Monday, February 27, 2006

MN Volunteers arrive

Here we are with more photos, like I promised. We should have no problem getting atleast a couple of these each day.
The house is right on the beach here in Pascagoula. As you can see, you can see completely through it. This is one that has most of the structure left standing but will need to be demolished. They are probably waiting on the insurace, like alot of people.
The other photo is taken in Biloxi, which was about 20 miles from where the eye went through. It was some type of office building. What I want you to notice is the total destruction---but take a look at the upper right corner---the books in the bookcase that have not moved. And if you can see even closer you will see a beige telephone to the right of the books---with the receiver still sitting on the phone! There is no way someone went up there and set this up as this is about 3 stories high and surrounded by destruction! What a picture of God's hand---in the most unusual of places!
We now have a team of volunteers from Minnesota living in our parking lot with us. They pulled in this morning with a motor home that is larger than our house at home! This thing is massive! They drove over 26 hours to get here and will be here all this week. Some of them are electricians and others are carpenters. The one gentleman has been here before and stayed for a month. When he went back home his 2 sons, ages 12 and 14 had been worried about him being gone for so long. The next trip back here he brought them with him and now they understand! Like I have said before, it is a good thing for children to see for themselves what it is like down here!
Two of the men spent their day working on our warehouse doors. As I have said before, the warehouse is an old grocery store that looks as though it should be condemed and shoved over. But it serves a great purpose for us in housing materials. A set of double doors had been "sort of" installed. They enable the forklift to be driven in and out. These 2 men reworked the doors and made them actually functionable. Our thanks to them for doing so. Now, if someday we can get some power to the building we might actually have lights in it! We share that building with another relief effort and have had some offers from churches to possibly use it also. It may be that if we divide it the church will pay to have a new roof put on it! Pray for that to be so! Goodness knows we could use it!
Monty spent a portion of the day doing some work on our truck. It seems the clutch needs replaced and tomorrow just might be the day. A friend we met here, Rick, has volunteered to help. We really need to have that truck in working order as Monty uses it so much!
He spent more of the day hauling more and more sheetrock to the rest of the MN volunteers who were completely rewiring a woman's house. This woman's husband had passed away recently. Her entire house needed gutted and started over. There had already been some volunteers who had attempted the rewiring but weren't successful. These 2 electricians are doing a wonderful job! Monty sent 90 sheets of sheetrock over there and that should be enough to completely redo the inside. It is a small house and will no doubt be in better shape once it is done than it was in the beginning. She also lives in her FEMA trailer parked in her driveway to what used to be her garage, but the garage is completely gone. Just another example of what is being done, and what needs to be done here. It truly is never ending.
I spent part of the day making calls back in Indiana trying to russle up some sheetrock and electrical supplies. Both are in short supply and desperately needed. The electrical supplies are needed for residential, such as boxes and plates. I don't think we could ever get enough. And the same goes for the sheetrock. I didn't get any definites but am just "planting seeds". If any of you have any connections, please tap into them and have them get in touch with us.
I had the opportunity to see something really fun at the elementary school this morning. The school is celebrating Black History month and they dressed up and portrayed different black people throughout history. It was so cute and they did such a great job! Hopefully I can get some photos of them on here--they will melt your hearts!
We had to make a trip to the Walmart super store this evening as we have gone through our first tank of propane to heat the trailer. Last nights low was 32 and these aren't insulated all that well. There is no problem warming it up but it doesn't last all that long. It did warm up over 30 degrees throughout the day and is to be excellent all week. The tank only cost $14 so we were pleasantly surprised with that.
We received a couple of emails to let us know some of our home church members will be coming to volunteer over spring break. We are so excited at the possibility of seeing "family". We hope there are quite a few that will be coming. We also got word that another couple from MN will be here that same week. Let's pack the house with help!
I would like to ask for a specific prayer this evening. It seems I have caught some kind of throat infection and am feeling rather icky. We brought some antibiotics with us and hopefully they will succeed in stopping it. If you could include that in your prayers I would be very grateful. It has pretty much knocked the wind from my sails, if you know what I mean.
We hope all of you are doing well and learning and enjoying our blogspot. We continually see God's hand in so many ways and enjoy sharing our adventure with all of you.
God Bless each and every one of you!
PS. Kevin, we are so happy to hear you did well on your finals! God will make a way for you! Be still and listen for His voice and watch for His hand! We miss you!
Until tomorrow, Susan and Monty

Sunday, February 26, 2006

We figured out the photos!!!!

We did it! We have figured out how to send photos through here so from now on you should get a photo with each entry.
The one on the left is us living behind the church in the parking lot. Our trailer is on the left, the other one is the FEMA trailer which we might be moving into but is still questionable. You also see the back of our donated pick up truck.
The photo on the right is what's left of a Baptist Church in Biloxi, which is the city about 20 minutes from here, to the west. This is the side of the church that faced the ocean, which is across the street. This is along interstate 90 that runs directly along the coastline. All of the upstairs is exposed and the entire building will need to be demolished.
We need your feedback on these photos; is the download time too long? Are they coming through clear enough? Is this something that you find more interesting than just the journaling? We are new at this and will be learning as we go along. Remember, this blogsite is for all of you----let us know your comments!
Today we attended church right here. This congregation used to be around 400 and is now less than 50. Some of the members just moved north after the storm and are not returning. Others are just too bombarded with all the work on their own homes to take the time to come to church on Sunday mornings. Others...? It is our goal to get this church built back up so it can be ministering to the needs of the city as God designed it to.
We were visited by 5 gentlemen from Minnesota this afternoon. Most of them are electricians and they will be pulling their camper over here and joining us in the parking lot for all of next week. They will concentrate most of their efforts here in the church. Some of the construction has sort of been getting the cart before the horse but we are coming along and improving each day. The men will also be doing come carpentry work, installing doors and such. They will be a very welcome site and it will be facinating to see what changes come about. We are so thankful for the help.
Our excitement is also building because we heard that our own home church will be sending volunteers in a couple of weeks! I cannot tell you how anxious we are to see our friends from home! Even though we have only been here a little over a week it's amazing how much we miss them! We encourage any of you who might be thinking of coming down to make the commitment and do so! We will house you here at the church. There are more than enough air mattresses, you just need a sleeping bag or blanket to put on top. You will need money for food, the amount of meals you choose to eat each day is up to you. We just do not have the facilities here to cook. Eating at some of the local places is part of the fun of the trip.
After meeting with the electricians we decided to eat an early dinner and take a drive and watch the sunset from the beach. When we got to the restaurant we saw a 1 1/2 ton truck parked next to us. It had a magnet advertisement on it saying they were RV Volunteers. The couple was just returning to the truck and we struck up a conversation with them. They are here from the Chicago area. They are retired and although he is a telephone man he is here doing sheetrock finishing. We shared stories there in the parking lot for quite some time. It's always nice to talk with people who are also here volunteering. They have only been here a week and are going back home. Sharing with someone else volunteering helps and gives us the boost we need to keep going.
I also met with one of the school teachers here this afternoon. She and her husband had come back to finish up some school preparations for tomorrow. We got into conversation and they were saying how emotional they had both been a couple of days ago. She was telling how long it feels like it has been and how tired they are. Both of them work full time and then try and do the work on their house evenings and weekends. They are exhausted and feel as though it will never get done. She said simple things like cleaning their yard and planting flowers for the spring are just out of the question. I started telling her how volunteers could help in those areas and she and he both lit up like light bulbs. This is something they have never thought of. We talked about how we are going to get volunteers back and how much work they could do to help people like themselves. They were thrilled at the thought and both were so very thankful at just the offer! THIS is what we have been talking about----THIS is what God has us down here to do.
I heard a program on the TV this morning before going to church and they were talking about how the volunteers that have come down here and helping heal both homes and hearts. They challenged us all to "be the hope". This is the goal Monty and I have been talking about. We hope and pray we are able to connect those who have a need with those who have something to offer. This is where all of you come in. You can help us help them or you can come and help them directly. The choice is yours!
We did get to the ocean and watch an absolutely beautiful sunset on the coastline. We discovered that we needed to focus on the water and the sunset itself as there is so much trash everywhere it can distract from the beauty. While we were there both Monty and I had the opportunity to talk with friends from home who called so it really did make for a perfect sunset. Thanks to Karen and Joe!!! We love you guys! SOOOO much!
Until tomorrow and hopefully more photos (we have enough for weeks already) may God bless and keep you as you begin another week. Remember, every day is a gift from God and it is up to us how we use each hour of that day!
We love you all.
Susan and Monty

For Tire & Wheel

This is a special posting for the guys at Tire and Wheel. Plus I am testing to see if I can get the hang of putting photos on this blogspot.
We would appreciate comments on this as we don't know how long it will take for you to download this with a photo.
We love you guys and all you did for us!
You are angels---even though I'm not sure angels look like this!?
Thanks again!
Susan and Monty

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Disaster at 81

God has a way of bringing people together just to prove to us it is a small world and He is always watching over us.
Before we left home we heard about a gentleman named Rick who had lead volunteer groups out of this same church immediately after the storm. That's all we knew. When we went to church Wednesday evening he was here! We spent a couple of minutes talking with him and he made a phone call to his friend in Bloomington. Last night he stopped by just was we were leaving for dinner so there was no time to talk. This morning we invited him to our usual Waffle House breakfast and Monty ended up spending the rest of the day with him. He also came back to the church to talk with our sheetrock finisher. The sheetrock finisher, Ricky, is alot like some people, he has had his fair share of struggles in life and with the devil. He is reaching for God and Monty and Rick prayed for him. He was touched, clear to his heart, and even helped himself to some CDs that we found while cleaning up. What a nice change it was to come in this morning and hear the Christian music instead of what he usually plays. There are so many people just like Ricky in this world. People who are reaching, searching and yet being held back by things they have done in the past. Monty and I both stand on what our home church, the Vineyard, says, "Come as you are, you will be loved." We are not on this earth to judge or condem, we are here to love and allow Jesus to shine through us. Ricky was so excited about the music he took 3 more CDs to give to family and friends. It only takes a small step of faith and God will do the rest! Monty and Ricky have become best buds and it started with Monty accepting Ricky where he is and letting God take it from there. What a lesson for all of us! Tomorrow is Sunday and when you see that someone in church that you have not seen before, step out and speak to them. You just might be surprised at just how powerful your simple words might be. We don't know where people are in their walk but we do know God is by their side and loves them. Nothing else really matters!
Rick had indeed been organizing volunteers from here and circumstances changed for him so he went out on his own. He is from Minnesota and still here helping those who cannot help themselves. We had alot of time to talk and he is looking forward to helping us get the relief efforts up and running again. Monty had the opportunity to go with him for the afternoon and put up some sheetrock for a gentleman Rick had been helping. The man is 81 years old (they said he doesn't look a day over 80!) and living in a house that was in shambles before the storm hit! They put up some drywall but the floors will need completely rebuilt to make it livable again. They also took him down to the local BBQ restaurant for a sandwich. For this man to be in the position he is, at this age, is tough but he also has that resiliant spirit and will stay in his home, no matter what!
Not soon after Monty and Rick left it started to rain. Now I have seen downpours before but not many like this one! It came in sheets and for awhile I thought it was going to come into the school area again. They had forecast rain with storms but I guess I am just used to what they look like up north. I also guess I should get used to these too!
While they were out I took the time to call my parents and catch up on things at home. I have a brother that was in a very serious accident back in August and nearly lost his leg. He is now facing more surgery but hopefully this will bring about some movement in that leg. It is tough being away from family and not able to see them like we did. But I know God is with him and all my family and he will be just fine.
I also caught up on what is going on with my grandmother. She is soon to be 93 and currently in a nursing home. My mother told me she is printing out each one of our blogs and taking them to my grandma. So, Grandma 2 this is for you----we are doing fine and are keeping you in our prayers. We have seen first hand what an attitude of gratitude can do for one's spirit and this is our prayer for you. We love you and will see you soon!
We took the opportunity this evening to drive to the local mall and look around. People watching has to be the best, and cheapest, entertainment there is! We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant which was good. We also splurged on a couple of chocolate chip cookies and a brownie for a treat. Yes, Ellen, they made us think of you and are no match for your desserts!!!! Oh my how we miss them too!
The mall is smaller than the one at home but it was a nice change of scenery. It is different to not be in a large college town. We are used to seeing college students everywhere we go but down here it is very different. There aren't any! The mall isn't packed like we are used to. The only stores that are packed are Lowes and Walmart.
We stopped at Lowes before coming home and watched a family purchase 13 ceiling fans! It still amazed me to see how busy these stores are and the huge purchases they must make! And these are the people who can afford to make the purchases to rebuild. There are way too many just like the 81 year old man who just sit and hope and pray someone will come along and just make their house livable, forget the frills, he just needs the bare bones basics!
When you are in church tomorrow please pray for these people. That is the most powerful thing anyone can do. We have watched and witnessed countless miracles down here and know they are only just beginning. But after 6 long months the people don't feel as though they are just beginning. They need to be back in their homes, with their families and loved ones. Pray that this will happen. And if you are in the place where you might be able to come down and physically join in the efforts, please give us a call. We will welcome you with open arms and guarantee a life changing experience!
PS This is for Brianna-----you are not too young to come as long as you come with a parent. As far as teaching Sunday School, they do already have teachers but there are so many ways you could help. You could help in the school library in sorting books and getting it back to where the children can use it again. You could help by just cleaning things, toys for the daycare or construction type cleaning. There is something for everyone. You talk to your parents and have them give us a phone call. Our numbers are at the Vineyard. We hope to see you over spring break! Thank you for reading and joining with us on our adventure. God bless you for wanting to help!
We miss all of you and are keeping you in our prayers!
With all our love, Susan and Monty
PSPS. Bitty and Samson REALLY did not like the rain. Rain drops on a camper trailer are a bit on the loud side!!! :)

"Mixed" day

We have been here a little over a week now and I am missing friends and family a bit. The morning was rather quiet for me but mixed with alot of different emotions, some difficult to figure out. I spent quite a bit of time talking with God. By the end of the day He had answered alot of things for me, as usual.
After our usual Waffle House breakfast Monty dropped me off at the laundry! What an experience! At home you have the choice of what size of washer you would like to use----not here! All of the machines were wiped out in the flood and replace with only the large capacity. The ones that cost a minimum of $4.00 per load! And there was a waiting time to even get one. I had enough to fill 3 machines so it took awhile but it is now done, until next time. Everyone brought in huge loads as everyone seems to do what we did, wait until you have nothing clean to wear! :)
Monty came back to the church to do some more work. He had a very powerful prayer experience from a gentleman who used to lead volunteer groups right after the storm. It definitely touched Monty to the core and made me wish I had been here to experience the whole thing.
We continued to work around the church and around our camper trailer throughout the afternooon. About the time we were thinking of leaving and finding dinner one of the board members and his wife called and asked us to dinner. They wanted to know if we would like to go to the Cracker Barrel----we didn't even know there was one here----we jumped at the chance! They took us to an area just outside of the city where we found restaurants that we had been wishing for! It was a really enjoyable evening getting to know them and a little bit more about the church and its background. They took us back to their house to show us the damage they had received. They were quite fortunate as they only had water about 2 feet deep inside their home. They are doing all of the work themselves, along with continuing to work full time. They have an upstairs and took everything they could up there before the storm. They still had to replace all the lower sections of drywall throughout the house, repair all the cabinets and built in wall units, repaint and retrim everything. They lost the hot tub on the back and lost their car. But they also have the attitude of gratitude and hold fast to God's love and support. They then took us on a tour of the city and allowed us to become more familiar with other areas of the city. This whole place is filled with water here and water there. The shipyards are huge. The cruise ship is still here although they are relocating the storm victims that have been living on it.
We plan to get away from here for awhile tomorrow. It is supposed to rain all day so we thought we might get some errands done and maybe go see the mall for a place to walk around. Walking seems rather funny seeing as how we probably walk 15 miles a day just around here. But being inside a 24' long trailer on a rainy day doesn't allow for walking space!
Spending the evening with the top board member of the church helped us realize even more God's call for us to be here. This church has suffered so much, not only with the storm but their pastor was relieved of his position a few weeks ago and that has really made it tough for the congregation. We pray we are able to bring a bit of stability to them. We aren't really sure just what God has planned for us, or for them. But we do know that God is good and that He does have a plan! That's all that matters. We have promised to follow God's leading and pray we have open eyes and hearts to follow properly.
Thank you all for your prayers. It is only with your prayers and support that we are able to do this!
Have a great Saturday and prepare your hearts to hear God's word come Sunday morning!
All our love, Susan and Monty

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Day of Blessings

We said goodbye to our friend, our brother, Dave this morning after our usual breakfast at Waffle House. We have eaten at one nearly every morning so why should this one be any different. We are certain that the last thing Dave will want to see when he gets home is a waffle. He wondered if anyone down here had ever heard of a pancake? :) Seeing him pull out of the parking lot brought me to tears. We both missed him all during the day and were glad to know that he made really good time in getting home. Dave, having you here for a week meant more to me than we can say. You now know and have experienced what we have been talking about. You really and truly understand our hearts and just why we are here. That is priceless and we will miss you each and every day until you decide to come back! (and you will!!!!) "muddobber"!
We had our 3 returning volunteers who once again completely transformed the upstairs and the tons of school supplies that were strewn throughout 4 rooms. They were amazing, once again inviting us to eat brown bag lunches with them. Their crew leader would come by around lunchtime and they would all gather outside with sack lunches and great laughs and conversation. It was such a great way to get to know them and the other members of their crew. They will be leaving tomorrow morning and we pray safe travel for them. They also are about 14 hours from home. I did not realize the emotional attachment that had already grown with us. When they left I cried! Those tears really surprised me! Will it be that way each time we have volunteers here? They all said they were jealous that they had to go home and we got to stay here and be a part of all of this! What a compliment! What examples of service! You 3 did such an awesome job here and your help blessed this school more than you know. We sincerely thank you and hope you will keep up with our adventure via this site.
This afternoon was extremely busy. We had 2 families come by for the refurbished refrigerators. Their joy and thankfulness blows us away. But then we think about how it would be to have to completely rebuild AND refurnish a home! The one family has 4 small children, all living in a small FEMA trailer---and the only thing he could say was how blessed they had been throughout this whole thing! Such an example of faith! I ask myself---could I do the same thing with the same attitude?
The second family was driving a pickup truck that had obviously been through the flood and they just let it dry and kept on going. Both front tires were nearly flat but they still rolled. The drivers door did not work so they just got out through the passenger side. She was concerned about how they would pay for all the sheetrock that would be needed. Their house was one that had water half way up and they had only torn out the walls 4 feet up from the floor. But when the inspectors came in and tested for mold, it did not pass so now they were forced to tear out the rest of the way up, including the ceilings. This would require so much more sheetrock than what they had thought, thus more money that they did not have.
Another family came and picked up one of the gas stoves. All the stories are the same. And all are so thankful and talk about how blessed they have been with the volunteers and are sorry that they cannot find the words to properly thank them. No one moans or complains or whines, they are thankful and filled with praise for the help they are getting. They are surprised that they have not been forgotten about after all this time! THIS is the reason we need volunteers to continue to come down here and help! You ARE still needed and will be needed for quite some time! Call us and come join us---your life will be changed!
A huge blessing pulled up in front of the warehouse late in the afternoon. A semi load of sheetrock! We knew some was coming but had no idea it was a semi load. 918 sheets to be exact! The largest load seen around here since the storm. And the driver had donated his driving time-----and the load came from Wisconsin!!!! Our thanks to him really caught him off guard as his only thought was that the company could have donated more!!! We took photos and he left with a huge smile that may take days to wear off! Monty had a blast on the forklift getting it all unloaded and stacked to perfection in our warehouse with no electricity! We are wondering just how long it will take for all of this to be gone! Not long!!! Supply definitely does not meet demand!
Speaking of that, it is quite an experience to just walk into Lowes! There are no other competitors so the store is packed from morning till night! You see it all coming through the checkout lines, lumber, lamps, floor tile, cabinets, tools and small items so numerous you cannot count them, household items, water heaters, plywood---you name it! The carts are not big enough to hold everything they need. Watching them makes us so thankful that we are not the ones having to rebuild our lives like this! I cannot imagine the expense of replacing every single thing inside our home, let alone the structure itself!
We were so tired that our dinner was at the closest place we could find---good ole' Taco Bell!
We had intended on getting to the laundry mat today and I even got the clothes bagged and ready but the time just did not allow it. Tomorrow it MUST be done or things might get a bit interesting! Showers themselves are sometimes put on hold but one can only hold for so long! We are hoping to find a used washer and dryer and install them inside the school or church someplace----soon!
As I look back over this day I am reminded over and over again how the attitudes of the people are focused on the blessings they are receiving. They realize just how terrible this whole thing has been but what is keeping them positive are the efforts of the volunteers! That is the difference, not some magical thing or denial, just the giving hearts of others! It's not something difficult, not something expensive---just people giving to other people! Jesus set the example for us and commanded us to love one another---He didn't ask us to do so, He commanded it!
We would ask that you take a minute of quiet this evening, or whenever you read this, and thank God for the blessings you have. Come on, admit it, we have so many we cannot possibly count them all! Try anyway! Have an attitude of gratitude and then say a prayer for the victims here and all along the coast! Think of something you can do for them, some way you can help. Pray about it, God will answer you! Then follow Him! It will change your life and you will in turn be blessed!
As I sit here, in the quiet and look 2 feet to my right and see Monty sound asleep on the couch with one dog at his side serving as an arm prop and the other one at his feet I see just how blessed I am! Thank you God! Thank you for bringing us to this place. Please work through us and give us what we need to be your representatives!
May God bless all of you!
Until tomorrow night.......
Susan and Monty (and Bitty & Samson)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Love One Another

Love one another was the theme the pastor spoke on this evening.
I am going to approach this day backwards. Because of the theme, it will work!
This church is without a pastor. We all know our church is our foundation, especially in trials and tribulations. Imagine going through what these people have been through, and then loose your foundation. Okay, Jesus is our one true foundation but you know what I mean. It has added more difficulty to an already difficult situation. The congregation has gotten smaller and smaller. This pastor commended those still here for not walking away. He was right. This is a hurting church, in alot of ways. But this is a powerful church. God is definitely here. You could feel Him in the sanctuary. There were only a handful of people in the chairs but the power was of multitudes. Please keep them in your prayers. He spoke of loving one another, of taking the leap of faith and loving those who are difficult to love. This is a direct command from God, the most important command. If we are not feeling blessed it is because we are not loving others. A pretty powerful statement, but true! Gives us all something to ponder!
The temperature was one we had been waiting for around here. 78 for a high, with a light breeze. The kind of day that makes you want to sit outside and just take it all in. Our friend, Dave, even got sunburned arms from spending his afternoon cleaning up around our camper trailer and in the parking lot. It looks so much better. The only one who did not appreciate it was the lizard sunning himself on the air conditioner behind us! But somehow I bet he will be back the next sunny day we have!
We were fortunate to have 3 volunteers of our own for the day. They were 2 women and a man from Raleigh, North Carolina. They spent their entire day upstairs above the school going through and organizing all of the mountains of school supplies donated by people and children all over the country. What an amazing thing to have supplies to last for a long time. The parents are the blessed ones as this will save them time and money. There were 4 rooms filled with all sorts of supplies, from pencils and paper to new desk chairs and oak cabinets to store things on. We hope to take those 4 rooms and combine them into 1. Not an easy task but one they all 3 took on with such energy and vigor I really believe they will have it completed by tomorrow. They plan on returning and are then heading back to their home on Friday morning. Please also keep them in your prayers. Volunteers coming in are such a blessing and we were able to experience the other end of that today, being the recipients. It would have taken me days and days to accomplish what they did in one. They also brought hand made fleece blankets to give to those who might need them. They were so beautiful and each one went to a good family before the day was over! We have access to so many needy families just through the day care and nursery here!
We were also happy to start receiving phone calls from others who want to come and volunteer. A gentleman from our home town called. Their men's group of 12 want to come the end of July or the first of August. We are thrilled and hope they read this blogspot and are able to get a slight vision of how life changing it will be.
We also learned that a few from our own home church will be coming down for their spring break. One father will be bringing his 11 year old son who wants to come and work. There is something for everyone here, skilled and unskilled, young and old. With us knowing ahead of time we will be able to plan on special projects according to skills and age. We encourage children to come as long as they have a parent or guardian with them. Kids need to see how fortunate they are at home and what really happens in a disaster such as this. We, as parents, need to allow children to share in the special ways God has given them to share. Children are our future and we should never forget it.
Monty loaded more drywall for another Pastor today. We are expecting a shipment coming into our warehouse tomorrow. We also have 2 people coming for appliances. We have an allotted amount of refrigerators and gas ranges to give out. One of each will be picked up tomorrow. They both were nearly to the point of tears with thank yous today on the phone. Their desperation comes through the phone lines.
Speaking of phone lines, I sure wish I had one of the guys I used to work with here with us. The phones - and there are only 2 working- are having such static on the lines you can hardly hear the other person. It was determined by the local phone company that the problem is inside the building---surprise! surprise! How could it not be!? Guys, I need you! :)
We are very sad today----our friend (family), Dave will be leaving for home tomorrow. Dave has become family while he has been here and it will be more than difficult to say goodbye to him tomorrow after our usual breakfast at the only breakfast place in the city, Waffle House. I don't think Dave will want to eat a waffle for quite some time! Dave, we love you and are seriously thinking of letting the air out of your tires or messing with your engine so you will have to stay! :) Thank you for everything you have done for us! May God bless and keep you as you make the 14 hour trip home!
Tomorrow we will be attempting to do laundry-----why the attempt? There is not one household in this city that has a working washer or dryer so the laundry mats are packed! There are more cars at the laundry mat than at the bar! Imagine that!!!! We will try and go during the day and hopefully come back with some much needed clean clothes.
I wish to leave you with a passage that came to me in my readings this morning and I think is appropriate for not only today but everyday.
"Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!"
God bless you all. Do something nice for someone tomorrow, and don't tell them! The blessing will be yours!
We love you all and thank you for sharing in our journey! God is awesome! Praise be to Him!
Until tomorrow evening, Susan and Monty

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It's a small world!

Today was a day where we felt like we accomplished alot. Monty was up at 5:00am working inside the church cleaning up things and rooms. This is such a large and spread out building that the cleaning up will take....forever?
We decided to take a mid morning break and had breakfast. While we were still at home we received a phone call from a fellow neighbor who was also working down here in Pascagoula. She invited us to come and visit them when we got here. They are located in the side yard of the Central Church of Christ, also in their camper trailer. This is not an especially large church but what they are doing is extremely large! They house up to 175 volunteers a week and provide 3 full meals a day for them and anyone else who would like to come in. They took a house across the street and gutted the whole thing. It is only a very large kitchen with showers in a room in the back. What they do with food is nothing short of a miracle! Women literally never leave the kitchen and prepare the most wonderful home cooked meals. They invited us to return for dinner and a church service this evening and we were happy to accept. We will be back at 6:00pm.
We headed back to our church and to our projects for the day. Monty and Dave went to the warehouse and worked and worked until Dave decided it was time to stop! :) They are cleaning up and taking trash out to the city curbs where large trucks come along, load it up and haul it away. They have been doing this for 6 months now and we are not sure just how much longer they will do it so the guys are working furiously to get the huge building organized!
I spent my day in the upstairs above the school going through boxes and boxes and more boxes. The school supplies donated by children around the country are amazing! The director of the school, Miss Fran, says they are so thankful for everything. They will not need to purchase supplies for quite some time and are able to provide each student with a brand new backpack and a packet of supplies. This saves the parents from purchasing and allows them to have a bit more to do rebuilding and hopefully get their families back into real homes sooner. I learned that this school, from nursery through 8th grade has 125 students. It is so much fun to go through the cafeteria during lunch and see all their sweet faces. The babies are adorable and sometimes come out in the parking lot to see our dogs. Most people, and children, have never seen a Chineses Crested hairless dog and love to look and maybe touch him!
This school is such a blessing to the children who attend, the parents that enroll them and to the church itself. It brings such life into what could be considered a kind of death. With laughing children around it is more difficult to be sad or depressed. No wonder Jesus loved children so much!
It was now time to head to dinner at the Church of Christ. We loaded up cartons of sippy cups that we had stored in the warehouse. There are more than enough to share! We also took some of the clothes that were extra for here. The Church of Christ has the sanctuary only half full of pews. The back half is filled with racks of free clothing for anyone who comes in.
The meal was outstanding----fried catfish filets, hushpuppies, 2 kinds of potatoes, baked beans, vegetables, cole slaw, fruit salad and 2 types of desserts. Like I said, quite a spread, and they do it 3 times a day.
Now-----a request for volunteers-----come the month of March this church will be needing some kitchen help as they are expecting record numbers of volunteers. They hope to be in their new location, an old renovated Pizza Hut, and run shifts of mealtimes. Anyone out there who might love to work in a kitchen----this is the volunteer job for you! As I have said before, this will change your life! Just let me know and we will get you scheduled according to the time you have! Remember, my cell is 812-219-5738.
The church service was wonderful, just what we needed to hear. It was about living by faith, not giving up and being ready for the devil when he decides to see what he can do to distract us from our goal. We really enjoyed the evening and got to meet 2 couples from our hometown that we did not know before. They will undoubtedly be friends for life, whether here or home. They both say they will be back sometime during the summer to return to work in the kitchen.
When we returned to our parking lot the board members were still meeting and from what we gather they are pleased with us being here. As I have said before, it is only with your help and support that we can be here doing what God has called us to do. Without your prayers and support it could not happen. We are looking forward to tomorrow---we will have 3 volunteers here helping us with some of the cleanup and organization! Stay tuned to tomorrow's entry to see how that goes!
Blessings to all of you! We miss our families and friends and hope to see you down here visiting us sometime before too long!
PS. Tomorrow is our friend Dave's last day with us and we are sad just thinking about it. He has been such a wonderful blessing to us! We have worked so hard and laughed even harder. We won't mention how he "dozed off" during the service this evening! Exhausted doesn't describe it! God bless him, he's been an angel for us!
Until tomorrow...... Susan and Monty

Monday, February 20, 2006

Busy here, busy there, busy everywhere

Oh my, what a day!
We went to the Convoy of Hope this morning to see how Steve starts off his new volunteers. It just verified to us that our thinking is on the right track. It also gave us the opportunity to talk with some of his workers who happen to be from PA, WI and NC this week. They are still working on tear outs, which is stripping all drywall and ceiling materials from the houses, spraying them down with a bleach solution and allowing them to dry. The bleach is to kill the mold. They then wait for the inspectors to return and test for mold. If all checks out okay they are given the go ahead to start reconstrcution, beginning with hanging drywall, if there is any drywall.
We are expecting a semi load of drywall here at our warehouse this Thursday. All of it is already promised to people.
After a cajun breakfast in a restaurant decorated with all types of alligators we were back to the church to get started again. Monty will be working in and out of the warehouse trying to get it more organized and made more useful.
We both were runnning around like chickens with no heads most of the day but accomplished so much! We had the oppotunity to meet with 2 of the 4 board members who seemed quite pleased with what we have done so far. We tossed out our plan to turn 3 upstairs rooms into boarding rooms for volunteers. They thought the ideas were great and are just so pleased and thankful to have someone like us here, someone who really wants to work with them, to gain their trust and to be a "constant" on the grounds.
We were able to continue cleaning up so many messes and poor Dave worked like a dog all day! When the man sets his mind to something he gets it done---no matter what. He cleaned a shop vac of things inside that no one wants to really see, he picked up trash in places no one even wants to get into and the last time I saw him he was on the floor mopping underneath a sink designed for construction workers to clean up in (get the picture?) He has been so much fun to have here and has become closer than family. But by the time we had dinner late this evening he was so tired he went straight to bed! We don't want him to go home!
We also met with the director of the grade school and got some things lined out there. She was able to be a great source of information and is also more than thankful that we are here for an extended period of time.
We were able to clean up one room that was upside down and create another that we will be using as an office. You just cannot live, sleep and have an office inside a camper trailer that is 24' long and 8' wide! (and not to mention have 2 dogs inside) The board members were blown away when they saw the office and said it had been much too long since there had been such a thing in the church. I think it reassured them that we are going to be here for awhile.
And for us to see how pleased they are is a wonderful blessing to us. We knew we were being called here, we knew in what capacity God wanted us to work when we got here and felt confident in that work, but seeing their faces, hearing their stories and seeing the tears mixed with their thank yous brings tears to our own eyes.
The weather did warm up some today although it was cloudy. I think we had a high around 56 with the temp tomorrow to be 68! The humidity thing is everywhere. I think my hair will be permanently kinked (not just curly) for the next year! Thank the person who created the pony tail! You can hang a bath towel after showering and by that same time the next day it will not be totally dry!
And yes, we have seen quite a few of the roaches that are as big as my hand! What an amazing bug! Monty says we will definitely be spraying all the perimeter of our camper trailer soon! No argument from me! Good thing I grew up on a farm and don't freak at bugs! I had 3 brothers so freaking at bugs was out of the question! Thanks boys!
I would ask prayer for us! Ginny hit the nail on the head when she prayed for us before we left home. We need the ability to not get overwhelmed, the ability to take things one at a time and not get too exhausted. I think the word Ginny used was "the ability to say no when needed". There is just so much that needs done it is too easy to become overwhelmed, to have so many people saying they need this done, they need that done, and so on and so on. Each person has ideas, each person has needs and we would ask prayer for wisdom and discernment from God.
We love you all. Being away from family is tough, and it has only been a few days. Somehow it already seems like a long time.
We are in God's hands, doing God's work for God's people so we know we will be taken care of by Him.
"With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgement. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow."
Blessings and all our love, until tomorrow...... Susan and Monty

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Lord's Day

We made the decision ahead of time that today is the Lord's day.
We started the day quite early because of the unusual cold night. Compared to home this is warm but never the less I nearly froze during the night. We do have heat in our camper but aren't quite used to regulating it. Today it was a bit warmer, nearly 45. Like I said, quite cold for this far south.
We attended the Refuge Assembly of God church in Gautier, which is about 20 minutes from here. Steve Kos of Convoy of Hope invited us the other day. It is a small church located in a strip mall area along the main highway. They bought what had been an old grocery and converted it into a church and daycare with their disaster warehouse supplies in the back. We met some really nice people who thanked us for being here and donating our time to help them rebuild.
From there we decided to take a drive to interstate 90 and see where the main bridge between Gautier and Biloxi fell into the ocean. It proved to be quite a tourist spot because you can actually walk out onto the highway and stand on the edge of where it fell in. It is not only breath-taking but unimaginable that something could destroy a highway built of the world's strongest rebar and concrete and make it look like a stack of fallen dominos! Everyone there finds that seeing it takes your breath away. And then you take a look across the 5mile stretch and see the huge casinos in Biloxi that have fallen into the ocean! Once again, no words to completely describe what you feel inside. We met 3 gentlemen who were here for a week, donating their time and talents in electricity. They were planning on making the drive on down the coastline to Pass Christian as we did a couple of days ago. As we were talking with them they expressed the same thoughts and sentiments as we----why have the news broadcasters forgotten about what is going on down here? Why do they lead us to believe that things are nearly rebuilt and all is rolling right along? Why are there not updates out to the public letting them know the reality of the devastation and just how long it will take to rebuild?
We then took a drive along the coastline here in Pascagoula and were pleasantly surprised to see how much of the cleanup had been happening down there. The huge graters, backhoes and dozers were even working today cleaning up the debris of down trees and had cleared most of the mansions that had been destroyed. The grounds had been filled in with new soil; the original soil completely washed away in some places as deep as 6- 8' deep. New grass had been planted and in some cases sod had been placed to try and stabilize the grounds. But the one constant factor is the lack of life. You just don't see people and pets doing the normal living that we are used to seeing. You do see a couple of people still trying to sift through the mess left in place of their home but that's about it. Today we did see a couple of dogs and a cat roaming around. Even they have the dazed and confused look about them!
Our afternoon ended with a trip to the ship yard on the ocean. The shipyard here is the 2nd largest in the USA and it sustained extensive damage also. We got fairly closed to the cruise ship that has been housing so many of those who lost their homes. The buzz here is that those people are being asked to leave that ship but where are they to go now?
We have also seen the lots full of FEMA trailers waiting to be released to people still on waiting lists for them. When you see what we see here and then see all those trailers (homes) sitting and not being used it surely is a crime! People living in tents, with the temps last night below freezing, and all those trailers just sitting there!? Makes no sense!
So our day was a day of not really doing any work but also getting a better feel of the city and it's people. This is their home and just because they live near the ocean and the hurricane hit here doesn't mean they should all up and relocate to someplace "safer". This is America and the last I heard that means we have the right to live where we choose. They have families here, they have roots here and this IS America and ALL are created equal and ALL are children of God. It is up to us to love them, respect them and share God's love with them.
As I have heard many times, "there, but for the grace of God, go I".
We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow and are looking forward to every minute.
Thanks, as always, for praying for us and praying for the people here!
Thanks also for the comments, they mean so very much to us!
Blessings until tomorrow! Susan and Monty

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Working Day

Wow! We sure accomplished alot today.
The day started early with a phone call from Convoy of Hope saying there would be 2 people coming for loads of drywall today.
We are fortunate enough to have an old grocery store turned into delapidated warehouse just next door. And we are doubly blessed to have a forklift inside. Since Monty is a heavy equipment operator this is right down his alley!
I got to talk with the lady and her nephew picking up the first load. The two of them had worked on her mother's house first. Her mother is 89 years old and blind. They were not done with it but got it to a livable state and were now turning their efforts to hers (the nephew has not even started on his yet). She told how the water had risen to 13' high in her house causing her to loose everything inside. She also had a fire that burned down her kitchen and sun room areas. These fires happened when people left for higher ground and did not turn off their electricity ( an added tragedy). She also spoke about the insurance problems she and everyone else are having. She had the hurricane coverage but not flood. She was not located in a flood zone therefore was told it was not necessary. Her entire insurance payout was only $12,ooo.oo to do everything to rebuild! What a sad story as she has already spent that just in cleanup and has yet to get into the rebuilding process! This is the story that comes from everyone and, may I express my own opinion here---I think this is such hooey! If you were here and saw and heard what we see and hear I think you would agree. Something needs to be done about this and that something is up to the insurance companies!
We spent the rest of our day inside the church where we are living in the parking lot. They put off doing anything but the absolute necessary and concentrated their efforts to the general public for all this time. They are now in the drywalling process and things are quite a mess! We concentrated our efforts on 2 main rooms and really made progress. We will start the process of setting up and office area for us to work out of next week. Monty was able to begin the task of locating tools that are strewn around the church and school and get them into one room where they can be cared for and inventoried for future use. There is not a lack of tools, just a lack of knowing where they all are. Getting them organized will help the volunteers coming down and allowing them to do the work necessary.
We also worked with cleaning the make-shift kitchen area. This church is over a city block in length and the rooms are numerous. At this point it is difficult for us to know what rooms are supposed to be used for what. On Monday we will be meeting with Miss Fran who seems to be the lady to turn to for all the answers. She is an awesome lady and highly respected by all who speak of her.
We did not do any touring today. We have logged many miles over the past 3 days and needed a day of getting a few things done here. The weather also took a major temperature dive, into the 30's by tonight with light, cold rains. Tomorrow doesn't look much better but Monday looks great.
We still need to do some work on our camper. The plumbing is not hooked up yet but we have full access to the church so it has not been a problem thus far. We have been using our heat today and that feels quite good. I guess we should not complain as we hear it is to drop to around 4 degrees at home tonight!
We enjoyed a great seafood dinner this evening at one of the local restaurants that is open and running well. The owner told us of how his other restaurant closer to town suffered in all the water. Everyone has their stories and they feel a sense of both relief and sadness when they tell them. Everyone is different yet the same. All have suffered such tremendous loss in the material sense but what it has done with their emotions is something totally different. The sadness in their eyes, the sense of "will it ever get all done"? shows on all of their faces. When we take their hand or give them a hug you can see some hope, some sense that maybe it will get done, and the blessings come back to us ten-fold. THIS is what they need the most. THIS is what brought us here. THIS is what God wants us to do! THIS is what we hope to do over the next year.
As usual, thank you for keeping us in your prayers. I cannot explain the emotion---and this is only the 3rd day.
When you attend church tomorrow please remember all of these people in your prayers. You don't need to know the names, you don't need to see their faces, you just need to know how desperately they need your prayers and how thankful they are for them. Thank God for all of your blessings---and then take time and notice your blessings and for a day---don't take them for granted!
God bless and keep you until we talk again!
Love, Susan and Monty

Friday, February 17, 2006

We saw the "eye"

What a day it was! We met with Steve Kos, the head of Convoy of Hope which operates out of Gautier, the city right next to us. He and his wife have been here since October operating a disaster station from a local church. They are quite organized and run a tight, efficient ship. They have a warehouse from which they can draw for needed materials and were very welcoming to us. We will be returning Monday morning to see just how their operation works. They have new teams of volunteers coming in Monday and we will learn first hand how they orient them to their work. They are currently living in their motor home in the back of a strip mall along with a couple other campers. It just goes to show how people can make a home anyplace!
From there we decided to take a trip along highway 90 which runs directly on the coast line. This took us from Pascagoula to Pass Christian. Pass Christian is where the eye directly hit. Every mile heading west exposed more and more devastation. By the time we reached Pass Christian there was nothing left standing! I thought we had seen terrible devastation here but this is nothing to the blank lots left with nothing but debris of everything imaginable. The houses are gone, the restaurants are gone, the businesses are gone, the churches are gone, the hotels are gone, the casinos are gone, even the highways and beaches are gone! When I say nothing is left standing I mean nothing is left standing! The only way to know what used to be there is sometimes spray painting on the foundations. We took extensive video of a First Baptist Church that was hit directly. It was a huge church where the entire front side was gone, exposing the pews that had been in the balconies. Even heavy rebar was no match for this storm. We have no idea what is holding up the steeple!
Every mile we took more and more footage and still it will not tell the true story. There are no words, the emotions that came up in each of us became overwhelming. The thing we noticed is that there is no "life" along the beaches. You don't see people running around, walking, working or living. You don't see dogs or cats, you don't even see squirrels in the trees because most of the trees themselves are either gone or down. There just isn't any life! It's a feeling none of the 3 of us have experienced and yet we were nearly unable to express what it was we felt!
The beaches themselves are such a mess. There is debris everywhere and although there are machines combing the beaches, sifting the debris from the sand and trying to smooth it back again for what will hopefully be tourist season, they are still a mess. And as for tourist season, where will they stay? There are no hotels with ocean views, there are no hotels! The casinos were not excluded either. The one gigantic barge casino that we all saw on the news that had been completely lifted from its ocean spot and dropped onto land about a block away is being torn down and the metal is being recycled. As we stopped and looked at it we wondered how something that enormous could be lifted out of the water and dropped on land? These things don't just happen, we don't see such things nor do we understand them.
We drive along, mile after mile after mile seeing scraps of everything imaginable hanging from fallen trees. We see a jacket with one sleeve so tightly wrapped in a tree that it will just have to slowly rot to not be seen anymore. We see boats that have been tossed into what used to be someones home. We see vehicles that are now twisted and crushed beyond recognition. We see showers and toilets and air conditioner parts ripped from there appropriate places inside someones home. All of this debris is a part of someones life, part of them. The pain they must feel is not something we can imagine, nor do we want to. And this is 6 months after the storm!
We stop at a disaster location in Pass Christian, a spot that cannot be missed as it is the only thing standing. There are 2 huge tents, one with all clothing and food that people can come and get, all for free. It looks alot like GoodWill and has a constant stream of people coming in and out. The other tent is a diner/church. They serve meals starting at 7:30 each morning and have a church service each evening at 7:30. We spoke with a couple who were in their second week of volunteering and were going home this weekend as the emotional toll was getting to them. They also are living in their camper behind what used to be a church in Pass Christian. They told us how the evening services are a combination of Mennonites, Presbyterian, Catholic and every denomination imaginable----just like it should be. We are many churches but we are one church! They also have small storage barn type units behind the tents with supplies and assistance of all types. This entire setup was one man's idea, a man who acted on his idea and who is truly a man of God! We did not have the opportunity to meet with him as he was busy helping some people, like he would be doing anything else?!
This drive took us over 4 hours and like I said, the video footage and still photos cannot possibly tell the complete story, but that is all we have. Hopefully we will be adding some of those photos to this blog as soon as we get a bit more settled. I would like to ask that in the meantime please pray for the victims. Prayer can move mountains, and that is just the power that will be needed to restore living conditions for them. So many people have asked us what is needed here, how can they help? Pray-----for them-----for us-----ask God to touch your heart and you will know what to do. Realize that in 6 months it is still in the beginning stages and most likely will be after a full year, maybe even years.
Like I said in the beginning of these journals, we have committed our lives for atleast one year to be here, be "on the ground" and do whatever God has in store for us. We cannot do this without your support and prayers. We welcome your comments to this journal and thank you for reading and coming along with us on our adventure.
I know there are probably things from today that I am too tired and too emotionally exhausted to remember so maybe tomorrow I will remember. For now I will sign off and once again ask for your prayers!
May God bless each and every one of you. We are truly a blessed people and we should never ever take that for granted.
Sleep well all and until tomorrow--------be thankful in everything!
Blessings, Susan

Thursday, February 16, 2006

We are finally here!

Yes, today is Thursday and we are finally here. In a way it doesn't seem possible after all of the planning and preparing and more planning and more preparing. We have been on such a fantastic adventure and hadn't even left our driveway!
We were able to get our donated pickup truck repaired by some of the most wonderful auto mechanics in the world! True angels, thank you Dave, Tony and Joe!
We left home yesterday morning around 7:30am. I took the lead vehicle, our van, with our 2 small dogs, Monty was in the middle pulling the 27' trailer (thank you Mark for the home) and our dear (and priceless) friend, Dave Scott brought up the rear. It was a long day filled with stops, some planned and some not so planned. Pulling a trailer that size is strain enough but also pulling with a vehicle one is not familiar with is added strain. The weather was fantastic, mostly clear and sunshine the entire way. We were able to stop after the first hour and meet up with my youngest brother, his wife and daughter for a wonderful breakfast and final good byes. Thanks alot Johnny---I love you! Get better real soon!
The entire drive was on interstate 65 which made it pretty smooth. I don't really remember just how many stops we made but our original goal was to make it to Birmingham, Alabama. We stopped about 30 miles short of it and got a hotel room where we could stretch out and get some much needed rest! Not to mention watch "Lost" as the 3 of us are hooked for sure! We did get some rest, along with the dogs who did not sleep a wink the entire trip and just kept looking at me as if to ask when we would be going back home!
We were awakened at 5:30am this morning by some guy banging on our hotel door---and then admitting he had the wrong door once confronted by Monty as to what in the world he was doing! It did get us up and moving and after a quick local breakfast we were on the road again. Driving the second day it soon became apparent just how tired we really were. When none of us had a backup driver and had to do it alone, even with 3 way radios it is long!
We did fine, with many stops and one for a quick tire plug as the camper tire got a screw in it. No major events, just long interstate for a long time. Once again the weather was beautiful and continued to get warmer and warmer the farther south we went.
We managed to pull into the church parking lot here around 4:00pm. We backed our camper in next to the back of the church where we have a very large light outside on the pole just near us. Actually I like the light as it feels a bit strange to be here. I know it will take a couple of days just for Monty, myself and the dogs to learn to motivate in the 24' long and 8' wide space we are calling home! It didn't take much to get it set up as we had packed all our clothes inside before leaving. There were no suitcases and such to unload.
We worked for over 3 hours getting the electric hooked up and the trailer blocked and leveled. We decided the plumbing will wait until tomorrow. We have full use of the church restrooms and showers so we are fine.
We had dinner at a nice Chinese buffet and finally felt as though we were a bit settled. The hot shower upon returning to our "parking lot" felt more than wonderful!
The weather is so warm that we actually have the windows of the trailer open--and we were worried about heat!
The dogs have completely crashed on the couch and hopefully will remain there until morning!
We did have the opportunity to meet with Miss Fran who is in charge of the elementary school here within the church and when we told her we planned on staying here for a year to help in whatever capacity they needed us she began to cry! She couldn't believe we quit jobs and such to do this! We also met DJ, a student in the school who was completely spell bound to see our one dog who is a Chinese Crested---hairless! He even came out to make a second trip to the trash dumpster (which is in our front "yard") just to see Samson again! What a cute kid! And I look forward to meeting so many more of them.
I am so thankful to all God for allowing us this opportunity. This is something my heart has been telling me to do for so long! God has nothing but confirm all our plans, bit by bit. I pray He will be able to accomplish whatever He wants through us. He is an awesome God and we only want to do His will and spread His love to these people and all we meet.
We plan to meet with the drywallers who are finishing the work inside the church here tomorrow. We also have a meeting scheduled with a gentleman on the board of directors at the church. We then will be traveling to the nearby city of Gautier where we will meet with the man in charge of the Convoy of Hope who have been working tirelessly with volunteers and getting supplies here. We hope to then travel along the coast a bit farther, heading towards Pass Christian where the eye hit. Our faithfull companion, Dave, has his video cam ready and plans to bring the filming back home where it can be put together in a presentation for the church and surrounding churches.
I would like to sincerely thank all of you who have financially made this trip possible for us thus far. You know who you are and I only wish you could see my heart and feel the warmth and love for each and every one of you! Without you we would not be able to accomplish God's will.
We will be keeping all of you in our prayers and just know how much we miss you already. We have already decided our Small Group Bible study should just meet here in Pascagoula as usual so everyone-----pack your bags and get ready!
We love you all and until next time-----God bless you!
PS. It is my hope to journal each evening and let you know how the days go. Your comments are valuable and we thank you for sharing in our journey!
Blessings, Susan & Monty

Saturday, February 11, 2006


First of all we would like to thank all of you who have commented thus far! Your encouragement and comments mean so very much to both of us. Our calling to do this is a direct calling from God but because we are human we have had our moments of weakness and confusion! Your words, thoughts and prayers will carry us on to our goal of helping the hurricane victims not only rebuild their homes and businesses, but also their lives and their faith!
The past few days have been racked with emotional ups and downs. In the past entry I told you about the 95 Ford truck that was given to us---praise God! It has required some "fine tuning" and thus we are delayed another day. At this point it looks like we will be pulling out on Tuesday morning----appropriately, Valentine's Day! Without the absolute angels at Tire & Wheel Center (Tony & Joe) here at home this would not be possible! These 2 men have worked and worked and worked to get our truck ready. They have stayed after their normal closing times and worked well into the evenings and Saturday just to make sure this truck is safe, not to mention doing all of this without any compensation whatsoever! Like I said, true angels! (And their boss is a pretty good guy himself!!!!!!!)
We have spoken to so many people this week in an attempt to get the word out. Our local newspaper will be coming to our home for an interview and photo session today. They heard about what we are doing and thought it would make for some good news-----a nice change for the news!
We were also blessed to start off our Monday morning with a call from our State Representative, Peggy Welch. How many times does one get blessed, first thing on a Monday morning, with prayer from our State Rep!? Thank you Peggy, and thank you for all you do for all of us! You have been, and continue to be, such a blessing to the people of your home state of Mississippi!
There are some other "angels" that I need to mention. We had an idea of creating some type of emblem for our truck telling about our mission. We took the idea to Everywhere Signs here in town and a gentleman named Ryan took our idea and ran with it. We now have 2 magnetic signs for our truck that are vastly beyond anything we could have dreamed up! He took the words, Mississippi Missions Project and combined them with a white cross in the background and bright orange and yellow backgrounds and made a dream come true. The color orange was the favorite color of our best friend who just passed away a couple of weeks ago and we wanted to dedicate this truck to him (Chuck). Ryan also made a license plate for the front of the truck that has the same background colors of orange and yellow and put the name "Chuck" on it----we miss you Chuck and thank Cathy for letting us honor you this way!
Tomorrow is our "send off" at our church and I plan to carry nothing less than a bath towel with me as I know my tears will not stop. We know we are called by God to do this mission and are so very ready to go, but that doesn't make it any easier to leave our families and friends and friends that have become family! That pain will be tough! We had hoped to drive the truck and pull the camper to the church for all to see but that will not happen. We will be opening our house after services for all who would like to come by and see it and send us off. The same will be going on Monday also!
For now, I must end this and get on with the rest of the day and see what God has in store for us today! What we have looked at as a delay all this week was only God telling us He wasn't quite ready for us to go yet! And who am I to argue with God? He always knows what is best, and He always wins!!!!
Thanks again to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. Please don't stop!
For anyone reading this and thinking you would like to help support our mission, donations are all being sent through our home church: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277,
Bloomington, IN 47402. No donation is too small and all will receive a tax certificate. But most of all, each and every donation will go directly to the hurricane victims. Just write "hurricane relief" in the memo section of your check,
If you question the authenticity of this or would like more information, please call Pastor Dave Schunk at Vineyard at 812-336-4602.
Until next time, Susan & Monty

Monday, February 06, 2006

Shock and Awe

This past few days have been so busy and filled with so many miracles I am not sure just where to begin.

My husband has been reunited with his one and only son after nearly 21 years! God has a way of always bringing about the truth. We were so blessed to be able to welcome him, David, into our home and into our lives. He is a wonderful man and seems to not only have his head correctly placed on his shoulders, he also knows his faith and this means more to us than words can express. Our prayer is that he continues his walk in the Lord and we can be a family as God intended. Bless you David! PS---you were right---I never gave up on you!

My parents showed up with this new laptop as a gift for us, what a wonderful surprise! This is the tool that will make it possible for us to keep this blogspot available for everyone to read. Having a supportive family at this time of change is something that is truly priceless and we are so thankful for them and my 3 brothers who have also stood right behind us doing anything and everything they can. Without Mark and his donation of his camper trailer for us we wouldn't have a place to live when we get there!

Monty spent all last week preparing the trailer, packing the brakes, cleaning and doing all the things that we had no idea would need to be done as we have not used a trailer before. It is now complete with curtains and ready to roll!

I mentioned in our first entry that we are being sponsored by an association of churches here in Bloomington and will be representing all of southern Indiana on our adventure. We were invited to the Assembly of God church this past Sunday so they could pray over us and bless us before we leave. The service itself was so awesome and Spirit filled that I truly felt as if my feet came up off the floor. Their music is wonderful and the people were so filled with love for us. The miracle of the day was at the end of the service when a gentleman, Bobby, came up to Monty and presented him with the keys to a '94 Ford F250 Powerstroke Diesel extended cab pickup truck------free and clear-----just GAVE it to us! Not just to use on the trip or just to haul our trailer but GAVE it to us!!!! To make me speechless is quite a feat and Bobby did just that! How do you go about thanking someone for something like that? There are not words to adequately describe how we feel, the language just doesn't provide them! Bobby's only response was that God told him to do it! WOW!!!!!!! God is Awesome! We now have an "object lesson" in front of us 24/7 to look at in times of discouragement or confusion. God realized we were visual people and you don't get much more visual than that big white truck! (angels are white, aren't they?)
Among the other miracles are the donation we received from our dearest friend who just lost her husband to cancer only 2 weeks ago! She also invited us over last evening to go through her late husband's vast collection of tools and insisted Monty have more than we could have possibly wished for in the way of construction tools! We are literally taking a part of Chuck with us now!

Ever since we started this journey we have seen evidence of God's hand, guiding and directing us along the way, reassuring us that we are on the right path, we are doing what He is telling us to do.

Just this morning we received a call from our State Representative, Peggy Welch who had some support for us and contact information that is so very valuable. She would not hang up the telephone without praying for us! A political leader taking the time to pray with us??!!! In 2006? God is good! Thank you Peggy, we will be in touch I am sure.

I am sure I am leaving out something that has happened over the past few days but honestly, we are still in a state of shock at the outpouring of support that my brain cannot take it all in.

For those of you who might be sitting there and reading this right now, thinking about something you feel you are being called to do-----DO IT! Take the step out in faith, pray and give God all you have got! You will know whether you are on the right path or not! Also, know your faithfulness will be tested. As our own Pastor Dave said a couple of weeks ago, when you make a comminttment, you will be challenged. This week has also held its own set of challenges, which I will not elaborate on as they are quite painful and I have put those in God's hands, knowing His timing is much more accurate than mine (although I would love to fed ex my watch to Him so we might be on the same time?).

Thank you all for reading and keeping us in your prayers. I would only ask one thing from all of you right now----pray for my children!

Thanks again and until our next entry----God bless and keep you!
Susan and Monty