were filed with insurance companies in the county.  Among low-income households in Atlantic City, 81% had no home owners insurance.

Some images of damage in Atlantic County can be seen at

A Future With Hope

A Future With Hope is sponsored by the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey and UMCOR.   To date, they've restored or built 239 homes, with the support of 11, 260 volunteers from all over the country.   More information about the great work they have done can be found at

Frank Wassilak