Saturday, April 29, 2006

Missouri Blesses John

We would like to introduce John and his 8 and 9 year old sons. The team photo is the entire Missouri team. You will notice that John is a small man but only in size. His heart is bigger than most men who are 6" tall. Let me tell you his story.

John and his boys left their home just before the storm. At that time his mother lived with them and helped care for the boys. When they returned from the storm they found their home had been broken in to, everything inside had been stolen and their were bums living inside sleeping on a bunch of mattresses they carried inside. John proceeded to toss them all out and try and make some sort of home for his family. They discovered they had around 6' of water inside their home. Due to the damage left behind he was forced to move his mother into a government subsidized apartment. He made due the best he knew how. He got a job with an individual doing roofing and John's job was to carry all the shingles onto the roofs. This caused him to get a hernia that now will require surgery. The individual he was working for up and left town and left John with no income. John now finds whatever he can to furnish his home even though his water was turned off during the storm and they are forced to go to his mother's apartment to bathe the boys. He has no working stove, no kitchen cabinets as they are falling from the walls, a dining room ceiling that has fallen in, the dining room floor, kitchen and bath floors have also caved in, the walls in the dining room have collapsed along with the ceilings in the bath and hallway. John gets a bed for the boys to share and one for himself. He still has no water and no way to cook along with no refrigerator or cabinets to store food.

This is how we found John and his children, living with much less than our own animals!

In comes our awesome team of volunteers from Missouri. They "adopted" John and his boys for the past 3 days, the entire time they were here. John did the best he could to work right along side of them, even with his hernia. In 3 days this team tore out the entire kitchen, dining room, bathroom and small back room. They then replaced the subfloors in each of those rooms, checked his electrical, and sheetrocked all of those rooms. They then purchased a small set of kitchen cabinets complete with counter top and a vanity set for the bath and a bathtub. Along came the kitchen sink and a hot water heater. They installed those too. A gas range has been donated and will be brought in when ready for installation. This team of servants for Jesus transformed John's home! They worked late hours and were determined to accomplish the goals they had set before them - and they did!

But there is something even more important that the rebuilding of John's home that this team did! They brought Jesus into his life! Yes, they were wonderful examples of God's love through their actions but they took the time to really minister to him! Jeff got out his Bible this morning and spent nearly an hour with John, reading, guiding and teaching! John gaves his heart to Jesus and wants to bring his boys and come to church. Now we have the complete circle! Now we have rebuilding! Now we are doing what God has commanded us to do! Each and every one of these volunteers ministered to John in their own ways. Each and every one of them made a life changing impact on John and his boys. When the team left today they left a letter to him inside of his Bible. As soon as John read it he called me and was in tears with thankfulness and love for this team! He could not find the words to express his thankfulness and love! And when the team of volunteers left this evening none of them were ready! They wanted to stay and go back to work at John's house tomorrow morning! THIS IS REBUILDING!!!! This is why we are here, this is what changes lives, this is what brings people to Christ and ultimately to heaven! John will forever be a part of these volunteers lives and will forever know Jesus because of them! None of this is coincidence, God ordained every minute of every day. God knew this was the team that John needed and brought His plan to competion. God is in control!!!! And God will not be stopped!

This is why we feel so blessed to be here, coordinating the teams with those needing help. To be here, talking with those in need and seeing the hearts of everyone involved being changed is seeing the hand of God! Nothing less!

We sent both the California and Missouri teams home today and the tears flowed with both! Their lives will never be the same due to the experiences they had while they were here. A piece of their heart will forever be in Mississippi.

We have met, and will continue to meet, so many wonderful people; those who come to help and those who need help. Our lives will forever be changed! And so will the lives of those who are helped in such a dire time of need here in the south.

I challenge you to read this story, and the others, and not feel it in your heart! When you go and turn on your faucet, be thankful that not only do you have the faucet but you have the water! And when you step into your bathroom say a prayer of thanks that you have a bathroom to step in to. Think of all the small things that we take for granted each day, and then pray for those who have had all of those things taken away by Katrina! They can feel your prayers and your prayers will change lives! Have no doubt! They will change lives and bring those lives to Jesus!
We thank you for allowing us to be a small part in all of these blessings! Without you it would not be possible.

If you would like to help us to continue in this work, in this calling from God on our lives, you can send your tax deductible gifts to us through: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift as all 100% goes directly to the support of our mission. Remember, without your gifts this work will not continue and these lives will not be helped! YOU make the difference! THANK YOU!~

Tomorrow....go to your church....thank and praise God for all His blessings....and thank Him again! Susan and Monty

Special Photo Night - California Style!

Allow me to introduce our team of volunteers from California! Half of them spent most of the week working here at the church in the school's daycare nursery and managed to transform it into something to be seen! Miss Ruby will be shocked! You can see the amazing half door to keep the children in and allow the adults to see the real world!
The other half of them spent the week in Gladys's home and also did a transformation that even I could not believe. You will see them underground, in the bathroom, redoing the plumbing. They are painting the kitchen her favorite color, blue. They are trimming the windows, installing new doors, painting and intstalling cabinets and installing the new shower stall.
There aren't enough words to thank this team for everything they have done this past week. We would love for them to stay longer but realize they have families and a life back home. We, along with everyone from the school, would like to thank them from the bottom of our hearts and pray for a safe flight home tomorrow and that God would bless them ten fold for all the blessings they have left with us here!
Tomorrow morning they will have the opportunity to meet Gladys for the first time. They have prepared a special morning for her here at the church. It will be awesome and such a blessing for every one of us!
Thank you again for keeping up with all that is happening here in Pascagoula. Your support is incredible and we thank God that we are able to be here and have the privilage of Him working through us.
If you would like to be a part of this mission, you can send your tax deductible gifts to: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please make the notation of "Katrina" on your gift as 100% is used directly in the relief effort. We thank you so very much.
Until tomorrow.....say your prayers tonight and thank God for the home you have.....most people here are still waiting to be back in their homes again! Susan and Monty

Thursday, April 27, 2006

John and Gladys and the nursery

My apologies for not blogging last night. There were some things that got completely out of control causing our dinner hour to be 10:30PM and the blog just didn't happen.

Today we are back on track and God is pouring His blessings all over the place.

Monty was busy all day working with one of our electricians in a local apartment complex. He will have that same blessing tomorrow.

Our Missouri team arrived very late last night and got right to work this morning. There are 16 of them and all are filled with enthusiasm and excitement about going out and blessing the people of this city. We were going to divide them between 2 locations but when given the opportunity they all chose to go to the same job; introducing John! You may have read about him a couple of nights ago (if not, go back and check him out). They went in like a steamroller and what a work they did! They managed to get his dining room, kitchen, hallway, bathroom and spare back room completely torn out, new flooring installed and started on the sheetrock! John was right there working with them and if he thanked them once he thanked them 10,000 times! Tomorrow he will be cooking up a pot of fish that will for sure introduce them to real southern cooking! They all immediately fell in love with John and are now sad that they only have 3 days to spend with him! As I have said before, real servant hearts and what an incredible example of Jesus to show to not only John, but to the entire neighborhood! Thanks Missouri!

Our California team is still bulldozing through our school nursery and Gladys's house. The nursery has been transformed to something even the school director didn't recognize! Today they finished the trimming with wood, installed what turned out to be a true "California" kitchen complete with sink and cabinets, all brand new! This will enable Miss Ruby and her staff to keep more supplies at hand for the babies and to get more enrolled and off of the waiting list! Another outreach that cannot be matched! If you reach the children you will reach the parents and thus the growth of God's kingdom!

The rest of their team is in Gladys's home and getting closer and closer to completion. They are still painting, installing cabinets and doors and transforming what could easily have been condemed into a beautiful home for a wonderful woman of God!

How in the world do you thank people such as this? The Bible tells us that for each blessing we give out we will be blessed back ten fold. God doesn't lie and these teams will surely have their cup of blessing overflowing! Praise God!

We had the pleasure of being included for dinner with the California team this evening. Each time a team comes here they become a part of our family and the thought of them leaving is physically painful! When you are working and living in these conditions you become very close and really get to know each other. It's an awesome experience and we are so blessed to be a part of it!

We also welcomed Tim and Sheri back this morning. They drove all night to get back here. They do children's crusades and just finished one late last night. They came in tired but they came back and are ready to go out and bless God's people once again. We missed them while they were gone as they also have become a part of our family! Glad you're back guys and we pray God's blessing on your futures!

I have mentioned before that we see God's hands in so many ways here. There was alot of wonderful discussion at dinner this evening and we shared how we feel so blessed to be used by God to accomplish His will. God has always given the command to go out and be disciples to His world, bringing people to Him. What better way to do just that than to be reaching out into the community and setting examples of Jesus Himself to those in need. Jesus told us that when we feed or clothe others in need we do the same for Him. We are humbled each and every day while on this mission at the servant hearts of others! They come from all over the nation to be a blessing in whatever way they can. And all we can do is say thank you! It just seems so small!

As I have said before, and will say again: this blog is nothing more than my heart poured out for anyone else to read. If you do not agree with what you are reading, if you have adverse opinions, if you do not believe in what we are doing in this mission, if you find it objectional in any way, DON'T READ IT! It's plain and simple! I write because I love what I do and God told me to share it with others. For those of you who do not fall into the above categories, thank you and thank you and thank you again!

If you feel as though you would like to help support Monty and I in this mission and work of God you can send your tax deductible gifts to: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please make a notation of "Katrina" on your gift as 100% will be used directly in this mission. May God bless you for your giving and loving hearts.

Until tomorrow....Susan and Monty

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

God is an awesome God!

The cross in Bethel on Palm Sunday. Monty and I went and cut the palm branches and no wonder those things withstood the storm, they are nearly wooden!

The next is Gladys's kitchen cabinets, minus the doors. They have been painted a nice almond color and are coming along nicely. The California team continued their transformation on her home today. Jane chose Gladys's favorite color, blue, and put 3 different shades of it in the house. The kitchen is a brighter blue that just makes you smile when you walk in. Her bedroom is a soft blue and her bathroom is yet another shade that will really brighten the room! The rest of the house is a really soft "vanilla" color that is beautiful! They got the shower in today and did run into some plumbing problems but the team is pushing forward and progress is coming in leaps and bounds!

The rest of the team is working in the church building, concentrating on the daycare nursery rooms. Today they continued on the structural changes, creating a completely new area for storage and trimming out the other 2 rooms. Once again, complete transformations that will enable the nursery to once again function as it should. How do you thank people like this who not only come in and volunteer their time but also make continuous trips to Lowes to purchase the supplies they want to use! What a blessing they are! And they still have 3 more days here!

Monty and I went checking out future jobs today and I must tell you about our next "big" project. John and his sons, ages 8 and 9 left their home before the storm. When they returned they found that not only had the water destroyed most of their home but it had been broken in to, everything stolen, and people were living inside! He ran them off and still has a stack of nasty mattresses that he was able to cram into a back storage room until he can get some help getting them to the trash.

Since the storm he has been living in the house, he has nowhere else to go and was turned down by FEMA (who knows why). His mother had been living with them but due to the condition of the house she had to be moved into a government apartment. John must take his children to her place to bathe as he has had no water since the storm. He did finally get ahold of the proper authorities today and got his $140 and paid the bill so it should be on tomorrow.

His bathroom is completely destroyed and everything in it must be removed, walls and flooring and all. His kitchen is the same way. His cabinets are trash, he needs a new range and the walls, ceiling and floors are caving in. The ceiling in the dining room has fallen in, along with the floors and walls.

He has done the roof patching and has stopped any moisture from coming back inside the house. The soffetts need repaired but overall the outside isn't too bad.

Our plan of attack is to start demolition in the kitchen, dining room and bath. We will be forced to take it a couple of rooms at a time in order for him to continue living there. It will also depend on the availability of volunteers and the availability of funding for his needs. We won't know about the electrical until the walls are removed. If that needs redone it will require skill and funds. As always, God will provide.

This man is trying to do his best to raise his 2 small boys on his own and yet can hardly provide a decent roof over their heads due to the storm. THIS is why we are here! THIS is why we ask God each morning to work through us to accomplish His will! THIS is why we need volunteers!
THIS is priority when it comes to rebuilding homes and THIS is rebuilding lives!

There is more to the story. After we left our visit with him he called and said his electricity was going to be shut off tomorrow because he didn't have the $185 to pay the bill! Now how in the world could we send our next team (coming Thursday) into a house and work without electricity! This is where our networking with other relief organizations is vital. We made a couple of calls and were able to raise all of the money, go to the power company and pay the bill and bless John and his children! When we called him to tell him how God had worked in all this he was in tears! He told us he had been praying all afternoon for God to find a way to help him and God had answered his prayers!

The next time you think you are having a bad day or are feeling "less than", I challenge you to remember this story of John! And when you remember, know that it is REAL! This is hurricane Katrina 8 months later! This is God in action! This is God pouring out his blessings to Monty and I, allowing us to be a small part in His plan! God is an awesome God!

If you would like to be a part of this mission, even though you are not here, you can send your tax deductible gifts to us at Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift as all 100% is used in this effort. God bless you for your hearts of service! May His blessings be returned to you ten fold!

Until tomorrow.....stay tuned.....God is moving.....Susan and Monty

Monday, April 24, 2006

Blessed Monday!

Here we have our California guy grouting the new tile in the hallway to the sanctuary with Monty checking out the results. Grouting this tile is VERY time consuming as it is a latex grout and comes in a tube that resembles caulking. Poor Tom may never walk upright again. But thankfully it was him and not me! :)

The next photo is the inside of Gladys's home after the sheetrock is all in and the finish texture sprayed on the walls. The tub still sits in the family room but should be installed tomorrow. Our California team has divided in 2 teams and 1 of them will be in her house all week bringing as close to completion as possible. They have done wonders already today with getting the entire thing primed and ready for paint tomorrow. The big discussion now is what we are going to do with her floors. Looks like they may be all new before it's over. They are painting the entire place an off white with her favorite colors of blue in the kitchen, bath and her bedroom. Each is a different shade and it will be beautiful when it's all done.

The other half of the team is concentrating all of their efforts here in the church building. Today they were in the nursery rooms and working like mad! They have already framed in a new closet combination area and framed out a door opening along with a window opening. Before this week is over we should be able to remove the children on the waiting list and get them enrolled in the daycare! Praise God!

I just cannot say enough good things about this California team! They came in here with such servant hearts that it is contagious to all who come near them! They represent the love, compassion and support that volunteers can bring into this area. They area always smiling and ready to dig in and do whatever is needed and beyond! This is where the coordination of volunteers with the needs of the people is so important. These volunteers knew ahead of time what they would be doing when they arrived and were able to plan accordingly. This planning, on both parts, is what makes a trip even more successful and an even greater blessing to all involved.

Monty was busy loading even more sheetrock for people off and on all throughout the day. It is so amazing talking with them and hearing their stories of what happened to them in the storm. They are always so thankful and wish they could give something back in return. Our last delivery of 850 sheets is getting down there and hopefully there will be more coming before too long.

We also were blessed to have a meeting with the couple in charge of the Convoy of Hope efforts all along the coastline. They, too, are amazing people who have devoted 150% of their time to helping rebuild homes and lives. Up to this point there have been 4 Convoy stations located in Mississippi. One of them is already closed down with 2 more to follow in the next weeks. They are closing down because the volunteers running them are tired and planning on returning home. The needs here are still just as great but people do get tired and need to take a break. Once the others are closed, we will be the lone Convoy relief station here in Mississippi. We talked about how the future is planned and how Convoy will remain on the coast indefinitely. This is exactly what Monty and I needed to here as we have devoted ourselves to this relief effort and want to continue what we are doing. We are thankful to be a part of Convoy and pray for their efforts.

We would like to ask for special prayers this evening. The sister of Monty's step father passed away today after a long battle with cancer. She was a wonderful example of strength for all of us and will be missed by the family. We all know she is with God in heaven and finally released from her pain but she will be missed.

Thanks to all of you who are reading and joining with us in this mission. It is our wish that by reading this you really do feel a part of the relief efforts and understand what is going on here. Sometimes it can be difficult to describe the days in a way for you to understand as it does feel like a third world at times. Your support in the way of prayers and thoughts is what keeps this effort up and running. There are times when your prayers are as close as the feeling of our shirts being on our backs. We thank you for that feeling!

For those of you who would like to join in and be a part of this, you can send your tax deductible gifts to: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please be sure and note "Katrina" on your gift as all 100% is used for the relief efforts. Without your gifts we would not be able to remain here and do the work God has called us to do! Bless you for your generosity.

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

CA team is back!

What a beautiful day today was! Sunshine, blue skies and the opportunity to go to church and worship God!

Pastor Ken preached this morning and as usual, he brought some "different" things into the message. When he held up the JC Penney catalog and made us realize that we trust in that book more than we do the Bible it was definitely food for thought and reason to ask for forgiveness! He talked about how Noah had followed God's direction with blind faith. When God told Noah to build the ark Noah didn't question, even though he had no idea what rain was (it had never rained).

He also talked about how following the will of God doesn't mean we have to live up to someone elses standards! Something we all need to have printed on the palms of our hands to refer to daily.

From church we had the opportunity to take some time and visit one of the bayous here locally. Sitting on the pier with the winds blowing, the sun shining, the birds singing, the fish jumping up out of the water, the colorful ships in the background; all really bring God in up close and personal! Getting back to nature has always been a great way for me to feel closer to God. It's a way to see and feel so many of His miracles and blessings.

Our California team finally made it in late this evening. They flew into Biloxi but their luggage was not on the same plane as them. They had to wait for the next flight which was quite a bit later. Fortunately their luggage was on that flight. They got their rental cars, loaded them up and arrived here around 10pm. Two of the men came with another group back in December. They were here the same week Monty and I were when we came with our church. It was a great week then and it's awesome to see 2 of them again. We plan to divide the group in 2 teams, one of which will go back to Gladys's and get even closer to completion. The other will be concentrating their efforts inside the church here. Each group will probably spend the entire week in those 2 places. There is just so much to accomplish inside the church and hopefully this team can really make some progress in some key areas. We are so thankful to have them take time from their busy schedules and comfortable lives to come here, donate their time and energy and be in service to others! Yet another example of showing God's love to others in a practical way!

Please allow me to quote a verse that was emailed to me today. It says it all!
Luke 6:38 "Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back."

There are so many ways to give! Giving of ourselves, allowing God to come in and use us, faults and all, this is what it's all about! Monty and I would like to thank God for calling us for His use. We are honored that He would chose us, faults and all. Our prayer each day is that He will open our eyes, hearts and minds to see and hear His will for our lives. We ask Him to use us, all of us, to accomplish His will! We would appreciate you joining with us in this prayer!

If you would like to join with us in our mission you can send your tax deductible gift to us at the following address: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington,Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift as 100% of your gift is used in this mission. We thank you for joining with us in God's service.

Until tomorrow....count your blessings....praise your Bible more than the JC Penney catalog!!!!!

Susan and Monty

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Helping the neighbor

Sorry for not having any photos yet but we need to get them downloaded from our camera and it just didn't happen today. They will be back, I promise!

I think I have mentioned how dry it is down here, nearly 14 inches behind the normal rainfall for the season. Last night we had a storm come through that had the 2 of us thinking we might need to leave our trailer! It was a whopper! The rains fell so hard we couldn't see out the windows and the winds blew the chairs out front! We did ride it out and all was gone this morning. The sun was out, the usual winds were blowing and all was calm.

We spent alot of the day talking with one of the local ministers here. He has become quite a friend to us and we enjoy spending time with him.

We took some time this afternoon and went into Ocean Springs. We found our way through some of the bayous and happened on a couple who were crab fishing. We have heard about the blue crabs but I didn't think they were really blue in color! Of course they are really blue! This couple was showing us how they look for and catch them. What an amazing thing and what an amazing place this is, the way God provides food never ceases to amaze me. Even though you need to purchase a fishing license to fish, you do not need it to fish for the crabs. I think this is something I must eventually try!

Volunteers from Samaritans Purse are staying with us and working across the street at the neighbors. They have done so much work in her house and are now putting in floating hardwood floors. The home owner is such a wonderful lady. She cooks 3 meals each day for the volunteers and keeps them stocked with water and drinks all day. She isn't physically able to do alot for herself but she gives back in such a wonderful way to those who have helped her get rebuilt. She is an inspiration to us all! No matter what our situation, there is always some way in which we can give to others. Thanks, Joyce, for setting such a great example for the rest of us! Tomorrow we will be meeting our other neighbors to see what we can get done for them and get them back into their home. They are both elderly and from what we have heard they are getting discouraged. Please keep them in your prayers.

I also had the opportunity to go to one of our school teachers homes this afternoon and see how they are coming along. They have been doing most of the work by themselves and are getting things done. We did have a crew come and repair their fence and they did a great job. They are now getting down to the kitchen and are finding that replacing the cabinets is going to be quite costly, something they had not planned for. We discussed some temporary things they can do to get themselves back into the house and work on the cabinet issue later on. This teacher and her husband opened up their yard, yes their yard, for other teachers to come and camp out in tents for 20 days after the storm when they could not get into their own homes! The bare spots where their tents were set up are still on the front lawn! Another example of being there for others, no matter what the conditions are!

We feel blessed to know such wonderful people.

If you would like to help support us in this mission you can send your tax deductible gift to us at: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, IN 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift at 100% goes directly to the relief effort. We thank you for taking part in this mission and doing what you can to serve others.

Until tomorrow... Susan and Monty

Friday, April 21, 2006

Getting Ready

As soon as we get some of our more recent photos loaded into this computer we will be including photos with our daily blogs. Please bear with us as we change the photo programs. Computer wizards we are not!

It seems amazing that today is actually Friday. The days of this week have been all messed up and had no names.

We spent the morning just trying to get caught up on paperwork around here, both personal and business. I'm still not completely done but it's closer than it was. Surprising how quickly things get piled up --- and we have no space to pile things!

Our connection with Project Recovery is growing and growing. Today one of the representatives came for a meeting and brought a multitude of jobs needing done. They range from trees needing taken down and removed to a woman who had both of her daughters pass away just before the storm and after the insurance money came for the storm damage her husband took it and ran off with another woman. She is so depressed she cannot go into the room where her daughters possessions are stored. The things have been soaked with flood waters, mold is growing and she cannot handle going in and cleaning what is left of her daughter. Needless to say she will be moved to our priority list! There is definitely not a shortage of work and this looks to be the case for who knows how long. Project Recovery is walking neighborhoods and going door to door checking on how people are doing. What they are finding will blow your mind! Praise God for this avenue of disaster relief! Please keep this organization in your prayers also.

This afternoon was again filled with paperwork and computer work. Both of which went well.

We are still being welcomed back by more of the teachers and it really makes us feel welcomed. It's nice to feel loved!

We enjoyed an evening out with one of the teachers and her husband. They took us on a tour of the beach line and talked about where some of the mansion style homes had been and how they are now completely gone! They both have lived here "forever" and know the history of the homes and families. It's educational to talk with those who know what it looked like before the storm. You can hear the sadness and see the loss in their faces. They told us about driving down to the beach areas a couple of days after the storm and in the middle of one of the streets sat a complete garage! The wild thing is that the garage did not come from any of the houses in the area and no one could figure out just where it did belong! More and more stories, more and more shock, more and more sadness.

We were supposed to have a team of volunteers in this evening. They were coming from the Tennessee area and large storms came through there today and created quite a bit of damage so the men will not be coming after all. They will be missed but we completely understand why they will not be able to make it. Those storms were forecast to come through here this evening but we only got a short, small shower and that was the end of it. In this location they are nearly 14 inches behind the usual rainfall amount and the area is really dry.

Tomorrow will be more preparation for the incoming volunteers from California and Missouri next week. Some arrive Sunday night and others on Wednesday night. We have alot of work lined up for them and are anxious to meet all of them. We pray God protects them as they travel here.

We also spoke with 2 more team leaders who are planning on bringing teams to volunteer in May. They are excited about getting information ahead of time on what they will be doing when they get here. This enables them to make preparations and bring tools they might need. They thank us for being able to supply them with this information. We explain that this is the reason we are here and they tell us how this will make the trip more productive for them. One of the groups will be here on a journey to earn badges for their work. They are members of the Rangers, a division of men in the Assembly of God churches. They also were thrilled to let us know what they needed to do to accomplish what they need to earn the badges and we were equally thrilled to have them coming to do just that work! Makes for a blessed trip, all the way around!

If you would like to help us, and thus help the volunteers coming here, you can send your tax deductible gift to the following: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, IN 47402. Please be sure and note "Katrina" on your gift as 100% will be used in this mission.
We thank you as without your gifts this mission would not be possible and these people are the ones who would suffer, and they have suffered enough!!!

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

Thursday, April 20, 2006

We made it!

Yes, we are back safe and sound!

We drove another 6.5 hours today and when we totaled it we were able to shorten the trip by an hour. When you are going 14 hours every minute you can shorten it makes a big difference! Even though they had really nasty storms forcast for out entire trip the sun was out and we only saw the clouds in the distance. Praise the Lord as I really don't like driving through storms!

We were also fortunate enough to work a deal with the car rental as we kept it a day longer than had been originally planned.

We had no more than "touched ground" than the teachers started coming out to the trash dumpster and greeting us with hugs and warm welcomes. What a nice return it was! It really feels strange but it felt like we were coming "home" in a way and I think that is a really good thing! Even the dogs ran into the trailer, hopped up on the couch and proceeded to go sound to sleep. I think they feel more comfortable in the small spaces anymore.

We also were happy that we made it back for the retirement dinner for Ms. Doris who has managed the school kitchen forever I think. She is a wonderful lady and will be greatly missed by everyone. Quite a few of her friends honored her with stories and even though we haven't known her long it's obvious that she is quite a woman of God and has been His servant for years and will continue to be such. It also really felt nice to be included and feel part of the family. That is what will make us feel more and more at home here.

Tomorrow will prove to be a busy day. We have so many calls to return to people who have called requesting help in all different capacities. We also have teams of volunteers who are wanting to get scheduled. It's exciting to be back and getting things rolling again. It really is true that when we find ourselves doing work for God and answering His call He provides us with an abundance of energy. Those of you who were at our presentation the other night saw exactly what I mean!

Tonight is a short entry. But it is not short in the emotional department. I find myself really surprised and yet thrilled at how "at home" I am feeling tonight. If only God could transport all of our families and friends from home down here it would be perfect!

Once again, thanks to all of you who are out there praying for us and making this mission possible for us --- and for the people here. Stay tuned for more photos and more stories about what all is going on. It will definitely be exciting, as it always is to see God moving in so many wonderful ways! God is an awesome God! Praise Him for what He has done and for what He is continuing to do!

For those of you who would like to join in this mission by giving a gift to keep us going you can send your tax deductible gift to: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, IN 47402. Please be sure and note "Katrina" on your gift as 100% of your gift is used in this mission. We thank you for your help and pray God's blessings to you and yours.

Until tomorrow....God bless us all with a great nights rest...Susan and Monty

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Easter and Rejuvination!

We're back!!!!!!
This past week has been amazing and God has blessed us beyond words!
We went home for the week and spent our entire time rebonding with our familes from our church and neighborhood. You see, our neighbors and church friends ARE our families! This is how much we are blessed!
After being in the disaster area and working 7 day weeks we needed to go home for a break. We wanted to be in our home church for Easter celebration.
I can't begin to describe how blessed we were by so many! The hugs will be felt long after they were given. We do literally "feel" the prayers and don't know how to say thank you to all of you!
The words of encouragement you spoke, and still speak, are golden to us! Your smiles and tears are priceless! Your hospitality and gifts humble us both!
We ask God to bless each and every one of you! As we have said, without all of you this mission would not be possible!

Last night we were blessed to be able to give a presentation of what is happening in Pascagoula. We held it in our church and are so thankful to all who came. We were able to describe how we got where we are and how we are able to continue. We had a power point presentation with photos and also some video footage that was taken by a local TV station during the storm. We also included some time for questions and if we hadn't run out of time I think we might have been there until midnight! This was such a blessing for us as this showed us just how interested you really are! We then were gathered by the entire group and were prayed over and blessed beyond measure! We just cannot find the words to express our thankfulness for each and every one of you!

We especially want to thank Pastor Dave for allowing us to "take over" the church for the evening and for his awesome support! Hope your ears have recovered from the music!

The next batch of thank yous goes to Steve and Raetta for their "take over" of the layout of the entire thing for us! Without your gifts and talents it would not have been possible! We love you both and will definitely be keeping you in our prayers!

For all of you who took time from your busy schedules to come and hear and support us we don't have the proper words to say thanks! YOU make this all possible and for that we are humbled. My parents and their friend drove over an hour just to be with us! We love you!

We are about half way back to MS this evening and had to stop and get some rest before making the rest of the trip tomorrow.

The entire time we have been gone we have continued to receive phone calls from those looking for someone to help them. Even though we might not have been physically in the state we were still "on call". Tomorrow and the next days we will be back to doing what God has in store for us. He is such an awesome God and we are so blessed to have Him use us as He sees fit!

We also want to take a moment and thank all of you who are faithfully reading this blog. You understand that it comes from my heart and head and then the words just flow through my fingers. Thanks for your supportive comments and for coming along with us on this wonderful mission. Be sure and stay tuned as I think God is about to do some awesome things!

If we have forgotten to mention our thanks to anyone we apologize. The week was so incredible and so wonderful and went by much too quickly and is a blur at times. We just want you to know how much we love and appreciate you and how we miss you even more.

Driving out of our home was very difficult to do this morning. We know we are following God's call and are excited to get back to work, but the leaving is rough and actually painful. Looking out and seeing our special neighbor, Frances, waving to us behind tears just plain HURTS!

Please keep on keeping us in your prayers and keep on keeping on being our family!

We love you all and will be back to daily entries from now on!

Until tomorrow.....He is risen, He is risen indeed! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Time Out

This entry will be really short.
Due to the fact that we do not have volunteers for the next week and a half Monty and I will be taking some time to take care of some personal business. The blog entries will be off and on so don't be alarmed if there is not a new entry for a day.
We need to be able to spend some time with our church and with God. All of us need to feed our spiritual selves along with our physical selves. This is time for us to be fed and rejuvinated and refilled to continue to follow God's call on our lives.
We are so thankful for all of you reading and appreciate your support more than you know. Please keep us in your prayers and stay tuned as we will be returning on a daily basis soon.

I do want to let you know about 2 phone calls we received today. For those of you who are thinking that most of the work should be getting complete by now please read on.

The first call came from a gentleman who is trying to care for his 2 small children. He only mentioned that his wife isn't around all the time. He and his children have never left their house since the storm and yes, they did get flooded. They have no water and have not had water since the storm. He just got electricity the other day and someone gave him a refrigerator to keep some food in the house. They are going to his mother's place to bathe but she lives in a small apartment and has no room for them. He said he did take out the carpeting but that's it. When I asked him if they had black mold he said they did but each time it showed up he was just painting over it with primer! His roof still leaks and he said it only needed patched, that there are alot more people out there with more problems than he does so we should take care of them first and when we get a chance he could use a little bit of help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please keep this family in your prayers! We WILL be getting to him by the end of the month and he will be a priority!

The second call came from an organization that I have mentioned before, Project Recovery. These volunteers are out there literally pounding the pavement, reaching out and trying to help people on an emotional level. They are running into things no one could possibly imagine. We are combining our efforts with theirs and they called today to see if we could get some help to a family that is just returning to their home. They left before the storm and their home has just been sitting this entire time! I cannot imagine what it looks like inside! They cannot live in it and are with friends. It also will become another priority at the end of the month.

The point I want to make with these 2 stories is that it is NOT over, it is NOT slowing down and people DO still need help, desperately! This help comes from you, the volunteers and/or you, who are supporting us to be here and help! God has called us to do this work and we cannot leave here knowing how much there is to be done! I am begging you to think about how you would feel, what you would do, if you were walking in their shoes!!! "There, but for the grace of God, go I".

If you would like to help support us in this mission you can send your tax deductible gift to us through Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift as all 100% is sent to this mission. We thank you for your giving hearts and pray God's blessings on you and yours.

Until our next blog entry....thank God for all your blessings....Love, Susan and Monty

Monday, April 10, 2006

It's finally here!

The church is starting to look like a useful place, notice our new tile flooring! This is down one of the hallways with the office we are operating out of on the right and the tool room on the left. Thanks so much to the Ohio group for their "back-breaking" work, literally!

The famous missing drywall truck finally arrived this morning! We were scheduled to receive 800 sheets and were blessed with an extra 50 that we had not planned on, neither had the driver! He told us how he was worried the entire trip as he was overweight with the extra 50 but Monty assured him that God was with him the whole way and no wonder he was not stopped! This entire load was 100% donated, all that was paid for was the freight! Praise the Lord! Seeing a business with such a giving heart is truly blessing! And the extra 50 will really bless another household! We already loaded 80 sheets this evening for a family, along with enough wall insulation to complete their entire house! The homeowner says he will cook up some fried catfish and "cat-head" bisquits? for us as his way to say thankyou! The bisquits are just very!!! large bisquits, according to him. :)

The entire morning was spent unstrapping and unloading the drywall and getting it stacked in the warehouse. Getting the truck's trailer ready to unload is a process in itself! And the driver was turning around to head straight back---to South Dakota!!!!!!

Monty and I then headed to Gladys's house as I had not seen it after the Ohio group left and I had not seen the drywall texture that Monty had sprayed on, his first texture job! I cannot tell you how awesome the place looks! It really is ready for primer, paint, doors and trim! He did great and you will see the transformation as soon as we can get the photos on here! God has truly blessed this house and everyone who has worked to get it back together! The hearts of the volunteers are so giving and they are even emailing us after they leave checking to see how things are going!

Coming here and volunteering is exactly what I have said before, life changing! Scheduling the time, making all the preparations, making the drive and then working your heart out when you get here is something that cannot be described properly. It MUST be experienced! My wish is that everyone would get to share in that experience and the blessings that come from it!

Tim and Sheri and Monty and I were talking this afternoon about what happens when you come here to this place and do this work. In order to come here you must have a heart of service, which requires you to open your heart. What happens in return is that once your heart is open it is open to also receive blessings! All of which bring you closer to the Lord and thus His joy.

Speaking of Tim and Sheri; please keep them in your prayers as they are traveling home over the next couple of days. Tim has a very important meeting on Monday that pretty much affects his entire future. We would ask that God's will be done and that they remain safe until they return in 2 weeks. They have been such a wonderful blessing to many people while they have been here and we thank them for their service.

Monty found himself spending the rest of his day working on the plumbing in our trailer. Without going into not too pretty details, these tanks MUST have water in them before using them for "certain" things. It seems the prior residents did not take this into account and therefore we have some "cement" in the tank that must be removed! You get the picture! :(
We have had a garden hose running through the door and have flushed and flushed and flushed some more and hopefully are on the road to recovery! All his years in wastewater have been a blessing! A blessing that I am not the one who had to do the work! :)

We are really looking forward to being home for Easter Sunday and getting "refilled" by our family and friends! God blesses us with being able to be here and doing this work but He also blesses us with family and friends and we need to see them and be refreshed in them. For all of you who know you fall into this category PLEASE call us, come and see us, and pray for safe travel for us! We love you all and you have no idea how much we miss all of you! For those of you who read this, please spread the word to those who might not and let them know how much we love you!

For those of you who would like to help support us in this awesome mission of rebuilding homes and lives here in Pascagoula, Mississippi you can send your tax deductible gift through our church at Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift as the complete 100% is sent to us. We thank you for your giving hearts and pray your blessings come back to you ten fold!

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

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Palm Sunday, Hosanna to the King!

Sorry but the photo attachment is not working again today. The problem is with the blog program and probably due to "system overload"!

We are hoping all of you went to church today and praised Jesus for what He did for all of us. That should be the most important thing on our minds all this week. This week should have all of us in church more than usual and in prayer more also.

Our service was wonderful this morning. Monty and I got the palm branches arranged around the cross and in front of the podium. I made a quick trip and picked up some purple tulips and purple cloth this morning and used them on the front table.

Tim had the message and challenged all of us to tap into and use the power of the gospel that Jesus put inside each of us! The meaning of gospel is "good news", and that it is! He gave us 4 descriptions of the gospel; powerful, liberating, resounding and hopeful.
Powerful; it's not about what we say, it's God saying it through us! We need to access that power that is a free gift to us.
Liberating; we are set free from sin and Satan through the gospel. Our desire should be that everyone see our witness, not just hear it.
Resounding; the gospel rings out far and wide. We are to go out into the world and make an impression. Let the world know what Christ has done in our lives!
Hopeful; Christ is coming again! His joy awaits us! This promise is what fills our lives with hope.
In conclusion, the world has many religions but only one gospel!
This is a great challenge for all of us! Give it some thought and then act on it! Make a difference!

Today was a beautiful day, sunshine and cooler northern breezes. The humidity is gone, for now and we took the afternoon to ourselves to regroup and just rest in Jesus. We needed a refill from Him and getting that through nature has always worked for both of us. We left the dogs behind and spent our reflective time with nature.

The driver of the infamous drywall delivery truck finally called this evening! He has been "missing" for 2 weeks now! He is in Gulfport and will be here in the morning! And we will also have those who need the drywall waiting in the parking lot for the truck. Atleast Monty doesn't have to unload it twice that way! We are so thankful that it is finally here and the blessings can be spread once again!

If you would like to help support us in this mission of rebuilding communities and lives you can send your tax deductible gift to us through our church; Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift as all 100% will be used to support this mission and bless the victims of the hurricane.

I spoke to a woman today who needs some help and she told me that she would go through Katrina all over again as long as she knew she would be able to be so extremely blessed by all of the volunteers who she has met! WOW, what a statement! THAT is what this mission is all about! THAT is why we are here, following God's lead as best as we can! Thank you for making it possible!

Until tomorrow....continue to pray for us....we love you! Susan and Monty

Saturday, April 08, 2006


We're not the only ones who are tired after an 8 day run of over 70 volunteers! Tim and Sheri are too!

Does Bitty have a brother? Meet "Big Boy" who lives across the street and who is the reason people come running to me telling me my dog is out! :)

Our entire Ohio group left VERY early this morning, around 4am! It was eirily quiet when we went into the building. The Florida group of 10 is still here until tomorrow morning.

I spent the entire morning getting rooms cleaned up and ready for the next groups coming in 2 weeks. Even though the groups are great about cleaning up before they leave there is always alot more to do. We want to thank them for leaving the snack foods--they will come in handy!

The Florida group cooked a big breakfast and were kind enough to invite us to join them. They are a great group of guys. We thank them for sharing with us!

Monty was busy this morning loading floor tile for the pastor who lost their church and parsonage in the storm (the church that now meets in the tent). It is such a blessing to have an abundance and be able to share with another church!

The next project we tackled was the 2 adjoining rooms creating the daycare nursery. There was a plexiglass window between them that the director wanted removed. Monty got it out and started the process of framing it out and making it an opening betweeen the rooms. The doorway will also be framed out. We got the lumber and the primer coat on it. All that remains is getting it painted and put in. Probably Monday.

By around noon we had both hit a wall. I was so tired of being in this building and working and working and working that I really needed a break, and am not ashamed to admit it! When we were at our jobs at home we worked 5 days and 2 off. Here there can be no such thing as a day off unless you just make yourself take some time. We both needed some refreshing, some relaxation and just some time together. We went to the Ocean Springs beach, or what's left of it. We could walk with the dogs and just let the water and sand run through our feet. The rains of this morning blew through and the sun was nice and warm and it was the sort of afternoon we both needed.

This evening we went down to the beach area and found some palm trees that we could get some branches from to decorate the church for Palm Sunday tomorrow. The branches are huge and it only took a few to do what we needed.

For some, tomorrow is the beginning of Holy Week. With Palm Sunday, Maunday Thursday, Good Friday and Easter all in one week it is a busy week, a week of reflecting, a week of emotions. It is a time for all of us to think about just how blessed we are and how thankful we should be for what Jesus did for us! It puts everything else into perspective!

Please keep our Ohio group in your prayers as they will not be arriving home until after midnight this evening and have had a very long day of traveling.

Thank you all for reading and sharing with us in our mission. Please keep in mind that this journal always comes from my heart and is quite personal to me. Sharing it with all of you is a blessing to me and hopefully to all of you too!

Please remember that the only way we can remain here doing what God has called us to do is through your support. We don't get paid for what we do but we still have bills from home and expenses while we are here. Without your gifts of support this mission would not continue. To send a tax deductible gift, whether it be a one time gift or a monthly one, you can send it to our church; Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note"Katrina" on your gift as all 100% of it comes to us to use to follow God's call on our lives. We are so very thankful for your love and support.

Until tomorrow...attend the church of your choice tomorrow and celebrate Palm Sunday, the day Jesus rode victoriously into Jerusalem. And reflect this week on how the coming week played out for Him....Susan and Monty

Friday, April 07, 2006

Washer & Dryer

Part of our Ohio group at the beach yesterday for the baptisms and Monty with a few of them standing on the wall at the beach, praise Jesus for the saving of 2 more children!

This morning was unusually busy. With this many volunteers and at the end of a 2 week stretch of so many hearing your name called in every direction makes you feel as though you have put 200 miles on the soles of your shoes! You start in one direction, get derailed to another and forget your original destination! Sure does keep you on your toes!

Our tile crew finished up the halls and it looks great! For the first time in months and months we have flooring under our feet!

Another worked on getting the ceiling fans installed in the 2 nursery rooms, now there is light in each one!

Another worked on priming and painting one of the teachers' homes.

Still others worked with Monty on Gladys's house spraying the texture on the walls. It is now ready for primer and paint. Doors are on site and ready to be installed. The cabinets are ready to be rehung. It is coming together so quickly and looks fantastic. We plan to get updated photos tomorrow for you to see. (Callie----you just pass them by when you read so you can be surprised at the ribbon cutting) :)

The roofers repaired 2 more today. What a crew!

I worked a bit more on the grouting of the halls and this will be a job for the next incoming volunteers as one person will never get it done!

And for me, a great blessing came today----a washer and dryer installed in the building! This crew brought us both of them and got them hooked up this afternoon. I immediately started washing and it is wonderful to be able to once again wash as needed. The small things that we forget about until we don't have them. The things we take for granted! Thanks guys!

Us women gave Sue a break from cooking and took her to lunch this afternoon. She has cooked 2 meals each day and packed lunches for their entire group every single day. She deserved a day off. She wanted a shrimp po boy and so off to Bozo's we went. It's just a little bitty seafood market down the street with some places to sit on the side. The food is great and we all had a great time visiting and laughing and enjoying the food. A nice treat for all of us as sometimes not many women come to volunteer and with so many being in this group it was a nice change and I will really miss them.

Some of the group left early afternoon to get a head start on their 17 hour trip home. The rest will be pulling out very early in the morning. For their last night here they chose to go out to a seafood restaurant, Catfish Point. The food there is really good and there were 30 of us there. We all had such a good time and especially enjoyed the live bluegrass band that walks from table to table playing music. When we requested Amazing Grace and started singing with them there were alot of others who were eating that joined in. A great way to bring a great week to an end! We will miss all of them because once again they have become part of our family! They all want to come back and that is awesome! For some of them this was their second trip and they admit that they just can't stay away! Servant hearts, what a blessing!

We got word today that the famous missing drywall truck is supposed to arrive tomorrow----again! Time will tell! Monty will also be loading pallets of floor tile that are being donated to our neighboring Assembly church down the road that lost their entire building (the one that meets in the tent). They are building a metal building to use for church until they can get their permanent one built, and who knows how long that will take as their funds are just not coming as they should be! But Bethel is donating tile for that building and for the parsonage and what a blessing this is for them. When anyone has an abundance they are commanded to share, especially when the abundance you have was donated to you to begin with! God is surely smiling!

We are so thankful for all of the volunteers we have had over the past 2 weeks and it is amazing to see just how much has been accomplished. It's easy to see the "building" side of progress but what has happened on the spiritual and emotional side isn't something so visible. But the lives that have been touched, both here and with those who came to help, this isn't something that can be described, it must be experienced! Everyone has said the same thing I have said since the beginning of our mission, it is life-changing! No matter what the age, it changes your life!

If you would like to be a vital part of this mission and make it possible for this rebuilding of lives to continue, you can send your tax deductible donations to us through our home church, Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please be sure and note "Katrina" on your gift as the entire 100% will be used for our mission. Every little bit adds up to a bigger blessing for the victims, in so many ways. We thank you for your giving heart and pray God's blessing for each of you.

Until tomorrow, count your blessings! Susan and Monty

Thursday, April 06, 2006

2 were baptized

These are the 2 that were baptized in the bay this evening in a wonderful service. Reminded me of how John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Sea of Galilee. Both are teens and what an amazing blessing for us to be a part of it! Praise God!

This was a really busy day! This morning, first thing, all of us women who were on our hands and knees grouting all day yesterday were unanimous in our decision that we would not be doing that again today! We all found some muscles that were revolting violently! My what a difference the years make!

Monty worked at the extreme makeover house all day. The sheetrock is all up and they are in the process of spraying on the finish which will be followed with primer and paint. It is coming together so nicely and every step brings it closer to completion and also brings the volunteers that have been working on it closer. The cabinets are finished being painted and things are all going forward.

I started the day with some of the youth and a couple of women working on the warehouse. So much trash had built up over the months and they were able to really get it cleaned up. They bagged so much of it and along with all trash, it is taken to the edge of the road where the trucks come and pick it up. They really worked hard in a really nasty job! Thanks to all of you!

Project Recovery women came and paid us 3 visits today. This is a wonderful organization that provides emotional help to those who need it. Making the connection with them is a huge step in the right direction. We were able to give them the forms we use for work orders and some of our business/mission cards. Before the day was over we had 3 calls with people asking for help. I had a lengthy conversation with one of the women who called in and she was telling how other church groups had come into her house and what they had done. She praised God and all of the churches for their part in this reconstruction. She said that she would go through another Katrina if she knew the volunteers would come and be such a blessing as they have been this time! That statement brought me to tears! As I continue to "preach", the faith based organizations are the ones that have made a difference in Mississippi and nearly every person we meet says the same thing! This is where all of you come in! You do and can make a difference! Whether you make the trip here yourself, whether you pray for those who do or whether you support someone who comes to volunteer, YOU make the difference! Thank you! We look forward to working with Project Recovery and I would ask that you keep them in your prayers as they go out and try to reach the people with their emotional needs.

Some of our youth and adults went to one of our school teachers homes this afternoon and started sanding and prepping her walls for primer and paint. It looks as though they will return tomorrow for more of the same.

More of the youth planted some beautiful flowers, complete with mulch, around one side of the church grounds. This will be a nice site on this coming Easter season.

Our roofing crews completed yet another house today. 4 houses in 4 days, quite a team! They have 2 patching jobs for tomorrow and are raring to go!

Our floor tile crew is still going down the halls! There were a couple more who joined the team today and they are really making progress. (if only someone would come and grout!) :)

Yet another crew worked on getting the washer and dryer they donated to us hooked up. We will have a real laundry facility before it is over. No more trips to the laundry mat, no more waiting on a washer or dryer and no more $$$ poured into the machines! Thank you Ohio group!

Before dinner we had the blessing of all of us packing up and heading to the bay, which is less than a mile from here. The 2 youth wanted to give their lives to Jesus and be baptized in the bay. It was a wonderful ceremony and such a blessing to be a part of. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of it!

We had special guests for dinner this evening. Once again, Sue prepared dinner for the entire crew! She is an amazing cook and we thank her for sharing with us each evening! This evening Gladys, her son Gerald and her daughter Callie joined us. Everyone from the team wanted to meet them and this was the best way! There have been so many of the team at her house working and this gave them a wonderful opportunity to meet her. Gladys has won my heart and I love that family so! What a blessing they have been to us and everyone who has been working so hard on her house! She and Callie are staying away from the house until the final "ribbon cutting", and both are really curious. Gerald has been coming on site alot and you can see the excitement in his face! He continues to "hint" that he is the "baby" of her 10 kids and might just have to move in there himself! Thanks Gerald, Callie and Gladys for being such a blessing not only in our lives but in the lives of everyone who is blessed to work on your house!

We closed the evening with the Ohio crew in song and devotion and prayer! Once again this team has become family and with tomorrow being their last day we will be blessed and yet very sad! Saying goodbye is not an easy thing to do!

If while reading this your heart has been touched and you would like to become a part of this mission you can do just that. Without your financial support Monty and I would not be able to be here and fulfilling our mission. To contribute to this mission and allow us to stay here and continue following God's call on our lives you can send your tax deductible gifts to the following address: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402.

Please note "Katrina" on your gift as all 100% will be sent to us to do God's work. We thank you for your support and for your hearts!

God bless all of you....until tomorrow.....Susan and Monty

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

3 were saved tonight!

This tile was designed by young volunteers who took the time to break the tiles and create the pattern with 3 crosses. It is in a bathtub and the things sticking out are the plumbing pipes.

The crowd is all of our Ohio team at mealtime. The women, especially Sue, are cooking meals using crock pots and anything else they can find. Feeding over 40, after they have all been out working all day is not an easy task. She wants their last night, Friday, off so they will be going out! She has earned it!

Monty spent the day at our makeover house finishing up with the drywall and the actual finishing will begin tomorrow. It looks like we will have a crew who have experience in finishing, which is really important. Some of the others went over and planted some flowers on both of her porches and spruced up the yard area.

I spent the entire day on my hands and knees grouting the 2 nursery school room floors. They layed the tile yesterday and the grout is a special grout. The tile makes a floating floor so the grout has to be flexible. It comes out in a tube and is already colored. It is the consistency of caulk and just as sticky. With the help of a group of different women we got it done! My knees are most definitely not what they used to be 10 years ago! :)

Another group got the church hallways painted their second coat and yet another started laying the tile in the hallways. We are finally getting some real flooring! Living on concrete floors is getting old!

There were so many different groups doing so many different things that is was hard to keep up with all of them. What a great group of people! One group had been helping a neighbor lady with her storage area and they invited her for dinner and church with us! She brought a video of the hurricane that someone had taken from a parking garage in Biloxi and there truly are no words to describe what we all watched! Even the kids were speechless!

Our Wednesday evening church service this evening was awesome! Pastor Kenn started by telling us that we need to put the fun back into church again and had all of the kids, and then some "adults" participate in a chair game that had everyone laughing. He challenged all of us to use the power of God that is inside each of us! At the end of the service he asked if there was anyone who had never given their heart to God and would like to do so this evening---3 teens got up and it was amazing! He prayed with and for these 3 such a prayer that they must have felt it clear to the tips of their toes! He then took them with him into the congregation to pray for others who needed a touch from God! Such a powerful evening and seeing these 3 give their hearts to God and pledge to serve Him brought tears of joy! Afterward one of the girls said she wants to be baptized while they are here! Stay tuned to see if it takes place.

I want to thank those of you who noticed the "message" in last nights entry. Bless you for caring and for being so supportive. As I said last night, this blog is my heart being put in words. And this mission IS my heart!

If you feel like you are being called to help support us in our mission, please send your tax deductible gifts to us through: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift as all 100% of your gift is used to rebuild homes and lives here in Mississippi!

God bless all you and until tomorrow....we love you all. Susan and Monty

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Goodbye Scott!

After being here for nearly a month, being involved in so many projects, heading up the teams in the extreme makeover house and just becoming a part of our family, Scott left for home today. Home is California although he will only be there for a couple of days before leaving for Costa Rico where he will be heading up another mission project. He had such a powerful impact on so many people during his stay here and we will truly miss him. He has such a servant heart and we pray God's blessings on him, wherever he goes and whatever he does.

There is an "issue" that, sad to say, must be addressed. It has been brought to our attention that our mission here is not truly understood by some people who are reading our blog. This blog was created as a personal journal, a place to not only share what is happening here but also our hearts. It is a way to keep our friends and family close to us and to encourage others to come and help the hurricane victims rebuild their lives and communities. This is in no way a "vacation" for us, this is us answering God's call for our lives. Yes, we live in a FEMA trailer, one that belongs to the church. Yes, we have taken 2 days away in the past 2 months that we have been here. Yes, we eat at restaurants as there are no cooking facilities at the church and the trailer is more than difficult, let alone having the time to prepare meals. No, we are not using monies that would otherwise be used for the victims, we use our monies for the victims. For you to criticize, to belittle, to scrutinize and to be just plain rude is not only hurtful to us but to the victims of the hurricane! Maybe you have been reading the blog but you definitely have not really been reading it, with your heart! I will not apologize for anything we have been doing or will do. We are being guided and directed by God! Yes, we are human and sinful but with God on our side we will succeed. Now, I have already spent too much time and air space even acknowleging this "issue" and it will not be addressed any further. If you do not like what you are reading then just simply DON'T READ IT!

Our Ohio team is making great progress with the makeover house. They have all the sheetrock up and the first coat of tape and mudding done. The kitchen cabinets are all painted, changing them from the dark stain to a beautiful light sand color. It looks as though the finish coat may be completed by the time this team leaves! Amazing! Landscaping will begin tomorrow.

Our roofing crew did another house today. When they set their minds to roofing they don't let anything get in the way! 2 roofs in 2 days and another scheduled for tomorrow. What a blessing! When someones roof needs replaced it needs to be done first because there is no need to do anything on the inside until the leak is stopped. Thanks guys, you're awesome!

Another part of the Ohio team has been laying tile in the nursery rooms in the school. The nursery has been displaced for months and they are getting a waiting list. 2 of the 3 rooms will be completely done by the end of the week. The sinks and counters will be hooked up and set, the ceiling fans with lights will be installed and the infants can finally be back in their rooms. The 3rd room still needs the ceiling sheetrocked and then it can follow. They also started the tile in the hallways and did some prep work on some of the rougher areas on the floors. Myself and a couple of other women will start with the grouting tomorrow.

Still another crew worked on cleaning up a neighbors yard and helping her get things moved into her storage barn before the authorities come and push her house to the ground. She lives alone and these volunteers did things she couldn't have gotten done without them. They are the same ones who will be doing some landscaping at the makeover house tomorrow.

This is only the 2nd day with this crew and they have 3 more to go. Their progress is such a blessing and we are so thankful for them. Quite a few of them were here in January and felt compelled to come back. This time there are over 40 of them! Once again, amazing! Thanks to all of you!

Everyone on all of these crews lets their light shine! They open their hearts and allow Jesus to move them. They open each morning with devotions and prayer and close the day the same way. They are all ages and willing to do things they may have never done or know they don't really like to do, but they do what is needed, above and beyond! The Bible says, "the joy of the Lord is my strength" and they all are perfect examples of that verse!

For those of you who would like to support us while we are doing this work please send your tax deductible gift to: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift as 100% of your gift is used to rebuild the hurricane victims homes and lives! We thank those of you who have already given, without you this mission would not be fulfilled! God bless all of you!

Until tomorrow.....Susan and Monty

Monday, April 03, 2006

Helping, helping, helping

Reroofing one of the houses we are working on. I wanted you to see the 2 white "things" sitting next to the house. These are PODS, portable on demand storage. These are all over the place as people rented them to have a place to store their household belongings. When you have remove everything from your house to have it rebuilt you need someplace to go with it. These units are the answer for alot of people.

The other photo is the structural changes going on in one of our school teacher's home. They had an enormous amount of water inside and also lost their 4 vehicles. When you have so much rebuilding to do this also becomes the time where you make any structural changes you might have been needing to do. The group from Tennessee did a wonderful job in getting this home on the road to recovery. Thanks guys (and Michelle)!

Our teams were all up and at 'em early this morning. Most wanted to be out the door heading to their jobs at 7am, and for the most part they made it. We had a crew reroofing a house, another crew continuing the sheetrock and electrical in our makeover house, another crew starting to lay the tile in the nursery area of the school here, another crew went to Dauphin Island to clean the bird sanctuary, another was busy getting started on the organizing of the school library, another painting an entire house and yet another cleaning a yard and another working on the plumbing at a house while some senior high kids were wheel barrowing red clay dirt under a house to create a new foundation. It was a super busy day and very constructive. The home owners are so happy to be receiving the help and the volunteers are happy to be providing it.

It's so awesome to see the spirit of the volunteers when they arrive. They are so enthusiastic and want so badly to help others. It is such a breath of fresh air and rebuilds ones spirit in people! To see the young people with the servant hearts warms the hearts of us who aren't quite so young anymore. Everyone finds someplace with something they can do, even if it is something they might have never done before. They just want to be a blessing to others.

Tomorrow will bring another roof job along with continuations of ongoing homes and the start of new ones. This week will bring so many blessings, to both the victims and the volunteers. And it will also bring sunburn and exhaustion to some! They all say that they can rest when they get home! Servant hearts for sure!

The semi of sheetrock still has not arrived. Once again, we wait! We have people ready and waiting to pick up loads and pray it will be here soon. We are so thankful that the company that is sending it realizes the need and it willing to be such a blessing.

This evening the entire church is filled with volunteers eating together and praising the Lord in worship services filled with praise and music! After all that work they still have a heart to praise!

For those of you who would like to support this mission dedicated to helping the Katrina victims rebuild both their homes and their lives you can send your tax deductible gifts to the following address: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402.

Please note "Katrina" on your gift as 100% is sent for hurricane relief. We thank you for keeping up with what is happening and how God is moving in this disaster. If we all focus on helping others and less on ourselves Katrina will be a blessing in disguise!

Thank you and may God bless you...until tomorrow...Susan and Monty

Sunday, April 02, 2006

They're baaaackkkk!!

Meet Capone, the "superintendent" of the Tennessee crew who worked on Miss Sharon and Wendell's house last week.

Then we have our friends from our home church, Meow and DeeDee taking a rest in front of what was our trailer that they stayed in.

Then we have a kitchen shot of most of the crew from last week! Thank you everyone!

Today we began our day of worship with Pastor Tim leading the service. His theme of "recipe for revival" was awesome, and challenging for all of us! He challenged all of us to give to the world a vision of Jesus (be His reflection) by having people see Him in us! God is stirring the nation and we need to be the ones to step out! His "recipe" had 3 ingredients:
1. humble ourselves; less of us and more of God in our lives. It's not about us, we need to form ourselves into what the Lord wants us to be! In order for me to be who Christ want me to be, who I want to be must die! Ask God to walk before us in everything we do.
2. prayer, seek God's face; if we want to see God moving WE must start praying, it starts with us, not others.
3. turn from our wicked ways(a life that is self centered). Ask "Lord, what would you have me to do?"
Summary = some recipes for the same thing have different ingredients but NOT this one!
It challenged all of us to do some soul searching and rethink things, starting today!

Our group from Ohio came in througout the day and by the time they all got on site there are 42 of them! We have some of the women sleeping in the sanctuary! They will really be able to get some work done and send out the blessings all over the place this next week!

The group from Calvary Chapel arrived this evening and there are 18 of them. Once again, blessing after blessing!

The last group to arrive was from Missouri. Our rooms are so full that the men from this group are staying in the entry room!

To say that "the inn is full" is a very accurate statement for this week! It will be a fun week with alot of work getting done and even more ministry! THIS is what Christianity is all about!

This evening we returned to our regular Sunday night worship at the church that meets in the tent and some of the Ohio group went with us. Pastor Hart had a fantastic message based on the passage, the joy of the Lord is my strength! He talked to us about the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is based on our circumstances and can be highly effected by emotions. Joy is deep in the inside and comes from knowing God. He also challenged us by telling us that "if we don't make a difference we won't make a difference". Yes, it is typed correctly, read it again and think about it!

As I said, this church lost everything, building and all, and have been meeting in a tent! This is challenging enough in the best of conditions. What you must realize is that we are in a swampland and the gnats and mosquitos rule everywhere! Meeting in a tent is an invitation for both of them to come inside for a free meal! We all became bait this evening and it was probably the worst case of biting gnats I have ever seen! This is no way for any church to have to gather! This is the next thing to a crime! They are awaiting funds to be able to rebuild. They will be constructing a metal building in the next month which will atleast get them out of the weather but they need a real church building! Please keep this pastor, his family and the entire congregation in your prayers that the funding will be released and they will be able to have church in the literal sense!

We ended our evening with a meeting in the sanctuary with all of the Ohio group to line out the jobs listed for this coming week. They will be dividing themselves and taking the top priority ones first. They also plan on getting some more work done inside the church. The 3 nursery rooms will hopefully be completed this week, after over 7 months of being out of commision. It's like I have said before, we have the rebuilding of the community AND the rebuilding of the church! More than enough to keep people busy for a long time!

This week will be filled with wonderful stories of what is being done around the community and inside the church. Be sure to stay tuned and as you read about what is happening and what is getting done, please remember all of these volunteers in your prayers. Pray for safety and strength and wisdom. Working under these conditions are unlike any conditions anyone has worked under before and sometimes things don't go just as you are used to. They (we) all need your prayers!

Each week when new volunteers come in they ask how it is that Monty and I can be down here doing what we are doing. Each time we tell them it is through the blessings of God and through people like themselves who see and understand the need and open their hearts to keep us down here doing what God is directing us to do. Without them (you) this would not be possible! We thank them (you) for this support.

If you would like to help support us in this work you can send your gift through our home church where you will receive a tax deduction statement for your gift. No amount is too small. Some are supporting through a one time gift and others are pledging a monthly gift. Take it to prayer.
If you feel you would like to help us, please send your gift to: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift as 100% of your gift comes to us! The church keeps nothing! We thank you for your giving hearts!

Be sure to stay tuned as this will be a blessed week...until tomorrow...Susan and Monty

Saturday, April 01, 2006

"Partial" day off

God's beauty in the midst of all the disaster! Wisteria blooming in all its glory!

Part of our Zionsville team, the kids did a great job working in the school play yard. Thanks Kids!

The rest of the team putting the new roof on Gladys's house! Women working on the roof - what a team!

Another bright, sunshiney day! We really did try and "sleep in" this morning but it just never works, we wake up anyway!

Monty got started working on the large cross that had been located on the stage area of the church. It was coming apart and in need of some TLC. He cleaned it and worked on getting it reattached at the T joint. Right now it is being held together with some clamps getting the adhesive to dry before we get in to trying to get some of the color back in to it. It has faded quite a bit over the years but should be looking great by the time we finish it.

We have been waiting on the semi with our drywall all week, the one that was supposed to be here this past Monday! We were told it should be here today or tomorrow and we had to make sure we were here so Monty could unload it. A little before noon we got word it had been snowed in somewhere up north and would not be here today! That gave us the opportunity to get away for the afternoon and take a breather before we start our 8 day stretch with volunteers. They all arrive tomorrow so it will definitely be a working day!

Scott came along with us and the dogs and we went back to Dauphin Island. The day was perfect for a day at the beach! Sunshine, breezy, white sand and white capping waves splashing on the beach! Just like our previous trip, the dogs had a blast and made a couple of new friends, both dog and human. They ran and ran and ran until they couldn't run any more. They love the edge of the water and also rolling in the sand! Scott decided to swim out to a nearby sandbar, well, not really all that nearby but he is quite a swimmer and had no problem. While out there he found alot of the hermit crabs running around in their shells. Monty and I walked up and down the beach with the dogs and met 2 people who are in the military and stationed here doing disaster relief. It was nice to talk with someone who understands what is going on, even if for only a few minutes.

We arrived back here around 5pm and first thing was to get the dogs cleaned up. They each got a bath and dinner and went straight to bed, where they still are 4 hours later! Monty did some more work on the cross and we then headed to dinner and an antique car show being held in a parking lot nearby. Most of the cars were pulling out by the time we got there but we did see some great ones. We ran into one of the school teachers from here, Kim, and she knew the people showing their cars. She pointed out 2 that had been under water during the storm. One was an old Thunderbird and the other an MGB. Both owners had completely cleaned them up and had them running. Kim also told us how they had just purchased one for themselves only 2 weeks before the storm and lost it to the storm. There had been so much loss just in this car show, things we don't think about! When I asked Kim why the people showing their cars would leave them outside on a night like tonight, so humid that anything exposed to the air was wet, like it had been hit with a garden hose, she said that everyone was just so glad to be out and doing something "normal" that it didn't make any difference. She said everyone had been changed by the storm and all of their loss that the humidity didn't matter anymore!

Even though we have been here for quite some time now, it still amazes me at how much was really lost. The car show made me think about an entirely different type of loss. We hear about the homes and furniture, the appliances and food, the clothes and the cars, but I hadn't thought of things like these antique cars. These are things that cannot be replaced and that were "fun" in people's lives. They haven't been able to really do anything that even resembled fun for months now and just to be able to get back in to it, even with vehicles that had been under water, meant the world to them. They could get together and laugh and not have to think about the storm, or atleast not as much as usual. But the loss is still there and permeates into everything in one way or another.

Closing with this thought I hope it gives us all the more reason to go to church tomorrow and give thanks for God, for what He has blessed us with and for us not being the ones suffering the losses from this hurricane! "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

Until tomorrow....the Lord's Day....a day for praise and worship....God bless! Susan and Monty