Friday, May 26, 2006
Monty spent the day working electrical again and also got a strong taste of the heat!
Today was spent checking on the ongoing jobs with the last day of the North Carolina team. They were continuing the floor installation at Gladys's, hanging sheetrock at Ms Barbara's and assisting an elderly lady with arthritis who is unable to get herself to the grocery or clean her trailer. The team was able to really help her and also be there to minister to her. This is the example of meeting more than construction needs.
We are so thankful for this team and ask for prayers for them as they will be leaving around 3:00am and driving straight through. May God guard their vehicles and keep an angel on each bumper!
This evening was a wonderful, yet sad evening. The church held a banquet for Steve and Carol, the Convoy of Hope couple who have been here since October. This church has become their home church and they will be missed so deeply. The church prepared a wonderful meal for all of us and then had people video their goodbyes and showed the entire tape to everyone. Pastor Rick tried his best to get through the evening without tears but was very unsuccessful! Monty and I are so thankful for the example Steve and Carol have set for us and the blessing they have been in our lives. We had time to visit with them a bit today and it just won't seem right without them here! We pray God's blessings on them as they travel on to the next venture in their lives of service to the Lord.
I want to let all of you know that I will not be blogging for the next few days as we have some outside business to take care of. Please stay tuned as I am not sure how many days we will be off but I do know it won't be long! There are times when business things must be attended to and there are just so many hours in the day! I can assure you there are big things about to happen with the relief efforts, more teams are coming and more stories of rebuilding in the communities. You won't want to miss out on any of it!
We thank you for your support and prayers. If you would like to become a more active participant in this effort you can send your tax deductible gifts to us through our home church:
Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift as all comes to us, the church keeps nothing for themselves. May God return your blessings a hundred fold or more! Without your support we would not be able to continue following the calling God has placed on our lives.
Until I return ... God bless you! Susan and Monty
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Many times when our volunteers work in homes the residents enjoy providing them with meals as their small way of thanking them for the work they are doing. This was taken yesterday as the North Carolina sheetrocking team worked at Allan and Carolyn's home. This is such an added blessing for the teams and a wonderful way for everyone to bond even more!
As the title says, today is my birthday! I won't tell which one but let's just say the number keeps climbing and it's a joy to be spending this one in the direct service of the Lord! He sent me so many blessings today it's hard to remember them all! They started with my cell phone ringing before 7:30am and continued through to the birthday dinner shared with our dear friends, Bruce and Linda this evening. She even made me the most chocolatey birthday cake I know that is known to mankind! The thing has to be sinful as it's way to good to be anything else!
I received phone call after phone call until I had both lines tied up and voicemails coming through on top of those lines! They were calls from people wanting to send teams, needing more information and dates, to those teams already scheduled and had more questions. One team is requesting to work all together in someones home and be able to "adopt" that person/family and bless them even further. This can definitely be done, I just won't know which home until closer to their arrival time. Another team coming wanted to know how to send a separate donation and specify that it comes to our Gautier location of Convoy of Hope. Yet another wanted to know what tools to bring, how many gift cards for Lowes and if we knew what house they would be working in. Our procedure is for the teams to give me a phone call about a week out from their arrival and then I have a better idea of what they will be doing. We always encourage them to bring hand tools and favorite power tools, especially if they are driving and have the room. I just seemed like it was one super phone call after another. I looked at it as God's birthday gift to me, reassuring me that Monty and I are doing what He wants us to do and it was His way of letting me know. He sure got the point across and I am thankful to Him for doing so.
We did have the opportunity to visit a gentlemans home who also called this morning needing help. Before you read on please know that this is a tough story to write, let alone you reading it!
This gentleman lives less than one block from the water. His house had over 6 feet of water inside and he lost everything inside and all the tools and equipment he has stored outside in his out buildings and tool sheds. After the storm they have changed the flood elevations which required him to raise his home, or what is left of it, to a height of 19 feet and 7 inches off the ground. Yes, you read correctly, it is feet!!! He did have both homeowners and flood insurance and it took all of that and much more that is not paid yet, to just have the structure raised to the requirement. He has been working day and night trying to do as much of the work as possible by himself. He gutted the entire house, complete with tearing off the remaining brick on the outside. He has rebuilt the decks required on the back and front of the house. He now must strap the structure down as required by code and repair the roof. He also must pay a licensed electrician to do the work now required. He has taken off work to try and get as much done as possible and is at the end of his rope. He is the kind of man who has always been there to help others with whatever they needed and not the kind to ask for help for himself. The pain in his voice both on the phone and in person was exactly that - pain! After describing everything going on with his house he then told us that his wife is bedridden in their FEMA trailer with Alheimer's disease and he has to care for her full time! Her mother lives in the trailer next to theirs to be able to offer some added assistance. Due to this fact he will now have to build an elevator in the house just to be able to transport her up and down as needed. He is also adding onto two areas in the house, one is what used to be a garage but is useless as such when nearly 20 feet in the air. He will enclose it, add a few feet to it and make it into living quarters for his mother in law to live with them. The other area he is adding is a few feet to his and his wifes bedroom so he can have their very small bathroom a bit larger to enable him to bathe her a bit easier! He had a few sheets of sheetrock donated by a local church but nowhere even near the amount it will take to complete this house! He also had one package of insulation and it also won't cover much! He didn't know where to turn and was ashamed to have to ask for help! When you see a grown man break down in tears because of the weight on his shoulders there isn't another dry eye in the building! Monty offered up prayer with the 3 of us standing there, holding hands in the shambles of what once was their home! And all the gentleman could do was continually thank us for even taking the time to come by and see him and offer help! We asked him to get the structure foundation secure as code requires, get the electricians work done and call us back and we will get teams in there to start the sheetrock and insulation using what little he now has. We are certain, and assured him of such, that God will provide the materials and volunteers to get this work done. It will not happen quickly and will really be an added challenge due to the fact of working nearly 20 feet in the air, but God will provide! What we ask of all of you reading this is to keep this man, his wife and mother in law in your prayers! They all need them so desparately and prayers work miracles, just what is needed here!
Getting to go and meet this gentleman, hearing his story and taking on the task of helping him was God's greatest birthday gift to me today! He once again gave me the gift of being here, of being able to do what we can, and maybe what we can't, to help this family! THAT is the greatest gift for me! I thank God for that gift today, for it being on my birthday, for it showing me that we are on the right path, that we are right where God wants us to be, and that God is still, and always will be, in complete control! Praise God for His faithfulness and His perfect timing!
For those of you who would be interested in a real investment into this relief ministry we are doing, please do so by making it possible for us to remain here doing this work. Without your donations we will not be able to continue. We are just like the rest of you, we have bills to pay and our mortgage company of our home back home don't really care what we are doing or where we are doing it --- they just want that monthly check! We need your help!! The people of Mississippi need your help! If you are interested in helping you can send your completely tax deductible donations to us through our home church; Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please be sure to note "Katrina" on your gift as all of it comes directly to us, the church keeps nothing back for themselves! God bless you as you contemplate helping. We thank you for what you have already done!
Until tomorrow ... praise God for the roof over your head tonight and pray for those here who are trying to get the same....Bless you...Susan and Monty
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
There are quite a few photos today because there were quite a few relief efforts going on at the same time.
The first 2 photos are taken at Gladys's house. The 2 smaller boys are from the neighborhood. They came by and stayed and worked the entire day! What an outreach this house has been and this is just one more new way! Here it was, a very hot day in southern Mississippi where everyone had already sweat clean through every stitch of clothing and these boys decided to clean up the sticks and branches that had fallen all over her yard and burn them! I asked them where the hot dogs and marshmallows were! The leader of this team told us this evening that both boys assured him they would be back tomorrow, and I have no doubt they will. The joy they got from serving another neighbor was priceless and no doubt had God with a huge smile on His face!
The next 2 photos are another team hanging sheetrock in Allan and Carolyn's house. They live north of town and also had water flood them. He lost his job and she has a serious heart condition. They had done as much of the work themselves as they could and within 2 days this team completely rocked the rooms needed! Allan and Carolyn served them lunch each day and what a blessing that was! This team is on a roll and will start rocking another house tomorrow! Thanks team, you're awesome!
The next 2 photos are at John's house. The team primed and painted the kitchen, dining room, bath, hallway and back room. When we started this house John's walls, ceiling and flooring had all caved in and now they are all completely rebuilt, he has running water, a kitchen for his boys to eat in and a bathroom for them to use! Praise the Lord and thanks to this team it is now a nice color and looks like a real home!
The final 4 photos are of the Spanish Village. The trailer park they are in was a FEMA trailer park back in the 70's from another hurricane. Anyone else coming into this place would have turned away and said that the place needed condemed! These trailers are the only home that these non-English speaking people know and they deserve to be livable! In the first 2 photos you can see the before, the black mold, the falling in floors, walls and all the destruction! This trailer will be condemed but doesn't look that much worse than the ones that have now been rebuilt. They have actual sheetrock walls, real floors and some donated furniture inside. They still don't have air conditioning as their window units were destroyed but they aren't complaining! The transformation has been incredible and most of this village came to church this past Sunday, even though they could not understand the language, Pastor was prepared and had printed his message out on paper - in Spanish! They all have been such a joy and have stepped in and worked right along with everyone else! They have even cooked some real mexican lunches which everyone truly enjoyed!
As you can see, today was an extremely busy day! This North Carolina team is wonderful and are having such a fun time serving the people and serving the Lord. They haven't complained about the intense heat, they just keep drinking water and sweating for the Lord! Their joy is contagious and something we should all take note of! True joy does not depend on our circumstances but comes from our hearts! In each of these photos you can see the joy on their sweaty faces and they are loving it!
Keeping up with these teams has kept us running for sure! But without them here nothing would be getting done and all these people would be the ones suffering! Coordinating the relief efforts, organizing the needs of the people with the volunteers coming to serve is such an awesome blessing! We thank God daily for the opportunity to be used by Him! Thank you for your prayers to keep us going in the right direction!
If you would like to take an active part in this effort but are unable to come and volunteer, you can send your tax deductible gifts to us through our home church: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift as all of it comes directly to us, the church keeps nothing! Without your gifts we would not be able to fulfill the calling God has placed on our lives. We thank you for your hearts of service and giving and the people of Mississippi thank you also!
Until tomorrow ... may God bless and keep you safe and sound in your own homes!
Susan and Monty
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Around 10:30 last night the team from North Carolina came in. They were also exhausted and got things organized just enough to crash for the rest of the night. For the first time since we have been having teams there are more females than men --- go girls!
Today started with Steve giving devotions. He and his wife, Carol and the coordinators that have been here since October and are going home for good on Saturday morning. He wanted to go ahead and do devotions this week and we're glad as he does a great job! The teams went for breakfast before returning around 8am for the devotion. From there we had 3 jobs lined up and had them divide themselves based on skills and abilities. Some of them headed north, way north, to sheetrock a couple's home. The home only flooded around the outside rooms and they were able to purchase and install their own insulation but could not physically do the sheetrock. A team went and as usual, the team was the one who received the blessings. The husband worked right along side of the team thus giving alot of time for conversation and stories of the storm. This team will be returning tomorrow morning to continue their job.
Another part of the team went to Gladys's to start working on her floors. There are a few weak spots in the floors that needed to be removed and replaced before the floating hardwood flooring can be installed. Thanks to the California team's donation Monty and I went and purchased the flooring last night and it is now loaded into the house and ready for installation when they get the floors repaired. They also had to add some small pieces of sheetrock around the shower area and the girls who were just learning to do so did a great job. They will also be returning tomorrow to continue on with the project.
The third part of the team went back to John's house to prime and paint his walls in his kitchen, dining room, bath and spare room. John was having trouble with leaking at his kitchen sink but after some investigation Monty found it was nothing more than a clogged drain. The team got a couple of the rooms primed before running out of primer. They also discovered that the paint we had planned to use was bad so both will be replaced tomorrow and they will go on about their work.
Monty and I were invited to a banquet "Light for the Lost" this evening. We really had no idea what it was about. We only knew it was a steak dinner at a local church and there would be a speaker. What a wonderful evening! Light for the Lost is a mission that provides evangelical literature to places all around the world. The speaker was incredible and had some wonderful points about the call to missions that are worth sharing with you.
1. The command is NOT optional! This really hit home with us as when we started this mission we did not feel like it was something we could either do or not do, it was something we HAD to do! Now I know why.
2. The capabilities are mind boggling! How true this is. Just answering His call brings about things and situations that would have never entered my mind! God promises to equip us for any mission He calls us into and He never lies! You just have no idea unless you answer the call He places in your heart!
3. Conflict is inevitable! Boy oh boy do we know this is true! You see, when you are following the call God has given you it makes the devil very angry! Thus comes the conflict! We have run into those who do not understand what we are doing and why we are doing it. They have their own opinions about how it should be done and who should be helped and who should not be helped. Thus comes the conflict! The conflict only makes both of us realize we ARE doing what we should be doing and we ARE following God's direction (not mans) or else the devil would leave us alone.
4. Your commitment of faith is necessary if you are going to accomplish your goal! Yes, without commitment you will fall at the first sign of conflict, you will loose heart and the goal will never be reached. When Monty and I made this commitment to come here and work in this relief effort it was a leap of faith! Our goal was, and is, to help the people but showing God's love to them in a real and practical way at one of the worst times in their lives. Without that goal we would have no direction and God's will would not be done.
As you can see, the speaker really touched my heart this evening and I am so thankful to Tim for giving us the tickets.
The conclusion to this evening is in the 3 S's.
1. Something! everyone can do something! Every little bit adds up and there is no one out there who is unable to do something! No one!
2. Stretch! We are to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones, beyond anything we have been doing or planned to do. There are the blessings!
3. Seed! We cannot make any withdrawals from God's bank of blessings unless we have made deposits! Plain and simple!
Tomorrow is yet another day we take another leap of faith and pray God will use the both of us to show His love! It would be easy to be back home, working our jobs each day for set hours, having a steady income, being able to commune with our friends and family whenever we wanted to.... What we are doing is not the easy way --- it is God's way. He doesn't tell us the way will be easy --- He tells us He will be with us all the way! Monty and I believe that promise and thank all of you who have joined with us in supporting us, realizing that everyone can do something, that the capabilities are endless, praying us through the conflicts and commiting yourselves to helping us!
If you are reading this and feel there is something you can do to help support us in this mission you can send your tax deductible gifts to us through: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47403. God bless you for also making a step out in faith! The lives of the people of Mississippi are forever being changed thanks to you!!!!!!
Until tomorrow ... God loves you, don't forget it! Susan and Monty
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Monty and I went to our new church location this morning. We went to this church the very first Sunday we arrived in Mississippi but didn't remember much as we have been to so many in the past months. We were blessed to be so warmly welcomed! The pastor, his wife and the entire congregation have seen first hand what their outreaching attitudes have done. The church has grown and grown and grown and 3 more people gave their hearts and lives to Christ just this morning! The outgoing Convoy of Hope couple, Steve and Carol, spoke for a few minutes and will be sent off in style with a complete banquet style dinner this weekend. The relationships that have come from this disaster mission for all of them will last forever. It was also so exciting to see a group of people from the Spanish village where Convoy has been working the past few weeks come to church. They do not speak English and an interpreter was planned for the service but ended up in the hospital in New Orleans. The pastor took matters into his own hands and had already printed his sermon in Spanish so they could follow along! He really means what he says about meeting people where they are at and bringing them to Jesus! They all had a Spanish blessing for us when they left!
Pastor Rick's message this morning was on confusion, he must have been reading my mind from these past few days! He talked about the 4 types; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. He explained that confusion comes from the devil in the form of lies and deception. He also then went into the 4 truths to help us when we are confused.
1. God ALWAYS has a plan! Sometimes when we are unable to see the whole picture we get confused and just quit. We want to know what the outcome will be but if we did know we would only mess things up! Whatever we are going through right now doesn't matter because God sees the whole picture and He promises that His plans are for us to prosper and not to harm us! God doesn't lie!
2. God's timing is ALWAYS perfect! He knows just how we got into the situation we are in and He also knows just how we will get out of it. We will always walk through that situation better than when we went into it.
3. We have nothing to fear! If we have Jesus living inside of us why are we walking around in fear? Jesus was, and is, in complete control in every situation we are going through. The number one problem people face today is fear. The Bible says that "If God is for us, who can be against us?" The answer is nobody!
4. We must realize that we have alot to learn - and we must remain teachable! God cares more about our character that our comfort and building our faith in Him is higher on His agenda than ours. God never puts a "do not disturb" sign on His door, He is always there for us and all we need to is go to Him in prayer.
Pastor had a suggested prayer that I found very helpful and you might too.
"God, I don't understand...but I submit to Your plan. Take control of my life. I know You don't want anything bad for me. Reveal to me what I need to change in my life so I can be more like You." Amen
It's just that easy! And yet that difficult! The submission thing can be tough, I speak from experience! The entire message was powerful, truthful and just what I needed. The confusion over this move has been tough. Trying to understand what God's plan is, and following by sometimes blind faith has not been easy. But walking into this church this morning, realizing that they share the same heartfelt calling that Monty and I do, to reach and help the people, is truly a God thing! God once again confirmed His calling upon us, reassured us that we are doing what He called us to do and that He is in control. We don't see the full picture, we didn't see it when we agreed to come here and do the relief work, we just believed and turned ourselves over to God.
The confusion came in when we met people who challenged our calling, people who we never ever expected to do so. We just expect that people in the church will understand and share in our vision and our mission. When that doesn't happen, when the opposite happens, it can bring confusion. We have to stop, pray and realize this is just the devil himself fighting against us! And the devil would not be fighting against us so hard if we were not following God's calling!
We once again turned our lives and our mission over to God this morning. We once again promised to do the best we can in following the calling He has placed on our lives, for however long and in whatever place He sends us. The devil can rear his ugly head and try as he might to take us off of God' path but he will not succeed! With God on our side, man is just man and thus harmless! God, we thank you for sending us here, for not showing us the whole picture but for Your promise to always be with us and to always be in control of our lives! With you, nothing is impossible! Praise God!
I hope this message was an inspiration to some of you! Don't let confusion rule, let God rule! Believe me, God does a much better job!
Tomorrow is our final moving day! We will need to pack our last few things, level our trailer and get settled in before our team arrives late tomorrow evening. We have a full week planned for the group and pray God's blessings on their travel here. We pray that their hearts and minds be opened and God to strengthen them for their mission.
Thank you for reading and joining with us in our mission. Your support is priceless, your prayers a necessity! If you would like to become even more involved in our relief mission you can send your tax deductible gifts to us through our home church, Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your gift as every dime comes to us, the church keeps nothing! We thank you for your servant hearts as without you we would not be able to remain here following God's calling upon our lives! We pray God's blessings on each and every one of you!
Until tomorrow ... let God be in control of your life....He has the perfect plan!
Susan and Monty
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Photos of Bethel College after their performance for the school yesterday. They took time to be in the hallway and greet all of the kids afterwards and took time to listen to one of the teachers thank them for "bringing some magic" to this city!
That crew took the morning and cleaned and cleaned around the building, including mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms. I walked in at one point and saw even their bus driver down on his hands and knees scrubbing the floors. And he thought he just came to drive the bus!!! :)
They all loaded up late morning and headed to Dauphin Island for a day of fun and sun. Goodness knows they deserve it. They will be heading home early in the morning and needed some fun and beach today. What they needed to remember is that this is the southern, way southern, point of the states and MUCH closer to the equator! Even though they used sun screen quite a few of them came back more than a little pink in color! Some of them are sitting with more clothes on than usual due to the fact that they are chilling from the burn. They had a blast though and as kids will be kids, they aren't too concerned! They were thrilled to be at the beach and to stop on the way home and have a great dinner. We will miss these kids when they leave. They have brought youth, which brings energy and life, both highly missed in these days of disaster recovery! We are forever grateful to them and pray for a safe trip home tomorrow and a blessed summer. Hopefully they will return again to spread more cheer and blessings!
We also have a weekend visitor from Houston here. She took the day and toured the coastline from here to near Pass Christian. She is originally from Alabama and drove the route all along Mississippi during a career in sales. She knows this area like the back of her hand and had not seen the devastation! She is shocked to the point of tears and as everyone else, there are no words ---- and she is seeing it nearly 9 months later! We had the opportunity to talk with her this evening and she is hoping to take her photos and stories back to Houston and start bringing teams of volunteers here to help. She said her heart has been telling her to come back here for quite some time and now she knows why. There is just so much to be done and she now must come to the realization, like the rest of us working here, it cannot get done today (or tomorrow). It can be tough to get to that place! It can be exhausting until you get to that place!
I received another phone call from Project Recovery this morning in regard to a house that has been left standing since the storm. The owner is a single lady who is now in the depths of depression and is receiving counseling. She has lost all hope and feels she will never be back in her home. It is one that I will be calling on and Monty and I will schedule a time to go and see the house and visit with her and hopefully reassure her that we will be getting someone over there as soon as we can. These are the "emergencies" that we get all the time. These are the ones we want to jump out there, go and do the work right now!!!! It just doesn't happen that way!! But it could happen that way if we keep the volunteers coming, no matter how hot it gets! We will try and let her know that although it will be a lengthy process, it will be progressing forward and not standing still. Most of the time this is enough to give them some hope and therefore a stand against the depression and then they get more positive and that enables us to do our work even more efficiently. Even though she is disabled, she will be on site while volunteers are working and when they are able to meet her and connect with her they are able to give her even more hope which starts the merry go round going --- in the right direction! As I have said before, and will continue to say as long as we are doing this relief work ---THAT is why we are here! The rebuilding of the houses themselves is the easy part, it's the rebuilding of lives that is tough and yet the most important. God tells us that if we do for the least of these we are doing for Him. There are so many "least of these" here so that means we have alot of work to be done for Him!
Tomorrow is Sunday, our day of praise and worship of our Lord. When you go to your church tomorrow (and please go), please take a few minutes to pray for the people here. Pray for those who are suffering from the depression, pray for those who are so exhausted from working all week at their jobs and then all weekend rebuilding their homes, for those children who will soon be out of school and cooped up in FEMA trailers all day, for those who lost their jobs and have no income, for those who are awaiting word about their loan or insurance settlement (if there is one) or some kind of grant they have applied for, for those who are facing severe illness along with coping with their living conditions, for those elderly who are finding that they cannot do the rebuilding by themselves and have a diffucult time asking for help and finally for all of us in the relief efforts. Pray that we have the wisdom to make the decisions required, the strength both physically and mentally and the resources to do what we need to do. You see, you do have a reason to go to church tomorrow. Unite everyone in your congregation to pray for all of these needs, and even more that I am certain I missed! We all need all of you to pray for us, continually! Without you all of us will lose!
If you would like to really invest, in the literal sense, in this relief effort you can send your tax deductible gifts to us through: Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. All we ask is that you make a notation of "Katrina" on your gift as all of it is sent here, the church keeps nothing!
We thank you for all you are doing and continuing to do!
Phil 4:13 " For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".
Until tomorrow ..... thank God for all of your blessings .....Susan and Monty
Friday, May 19, 2006
Today was the day that the college drama team did their play for the school here and everyone loved it! I think the teachers were just as entertained as the kids! The costumes were wonderful and all of them were just fantastic! As one of the teachers shared after the program, this team brought joy and magic to the school, something VERY rare these days! No one really realizes just how fun, joy and laughter are something very hard to find. Everyone is busy working and then going home and working some more. It seems there is no time for fun and joy, let alone magic like the kids brought in with the play! Thanks Bethel College as what you brought and left behind is indeed priceless!!!!!!
The other photos are what Monty and I spent our afternoon doing. This is the center of the stage in the church. There used to be plastic stained glass type windows on each side and those were removed and sheetrocked in quite some time ago. Tim now has the ability to make some purchases and we came up with this idea of trimming out the opening to the baptismal. It has taken on a 3D effect due to the paint being a couple of shades darker in the background. It turned out absolutely awesome and made Monty and I realize just how we have missed doing creative work such as this. Our prayer is that the church members agree with us!
We moved our trailer to our new location this morning but did not get it hooked up to plumbing and such as the heat got too much for us. It was high noon, not the time to be doing that sort of thing. It has decided to become summer around here and things are heating up, way up. We got it set and left it, for now. Tomorrow will bring more work getting it settled.
We also met with the electrical inspector in the middle of the day to check on Ms Barbara's house and let us know the proper procedures to take to get her power back on. Since the salt water covered the recepticles from 4' and lower there are certain things we must do before having the inspector return and give us the go ahead. We can start the sheetrock process but will only be able to take it so far. Since she has applied for a grant we will also have to follow certain procedures to comply with the rules of the grant. Please keep her in your prayers as she is also facing a double knee replacement in August!
Speaking of prayers, I would like to ask for prayer for Monty's finger. If you remember, he cut it pretty bad about a week ago. He managed to reopen it again the other day and now it is infected and quite a mess. We are medicating it and hoping it will heal but the prayers would really be appreciated.
We also have a "group" of two from West Florida here for the weekend. They are currently working on the steps in the sanctuary and trying to remodel part of the stage. They have their work cut out for them!
There were 2 more calls today coming from volunteers who are planning on bringing crews in the month of June. This is exciting as the needs are not slowing down so we don't need the volunteers to slow either. Without them we would not be able to get the rebuilding done! If you are thinking of bringing a team here to bless the people just comment at the end of the blog and we will be happy to get back with you with information.
If you would like to invest in this relief mission in another way you can send your tax deductible gifts to us through Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please mark "Katrina" on your gift as all of it comes to us for the mission. We thank you for your servant hearts as without you we would not be able to fulfill God's calling on our lives.
Until tomorrow...enjoy your Saturday and prepare for worship on Sunday....Susan and Monty
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Bethel working away, again!
The first photo is them painting in the baptismal area, getting ready to rehang the cross on that back beam. You can tell by the photo that they are having a blast and enjoying everything they are doing.
The next one is another group priming and painting the material that will be used to frame out the opening to the baptismal area.
We then have the continuation of the mural in the nursery, complete with the designers! This Noah's ark theme gets more awesome each day! Their detail is incredible and will be such a blessing to not only the children but also the teachers. No more staring at the same four blank walls again!
At last we have sheetrock going out all over the place today. The first photo is Ms Barbara's house with a group of Bethel College kids helping with the unloading. It took two trips with the bed of Monty's truck loaded down. It is all placed in the house and will be ready for the next crew coming in to get started. We are still waiting on the electrical inspection and they are supposed to meet with Monty tomorrow and hopefully give us the approval to go ahead! If so, hold on Barbara, here we come!
The next two photos are the loading of sheetrock for the church that meets in the tent. They expect the arrival of their temporary building next week and this sheetrock will be enough to get the thing done! We are so thankful that the Lord put this pastor and his church in our lives! They have been such a blessing to us, always encouraging us, always seeing the big picture of what our mission is, and always welcoming us with open arms. We plan to help them as much as possible and get them out of their tent and into a real building so they can worship without bug spray!
We also sent a houseful of sheetrock to Ms Linda, a teacher at the school. They are still in the process of tearing out and doing some major remodeling. Likewise, this will be enough for their whole house and get them started in the direction of being able to get back into their home where she can continue her catering jobs along with teaching!
Along with all the sheetrock Monty once again was on the electrical work this afternoon. And once again he has injured that same finger --- I think the can lights have something against that hand! And doing electrical with gloves on is nearly an impossibility! Thank goodness for bandaids!
I finally got most of our things transferred into our trailer in preparation for the relocation. We will be taking most of the weekend to get it all done but it should go smoothly now that most everything is rounded up and loaded. These trailers were made for camping for a week or two, not for living in constantly! It can really challenge ones ability to organize according to the space allowed! So far, so good!
We enjoyed spending our evening with Tim and Sheri. They have become such good friends and even though we will only be about 15 minutes away it seems far for all of us. When you all live in the same parking lot, practically on top of one another day and night, you develop close relationships and it just won't be the same without seeing them a hundred times a day! We pray God's blessings on them as they take over the job of pastoring this church! God has called them to this place and to this position and I know He will bless them with the strength and wisdom they need to bring the people to Jesus!
Watching these college kids all week has been amazing. They are such a great group, all get along well and all seem to really know the meaning of service. That is always a wonderful thing to see in people, let alone college age. I sit back and wonder what the world would be like if everyone had the heart of service like these kids do? What if everyone thought of others first and themselves second (or third)? What if everyone used the gifts that God had given them to the fullest extent and for the blessing of others? There sure would be alot less hurt and fear in the world, not to mention alot more people following Jesus! Maybe this is what heaven is like! All I know is that having people like these kids here really shows what this relief effort is all about and I thank God for them!
If you, too, would like to be a more active participant in this relief effort here in southern Mississippi, it's easy to do. You can send your tax deductible gift to us through Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Be sure and note "Katrina" on your gift as all of it comes to us for this mission. We thank you for your heart of service and want you to know that without your support we would not be able to fulfill the calling God has placed on our hearts. God bless each and every one of you!
Until tomorrow....think about one small way you can serve someone else besides yourself...and DO IT! Bless you! Susan and Monty
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Here you see a couple of the aligators we happened onto this afternoon. Some of them were just huge! I have been wanting to see some ever since we got here and this little place of water had more than their share! They kept their eyes on us, they thought we looked like "gator bait"?
You can also see the progress of Bethel College and the mural they are putting in the school nursery room! They drew this free hand on paper first and it is now covering all 4 walls of the room! The colors are incredible and the talent is beyond amazing! The teachers are in awe of the whole thing and the babies will surely be easier to care for because they will be watching the walls!
Bethel also created a wonderful puppet stage for Tim and Sheri and their childrens ministry. Once again, their creativity came through and became such a blessing for this ministry!
The "grouting crew" were once again in action. They completed their goal for today and made it all the way down hallway. I can't believe their knees are holding out, but then again they are college age kids and I am showing my age just thinking about painful knees!
Another group continued their work in the school play yard and it is actually looking like something besides a field of tall weeds! The kids will actually be able to go out and play and not get lost in the weeds! And of course, with all those tall weeds you get mosquitos of an entirely different (and large) breed!
The group has another drama presentation tomorrow afternoon and already have the rest of their days here planned out with work and presentations and fun! They are such a joy to be around as they continue with their music, singing, working, laughing and serving in the Lord! If only all of us adults would keep that free spirit, that sense that working for the Lord is FUN?! We all seem to get so caught up in what WE need, what WE want and how easily forget that the Bible itself says that in everything we do we should be doing it for the Lord!
Today is our "adopted" son's 18th birthday! This is the day our entire church small home group has been waiting for! He will graduate high school in a few weeks and we learned today that he will be baptized in another week! Kevin, we cannot fully express how happy we are with your choices and want you to know we miss you and will continue to keep you in our prayers. God has great plans for your life, stay close to Him and He will reveal them on an as needed basis. God is never too early and never too late!
We heard from Barbara, our next home rebuild. She had to return to her house today to wait for inspectors and for someone to come and evaluate the house for a grant application she filed. We hope to haul her sheetrock into the house tomorrow but will need to make sure the inspection has been completed. I heard a story today of someone who decided that their house was their house and did not get a building permit after the storm. They went ahead and rebuilt the house without any inspections. When the proper authorities found out and paid them a visit they made them tear out everything they did in the rebuild and start over again. This may seem ridiculous but remember, this flood wasn't just water, it was salt water! What that does to electrical is dreadful. Nearly every house needs some form of electric work done and some need completely redone! Just a reminder that most rules are there for our protection!
We paid a visit to our friend, the pastor holding his services in a tent due to the total loss of his church. He has a team of volunteers from Virginia there this week helping to get the parsonage rebuilt and able to house volunteers. There was a small part of the church structure that is being made into a warehouse type building and they were busy trying to get it closed in. We will be loading him up with sheetrock for their temporary structure also. Tomorrow should be the day of hauling, thus the day they are one step closer to getting out of the tent and into a decent place to be able to worship our Lord! We would like to thank his volunteers for taking time from their own lives and coming here to serve! God bless all of you!
If you would like to take an active part in this rebuilding process you can send your tax deductible gift to us through Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Be sure and note "Katrina" on your gift as all of it comes to this relief mission.
We thank you for giving us the ability to follow the calling God has placed on our lives!
Until tomorrow.... Susan and Monty
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
It was Bethel here, Bethel there, Bethel everywhere today! In these photos you will see the mural being created in the nursery, grouting of the hall tile floor being done, the school yard being reworked, practicing in the sanctuary going on, painting and general clean up being done all over the place. These kids are having a ball and have their hands in as many areas as possible. I think it's a full time job for Tim just keeping up with them! They did the first drama presentation this morning at one of the local schools and according to their reports it went well. They have atleast 3 more this week. We hope to be able to see the one they will do here at the school.
Monty was still busy with his electrical work today. On job training is the best kind!
I was busy finishing the flooring in our own trailer. It is now ready to go and the weak spot is no longer weak. We will be moving more things in there as the week goes on and hopefully will be done in a few days and hitched up and headed to the next town. As the saying goes, "head west young man, head west!" We are getting more excited as each day goes by. The thought of continuing to help those who can't do it themselves is awesome and just the reason God sent us here! We thank Him daily for the opportunity and thank those of you who are making it possible!
For those of you who would like to be more of a part of our relief effort, you can do so very easily. You can send your tax deductible gifts to us through our church, Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please be sure and note "Katrina" on your gift as 100% comes to us. Without your support we would not be able to fulfill the calling God has placed on our lives!
Until tomorrow, which will be a sheetrock day....God bless... Susan and Monty
Monday, May 15, 2006
They did not have a drama scheduled for today and went to work around the church. They painted nearly all of the rooms and worked on grouting the tile floors. They were cleaning the mess left by the painter and washing windows. Everywhere you looked you could see one of them working on something. And every room you went in to you would hear a different song playing! Although most of them looked quite tired when they first got up this morning, by afternoon they were smiling and laughing and having a good time. This evening they are in the sanctuary trying to figure out the sound system to practice for their show tomorrow. Some are in costume and others are just testing the mics. Stay tuned to see photos as we get them.
Monty spent the morning texturing a house. This is a tricky process if you don't know what you are doing but he has managed to master it and makes the walls look awesome and ready for primer and paint! We also stopped by where he will be installing can lighting tomorrow. One just never knows what one can be working on next around here! But one does know they are working for the Lord and that is all that matters!
We have been working on the floors in our trailer the past couple of days. We will be moving back into ours in this upcoming relocation and the floors needed some work. It's been difficult but we are almost done reworking them and they will now support us. There had been some previous water damage and some areas were weak but that is all taken care of now. The weather really cooperated today. It was much cooler, low 80's, and windy enough to keep the mosquitos and gnats away until a couple of hours later than the norm! The gnats come out first and as soon as they go away the biggest mosquitos you have ever seen come out --- with a vengence!
There was some bad news with the church this evening. The main air conditioning unit went out yesterday morning and it appears that it is done for. The HVAC people estimated it to be about 30 years old, the age of the church, and said that is about 15 years longer than it should have lasted! Getting the thing down from the roof will be a major operation as well as getting the new ones installed! The entire process will be quite costly! The members may have to choose between getting the pews they want or having air conditioning! Living in southern Mississippi should make that an easy decision! Unless someone wants to go into the business of making the old fashioned hand fans that looked like they were made out of over sized popcicle sticks!
We had the opportunity to meet Ms Barbara this afternoon. She is a member at the church here and our next full house project. She stayed here during the storm and told us about sitting on her bar stools watching the water pour into her house. She finally had to take her feet and put them on the stool beside the one she was sitting on and watching the water continue to rise. She remembers thinking she was surely going to die and told God she really didn't want to die by drowning! The water stopped at the edge of the stools! She has since been forced to move to another city to be near family as she is also facing a double knee replacement. When Monty and I were here with our church doing volunteer work back last December her house was the first one we went into and tore out all the sheetrock, walls and ceilings. We had no idea her house was still sitting in the same condition! It never even occurred to us, we thought it was surely done by now! After speaking with Barbara we immediately put her at the top of our list! Since she was out of town, Monty and I went to the proper officials and got her building permit and scheduled the mold inspection. She told us today she was here for a couple of doctor appointments and also to meet with the electric company for them to also inspect the house and turn the power back on. She will call us when this is completed and we are then ready to bring in the 180 sheets of sheetrock it will take to do her entire house, thanks to Convoy of Hope! She is so excited and realizes how God has been working in this entire process. She knows that what seemed like a delay was only God's timing, which is usually different than our own. She told us that if we had rebuilt her house any sooner than now she would not have qualified for the financing she is currently looking in to. Once again, man's timing would have ruined so many things for her. God is never too early and never too late, always right on time. It's only when man sticks his nose in things that they get messed up! We were so happy to have the chance to meet her and spend some time with her. It will be such a blessing to be able to rebuild her home and get her moved back in , hopefully before she has her knee surgery! Thank you Barbara for allowing us to be a blessing to you and thank you Convoy for supplying the sheetrock! Make sure you stay tuned to keep up on the progress of this rebuild! It will be exciting, for sure!
If you would like to become a partner in this rebuilding of homes and lives you can send your tax exempt gift to us through Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. All 100% will be sent to us to be used in this relief effort of blessing others, giving them hope and helping them to get a glimpse of Jesus through the volunteers who come to work! Without you and without them this work would not be possible! Thank you and may God bless you!
Until tomorrow ... we will thank God for His perfect timing ... and we will thank God for the opportunity to be here serving the people and serving Him! Susan and Monty
Sunday, May 14, 2006
This is a view looking down the Pascagoula river bank. Quite serene and peaceful looking, isn't it!
We want to be sure and wish all mothers out there a blessed Mother's Day! Not a single one of us would be here without our mothers!
This morning we went to the church that is still meeting in the tent. They have the foundation ready for the construction of their temporary building to be built upon and hopefully they will be able to get this done soon as to get them out of the weather and the tent. It was quite warm in there this morning even though it was a bit cooler outside. The faithfulness of this congregation is inspiring! Pastor Hart had a really thought provoking message this morning. He asked us to think about why God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus. It wasn't because she was the prettiest girl or the most popular, He chose her because of her dedication to the Lord. She gave herself to God and He knew that. He knew she would raise this child in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. The world today needs women just like Mary, women with backbone who are dedicated to God and live for God! We are too prone to letting society poison us as women and thus spreading this to our children. Staying dedicated to the Lord may cause us to have to "rock the boat" sometimes. We need to stand up for what we believe! Today people are just too "wishy washy" and "church hop", ready to leave the church at most anything.
Character --- we all want it but do we really know what it is? Are we willing to be less concerned about our social status and more concerned with our moral status? This is character. Think of some of the most famous people in history, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King come to mind. We remember them for their character, they stood up for what they believed, no matter what the cost! Food for thought, isn't it!
Pastor also talked about how our character is what makes us stand out from the world. We stand out because we make a difference in this world! We are to let our light shine everywhere we are! If we are not allowed to let our light shine in the environment we are in we need to flee that unholy environment and move on! We are to let nothing stand in our way of what God has intended for us! Nothing and no one! The only way we can show this generation of people that there is a God is through them seeing Him in us! If that cannot happen because of where we are we are instructed to move on!
I would much rather see the label on my tombstone, "Here lies a woman of God" than a long list of things I have done in this world. I'm quite certain that you feel the same, if you know Jesus.
We would like to ask for special prayers for Pastor Hart and his family. As I have said before, they have been in the process, for the past 2 years, of adopting a little girl in Guatamala. She was a newborn when they started this and is now 2. Mrs. Hart is returning to try and finalize the process. The entire family is in need of your prayers and we thank you for them.
This message this morning gave me alot to think about. When God called Monty and I into this disaster relief mission we knew it was to involve much more than coming here and doing construction. That is the easy part. We felt His call, heard His call and knew we HAD to follow. In doing so we also knew there might be some who would not understand why we were doing this and would not understand the "true" call. It really is impossible to explain to someone who does not know God. But it is an awesome way to bring someone to know God. When we answered God's call we knew we would be going out as representatives of our Lord. We are always His representatives but going into this line of work means we have to "let our light shine" even brighter than usual. This is our heart! This is where we know we are meant to be! This is the work He has called us to do! When you are following God's call you just know it, clear through to your soul! For someone to not understand what we are doing and why we are doing it just means that they do not know the Lord! For those who do now know Him, we ask God to bring them to us, bring them to the churches and bring them to the people that they need to be brought to! Be careful if you pray for this as someone just might be brought to you! Be ready, be commited, forget about popularity and think about how Mary answered the call of the angel on her life! She answered with dedication, with commitment and with her heart full of the knowledge of the Lord.
Lord, I ask for that same dedication and commitment that Mary had. We ask that Your light shine through us as we answer the calling you have placed on our lives. Thank you for calling us, thank You for Your promises which lead us daily in this calling!
May God bless each and every one of you. May this message make you take a minute and think, think about Mary and think about God. If you don't know Him, ask Him to come into your heart --- take that first step. He'll guide you the rest of the way and you'll be glad He did!
If you would like to invest more of yourself in our calling you can send your tax deductible gifts to our home church, Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Thank you because without your support we would not be able to fulfill our calling.
If you think that this blog really didn't say much about what we did today you're so wrong! Go back and read it again and if you still don't get it, read it again. THIS is what we do every day!!! And praise God for it!
Until tomorrow....Happy Mother's Day! Susan and Monty
Saturday, May 13, 2006
The past couple of weeks have been really rough ones, not with volunteers but with church business and it has taken its toll. We needed some time to reflect and be with God, nature and each other.
With the weather being absolutely perfect we took off for Dauphin Island. You might wonder why we would drive 40 minutes to get there when there is water less than a mile from where we are located. The water here is not the cleanest in the world and the beaches aren't quite beaches. Dauphin has the clean, white sand and beautiful water. It was a great day to walk and talk and just be with God's creations. Seeing the sea gulls and pelicans soar over head in such peace and freedom, not a care in the world, makes us realize that God does and will take care of our every need.
Today was facinating as the hermit crabs were coming ashore by the hundreds and it was fun to catch them and watch them pull inside their shell until they knew it was safe to peek out and head back to the water. I understand how they feel. All of a sudden they are displaced, taken from the place they feel at home in and put someplace they aren't familiar with. They have to sit in that place for a period of time before they realize they can look out and realize it's okay to go about their business. I feel sort of like those hermit crabs right about now. We have been here in Pascagoula long enough to know our way around and feel at home. Now we are being "picked up" and relocated to someplace where we will need to take the time to feel at home again. But God cares for the birds, the itty bitty fish we saw, the hermit crabs and will continue to care for Monty and I. Praise God for His faithfulness!
We made a promise to God when we chose to follow the calling He has placed on our lives. We told Him however, to whoever, whatever and wherever. And we meant it. We will continue reaching out to those devastated by hurricane Katrina. We will continue to do the best we can to rebuild their homes and hopefully their lives by them seeing Jesus in us and in the volunteers who come to leave a piece of their hearts and lives behind. We may not go about doing this as others would but we feel we are following God's direction. Each morning we pray for wisdom and strength to make the decisions we need to make and do the work we need to do. We thank all of you who have been praying for us!
Tomorrow is Mother's Day! If you can't be with your mom, call her! Just let her know you love her! If there is someone who has been like a mother to you, do the same! Make God smile!
If you would like to feel like a real participant in this relief effort, you can send your tax deductible gifts to Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please make sure and note "Katrina" on your gift. 100% is sent to us to continue the work God has placed upon us. We thank you for your loving hearts!
Until tomorrow....Happy Mother's Day to both my mother(Delores) and
Monty's mother(Judy)....We love you both and miss you so much!
Susan and Monty
Friday, May 12, 2006
We said goodbye to the Colorado team early this morning. In the photos you will see Lucille's new kitchen, the best 2 examples of service I have ever seen with the girls scrubbing the toilet clean and the group photo taken this morning. This team was still talking about what a blessing it was for them to bond with Lucille and her family and they were so excited to get home and show all of their video and photos to their church! It's this kind of excitement that brings more and more volunteer teams here. It's this kind of excitement and heart for service that gets the communities rebuilt and brings hope to the families! We pray for safe travel home as they have a very long drive back to Denver!
The last photo is (finally) the photo I left out 2 days ago, Bethel's new pastor and wife, Tim and Sheri. God has called them from Missouri to Mississippi to be His representatives and we pray strength and wisdom for them as they begin this new "adventure" in their lives. They both have awesome servant hearts and are planning on "breaking tradition" with their ministries! We're behind you all the way guys! Love ya!
Monty was working electrical all day. This is such an important area in the rebuilding. Being flooded is one thing, but being flooded with salt water is an entirely different animal! Salt, water and electricity just do not mix well!
I walked to the water this morning and was pleased to see cleanup beginning in one of the bayous along there. They had these 2 huge machines with arms and scoops on the ends bringing up all the broken boat parts and anything else that landed in the bayou. I am sure it will take quite some time to get just this one cleaned up but they are working on them.
I think I spent most of the day on the phone. Making preparations for our upcoming move is going to take some time. The scheduled teams must be contacted and I received 2 more calls of volunteers wanting to schedule a trip. It looks like the summer is going to be a busy one and we will be able to bless even more people and get them back into their homes. One of the most difficult parts of this preparation was telling the teachers at the school. We have grown to love these ladies and they are such a big part of our days and our lives. We wanted to reassure them that NOTHING will change for them other than they won't be able to see us when they take out their trash to the dumpster! :) We have done alot of work for alot of them and for some of them there is still alot more work to be done. We will not let relocation change any of that! As I said before, God called us here for His purpose and we are determined to fulfill that purpose to the best of our abilities. It will still be difficult to not be able to join in the morning devotions with the children and talk with the teachers. Guess I'll just have to make a trip each morning during the week to hear the children singing and praying. They sure do know how to praise God from the heart. Each morning I can see God smiling as He hears them praise Him!
We heard from our dear friend, Scott. You may remember seeing photos of him "high and lifted up" on the 30 foot lift in the sanctuary. If it hadn't been for him helping us we would have never gotten the sanctuary taped off for the painting and then cleaned up after the painter! Scott was with us for a month and is now on his surfing ministry heading to Costa Rico. We keep him in our prayers as he also follows a calling God has placed on his life! And we miss him so much!
I got to see God's hand in things again today. We have been contacted by Trinity Broadcasting TV and they are interested in interviewing us. This is really exciting as it is a wonderful way to show examples of God's love and power in spite of the disaster. It is such a wonderful way to visually show others God! We pray God will use us as He sees fit in this ministry.
We would like to thank all of you who have so generously helped support us in this calling upon our lives. Without your support we would not be able to be here. YOU are what makes this work and what keeps it going and we are forever grateful for your hearts of service.
For those of you who would like to become an investor in this relief 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" on your gift as 100% comes directly to us for this mission.
If you would be interested in finding out more about our relief effort you can comment at the end of this blog and leave your contact information. We would be happy to speak further with you or make a visit to your church or organization with our presentation and our story.
Thank you again.....until tomorrow....Susan and Monty
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Today was one of those days packed with so much going on that it is hard to remember it all when night time comes! First of all, the weather broke last night with some of the heaviest rains I have ever seen. We must've gotten atleast 3 inches, based on the dogs' water bowl outside. The lightning and thunder had the dogs in the bed with us for awhile. Today we had beautiful sunshine with north, dry winds! Not the typical southern Mississippi weather but wonderful when it is here!
Our Colorado team headed out for Lucille's again this morning. Today is their last day here and they really poured it on! When we stopped by late afternoon they were in the last processes of cleaning up the house and making it look like a home and not a disaster zone. Lucille had a graduation dinner to go to and had not "peeked" inside all day. She was waiting for the great unveiling this evening, after dinner. This team has managed to complete this house to the point of installing the carpet and baseboard and she is ready to move in! It's just amazing and they are so thankful that they were able to come here, work together as a team and work in one house, getting to know not only Lucille but her entire family! When the team returned after dinner and took Lucille into her new home she was speechless and in tears! And so were certain members of the team! When she stepped in to her new bathroom and saw the step in shower complete with a handrail and seats she lost it, and so did her son! THIS is God moving! THIS is what the relief effort is all about, the relationships that are built in less than a week and that will last a lifetime! The personal connection and relationships that God tells us about! Funny how God always knows what He is talking about!
Monty and I had 2 important meetings this afternoon. The first one was with the new pastor, and our dear friend, Tim. We talked about the future of this church and our future. There have been alot of changes at this church. It has taken a long time to get the building itself rebuilt and this is the main focus. It needs to be operating as a church. The decision has been made to concentrate on doing just that and volunteers are not going to be run from here. We had an idea this was coming, as it has come to other churches as they get rebuilt.
Our second meeting was with the heads of Convoy of Hope. They realize the situation here and had a plan to relocate our operation to the city just west of here, Gautier. There has been a Convoy relief station there for months and the couple currently coordinating the relief efforts will be returning home to Wisconsin in 2 weeks. The pastor there has seen the miracles of volunteers with the size of his congregation growing by leaps and bounds. He desperately wants this operation to continue from his facility and Convoy is in this effort for the long haul so it was an easy decision to make. We said from the very beginning that we were committed to follow God's calling on our lives, whenever and wherever and God took us up on it. As usual, God always has everything under control and this will be a great move. We will be moving back into our own trailer, a move that I will get started on tomorrow, and hitching it up and moving the 10 miles to our next "home". As for volunteers, this will not change a thing for them, only the place where they will be sleeping! Our mission and focus and homes and people we are helping will not change. We believe it will only grow and result in more people having their homes and lives rebuilt and more and more people filling the church in Gautier, The Refuge. We thank God for His almighty direction and for always preparing the way before us!
Tim and Sheri and Monty and I had opportunity to talk this evening. The close relationship the four of us have built will be for a life time. What the four of us have been through in these months is something most people don't go through in a lifetime. We have a bond that will not be broken. We have an understanding, of so many things, that is only shared between the four of us. We all know that if one of us was in trouble all we would have to do is pick up the phone and call the other and they would be there. This is a bond that is blessed and arranged by God! We thank Him for bringing this couple into our lives and we plan to see alot of them for the time we are in the area! Please keep them in your prayers as he begins the awesome task of pastoring this church!
Isaiah 41:13 states, "I am the Lord your God. I am holding your hand, so don't be afraid. I am here to help you." When God makes a promise He keeps it! This is our prayer, for Monty and I and for Tim and Sheri. Please join with us in this prayer. We thank you for it!
If you would like to invest in this mission, in this calling from God for our lives, please send your tax deductible gifts to us through our church, Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please make sure to note "Katrina" on your gift as 100% comes directly to us to support this relief effort. May God bless you for your servant hearts!
Until tomorrow....which will be yet another day the Lord has made and has control...blessing to all of you....Susan and Monty
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
This is our crew from Colorado! When they come to serve they really mean business!
They have been working away in Lucille's house and by tomorrow we should have pictures of her with the team. They started their day at Walmart once again picking up some things they needed and then off to work they went. They worked on installing and staining her kitchen cabinets, installation of her stand up shower, more texturing, priming and painting of walls and more base and trim. They run around like busy ants, all over the place doing so many things at once. When we stopped in late afternoon we saw the best picture of servanthood that I think we have ever seen! The photo should be on the blog tomorrow night! Be sure and stay tuned as you won't believe what you see them doing to serve Lucille!
The mold inspector made it to Barbara's house and it is ready to be loaded with sheetrock. Hopefully the weather will cooperate for tomorrow. We have the wall insulation but will need to see about ceiling as we are out at this time.
We made a trip to Lowes ourselves to prepare for the purchase of the flooring materials for Gladys's house. Thanks to the California team sending the funds needed to bring her house to completion we should be able to make the purchase of the flooring and base trim and be ready for the install in a couple of weeks when we have a skilled team in here. There are a few areas of her floor that will need to be replaced prior to the flooring installation. Those places have nearly rotted away but should be fairly simple to take out and install new. It's going to be a blessed day when we can take Gladys to see the results of her new house and all the blessings will ooze from the walls from all of the wonderful volunteers who have adopted her! Praise the Lord!
We may have some really exciting news coming down the line. We were contacted by a television station who might want to do a special on how God is moving in this area. I can't let the cat out of the bag just yet but be sure to stay tuned to see if everything gets worked out. We need to do everything we can to reach the country and let them know that help is still needed down here, that volunteers are the key and without them rebuilding will be next to impossible. Everyone needs their spirit of servanthood, their love for the people and there display of Jesus that radiates from their soul! Pray that they continue to come and bless the people!
Tomorrow is a very important day for us. We have a special meeting and will let you know the results as we receive them. Please keep us in your prayers that the meeting will follow God's plan.
Speaking of God's plan, the other photo above is that of our newly elected pastor here. Pastor Tim Drake will be interim pastor for the next few months. Please keep he and his wife, Sheri, in your prayers. This church has truly suffered, not only from Katrina, but from some dreadful circumstances prior to the storm and needs a real touch from God. Pastor Tim and Sheri have a tough job ahead of them and can use all the prayers they can get!
We are so thankful that we have been able to be here all this time, following the calling God has placed on our lives. We pray for widsom and strength to continue to know and follow His plan for our lives.
If you would like to invest in our calling you can send your tax deductible gift to us through our home church; Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please be sure and make the notation of "Katrina" on your gift as all 100% is sent to us to continue to rebuild homes and lives in the aftermath of the storm. Without your investments we would not be able to continue this work. May God bless you for your servant hearts!
Until tomorrow....and hopefully lower humidity!....Susan and Monty
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Jane, from California, if you are reading this meet Jane from Colorado, your shopping "sister" for sure! :)
We introduce the team from Colorado. This team has once again spent another day blessing and being blessed by Lucille. If you do not know the story of Lucille please read last nights blog entry. This team has managed to take her house from a mess to something wonderful in 2 days, and they are still going. We caught up with them at Lowes this evening. They called and needed us to bring our pickup truck to help them load everything! I can't begin to name all the purchases they have made but will hit the high ones; all the trim, baseboard, door and window casing, crown molding, all bathroom fixtures with tub and shower, kitchen cabinets, bath vanity and hood range complete with microwave oven built in! As they were hustling through Lowes they realized just how "over" budget they were! This didn't stop them. They all got busy on their cell phones, called home and managed to raise enough money to take them from being way over budget to being under budget!!!! Isn't God awesome!
The main reason this team has been able to bless this lady as much as they have is the personal touch they have had with Lucille! They have not only met and worked with her but she has stolen their hearts! And they also met and fell in love with her daughter and grandchildren! When the grandchildren came home from school and saw all the things this team had done they started crying with shock and joy! They are trying to keep it a secret from their grandma until she can be brought in tomorrow and see it all in place! This is God working! This is the relationship "thing" that God talks about, what is the most important thing to God! This connection cannot be done without seeing the people the teams are working with and for! Lucille just thought there were a couple of women coming to paint a couple of rooms and leave and what God blessed her with will never ever be forgotten. This team will be in her prayers for the rest of her life and this team will never forget her! Praise God! Just another blessing that has come from Katrina!
We are also preparing to start on Miss Barbara's house. She is a member here but had to leave her home because of the damage. She has not been back since then. Monty and I measured for sheetrock today and she will be needing - and getting - 180 sheets! That's alot of rock and thank you Convoy of Hope for providing this blessing to her! The rock will be loaded onto Monty's truck and Convoy's trailer, taking 2 trips with each, and get the house stocked. Then it will be inside the house and ready to start hanging.
We are happy to annouce the birth of a new baby to one of our school teachers, Melanie. We would like for all of you to keep her and the baby in your prayers as the baby was born early and weighed in at 3 pounds 15 ounces. Things look good but that is a small baby and could use an extra few prayers to get a head start in this big ole world!
The children at the school have been working on "teacher appreciation" week and it's an awesome thing to watch. It is very sad that I cannot show these children on this blogspot but due to the sin in the world we cannot post childrens photos. Being able to be a part of this school and see what a life changing effect the word of God has on these kids is such a blessing. All of these children are the adults of tomorrow and we should keep all of them, along with our teachers everywhere in our prayers!
The last photo on this entry is of 2 of our church board members. You've heard of people who can't see the "big picture"? Meet Brother Bill who is happy to explain just that picture to Brother Jake! Have you got it Jake? :)
We would also like to congratulate our "adopted son", Kevin, (at home) who received a very special award at high school this evening. We are sad that we were not able to be there and tell him in person how much we love him and how pleased we are that he has his foundation so firmly planted in the Lord! We had 3 of our dear friends there with him and we thank them for taking a part of us with them! Thanks Earl, Roberta and Ellen! We love you and Kevin, we love you more! :)
When God called Monty and I on this mission for our lives He didn't tell us how difficult it would be to be away from our families and friends. And even though we thought we knew....wrong! We didn't. We miss seeing them, we miss hearing their voices, we miss their hugs, we miss their encouraging words, we miss sharing meals with them, we miss sitting next to them in church, we miss having Bible study with them, we miss sharing our lives with them. We thank them for their support, their prayers and their love. God has blessed us with sooooooo many family and friends and friends that are family! Here comes that "relationship" word again! Ya know what---God knows what He is talking about, doesn't He!!!!
For those of you who would like to invest a part of yourselves in this ministry and in the rebuilding of homes and lives 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 sent to us, the church holds nothing back. Thanks, Vineyard!
If you are interested in sending a team of volunteers to this area to help in the restoration, please leave a comment at the end of the blog with information as to how we can reach you and we would be glad to give you more information. Without you, the volunteers, this mission cannot be accomplished! YOU are the keys, YOU are the ones who have the opportunity to bless others and in turn you will be the one blessed. Think about it, then think about it again, then DO something about it. Post a note at your church as see what you can do to spark some interest in others. If they have questions, refer them to this blogspot and let them read for themselves! Tug at their hearts, you'll be glad you did! The people of Mississippi will be even more glad!
Until tomorrow...count your blessings.....praise God! Susan and Monty
Monday, May 08, 2006
I don't know if I can recount all of the details but I do know it was a busy one!
We opened our day with devotions with the Colorado team. They are 7 in number with the 8th landing at the airport this mid morning. They were all so excited about getting to work! We divided them up in 3 teams and before the day was over they were 1 team.
I delivered the first group to Lucille's house. Lucille called us a few weeks ago not knowing where to turn for help. She lives on the north side of highway 90, a place that should never have flooded. The problem when it did flood is that the water went across the highway but couldn't wash back out so it sat there for some time. Lucille's house is raised off of the ground about 3 feet and she still had about 4 feet of water inside! She lost everything. Her grandson took on the job of getting her rebuilt and back in her home. The problem with that is that he is in the navy and got called out! This left Lucille completely at a loss as to where to turn. When she called us we took the drive to see the house for ourselves and see what needed to be done. She was in the painting stage then but when we returned this morning with the crew we realized that some of the things her grandson had done were not quite as they should be done. The crew had time to visit with Lucille and she immediately stole their hearts! I had no doubt she would as she did the same with us! Being the servant hearted people that they are they gathered the other members of the group and they have taken her house on as their project for the next couple of days. They feel they will have the house nearly completed in that length of time and with that many of them they are probably right. It is always an added blessing when the volunteers have the opportunity to meet and work with the homeowner. It gives them all the personal touch and no one will ever forget the other. Life changing! The last time we spoke with the crew they were at Lowes. They were planning on breaking for dinner and returning to work. What dedication!
Monty was tackling his own project all day. One of our church members, a disabled widow was forced to move to another town after the storm damaged her house. When our home church made our first trip here the first week of last December this was the very first house we went in to doing a complete tear out. We had to tear out all of the walls, all the way up and including the ceilings. Nothing could be spared. This house has been sitting since that week. We were told about Barbara by another church member and have now spoken to her via phone who knows how many times. Monty went to check out the details and realized she had no building permit! By covering the details with her by phone Monty and I went to the city and got the paperwork done and the building permit is now displayed in her window as it should be. It took some doing since we are not the home owners but with God's help (as usual) it got done. Our pastor who works as an electrician went and checked out her electric and after the mold inspection is completed tomorrow we will be loading up sheetrock and insulation and delivering it to the house and starting the installation process on Wednesday morning. We will need to take this house to full completion and ask that you keep her, and us, in your prayers as we will need to be able to financially complete her home. Be sure and keep reading as you will get to take this rebuild right along with us via the photos we put on the blog.
I also went and visited with another church member to check and see how much more is needed in her home to complete it and get her back to normal. She has been fortunate to have her children helping her and she is probably 80% complete. She will need to purchase some kitchen cabinets and all of her flooring but we should be able to get volunteers in there in a couple of weeks. She was a very smart lady and saved her counter tops, all of her interior doors and all of the door casing and floor baseboards! Her water level inside was only about a foot! (only?)
I also visited another home where all 4 of the family members have severe asthma and are not able to do much of the work. He works full time and her health keeps her from spending much time inside to do any of the work. They have some insurance dealings to get cleared up first and then they will call back to get on our "waiting list". Our list just continues to grow and grow and we try as best we can to reassure people that we will get to them but the list must be done in a priority manner and that is tough to do. They all are very appreciative and completely understand. We just wish we had more volunteers as that is the only answer! Pray that God will continue to send them to us to bless the people here!
Monty also had 2 more loads of sheetrock go out into the community this afternoon. Once again, we thank Convoy of Hope for all of the work they continue to do in this area. As I have said before, within the next 2 weeks Monty and I will be the ONLY Convoy station in the area. We feel blessed to continue the work the Lord has started. He promises in the Bible that He will bring to completion that which He has started! Praise God for His faithfulness!
I would like to take a minute and thank 2 very dear friends at home, Joe and Gary, as we have heard they are taking care of mowing our lawn while we are away. Our yard is not very big but it does take time for these men to make the trip to our house and we are so appreciative of their support. Without people like these 2 we would not be able to do the work God has called us to do. And I also know that our neighbor, Shelley, has joined forces with Joe and Gary and is also mowing. It may seem like a small task but as you well know, it's the small things that add up to the big things! We love all of you and miss you so much! Thank you for your support! When we first put our mission plan into motion there were so many little things that came up and we got concerned over. We knew, and found it true once again, that certain friends become family and you all know who you are! God has blessed us with a very large family!!!!!!!
It is now after 9pm and I heard the Colorado team drive up. No doubt they are ready for showers and some rest before starting over tomorrow morning. But if they are like the rest of the teams, they will be up for quite some time discussing the day and making plans for tomorrow! God supplies all of them with an abundance of extra energy, also a promise He makes to us that He will supply what we need!
For those of you who would like to become an even stronger part of our mission you can send your tax deductible donations to us through our home church; Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Make sure to note "Katrina" on your gift as all 100% is sent to us to allow us to continue to follow the calling God has placed on our lives! We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support. Without you we would not be able to rebuild both homes and lives!
May God bless each and every one of you. Thanks so much for reading. Susan and Monty