Thursday, May 25, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me...

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

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