Thursday, March 30, 2006

Happy Birthday DeeDee!

This is Monty's silloette picture. It's really me scrubbing the stained windows in the entry of the church from all the overspray left by the painter!

Today is the day where I felt as though I had "hit a wall" and was really tired. Having a total crew of volunteers numbering over 70 causes this place to be quite busy and at all hours! Since the days don't really have names and the work is the same whether it's Monday or Saturday I think I am just tired! The weather was beautiful, sunshine and breezy so I did take some time to sit under the canopy on our trailer and just reflect and go through my devotions. The thing that helped me the most was the chance to wash my hair! I know it sounds silly but that is a special deal around here! Even though we are able to shower in our trailer we don't have enough hot water for me to shower and wash my hair. So the daily shower works but the hair is something that gets put off and put off! There is a deep construction sink in the hallway and it works great so I took the time to do that and it made me feel much better! I guess it's the little things! :)

It was also laundry time and this trip was quite uneventful. There was enough room at the laundry mat, which usually isn't the case.

Monty and DeeDee and Meow were busy in the small building right next to the school. It is currently used as a place to put most anything and everything, most of it needing to go to the curb for trash pickup! DeeDee used the trunk of her car to move things from there to the warehouse and they made progress in getting it more organized and usable. We hope to turn it into a tool shop where everything can be organized and accounted for.

Our group of 42 from Calvary Chapel in Pennsylvania left this evening. I have never seen so much "stuff" packed into vehicles in my life! But they managed to get it all in, along with the people and they pulled out after 6pm for the very long trip home. They made such a powerful impact on the families they have been working with! One of the homeowners came by to say goodbye to them and 2 of the teens rushed up to him and hugged on him like he was their grandpa! Once again, THIS is what this mission is all about! As I have said before, and will continue to say, rebuilding the structures is a small part of the relief work!

DeeDee continued her video taping of the school teachers and students and their stories of the storm. She has some fantastic, heart wrenching footage that she plans on sharing with our church family at home! Interviewing them was both hard, and yet good, for them. Remembering all the horror and mess and fear required re-living it in a way. It was painful for them yet healing. They mentioned that some of the best volunteer work had been done by those who just came in and prayed for them! This is something every one of you can do from the comforts of your own home! Please do so! As she also said, "you can watch us on TV and read about us in the papers, but until you have been here and walked in our shoes, you have no idea what it is really like!" AMEN!

Our Tennessee group finished the structural changes in another teacher's home today. They actually finished a day early and the homeowners are exstatic! When you bring in 7 volunteers with all of those extra hands it is amazing what can be accomplished in a short amount of time! They also came in and within 4 days they changed lives, both in residents here and in their own lives! We are thankful to Michelle who was the only woman with 6 men! (she was the one to keep them all in line!)

We went out to celebrate DeeDee's birthday this evening! We went to a local buffet and had a really nice time. It was extra nice that she got 2 phone calls from home with wishes for a happy birthday! She also learned that she is not only missed by them but her little Yorkie, Frisky is a bit lethargic and missing her very much! Next time DeeDee just needs to bring her with her! Samson and Bitty would like the company! :)

One of the teachers, Miss Linda, baked brownies and chocolate fudge which came in handy for birthday. Although these "brownies" reminded of something my friend, Ellen, would make. The brownie was covered with a layer of chocolate, then carmel and topped with nuts! Thanks Linda, everyone sure enjoyed them!

Tomorrow will be spent preparing for the next group of volunteers which will arrive Sunday. We are expecting another 74 for the week and know God's blessings will be pouring through them to people all over the city! Please keep them all in your prayers for safe travel and blessings to flow like a river from them to others!

If you would like to help in supporting us in our mission you can send your tax deductible gifts to us through Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina Fund" on your gift as 100% of your gift is sent to us and 100% is used to bless those who have suffered, and are still suffering, from the hurricane! Without your gifts we would not be able to do God's work! We thank you for opening your hearts and being a part of this mission!

Until tomorrow....we love you all.....Susan and Monty

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Bitty and Samson in their new bed--right next to the emergency exit! Just in case they decide to sneak out in the middle of the night!

And yet another house waiting to be demolished!

Today seemed like a day of miracles when it came to the work being done with our volunteers! We started out by loading another load of drywall for our extreme makeover house. We loaded it onto the back of Monty's truck and off we went to deliver it and take a look at the progress on the house. This team has been amazing in the transformation of the house! They have worked so hard and accomplished so much! How can we ever thank them? The only thing sad about them is that they left for home today! Once again, a group of people who were total strangers less than a week ago and now we feel like they are a part of our family here! We are keeping them in our prayers for a safe trip home!

I did more work on the last of the church beams and got the last one all but done. There is a small section near the center light that someone taller than me will need to reach and then all 5 of them will be done!

We had a wonderful surprise at lunch today. Calvary Chapel from Pennsylvania have been working on a group of houses in one neighborhood and one of the homeowners has been cooking meals for them. They invited us to join them for home cooked gumbo at lunch. There are 42 of these volunteers from Calvary and they are doing some fantastic work in these homes. They started a few months ago with the original tear outs and are taking them to completion. They are in the drywall finishing stage in most of them and doing great work. The people who made the gumbo also made chili, salad with all the fixins, bread and 3 kinds of cake for dessert! They have been cooking for this team all week and this is such a blessing for any volunteers who are here. They cooked dinner for them this evening also! And Monty (who has been waiting for some good gumbo) said it was the best he has ever had! They had been cooking it for 2 days to get it just right! It was fun to see what this team has accomplished and to hear them talk about how they are returning in a month or so. They had so many wanting to come on this trip that they had to cut off the number! Now that is working for the Lord!

From lunch we traveled to Gladys's house as that Indiana team was going to wrap up their portion of the work and head home today. This was the first time they would have the opportunity to meet Gladys. We all met at her daughter, Callie's, house. We learned that Gladys had 10 children and she is a great,great, great grandmother! Her son, Gerald, was also there and he is so pleased with the house he said "one of the children, who shall remain nameless, will be taking the house'!!!! :) The team enjoyed meeting Gladys and plenty of photos were taken. We hope to have them on here in a couple of days. She is an amazing lady and everyone was touched by her and her thankfulness! We look forward to continuing the work with part of the upcoming team from Ohio who arrive on Sunday. Scott, who has been heading up the project, presented Gladys with a framed photo of the entire crew who had been working on her house and 2 poems that had been written by him for his grandparents! They were beautiful and Gladys was so pleased. THIS is what this mission is all about!

Our team fromTennessee are continuing to work in the school teacher's house. We stopped by there this morning and they have really made alot of structural changes and are transforming the house into a home! They are planning on returning tomorrow and Friday. What an amazing group of people who have also worked until they are exhausted and have been able to be such a blessing to this family. They were telling us how a couple of them spent nearly all of yesterday underneath the house in the dirt and whatever getting the flooring put in. And they had on shorts! :)

Tonight was midweek church and we were blessed by the message Pastor Ken gave us. Reaching young people was the core of his lesson. Young people are looking for something genuine, something meaningful and they want to make a difference in this world. We are too quick to judge them based on their outer appearance. He talked about how TV has raised the past 2 generations and we cannot afford to loose another. He told us we need to take our holiness and put it in a basket in the back of our church and meet these youth where they are at! He challenged us to do something different, learn how to reach them. Our lives, homes and churches would be totally different if we would just stop and wait on God. Don't put God on our timetables! He also challenged us all to tap into the power that is inside of us that we have neglected! His closing of "all things are possible to those who believe" is something each and every one of us need to take to heart and put into action!

God has given each and every one of us gifts! We have them, we just don't use them! This coming generation needs to see the power of God, and they need to see it in us! The old saying that "actions speak louder than words" holds true to this day! We should all be willing to allow the gifts inside of us to flow. We never know who we might reach!

We thank all of our volunteers for taking their gifts from God and putting them into action! Thank you for taking a step out of your comfort zone and serving others in a way you probably have never done before! God will truly bless you ten fold!

Without all of you out there who read our blog journal and support us this mission would not be possible. We are completely dependant on your gifts! No gift is too small! We laugh, but it is true, our mortgage company does not care where we are or what we are doing, they just want that monthly check. Without your gifts in support of us we would not be able to mail that check. We thank those of you who are already supporting us and would like to give the information to those of you who would like to start. Please send your tax deductible gifts to Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note on your gift "Katrina fund" as 100% of your gift is sent to us! If you should have a question as to the authenticity of this mission please do not hesitate to call the church at 812-336-4602. We are forever grateful for your gifts and promise to use them to do what God has called us to do, rebuild homes and lives!

Go out tomorrow, use the gifts God has given you, step out and go the extra mile, go where you have never gone a blessing!

Until tomorrow......Susan and Monty

Happy Birthday Meow

This is what the "kitchen" area looks like for our volunteers, and us. Sheetrock is hung but not finished with taping, mudding and texturing. But it serves a great purpose for all of us.

The other one shows the height of the scissor lift and the beam that I have been working on. I thought I could get the staining of it completed today but it didn't happen. For some reasont the height really got to me today and I just stopped until tomorrow.

Monty left early this morning for his day of fishing. He and Pastor Hart had a wonderful day and even though no real fish were caught. Pastor Hart has become a real friend and we are thankful for that and feel blessed to be getting to know him. Monty had the opportunity to see the remains of their church and why they are now meeting in a tent. He also saw the existing parsonage and how far they have come with the rebuilding. We would ask that all of you keep them in your prayers as they really!!!! need to be able to get their temporary metal building put up and get out of that tent and begin to restore some sort of normalcy in their church families.

I went to see our "extreme makeover" house this morning. I was amazed! These guys look like worker ants as they are all over the place and working harder than if they were getting paid for their work. The changes they have made are incredible! Gladys's son was there today and it is such a blessing to see the smile on his face as he participates in rebuilding his mother's house. They are putting up the drywall today, the floors are rebuilt, the electric is completed, the cabinets are being repainted, the roof is done, the back porch wall is being rebuilt and so on and so on. This Zionsville team will be leaving tomorrow evening and they have been true angels to this woman and her family. They will all be gathering at one of the daughter's house tomorrow afternoon for a shrimp fest and a time to get to meet Gladys herself! I have no doubt that there will be flowing tears along with huge smiles and even tighter hugs! THIS is what our mission is all about! THIS is rebuilding homes along with lives! THIS is God at work through others!

The Tennessee crew is near completion on the structural changes in the teacher's house they have been working in. They have enabled this family to do things that they would never have been able to accomplish on their own! They have started this family on the way to being reunited back in their home again and becoming a real family again! How do you find the words to thank people for that? There are no words!

Opportunities like these 2 homes are everywhere down here. It takes volunteers like these to take time from their own lives to come here and get involved in the lives of others. There are more of them out there, you are out there and maybe you have been thinking about "maybe" coming down and spending some time here. It is my hope that when you read about what is happening that God will move your hearts to either come down or find a way to support this mission. Without the churches who knows where Mississippi would be?

Today was Meow's birthday! We won't tell how old but she isn't over the hill yet! Her one desire was to have "real" seafood for dinner. She is originally from Singapore and she knows real seafood when she tastes it. The best place we knew of was the Imperial Palace in Biloxi. Going there also gave us the opportunity to show she and DeeDee more of the hurricane damage and what happened to some of the casinos. The dinner was fantastic! As we "pondered" on our meal we wondered just where else Meow could have eaten prime rib, BBQ ribs, fresh shrimp, fresh crab and the best chocolate cake in the world----all in one place----and all in one night! Needless to say we all felt as though we should just roll home instead of drive. It was such a great evening as we sat at the table for a long time discussing so many aspects of God and His blessings. It just feels so good to have friends from our home church here! It's hard to describe just how uplifting it is for us!

DeeDee did more interviewing of teachers and students in the school today. I sat in on part of them and it is amazing to hear the stories. The children start remembering what it was like and the emotion that comes out brings tears to your eyes. One small boy talked about how his daddy was trying to move his bed out of the water and had to call someone to come in because of the huge snake that was in the water under the bed. Another talked about how her parents owned a restaurant and after the storm her momma quickly cooked up all the food they had and served it to anyone that came otherwise it would all spoil. There was a group of teachers that camped out in the front yard of one of their houses for weeks because they couldn't get into their own houses. There was no power, no gas and no phone service. They lived in the dark and the heat was unbearable, over 95 degrees for days! They talked about how painful it was to relive it all but also how much better it made them feel. DeeDee has provided a wonderful blessing to this school, and she has never lifted a hammer or screwdriver! She just came with an open mind and open ears to listen and a warm heart with outstretched arms to give (and receive) hugs on an as needed basis! Just another aspect in the rebuilding of lives!

If you would like to help support us in this mission, please send your tax deductible gifts to us through Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Be sure to mark your gift for "Katrina fund" as 100% of your gift will be sent to us. This mission would not be possible without your gifts. Our mortgage company doesn't care if we are living in our house or living in this FEMA trailer, they just want their check each month. And without your gifts we would not have the funds to pay for our gasoline to get around and see houses and schedule the rebuilding as needed. YOU make all of this possible, and you never need to leave your home! Next time you stretch out on your couch or lean back in your easy chair I would like for you to think of how it would be if you only had a stiff, straight, hard couch "thing" to sit on. You see, the camper trailers were made to do just that---camp! Not live in, there is a big difference! And for you women, what if your refrigerator was too small to hold a gallon of milk and your oven could only hold an 8x8 baking dish? We don't even want to get into just how small the bathrooms are! And forget taking a bath, you are lucky if you can turn around in your shower! These are the facts of life here! It's not a picnic! It's not a camping trip, it's everyday life and it is getting old! We all need to do whatever we are able to do to get real life restored to Mississippi! We ALL can do something!

I ask you to ask God what it is you can do and then DO IT! You will be blessed for it!

May God bless and keep each of you! Until tomorrow....We miss you! Susan and Monty

Monday, March 27, 2006

Working, working, working

This is a photo of the church here, from the front. The other is Pastor Tim dressed as "Bible Bob", the superhero, for the children's chapel service. The theme that Jesus is our Superhero was a huge hit with the kids and with this outfit he really got their attention! No wonder he and Sheri do children's crusades, they are awesome with the kids!

Our volunteer teams were working, working and working even more today. The Zionsville team was up and out very early to continue work on our extreme makeover. They are ready for drywall tomorrow! There is only a small section of shingles to complete the roof. They will be cleaning and painting the kitchen cabinets. The floors are rebuilt and walls rebuilt, electrical is the same as done and they are like worker ants! We are so blessed to have them and Gladys will have a wonderful new home to come to once everything is done. This team will not be able to complete it 100% but we have a large, skilled team coming from Ohio next week and they will be able to do even more finishing work.

Our Tennessee crew are working on a home that is close to an extreme makeover. They are concentrating on the structural changes that need to be made. They are blessed to have the homeowner on site working with them. Wendell took the week off of work to be with this team and that is such a help as so many times things come up and there is no one on site to get answers from. They will also be able to do some astonishing things in the week they are here and we thank God for their spirit of service.

Our women from our hometown church had a busy day. DeeDee is a special education teacher and spent the morning with our teachers here. She was able to spend time just letting them talk and tell their stories. They were so touched that they want her to come back again tomorrow morning. The only way Meow could make the trip was for her to bring her computer with her and do her real job while here. She worked late into the night last night and all morning today. She and DeeDee went to one of our church members homes this afternoon and raked her yard for her. They both laughed when they realized that they found muscles they did not know they had!

Tomorrow is Meow's birthday and we have a special seafood dinner planned for her as her request is for seafood. She is from Singapore and misses real salt water seafood. It is in abundance here.

Monty spent the day running errands and getting materials for the workers on their jobs. One could find themselves on the road all day! He was supposed to get another semi of drywall today but as usual, it has been delayed. Maybe tomorrow????

I worked on the scissor lift restaining 2 of the 3 beams in the entry of the sanctuary. Working 30 feet in the air can really make one weak in the knees, literally, but 1 more and they are done. The 1 left is the biggest one but hopefully I can get it done tomorrow. I also got in an hour to take the dogs and walk to the ocean. It's less than a mile but with the 2 of them having to stop and smell along the way it takes awhile. It was a beautiful day for a walk!

We are in a bit earlier this evening as we are both very tired. Monty will be taking a day off tomorrow and going fishing! Pastor Hart has invited him to go and cruise the bayous and do a little fishing. Monty needs the day away and what better way than a day of fishing with a pastor! (let's see what kind of fish stories come from this outing???) :)

I would like to ask all of you to pray for someone very dear to us. We have posted a photo of our "adopted" son on this blog and received word this evening that he is in some trouble and could really use all the prayers he can get right about now! He is an awesome kid and he will know and feel that we are praying for him!

I would also like to ask for another prayer. The sheriff here lost his son this morning. Monty knows the sheriff and he is a wonderful, Christian man. His son was on the way to the hospital to be with his sister who was having her baby. He was on a motorcycle and a car pulled out and clipped him. This caused his bike to become unbalanced and it went sideways and threw him out in front of it and he was then run over by an oncoming car and killed instantly! It is such a tragic accident and he was just recovering from an accident he had about a year ago. Please keep this family in your prayers also. We don't need to know them to pray for them! And they don't need to know us. We need to remember just how precious life is and how quickly it can end! Mississippi Missions Project will be sending flowers! We thank you for being a part of it.

If you are not, and would like to be, a part of this mission you can send your tax deductible gift to us at Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note on your gift that it is for "Katrina fund" as 100% of your gift will be sent to us. You will receive a tax statement also. We are so thankful for your support as without you we would not be able to do what we are doing. You are awesome!

Blessings to all of you and until tomorrow.......remember your prayers and add these people to them tonight! Love, Susan and Monty

Sunday is the Lord's Day

Monty and Scott unloading another semi load of sheetrock last week. This one is nearly gone, over 700 sheets, and we expect another load tomorrow. Convoy of Hope is purchasing it as some monies have been released to them. We are blessed to be a part of them and the people are also blessed with material to rebuild their homes.

Today was the Lord's Day for sure. We went to church here at Bethel and it was great to have our home church friends, DeeDee and Meow there with us---a real touch from home! Part of the Zionsville, Indiana team was also there---a great showing from the state of Indiana!

Pastor Tim had an incredible message, "Being on the verge of a miracle". He talked about how God is waiting to move and it is going to take all of us to step out, into the unknown, to get in line with His plan and be His servants! He challenged all of us to be participators, not offer up excuses or blame others for our situations, neither of which will solve our problems. He told us that God will challenge us to take the first step so He can step in and meet our needs. Being a Christian is not a spectator sport! Really some words to take to heart and then to act on!

From there the 4 of us had a nice Cajun lunch and then drove to the highway 90 bridge catastrophe. It surely must be the most photographed place around! The tide was way out today and we got to see more of it than any other time we have been there. We also took a short trip along the shore line seeing where alot of the debris and some of the severely damaged homes have been cleared out.

When we got back Monty took a short rest, DeeDee and Meow were busy and I made a quick trip to the laundry! Thanks to Karen I had plenty of quarters, and will have for a couple of trips atleast! Sunday afternoons is definitely not the time to go if you are in a hurry but with only 2 loads I did okay.

I got home just in time for us to leave for our Sunday evening service at New Life Church. It was power packed, to say the least! What a blessing we receive every time we go. Pastor preached on worship and it was amazing, and Spirit filled! They have been so warm and loving to us that we feel like a part of their family! We thank God for bringing them into our lives!

Dinner was very late, Taco Bell and then back here to welcome our last incoming team for the week, the team of 7 from Tennessee. They will be working in one of our teacher's homes for the entire week. They came with a truck load of tools and ready to get busy working and blessing this family. It is close to our extreme makeover home! Be sure and stay tuned this week to get updates on both and as soon as possible we will get photos on here so you can also see the amazing progress being made and be a part of each make over! It will be as close as possible to the real thing, but of course, unless you come and participate it will be the closest you can get!

It is nearly midnight and we are exhausted. Monty has a semi to unload tomorrow and I will be working on restaining the huge beams in the church all week. We got approval to keep the scissor lift another week so that is my project. Pray I can get them all done. Some of them are 30' in the air and my knees get a bit weak when the lift sways back and forth!

We love you all and if you would like to help support us in this awesome calling from God, please send your tax deductible gifts to: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Be sure to mark "Katrina fund" on your gift as 100% of your gift is sent directly to us! We thank you for your giving hearts, God bless you for making this possible!

Until tomorrow.....we miss everyone! Susan and Monty

PS. Even though Meow is from Singapore and thought she spoke English quite well, the southern slang is proving to be quite interesting for her! :)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

They have arrived ---- in mass!

Scott on the scissor lift cleaning the beams in the entry way of the church, 30' in the air!

The house remains are located on Dauphin Island off the coast of Alabama. Nearly half of the homes on the small island are completely gone. All are built on the stilts you see here, some were even taller. The winds and water were just too much!

We started today with devotions in the meeting room with our team from Zionsville. (Monty started his day at 4:30am!) From there they headed to our "extreme makeover" house that belongs to Gladys. All 21 of them. We are so anxious to see the results of this makeover! What a blessing this team will be. There were a few younger ones that stayed behind and helped us wash down all the chairs inside the church.

Before we could get the chairs done the next team from Calvary Chapel in Pennsylvania arrived --- all 42 of them! They brought all of their own bedding and such and came with more food than you see in a grocery store! The women of their congregation had prepared meals and then frozen them so they could all be warmed in the crockpost they brought with them. As soon as they had everything unloaded and organized they headed out for their days work.

We went back to cleaning the chairs until it was time for lunch. We decided to use that time to go and check on our team and see how they were progressing. Amazing! They are like worker ants and already had the old shingles off and were working on the structural issues. They set up for the lunch they had brought with them and then it was back to work. We took off for Lowes to pick up some of the supplies they needed. We ended up making 2 trips for them but it is worth it as they are highly skilled and know exactly what needs to be done. No complaints, just working with enthusiasm and joy! This combination is exactly what we have been working towards since we got here. We were able to communicate with this team prior to their arrival and let them know the details of the house they would be working on. This allowed them to bring the tools and equipment necessary to do the job. THAT is what we are here to do! The entire process is alot more successful, thus alot more fun!

Before we could get back our 2 friends from our hometown church had arrived. We were so very happy to see them and they came with care packages that were awesome. I have enough body wash to feel clean and smell good for quite some time! They brought snack foods, complete with dog treats, and donated fleece blankets to donate to the nursery kids here. I must thank Karen for the many, many quarters-----now I can get some laundry done!!!! Bless you for thinking of it! Thanks to Joe for the movies and for my 2 Oprah magazines-----but who knows how many months it will take for me to get through them as time is precious! Thanks to Keith (and Karen) for the laundry detergent as you also made it much thriftier to be clean! Deep thanks to those of you who put together some gas money!!! You are all such a blessing to us and it would involve way too many tears to tell you truly how much we miss you!

Our friends, DeeDee and Meow (yes, that is her real name!) are not roughing it quite as much as the other teams; they are staying in the camper trailer we moved out of! They still have to go into the church at night to use the bathroom and will also need to wait their turn to take a shower but their sleeping arrangements are a bit more on the comfortable side! They both are smiling!!!! :)

The 4 of us decided to go out for dinner this evening, a chance for us to visit and get away for a bit. We enjoyed a local buffet, complete with some dessert to hold us until tomorrow!

When we returned our Zionsville team had a wonderful bonfire going in the back. It is nice and warm during the days but the night temps have dipped into the 30's so the fire felt good! They are taking tomorrow and going to Dauphin Island. They want to go to a beach and that has the cleanest sand that we know of. They will then return to Gladys's house Monday morning ready to dig in and work hard another day!

The last team for the week is coming tomorrow night from Tennessee. There are 7 of them, also skilled. They will have one of our teacher's houses to work on for the entire week they are here, another real blessing!

So our count of volunteers this week is "up there", I'm too tired to add them up but I know there are alot and they are doing alot of good and blessing so many people! We thank God for each and every one of them and for their hearts of service.

Tomorrow is Sunday, a day of praising God and resting! We set that day aside for rest, or atleast we make an attempt to do so! We have so much to be thankful for and so many reasons to praise our Lord! He has been so awesome to us and we are so blessed to be here doing what we are doing!

If you are interested in helping to support us in our mission, please send your tax deductible gift to Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Be sure and note "Katrina fund" on your gift as 100% of your gift is sent directly to us. We thank you for your giving heart and pray blessings for you!

Until tomorrow....give thanks and praise to God for all your blessings when you are in church tomorrow! God is an awesome God! Susan and Monty

It's beginning to look like a church!

Washing windows, scrubbing floors, cleaning drywall mess from ceilings and walls, restaining huge beams, mopping the plywood stage floor and whatever else to get the church to start to look like a church is how we all spent our day today.

The photo of the Calvary Chapel volunteer group is complete with their van and trailer which carried all of their gear! What an amazing group of high school kids! What a blessing they were while they were here! Thanks kids!

Like I said, we spent the entire day on the sanctuary. The drywallers did not leave it in good condition, to say the least. Tim, Scott, Monty and I dug in, turned up the music CD in the church and worked and worked and worked. And by the end of the night it is looking like a real church may be on the way! You just cannot imagine the dust from all the drywall sanding. It's everywhere, not to mention the overspray on the walnut beams and stained windows and walls! With mops and buckets and scrubbers and sponges we tackled it. The music kept us going, along with some singing of our own to keep the humor in what we were doing! It all looks much better than it did. It isn't done but I'm not sure that is a word that can be used anywhere down here just yet!

Monty loaded drywall for people late afternoon and also helped get the HVAC worker, Jason, up on the roof so he could work on one of the air conditioners.

Our first group of volunteers for the week arrived tonight. They are from Zionsville, Indiana. This is their first trip here and are very excited. They came ready to work! They not only came with a rather large camper trailer for one family, a popup camper for some of the men and another trailer acting as a job trailer filled with tools and personal items! There are 21 of them and they should really be able to get alot of work done and thus be a great blessing in what they do. They will start with our "extreme make over" home tomorrow. From there we may pull a few of them to other jobs, each day brings it's own surprises! We are very glad they are here and look forward to spending the week with them.

Our next group will arrive tomorrow morning, a group of 42. Then our home town girls will be here in the evening and the final group from Tennessee arriving Sunday evening. All total we will be at 73 volunteers this week! Praise God!!!!!!! Be sure to stay tuned as this should be a great week filled with alot of news! You won't want to miss a thing!

Don't forget, if you would like to help support us in the rebuilding of communities and lives here in Pascagoula you can send your tax deductible gift to: Vineyard Community Church PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please be sure and note on your gift "Katrina fund" as 100% of your gift goes directly to us. We thank you for joining us in our mission. May God bless you and yours!

Until tomorrow.....go out and be a blessing to someone tomorrow! Make God smile!

Susan and Monty

Thursday, March 23, 2006

We almost lost him!

Two more houses waiting to be demolished. I just can't imagine coming home to see my house looking like these. Where would I start? And remember, these photos are 7 months after the storm!!!! Insurance settlements are slow in coming.

This morning was spent arranging rooms for our incoming volunteers. We have 21 coming from Zionsville, Indiana; 42 coming from Calvary Church; 7 from Tennessee and 2 from our hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. We set up sleeping quarters with rooms for men and rooms for women. We have 9 available rooms with a couple in the upstairs area. Every one is being used this coming week! The following week looks fantastic also!

Having all of these volunteers is what we have been working toward. The work cannot get done without them! We can have all the people in the city call for help but without the volunteers it cannot get done! For those of you who have already been down here, thank you! For those of you who haven't and have been thinking about it, come!!! You will get caught up in the excitement of helping rebuild, of talking with the residents and in praising God for what you have when you go home! Life changing!!!

Monty and Scott continued their work inside the church in the areas where the drywall contractor has been working.

We were blessed today to have lunch with another Pastor who we have gotten to know. He was able to give us some great contact information which will hopefully lead to more assistance and more volunteers. We are so grateful to be working with and getting to know ministers from all around the city. We are all one church and should all be working together toward our goal----to be able to help the people rebuild their lives!

Monty had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with Steve, the Convoy of Hope coordinator in the city next to us, Gautier. They went around checking on his jobs and seeing how his crews were doing. It was a good learning experience and a chance to see how others are working their efforts. Steve and his wife,Carol have been here since October and are planning on leaving here sometime in June and head back home to Wisconsin. They have done some awesome work in the time they have been here and been a blessing to so many people.

We were invited out to dinner by one of the teachers here, Miss Linda and her husband Bruce. They are the ones who also treated us to the seafood buffet at the casino a couple of weeks ago. They knew of a good Mexican restaurant which really sounded good to all of us. Scott had gone out bike riding (and he rides for miles and miles and miles) and Monty had just gotten back from his afternoon with Steve. I was inside in the church when one of the students at the school came in and asked me if I knew our dogs had gotten out of our trailer! Sheer panic set in me as I knew Samson would be frantic and not know where he was or what he was doing! I ran outside to find Bitty in the parking lot looking all around for Samson. I called and called for him but he wasn't to be found. Tim came out and was also calling and calling and looking and looking. No sight of him and no sounds. Monty was ready to get in the van and start looking when Tim caught site of cars and trucks screeching to a stop in the road in front of the church, one block away! Sure enough, Samson was wandering around, back and forth across the street, completely freaked out and not knowing what to do. He wouldn't come to Tim and by the time I got there he even ran from me at first! I finally convinced him to come to me when he heard the word "treats". He was shaking all over and completely terrified --- just like I was! I know for sure that his guardian angel was with him----and that I will never leave just the screen door closed on the trailer. They had seen someone and when they jumped up, the door opened and out they went! I don't want to feel that panic again!

We did enjoy our dinner. There were 8 of us and it's so nice to fellowship with others and get to know them! This couple is so awesome---they haven't even gotten their house torn out yet and have already offered for us to come and live in their spare bedroom when it is done! Offers like that are such a blessing, just knowing someone has the heart of Jesus, it's great! Linda has really gotten in to the tear out process! We are going to have a couple of our volunteer construction experts go over one evening and give them some structural advise on their rebuilding. Oh yeah, they have an orange tree right outside their front door and they are just starting to bloom. They smell so good! Surely God has orange trees in heaven because they smell heavenly! :)

We worked for a short time this evening inside the church. Monty taught me how to use the scissor lift and now I can really go where I want to and reach new heights! I was able to reach the cross above the stage and put a light coat of stain on it and brighten it up quite a bit. My next goal is to do the 4 large wooden beams that start on the floor, cross over the ceiling at its highest point and end on the other side of the floor. I don't know if I can take being that high up but will give it my best shot. One of the board members thought they probably hadn't been dusted in 20 years! No one wanted to go to those heights!!!! Pray for me!

As I have said before, Monty and I made the commitment of atleast a year of doing these disaster relief efforts. We are completely dependant upon the hearts of others and would like to thank those of you who have supported us thus far. We want to stand by our commitment and know God will provide what we need. For those of you who would like to join in our efforts please send your tax deductible gifts to the address listed below. Please note on your gift that it is for "Katrina relief" as 100% of your gift will be sent directly to us and used to keep this effort going. Please send your gift to: Vineyard Community Church PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. (one of our major expenses is gasoline/diesel fuel. We not only check the houses prior to sending volunteers but are busy checking on the volunteers while they are working and bringing materials to them as needed. You have seen the prices, they aren't any lower here. Our last trip to fill both our van and truck cost $150.00 (the truck has 2 tanks). This is just to give you an idea of one expense.

We thank you for your support and prayers.

Until tomorrow.....we love you and miss you! Susan, Monty, Bitty and Samson

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

FEMA (our new home)

Monty, myself and Keith standing on the broken highway 90! Every time I see it I still find it impossible to comprehend that wind and water could move concrete and rebar!

Today was moving day! We were given the approval to move into the FEMA trailer that has been sitting in the parking lot. It is much bigger and it is already hooked up to water---no more going inside the church at night to use the restroom! We are using both trailers and our other one will be a great place for family to stay and be more comfortable than inside the church. We are thankful to the church for allowing us to use this one! We weren't even all the way moved in when the FEMA inspector showed up to check things out. He says they come by about once a month and make sure all is working well. That's a nice thing!

It took me the entire day to get everything moved and put away. The storage in any trailer is fairly limited and rearranging everything is quite a job. We no longer have our undies in the kitchen cabinets! The dogs were freaked out all day as they were certain they would be left behind. They jumped in the van this morning and wouldn't come out. So they got to ride along to Walmart and the laundry mat!

Monty kept watch over our painter most of the day. He was working in the entrance to the sanctuary and the hall ceilings. Even with Monty and Scott taping things off until late last night this painter can get overspray everywhere! If only he were the one cleaning it off he might think twice about being a bit more careful! The rest of the hallways and offices will be painted by us or volunteers. So if you are someone who loves to paint-----this is the place for you to be!

We also learned today that we have a team of 21 coming from near our hometown, Zionsville Indiana. It's actually nearly 2 hours from home but when you are over 14 hours away that is close to home. We are looking forward to having them and will be turning over Gladys's house to them for a week. (you can read about her in past entries). They will be able to really get some progress made!

We also have teams from Tennesee and Missouri due in this weekend. Our total number of volunteers should be around 65 - 70. What a blessing they will be to the people here! We have plenty of work for them, that's for sure!

This evening we went back to the church "Calling All Christians" and were once again blessed. Pastor Chandler had a wonderful message that I wish all of you could have heard. It was all about love, Christ's love for us and how we are to let it flow from us as a river flows! As long as we have life we have all we need. From our life the love of Christ is to flow. It was such an inspiring message, and especially for us as Monty, Scott and I have been having conversations for the past few days that needed the answers that came from tonight's message.

It is such a blessing to us to be going to different churches here. We go to 4 different ones each week and are establishing relationships with all of them and feel so blessed each time we go. We enjoy having a service on Wednesday evenings, it is such a boost for the rest of the week. Each church has its own personality and each one is filled with Jesus!

I challenge all of you to let Jesus's love flow through you as a river flows. Be aware of it all through the day as it will be challenged, over and over again. Jesus loved us first, with an unending love and set the example for us to follow! Let's all do the best we can to follow His example!

As always, for any of you who would like to help support us in our mission of rebuilding homes and lives please send your tax deductible gift to us through:

Vineyard Community Church PO Box 3277 Bloomington, IN 47402 and be sure to designate "Katrina fund" on your gift as 100% of your gift comes directly to us. No gift is too small and all will be used to help us help the people here. We thank you for your love and support!

Until tomorrow, let your river flow! Blessings to all of you. Susan and Monty

Extreme Makeover here we come!

Two new photos. One is what was an apartment complex, now waiting to be demolished. The other is a new view the collapse of highway 90.
They say the rebuilding will be done in 2007 but so far they haven't done a thing so who knows when it will really be done.

This morning we made the trip to the 93 year old's home (Gladys) and met with one of her daughters and one son. The son will be taking over the overseeing of the rebuild. We also had Convoy of Hope meet us there as this project is a big one. We went over the house from top to bottom and are assured we will be able to do everything that needs done to get Gladys back into her home. We still have some tear out to do, the entire bathroom with tub, sink and tile walls, along with tearing out the entire floor. The roof needs repaired and reshingled. The floor in her bedroom will be removed and a new floor put in. Her electric will be redone and we will be providing her with a new gas range. There are alot of 2 x 4s that need replaced due to termite damage and some porch posts that also will be replaced. Like I said, extreme makeover here we come! It won't be a fast project but it will get done. It just takes volunteers willing to come and get involved and people willing to donate the materials or the funds to purchase the materials.

Monty and I made the journey to the paint store to pick up supplies for the painter doing the church. That is just what I said -- a journey! We had to go a nearby city because the one here did not have what we needed, drywall mud! They cannot keep things in stock as everyone needs the same things. I think the paint shaker machines will shake themselves to death! It just shows how many things we take for granted and what we don't think about when we think of rebuilding and replacing everything!

Monty also loaded and delivered another 120 sheets of drywall to a home late this afternoon. It seems to go out as fast as it comes in.

Monty and Scott worked late into the night taping off the entry of the sanctuary in preparation for the painter tomorrow. Working at heights of nearly 30 feet can make a person weak in the knees but Scott is a climber and nothing seems to bother him. We are "expanding" his heights into cleaning the wooden beams in the ceiling of the church! We think we might just adopt him and keep him around for awhile! And watching Monty use the forklift to lift the scissor lift on and off of the stage can really make a person like me nervous but he had it extremely under control.

The board of directors met this evening and as of tomorrow we will be moving! There has been a FEMA trailer here in the parking lot for awhile. It is not being used and we have the go ahead to "move on up". It is much larger that what we are in now and Monty and I will actually be able to sleep in the same bed again! And it has a working bathroom and shower! We won't know how to act! We are so thankful to the board for allowing us to use it. Our own trailer will be used to house guests and family when they come to visit!

I have been closing each evening with the information as to how you can help support us in our mission. One of the board of directors, Kenny, suggested I change it up a bit. Thanks Kenny, here goes (maybe this will be easier to read) :)
If you would like to help support us in our mission you can send your tax deductible gift to: Vineyard Community Church PO Box 3277 in
Bloomington, IN 47402 and be sure to note on your donation "Katrina Fund" as 100% of your gift will be sent to us!

Until tomorrow...remember how much we love and miss you all! Susan and Monty

Monday, March 20, 2006

700 more sheets!!!!!

Here you see what was someone's home and is now waiting to be demolished!

This is common place and thus the reason for people feeling depressed and discouraged. This home is obviously awaiting an insurance settlement, if they had the proper insurance!

This morning Monty and I had the pleasure of visiting the home of one of the ministers of the congregation here, Miss Carol. She had over 4 feet of water inside her home. She got right on the removing of carpeting, flooring and drywall and thus the black mold did not have the moisture it needed to grow. She has all of her drywall up and although it still needs a bit of sanding, she is nearly ready for painting. Monty will be doing some "hand on" work, installing her doors complete with trim and the base molding. She lives alone and can use all the help she can get. Monty is looking forward to the opportunity to get in there and bring it to completion! She has been such a blessing to us with her words and prayers! We got all of measuring done for her so she can purchase what she needs. It's nice to go into a home where things have been moving along, even though after over 7 months you would think she and others would already be in their homes!

This afternoon we received another semi load of drywall. This one also had 700 sheets on it and 100 bags of insulation. We were able to supply 3 of the school teachers with what they need, thus leaving them with smiles on their faces! We are so thankful that the Assemblies around the nation are providing the funding to Convoy of Hope to purchase these materials! All churches should unite in such efforts! I only wish everyone in those churches could see the results of their giving hearts! It would be life changing for them and I am convinced we would never lack for materials of any kind again!

Tim is getting the final few feet of fence back up for the school children! These kids have not been able to go outside and get rid of their energy since school started this year! Imagine having children cooped up inside a FEMA trailer all evening and night, then sending them off for a long day of school where the only place they can play is inside the gym, then having them come back home with all that energy stockpiled and only that trailer to live in! Every parents' nightmare! You can see the kids peaking out the gym doors and classroom windows checking out the progress of the fence! Tim had a rough day today as those last post holes are in the midst of some mighty tough tree roots! Digging them by hand proved to be quite a task! But they are in and now the fence itself will go on!

When we went over to Dauphin Island on Saturday Monty and Scott bought some fresh shrimp at a local fish store. This evening we took the oportunity to cook them for appetizers! Now let me tell you that the shrimp you get down here are nothing like I have seen up north! These things are about 4" long here, and these aren't the big ones?!! I wrapped bacon around some of them and put blackening seasoning on the rest! They didn't last long! They told us to wait another couple of weeks for the big ones!!!! The guys will be waiting!! :)

Tomorrow we are heading back to the home of the 93 year old woman to put together a game plan. "Extreme Makeover" here we come! I have always watched that show in facination and thought they have the best job in the world-----and now we are here! We are scheduled to meet with 2 of her daughters and a son to go over everything that needs done. I would like to ask for prayers for us to be able to do the work needed and to have the materials needed also. Gladys is 93 and we want to put her back into her home as quickly as possible. Her late husband built this home and she deserves to be in it. It will take time, volunteers and materials mixed with alot of prayers!

If you would like to have an active part in our ministry mission you can send your tax deductible gifts to us through: Vineyard Community Church PO Box 3277 Bloomington,IN 47402. Be sure to note "Katrina fund" on the check as 100% of your gift will be sent to us to fulfill the calling God has sent us here to do! We thank you for joining with us in this adventure!

"With God nothing is impossible."

Until tomorrow....God be with you all! We miss you and love you! Susan and Monty

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Touched by God

We have developed a problem with putting photos on here and until I figure it out I will need to apologize for not being able to show them. Hopefully we will get them back soon.

This was truly the Lord's day!

This morning we went to church here at Bethel. Pastor Ken was the visiting pastor and boy can he deliver a powerful message. He doesn't pull any punches and calls it like it is! He taught on what the church is all about, and that's not the decorating of it! The church is the place for spiritual warfare and we need to step out and reach those who are hurting, those who are reaching, no matter what they look like. This upcoming generation doesn't care what we say, they want to see what we do! We never know the impact we can have on someone's life and we must spend time with them and invest in them! It's impossible to serve God without faith!
Monty went up for prayer as his sinus infection has taken a turn for the worse. He really did receive a touch from God and felt it clear through causing chills and taking him to the floor! God is such an awesome God!

We decided to head to a local buffet for a late lunch and met up with Willie, Cathy and their 4 beautiful!!!!! young girls. Willie helped at the clothing give away a couple of weeks ago and that is the church we went to this past Wednesday night for services. We had a wonderful lunch and were so blessed to be able to spend time with them and get to know them. They are such a great example of God's blessings and have truly given their lives to His service. We look forward to getting to know them even better. They were some of the fortunate around here. The storm brought in "only" 8 inches of water in their home and so far all they need to replace are their floors. Around here that is fortunate!

We took a couple of hours late in the afternoon to get some rest and relaxation. We are both really tired and need to remember to take the time to rest and reflect. For those of you who know the "situation", I made a phone call to my youngest daughter this afternoon but it went nowhere but to a dead phone line. She didn't call back! Please pray for my children and grandchild. They have no idea of the pain in my heart. I pray God will bless them and that maybe someday they will realize my love for them. With God nothing is impossible!

This evening we went back to New Life Church, the one that meets in a tent because they not only lost everything in their church, they lost the entire building. The Spirit was really moving in that tent this evening! The music was awesome and when the prayers started they took on a life of their own. The associate pastor got a word from God that the women in the congregation were all under attack from the devil. He called us all forward and prayed for each of us on an individual basis and what an impact! When he got to me he knew exactly what I needed and it sent chills through me! We plan on meeting with Pastor Hart this week and see what they have been able to rebuild in their parsonage. We are so thankful for God bringing them into our lives and blessing us with their friendship. We would like to ask all of you to keep Pastor and Tracy Hart in your prayers. They have been in the process of trying to adopt a baby girl from Guatamala for the past 2 years. They were so close before the storm but that also affected that process. It looks like things are progressing, slowly, and we would like for you to pray for them.

When I read one of my daily devotions this morning it stated, "Unity in our diversity is the most effective witness to tis sin-fractured world". We are all one church, no matter what the label over the door or outside on the sign says. Unity among Christians comes from our union with Christ. We all belong to the same family. Even though we are divided by all sorts of barriers and differences, "under the skin" we are all the same. This is what we need to hold on to, to pray about and put into practice! That is the only thing that is going to accomplish the rebuilding needed down here, and the rebuilding in our own lives! Please take that to prayer this evening and the rest of this week.

If you are interested in helping support us in this work you can send your tax deductible gifts to us through: Vineyard Community Church PO Box 3277 Bloomington,IN 47402 and be sure to note on the check "Katrina fund" as 100% of your gift will be sent to us.

We thank you for your prayers and support. Without you this would not be possible.
Bless you and until tomorrow....Susan and Monty

Saturday, March 18, 2006

He thought he could walk on water

For some reason I am having difficulty getting any photos to download this evening so I will try it again at the end of this. If it doesn't work, we'll try again tomorrow. Maybe it is like us, it needs a day off!

We took the day and got away as we had planned. The only thing we hadn't planned on was the much cooler weather (by about 20 degrees) and clouds but we had a great day anyway. We left this morning, with Scott and both of our dogs, and drove over to Dauphin Island off the coast of Alabama. It's only about 45 minutes from here and well worth the drive. I would like to see a photo of what it used to look like before the storm as it appears that about half of the houses are gone, completely wiped off the island. The sands and beaches have been shifted and some of the roads blown out. All along the beach areas the homes are built on high beams, hopefully to keep them safe from flood waters. Those beams didn't work so well with the hurricane winds. It appears that most of the homes are time shares where people do not live in them full time. We only saw a couple of FEMA trailers and they were inland.

We did enjoy getting out and walking on the beach. The sand is so fine and white and they say on clear days the water is a pretty aquamarine color. With the clouds it was hard to see today. There is also a sandbar that is now up against the large fishing pier. It didn't used to be next to it, it was out in the water quite a ways. The storm moved the entire thing inland that much. We couldn't go out to the end of the pier as you had to pay and could not take dogs.

The dogs loved the beach. Bitty is the type who could care less about birds and Samson can see one from a mile away. He flipped at the site of all the seagulls. Shortly after we got there we let them loose from their leash and let them run free. Samson immediately saw a seagull that he was determined to catch! He fixed his eyes on that bird and took off with no stopping. The gull took flight over the water and Samson had no clue it was water ahead of him. He ran full force right into the water and was quite a ways out - swimming - before he realized that something had happened! We were able to stop laughing long enough to call and coax him back to shore! Oh, if we would have only had a video camera! He didn't mind being wet and the two of them ran and ran and ran until they were covered with sand! They only thing they couldn't figure out was why the water tasted so bad and didn't quench their thirst!

After hanging out on the beach for awhile and taking a long drive throughout the island we decided to eat a late lunch. There are only 2 restaurants on the island. Well, actually there are 3 more but they are part of gas stations! We chose one of the real ones and had a really great meal! It was then time to head back. It really felt good to get away and relax and have some fun for a change. We look forward to going back when the sun is out and it gets good and hot and humid!

This evening we went back to the church down the street who has Saturday night services. It was awesome! They had a special celebration service where probably 20 plus people were baptized! What a testimony and what a celebration! God is working in so many ways and with most of these being young people it really touched out hearts! It's nice to have a service on Saturday night to go to.

For those of you who know us, and my parents----please wish my mother a Happy Birthday tomorrow!!!! I'm sad we can't be there to share it with her and maybe take her out for dinner so she doesn't have to cook, for a change! Mom, I love you and hope you have a great birthday! I thank God you are my mother!

For those of you who would like to support us in our work you can send your tax deductible gifts to: Vineyard Community Church PO Box 3277 Bloomington, IN 47402 and please note on the check "Katrina fund" as 100% of your gift comes to us. We thank God for your help and support. Without you we would not be able to do God's work!

Until tomorrow.....God Bless! Susan and Monty

Friday, March 17, 2006

"Home" went home

Our guys from home went home today. The photo of them was taken on highway 90 where it has fallen into the water. Father and son taking a vacation together, coming to serve the people here and having a wonderful time together and in their service, they made God smile, for sure! Keith and Jonathan-we will miss you and are so blessed to call you family!

The other photo is of the stained glass window that was sucked out of the church I showed you a few days ago in Biloxi. How sad to see something so beautiful so broken. But we must remember that the people are the church, not the building. This has been very apparant here as some of them met outside, in their parking lots, until their buildings could be put together enough to meet inside safely.

Monty, Scott, Keith and Jonathan worked most of the day getting more of the church taped off in preparation for painting. No one got started really early but they got alot done and the painter should be ready to go come Monday!

We all made a return trip to the BBQ place we had been to when we came here in December. Rob's is the best! There was a song playing in the background and we were trying to figure out the words. It was "Sleepy Little Town named Pascagoula". When Monty asked about it their young son quickly went and burned it onto a CD for us! Joe, it's headed your way and we hope you will master playing it and think of us every time you do! From there Keith and Jonathan headed home and should arrive sometime tomorrow evening.

Scott, Monty and I went to the park to visit with the ducks. It was amazing to watch the hawk hover overhead looking for fish. It is so peaceful there, a great place for solitude and reflection. We are amazed that there are no other people there except us!

Late this afternoon was time to sit back and do nothing! Monty is exhausted as he has been going 150mph since a full month before we got here. It was time to literally take a nap! We are both very tired and need a break. Taking a break is not easy when you live in the parking lot of where you work! He did get a nap in and I found a book to loose myself in for awhile.

We had a late sandwich dinner and happened on a sermon like we have not heard before. We heard something last Friday night and couldn't locate where it was coming from. It sounded like a choir and it was coming from the sky. We found it this week---in the parking lot of Office Depot. The preacher brought his pickup truck, his trailer, his sound system, his lighting, his karoke machine, his chairs for those who would want to come forward and this man preached from the Bible like we have not heard in a long time, if ever! He knew the Word of God from one end to the other and was preaching like there were thousands in the audience (or parking lot). It was amazing! We sat and listened for nearly an hour and for all we know he is still there! It was quite a blessing for the both of us to hear.

We plan to take a trip tomorrow and get away for a day. We are taking Scott with us and heading to Dauphin Island, which is supposed to be about 42 miles away. They say the beaches are a beautiful blue. Us, and the dogs, intend to see for ourselves. We will let you know how it was in tomorrow night's entry.

As a reminder, if you would like to help in supporting us in this work you can send your tax deductible gift to: Vineyard Community Church, PO Box 3277 Bloomington, IN 47402. Be sure and note "Katrina fund" on the check. 100% of your gift will be sent to us to further God's kingdom and help in rebuilding homes and lives. We thank you and ask God to bless you and yours.

Until tomorrow....pray for the people here, and for us! We love you all. Susan and Monty

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The fence---and the casino

This is the casino on the Biloxi side of highway 90 that collapsed and is falling into the water. Take note of the truck submerged in the water, still there! If you can imagine, 2 other casinos this size were picked up out of the water and carried across the street, one landing on top of a business! I know, it's hard to imagine and still hard to imagine even when you see it with your own eyes!

The other is our friends from home, Keith and his son Jonathan, who will be leaving for their trip back home tomorrow. They have been such a blessing to many people while here this week. We will be sad to see them go as they are a piece of home for us. This photo is them on the highway 90 that collapsed.

Today was the day to get the fence back up around the school playground. As I said before, this was about 300-400 feet of fence. The team from Missouri started it a couple days ago and said they were not leaving until it was done. They finished it this evening and left right after. The school teachers and kids will be thrilled that once again they can go outside and get rid of some of their energy. It looks great. Monty and Keith joined efforts with the guys and who know how many nails are in the entire thing but it took most of the day! Thanks guys!!!!

I had the opportunity to get out and away for alot of the day. Once again, it was the trip to the laundry. This time I was nearly alone while there and got done in record time. It was then the usual errands to Walmart, the bank and refilling of prescriptions. I know my way around pretty well by now and it felt good to get things done, like being back in the world in a way! I also got the dogs to the vet to get their heartworm and flea meds. The sand fleas here are incredible and don't care if you are animal or not. Keeping your ankles sprayed with insect repellant is a daily thing. When your hairless dog gets a flea it's time to do something! :) The girl at the vet flipped out as she had never seen a hairless dog and now wants one!

We had a really special treat this evening for dinner. Keith, Jonathan and Scott had helped one of the teachers get some things in her house organized and to prepare for the tear out of her home. She and her husband have had a difficult time getting the things out of the house and these guys were the boost they needed. They took us all to Biloxi to one of the casinos all you can eat buffets! It was outstanding and she gave everyone a lesson in how to take the crab legs apart and get the most meat out of them. It was a Kodak moment for sure! It was the casino next to the one in the above photo. We all felt like we needed a wheelchair to get out of the place. Jonathan and I especially liked dipping the fresh strawberries in both white chocolate and dark chocolate that was flowing from fountains! It was so nice of them to take us and such an opportunity to get to know each other better.

The local newspaper has published a book about the storm with photos of this area. In the introduction I read some things that I feel need to be quoted so all can read them. It hits the heart of our mission. "Houses of learning and places of worship had their familiar buildings ripped away. Congregations everywhere prayed in parking lots in the shadow of their battered hallowed places. But churches and religious organizations stood in the breach where an overwhelmed government could not, with food and clothes and shoulders to cry on, arms to embrace. Years from now, when historians write the story of Katrina, the unconditional love and compassion of the church and its people cannot be dismissed. Months after Katrina the wounds are still fresh, the hurt still real. And for every individual the loss stung in different ways. This is history, to be sure. But it is also a story of heart and courage and of hope!"

I wanted you to read this. It is not over and will not be for a very long time. It still covers the front pages of the newpapers, still the main topic on the news and the thing everyone talks about. Everyone was touched in a different way and everyone needs to get rebuilt, not just in the construction way but in the spiritual and emotional ways even more.

If you would like to be a part of this rebuilding process by supporting us in our work, you can send your tax deductible gifts to: Vineyard Community Church, PO Box 3277, Bloomington, IN 47402 and please note "Katrina fund" on the check. 100% of your gift will be sent to us to help in every way possible and you will know you are a part of the solution!

May God bless and keep you and we thank you for reading and living this adventure right along with us!

Until tomorrow.....please keep us in your prayers! Love to all, Susan and Monty

PS. Please pray for my youngest brother as he had reconstructive surgery on his leg today. Please pray for a speedy recovery and for movement in his leg! Our entire family thanks you!


Another house that will need to be demolished. The furniture has been sucked outside and the entire thing twisted and torn beyond repair.

The other photo is what is left of a car that went through the storm. These are all over the place but getting cleaned up by the insurance companies. Of course, if your vehicle was older and you only carried liability (insurance to cover the other guy in an accident) you are out, no coverage, no money to try and replace the car. One of the teachers at the school here lost 4 vehicles!

I titled this day as it is for a reason. There are those days when you really feel like what you have done has made a positive difference, and then there are those "other" days. Today was one of those. We had planned on taking 3 of our volunteers to the home of the 93 year old lady I had written about a few days ago. Her home was filled with black mold that had supposedly come in from storm damage to her roof. She said the house was cement block with paneling on all the walls and ceilings. When we arrived we were more than shocked! The damage to the house was from leaking that had gone on for who knows how long! The termite damage is so extensive and will require major reconstruction. One floor is ready to fall through to the ground and the others aren't in much better shape. I don't know that I have seen such a mess since we have been here. On went the masks and gloves! It was one of those that you just don't know where to start and the only thing that makes any sense is to shove the entire thing over. But....this is her home. She has lived here for nearly 50 years and she doesn't want to live someplace else. Our job is to do what we can do to the best of our ability with the resources we have and get her back home! We did get all of the walls and ceilings torn out. There is still a room of ceiling insulation that will need to come out. We need to wait for the family to remove everything from the kitchen cabinets and bathroom before we can go any further. She had no insurance of any kind and also has no money. We will get it torn out, hopefully bring in a portion of one of our larger teams coming the first of April to put on a new roof, take down the tree that is in the roof, fix the floors and walls, redo the electrical throughout, get her some heat as there are small heaters in a couple of rooms, put up new sheetrock and take this house to completion and give her a home that is something she has not had for who knows how many years. All of this can be overwhelming and also discouraging. We want to get in and get the work done but in order to do that we have to have the volunteers and the materials. It cannot get done in the time frame we would like. She understands and is fine with everything. She is just so thankful to have someone to come in and do anything that time isn't a factor. And she is 93!!!!!! Please pray for her, for us, for volunteers to come who know how to do these things, and for the materials we need to be provided. THIS is what this work is all about! I have taken a personal interest in this particular home. My neighbor lady is 94 and I miss her with all my heart (and her daughter). They are family to me and I couldn't imagine something like this happening to them and they not have someone to come in and care, to take care of them and assure them that we will get this done!

That is what we spent our entire day on. We did stop a bit earlier than normal because we wanted to get to church this evening. It was the church where we did the free clothing give away last Wednesday and we promised them we would come back this week for their usual Wednesday evening worship. God sure had a message in the minister's message sent directly for us! It was an awesome service and just what we needed. Just like so many times, God reaches out and touches us and speaks to us just when we need it most! We love the people and they were so warm and welcoming to us. We will definitely go back! And Lee mentioned that we could probably use a home cooked meal---this evening she was fixing snow crab legs with garlic butter----you bet we could use a home cooked meal! :)

I read something today that I want to pass on to all who read this.

"Out of the worst has come the best! God's love is clearly seen as so many new ways of diverse people working together for a common cause, to see the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus grow! God has used Katrina to cause us to talk to each other like never before. We all have different backgrounds, we are from differenct churches, but we are all trying to communicate, collaborate and create a better Mississippi and a better world. We must all continue to pull together to help one another. We're doing the best we can with what we have".

With that I close and say that if you are interested in supporting us in the work you can send your tax deductible gift to:

Vineyard Community Church

PO Box 3277

Bloomington, IN 47402

We thank you for helping us keep this vision alive and continue to do God's work!

Until tomorrow....God bless you all! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Drywall in --- drywall out

I wanted to show this church, or what's left of it, in Biloxi. We were shocked when we saw how much damage there was to it and yet it is still standing. The entire bottom of it just blew out. The other view in taken from the inside looking to the back, completely gone. And yet outside in the yard the angel statue was not touched! Another miracle in the midst of the storm!

This day started at 5am for Monty. He had to get the forklift and lift the scissor lift onto the platform area inside the sanctuary so the drywallers could work above the platform area. Although the ceilings in that area were not covered with water they were damaged. They needed scraped and remudded and retaped before being repainted. It was not an easy task getting one lift to lift another but he got it done.

He had to get it done early as the semi with the drywall was to arrive at 7am. It actually got here at 8:30 and within an hour he had the 700 plus sheets unloaded, along with 1/2 a trailer of insulation and had 2 trucks loaded for the people to take to their homes and get started with the rebuilding. It was quite a morning. He unloaded and stacked it all only to take the rest of the day to unstack it and load it onto trucks and trailers, even a rented UHaul, for people. I think drywall is worth more than cash around here! We went from over 700 sheets to around 85 now left and they will probably disappear tomorrow! We pray there is more on the way and it won't take long to get here. The people on the receiving end were so thankful! The drywall gives them a ray of hope that things are progressing and they are making headway in getting back into their homes again! Seeing the smiles, feeling the hugs and hearing the thank yous are priceless and we feel blessed to play such a small part in it.

Oh, I almost forgot. We were busy loading drywall on a pickup truck and an attached trailer and noticed that the college aged kids all had Indiana University shirts on. We are so used to seeing them at home that it took awhile for us to realize that this is not the norm in Mississippi! It turns out they are IU students down here spending their spring break doing whatever they can do to help! What a boost for us to see people from our hometown, even if we didn't actually know them! Thanks to all of you for choosing to come and serve others!

Keith, Jonathan and Scott spent their day painting a house for a lady who had injured her knees trying to paint it herself and is facing a double knee replacement. They were able to get almost all of it done and be such a blessing to her! We are so thankful to these guys for coming down here and making themselves available to do whatever needs to be done. God bless all of you! And Jonathan did such a great job!

Tim and his friends from his home church spent their day getting ready to rebuild the fence around the school play yard here at Bethel. It looks like it is about 400 feet of fence and over 95% of it was destroyed. They made the trips to get all the materials and started drilling for the posts. The children will be so excited just to see it starting to come together. The only place they can play now is inside the gym and with these really nice warm days they are getting stir crazy, not to mention what it does to their teachers! Tomorrow and Thursday should show some real progress and show even more smiles!

Monty and I took about an hour this afternoon and "got away" from it all. We went back to the ponds we found the other day. We were the only ones there and the ducks were very happy to see us,especially since we came bearing food. The really ugly ones will come right up and take it from your hands. It is a peaceful place, a great place to go and reflect and get some energy back. Not to mention today was about 70 degrees with a wonderful north (dry) wind. I say wind because I don't think there is such a thing as a breeze around here being so close to the water. It was nice to have the high humidity gone. We felt a bit more rested when we returned.

Our dinner was the Pizza Hut buffet, which Jonathan really enjoyed!!!! The sugar and cinnamon breadsticks with icing were a favorite! It has become the place to be for Tuesday night dinners. We always try and look for the best deal of the day!

Jonathan was last seen arranging and playing the drum set in the church this evening. Our drummer is left handed and since they instruments are down on the church floors he was arranging them to suit him and having alot of fun. I think the icing combined with Mountain Dew gave him added "energy'?!

I got a phone call that really warmed my heart today. Our church family members Jackie and Levi and their adorable baby girl, Lydia are also on a mission. They packed up and moved to Guatamala! They left about the same time we did and getting the opportunity to talk with Jackie is so great because we now have so much in common. They are doing fine and we are keeping each other in our prayers! Thanks for calling Jackie! Love you all!

I feel the need to share with all of you what God told me this morning. Nearly 2 years ago (for those of you who don't know) Monty had a heart attack and it took the doctors shocking him twice to bring him back. They put in a couple of stents and said he could live to see age 90 (he was 39 when it happened). He had also been the type of person who needed to take a nap during the days and would tire easily. Since we have been here he is the one who is up at the crack of dawn and goes non stop all day and into the evening. He commented to me a couple of weeks ago that he was amazed at the energy God was giving him since we had been here. This morning God got my attention and told me this is one of the reasons He brought us here. He wanted to show Monty just how much life he has, how his life truly has meaning and when you are following God's ways you have a zest for life, combined with the energy and love for life that you have never had before. This is why God needed Monty to be here! I have seen more life from Monty than ever before. He is truly alive, with a purpose, with a love for life and for what he is doing. THIS is God! THIS is His blessing! And because it is a blessing for Monty it becomes an added blessing for me! I am the one who gets to see this for my own eyes. I am the one who gets to share in this. Monty and I are one person, joined by God and the blessings given to each of us are shared by the other. I thank you, God, for this incredible life I see and share in with Monty. I pray you continue to lift us both up, keep our hearts open and grant us your wisdom.

If you are interested in supporting us in this mission you can send you tax deductible gifts to Vineyard Community Church
PO Box 3277
Bloomington, IN 47402
Please note in the memo section of the check "Katrina and/or hurricane relief"
100% is sent to us.
God bless you for your help. Without you we would not be able to do this work!

Until tomorrow...we love you! Susan and Monty

Monday, March 13, 2006

Jonathon's Day

The one photo is of Tim and Sherry on the left side and the couple who came to visit them. Tim and Sherry have been here coordinating relief efforts since December. The gentleman in the orange shirt, Chris, is the one responsible for getting our van up and running----what an angel! The back of his shirt says, "live your life so the pastor doesn't have to lie at your funeral!"

The other photo is what is left of an apartment complex. The sign that the property has been deemed unsafe. You can see how some of the apartments still have their sliding glass windows still there and others are completely gone! If you click on the photos you can enlarge them and see more details.

Monty waited for the delivery of drywall again today only to learn it won't be here until 7:00am tomorrow morning. Following the delivery there will be someone here to pick up the first load. It will not last long as the need is so great! We are just so thankful to have any coming to us! I don't know where this is coming from but hopefully there will be more to follow.

We were very sad to say goodbye to our senior high kids from Georgia this morning! What and incredible group of seniors and what a love they have for God. Their devotions and singing are a blessing to everyone who hears them. They all looked tired but I am sure they felt their time here was more than well spent! They touched so many lives while they were here and were able to be such role models for other teens they came in contact with! Thanks guys, we will miss you!
We'll get your photos on here in a couple of days!

Keith, Jonathan and Scott started their day but going to one of the school's teacher's house to help them clear out some of the rooms of their house. Even though it has been 7 months they just have not been able to get the rooms cleared of their personal items and then start the tear out process and go on to rebuilding. Jonathon was the one we were a bit concerned about but he ended up being the only one who didn't get hurt! Keith fell going to their storage barn and wiped out both shins. I think the one might still be bleeding a bit this evening! Then Scott cut his wrist on a piece of glass somewhere! They managed to help the couple get some things out and get a start on the rest. They came back to the church around 2:30. Keith got busy and started the process of building a set of steps for our trailer. The ones that pull out from underneath it are broken and we had been using a couple of cement blocks but they didn't work all that well. I stepped out a couple of days ago and hit just the side of the blocks and fell all the way to the ground. We now have an awesome set of 2 steps and getting in and out is much easier, not to mention safer! Jonathan also got in on the action and could probably build his own now! He proved to be quite a trooper and I think enjoyed the working.

Monty was busy cleaning and arranging the warehouse. Like I have said before, this warehouse used to be a grocery store and although it really needs a new roof it serves its purpose for us to store things. The problem is that some of the stuff has been stored since the storm and needs to be moved out to the curb for the trash to pick up. He managed to move out numerous pallets of old soda pop and the reaction from people driving by was something! Monty made it clear that everything had expired dates on it and we meant it for the trash but it didn't matter to them. For the rest of the evening people were stopping and sorting through for something they might like. The pile will undoubtedly be much smaller by tomorrow!

Jonathon also went with Monty to pick up a bunch of doors that someone else had put out by the street for the trash! The old saying, "one man's trash is anothers treasure" holds true down here. These are huge doors and with 6 matching its hard to tell what they can be used for!

The painter and his crew started painting the sanctuary this morning and according to them they should be done in 10 days! The sanctuary is big! The color looks good and hopefully the congregation will agree. It will be so nice to get it done and have it look like a real church again and people can come in and not be covered in white dust when they leave!

We had a short rain shower come in this afternoon and raise the already high humidity! We are keeping the trailer windows open during the day but closing up at night and turning on the air conditioner. It gets the trailer too cold if we leave it on so we do the on and off thing and can atleast sleep with dry sheets! The summer should be "damp"!!!!

Keith, Jonathan, Scott and us enjoyed the local Chinese buffet this evening for a late dinner. There just are not very many restaurants around here so when we find one we like we frequent it! Jonathan was going to try and eat the crawfish he made the effort to peel but just couldn't quite get it done! And yes, Mom, he has been eating well, plenty of fruits and we won't say anything about the pop-----he's used up every bit he has been drinking, believe me!

We heard from our friend from home, Dee Dee, who is planning on coming down to volunteer in a couple of weeks! We are so excited to see her and Meow (yes, her real name is Meow). They have not been here and it will be quite an experience for them. Be careful girls and we are looking forward to seeing you!

I would like to close this with some information that I should have been including with each entry. When Monty and I decided to take this "leap of faith" we quit our jobs, left our insurance, our home, our families and friends. We know this is God's call for us and we intend on following His call to the best of our abilities. We are totally dependent on the hearts and love and support of others, of you!

If you are interested in supporting us in the mission work you can send you tax deductible gifts to Vineyard Community Church, PO Box 3277, Bloomington, IN 47402. Please note on your check "Katrina fund" as 100% comes to us!
If you have questions about the authenticity of our mission please feel free to call the church at 812-336-4602.
We thank you for your kindness and generosity and for sharing in our mission.

Until tomorrow....May God bless and keep you. Susan and Monty
No amount is too small, everything adds up.