Thursday, June 29, 2006

Delores is blessed

The aftermath------vehicles that still lay in the rubble and piles of appliances that await the trash trucks to come and pick them up. No appliance can withstand salt water!

It all happened 10 months ago today and these photos were taken within the past couple of weeks ---- it's NOT over, it's NOT all okay!! The photos speak for themselves.

Today the blessings continued to flow and flow. Delores was the one who got to go along with Monty and her team to Lowes. It was a few hours but they came out with a new washer and dryer, hot water heater, 2 toilets and 2 shower/tub combos --- all thanks to her team! They wanted to bless her and her family and thank the Lord they did just that! She was so happy she donated a tub/shower combo to Convoy of Hope! We know the Lord will show us just who it should go to!

Barbara's team was busy getting the tile floors down. When I was there late morning they had the family room done and were working away in the kitchen and hallway. One of the team, Dan, is still there this evening working away. Monty finally went to pick him up and get him to the showers. They only have a couple of closets to prime and paint and will no doubt be pushing full steam ahead tomorrow.

We were blessed by Lowes this afternoon. They delivered 300 sheets of sheetrock. We have been out for quite some time so this is a great blessing and will probably go out as fast as it came in. We are so thankful for our new warehouse space, all 15,000 sq ft of it! Brother Watson blessed us by allowing Convoy to use his warehouse. We hope to fill it with all sorts of things to bless the communities.

Both of the teams took the afternoon to do some traveling and see the area. We always encourage teams to do this so they will see the full effect of the storm. I think they planned to make it all down the coast into New Orleans. We always try and prepare them for what they will see as it isn't easy to see all of the devastation. It seems that as you drive you hit a point where words just aren't descriptive enough! Our plan is to take Elmer, Kim and Rose on that drive tomorrow. Rose is working on a 4H project while she is here and making that trip will add to her project. Monty and I have not been all the way to New Orleans yet ourselves and thought this would be the time.

Be sure and stay tuned as I am certain we will have updated photos of what it looks like all along the coastline. It may be out of the news where you live but it is still headline news here! The longer we are here the harder and harder it is to remember what it looks like to be in a town where there isn't damage everywhere, where people are not all crowded into Lowes trying to find the materials they need, where conversations are anything but centered on desperation! Please keep everyone all along the coast in your prayers.

I just wish you could see it and experience it for yourselves! Think about it and maybe it is something God is calling you to do but you are too busy to hear His call?!

Be sure to thank God for the home you have and all the blessings He has bestowed on you and your families! NEVER take them for granted!

Until tomorrow....Susan and Monty

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What a blessed day!

So you think it's been nearly 10 months since hurricane Katrina and things are probably getting close to being done --- these photos are for you! These are taken in Louisianna where some of the cities haven't even started with relief efforts!

I realize this is not in the news headlines any longer, unless you live here on the coast, but you all need to see the reality of things here on the coast! The water is still standing in places, the black mold continues to grow and contaminate everything and everyone and some of the clean up of debris is only in the beginning stages. You can see the boat piled with what used to be someones home along with vehicles mixed in like they were put in a bowl and the mixing blades turned on high! And like I have said repeatedly, this is not overseas, this is in our own backyards and these are our family members in Christ!

I beg you to keep reading this blog, keep praying for the residents and the volunteers who are desperately trying to regain their lives back! Pray that the volunteers keep coming to the coastal areas because without them this rebuilding will not happen! They have been coming in a steady stream but with the heat of the summer on us they have slowed down quite a bit in some areas. I pray this blog will move their (your) hearts to see the reality, feel the pain and act on that still, small voice that is tugging on your ear! Come join us in this effort and your life WILL be changed!

God was moving at high speed here today! Our teams were up and laughing and singing early this morning. When I came in at 7:25am they were chanting "we want devotions". They got their devotions and were on their way.

Today we kept the same 2 groups, one at Delores's house and the other at Barbara's. Delores's team that joined in the family birthday celebration last night had a blast and did not get back here until after midnight! It's that relationship thing again! :)

They were finishing hanging sheetrock, priming, painting, installing the microwave, paintint the soon to be baseboard, finishing the bathrooms and starting to lay the floor tile in Barbara's. They had planned on working till around 8 this evening and so far we haven't seen anything out of them so they must have kept going! We took them to the warehouse to get enough tile to finish the entire house and I must say their trailer had some weight on it! They are moving like a finely tuned machine and seem to be enjoying every minute, even if it is extremely hot!

The team with Delores is the same kind of machine! They leave in the morning with laughter on their faces and in their hearts! They also were to be finishing up the walls in her kitchen, spraying the texture on the walls and continuing in the what used to be her garage! I found a photo of Delores's kitchen the first day we went to see the house and showed it to them. They were shocked to see the improvements that have been made already! It gave them even more motivation to keep going!

Monty and I went over to one of our church members homes to repair a leak in their ceiling. They (Cindi and Wally) had lived in New Orleans. They evacuated before the storm and when they returned they found they had lost everything!! They decided to walk away and move here to Gautier. They bought a trailer and are living in a beautiful trailer park. It just needed a new vent to the bathroom and we got it taken care of in no time. We would ask that you keep Wally in your prayers as he had surgery yesterday and could use some uplifting.

We also had a wonderful meeting with our Convoy of Hope leaders this afternoon. They oversee all of the relief operations along the coast and are more than busy people! We always enjoy seeing them and today they had some great news. They are in the process of aquiring furniture. From the photos they had it is really nice furniture. We look forward to getting some of it here and know it will be such a blessing to those who need it. They also were able to aquire some sheetrock which will be delivered tomorrow.

Monty and I also went to check out yet another house and homeowner requesting help. She has all of her insulation and sheetrock at the house and this will speed the process greatly. We were also blessed when her college age son told us he would like to volunteer with us --- for the summer! He wants to learn construction and this is the place! We are so excited that he has a heart for serving and hope to keep him here with us until time for him to return to college. Here he is, in the middle of destruction himself, and he wants to go out and serve and help others! Another of those "God things" for sure! Thanks Steven, we welcome you aboard our team!

Today was Kim's birthday. She is here with her family and from our home church so we had a birthday dinner and birthday cookie when we got back! Just another example of a woman with a heart for others and who is willing to be here, working, sweating and dirty on her birthday! We love you Kim and thank you for being here! (you too Elmer and Rose)!

We also received word that one of our home churches will be bringing a group of volunteers down next month. They have nearly 20 people coming and it will be an awesome week of sharing and building hopes!

We thank those of you who have been keeping up with our blog and coming along with us on this relief mission. Without your prayers we know we would not have what it takes to get up and keep going day after day after day! Thank you and may God bless you abundantly!

Until in the safety of God's arms....Susan and Monty

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Day 2 rockin' and rollin'

The day was in full speed ahead mode all day! The team was divided in two groups today. We did not work in Julia's house as she was gone for the day and some decisions will need to be made by she and Oscar before we continue much further.

One part of the group continued at Delores's house. They got the air conditioning hooked up in what used to be her garage and is now a work/family room area. They also managed to get the sheetrock up and get the final finishing on the kitchen area walls. This evening they were treated to a special treat, they were invited to go with Delores to a family birthday party and they were very excited. She took them to the showers and they told us they would see us in the morning! Like I have said repeatedly, relationships is what it's all about! Her husband is still dealing with the details of his auto accident and not home yet. Please keep them in your prayers. Both Delores and her daughter spent the day right in there with the volunteers sanding away! And they were still smiling this evening! :)

The other part of the group worked at Barbara's. Just as I thought, Barbara didn't stay home long. She called late last night and said she would be here today to meet the team. She just can't stay away as she doesn't want to miss any of the excitement! The team was thrilled to meet her and I would be willing to bet she will be back before the end of the week? They really made progress today. Kim and Rose joined in and painted doors and trim all day. The team was finishing sheetrock and getting the last few places hung. Monty and Elmer ran errands picking up supplies all day and they now have the tile that will go behind her tub and Monty plans a special surprise for that area. All of the baseboard trim is now on site and the team is busy getting it all painted and ready to go.

It's been another amazing day! Each team brings their own personalities and own goals once they get into the homes they "adopt" for the time they are here. It is so awesome to see them working together, getting stumped by things that come up and then working through and getting it all put together. Each team is "warned" that they will be working in conditions like they have never worked in before and it takes a couple of days being here for them to realize it is the truth! Thus the reason we pray for God's guidance and wisdom each morning in devotion.

Monty and Elmer spent the entire day together and Elmer had his first fried oyster PoBoy! He is from Kentucky but that just isn't far enough south to have experienced some things! He did enjoy all of the southern cooking this evening at the restaurant! He also learned that working here is like nowhere else!

I would like to send a very special thank you to Elmer and Kim's daugher in law, Monica. Your generosity in the form of the Lowes card is such a blessing! We thank you so much and pray God will return blessings to you a hundred fold!

And to Andrea C. from NC, you can call me anytime about the donation. If you don't have my number I know Gwen does. She should also have our email address. Thank you so very much!

To all of the NC team that has commented so wonderfully, we miss you all and are so glad you were so blessed in return. It is our hope and prayer that you will be coming back soon! You know where we live and know our door is always open to you!

It is just such a blessing to see how each team bonds with their homeowner and immediately become part of each other's families. God is an amazing God and we thank Him for all He is doing down here. We feel that something BIG is about to happen and feel so blessed to be a part of everything that is happening. We want all of you to be a part of it also, don't miss out!

We are fast approaching the 10 month anniversary of the hurricane and believe me, no one thought they would still be living in their FEMA trailers and still be trying to rebuild their homes and their lives! I received a call today from a woman asking me if we could "raise" her home. She is like Dane and must raise her home from its existing foundation before she can even think about rebuilding. It's tough to tell them that we are unable to do anything until it is raised.
Another phone call came in from an elderly woman who is caring for her blind husband and also needed help we could not supply. The calls come in all day long every day. Some we can help and add their names and situations to our "list". Still others need help we cannot supply. We would ask that you keep all of them in your prayers.

If you would like to help keep us here, working this relief effort, you can send your donations to us through our home church, Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please mark "Katrina" on your donation as you will receive a tax statement. Every $$ comes to us, the church keeps nothing for themselves. We are supported 100% by your heartfelt donations. Without them we would not be able to continue the calling God has placed on our lives. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

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

Monday, June 26, 2006

Home is here!

To explain the title of this entry first, our hometown friends (family) Elmer, Kim and Rose arrived this evening. We are so happy to see family and are really looking forward to being able to share things with them this week!

Our team from Colorado divided into three teams this morning and off we went to the jobs.

The first stop was Delores's house. She was eagerly awaiting their arrival. She also told us her husband had been in a bad auto accident yesterday and although he is fine his truck is a mess. He was about 5 hours from here and is still working to get back home with some kind of vehicle. Delores was busy running errands for her team this afternoon and said they were doing a great job.

The next stop was Julia's house. She was also ready to meet new volunteers and they were going to start in an upstairs bedroom. The ceiling needed torn out and replaced along with the walls of her laundry room. Because her flood waters were lower we will only need to replace the sheetrock from the floor up to 48 inches. We should be able to get her well underway this week.

The last stop was Barbara's house. They immediately got started on the electrical as it is now turned back on and inspected. When we returned in the afternoon they had the one shower installed and had really been making progress. They will be concentrating on painting and all sorts of things tomorrow in preparation for the flooring to be installed as the very last thing. Barbara is staying up north with her family for a couple of days to get some rest but will be back to meet this team soon. She finds it difficult to stay away as it is so exciting to watch the progress and get to know the teams.

Monty and I spent the day with the usual errands and making a couple of stops checking on used car possibilities for Diane. Nothing came of any of our stops but we are praying God will drop exactly what she needs in our clear view!

This evening we attended the funeral of our dear friend Chad's mother. They chose to make it a celebration of her life and it was just that. Pastor Rick talked about how cancer cannot reach her into eternity and it was just what the family needed to hear.

I want to thank the NC team for their wonderful comments and tell them that we miss them! And thanks for realizing the drill was with you and for sending the means to replace it. Awesome!!!!

I would like to ask for prayer for myself. I don't like to do such a thing but I have somehow managed to catch a nasty summer cold and although I am fighting it with all I have it's getting the best of me at the moment. I know that with your prayers it will not take me down! Thank you!

Due to just that, I am cutting this a bit short and will take some time to visit with our friends who just arrived. We thank you for your prayers and support.

Oh yea! Please continue to pray for Monty's step father as he is not any better and will be undergoing some testing this week.

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

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Delta Colorado arrives

Yes, the Colorado team arrived this evening, after being on the road for 2 days and staying last night in Dallas. They are a bit road weary but all in one piece and grocery shopping as I write this.

They will be dividing into 3 teams for the week. One team to return to Julia's and continue the clean up and tear out the ceiling in her upstairs bedroom where it caved in from the water. They will repair that place and do other repairs around the house as needed.

Another part of the team will return to Delores's house to continue with her sheetrock finishing and structural changes being made.

The last part of the team will be returning to Barbara's house. As usual, God has blessed us with exactly what we need in the way of team members. We have an experienced tile man on this team and it just so happens that Barbara's entire house will be floor tiled!!!!! God always knows and God always provides! They will also be painting the doors and casing around the doors and finishing the sheetrock along with priming and painting. This house could be VERY close to being completed this week so please keep all of the team members in your prayers.

We were blessed to have our Pastor Rick and Vickey back from their travels last week and he had a very thought provoking message this morning. The topic was "Submission"; a word no one likes to hear, let alone do. His points were right on as usual and I really appreciated hearing it put in the context he did.

Monty spent part of the afternoon at one of the church member's homes checking to see if we can stop some ceiling leaking in their bathroom. Looks like he will be working on that this week. We also have some light work that needs done in Pastor Rick's mothers house this week. Just another week where the work isn't hard to find!! :)

We also spent some time this afternoon looking for a good used car for Diane. Her church (Wisconsin) is supporting her for 9 months here but she doesn't have transportation. She has been here since February and getting by but really needs to find something good and affordable, not an easy combination. If any of you have any leads please let us know. She isn't looking for a Cadillac, just something that will get her from point A to point B without falling apart. The best case would be that it would also get her back home to Wisconsin in August when she is scheduled to become a grandmother, again. Keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground and let us know.

Tomorrow will be another Monday. Another day when the teams come in raring to go and ready to rebuild the city in a week! It's always so awesome and inspiring to see and feel their enthusiasm, to see their hearts of service and explosive energy. We are just so blessed to be coordinating the efforts here and thank God for placing us in His work. As usual, we ask for your prayers of wisdom and strength as we need both numerous times each day.

For those of you who would like to help support us financially in our rebuilding efforts, please take it to prayer and realize that we are not supported by any one church or organization. The ONLY means of support we have is through your donations. We do have a home at home and would like to keep it. Without your help we would not be able to answer the calling God has placed on our lives. If you feel moved to help, please send your donations to our church, Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your donation as you will receive a tax donation receipt. We thank you for your generous hearts!

Until tomorrow....we love you all and miss you somethin' aweful!!!! Susan and Monty

Saturday, June 24, 2006

They went home this morning

Here they are, as a group and some individually! What an awesome team and we had to say goodbye this morning. We pray for safe travel and also pray they are able to share the blessings they received here with their families and friends.

Last night was wonderful, once again. We did have to make some last minute changes as late afternoon blessed us with a downpour of rain like I have never seen! We managed to get 2" of rain in about an hour thus we decided to move the dinner inside. The devotion room became a restaurant and it was quite an evening of blessings and sharing and extending our families. We were also so pleased that Pastor Rick and Vickey were back and able to join us. Don and MaryAnn had prepared a feast and everyone was filled to the top. What a wonderful set of cooks, not to mention true believers. You see, they were out under their tents the entire time it stormed, MaryAnn singing "Jesus loves me" while Don took the broom and kept poking the tops of the tents to dump the water!

The team had gifts for all of the homeowners, a wonderful group photo of themselves, a Bible signed by all of them and a devotion booklet. Something they all will treasure for years and years to come. It was once again a time of sharing, singing and prayers. It gave Monty and I an opportunity to let them all know just what blessings they had been to us! Their spirits of joy and enthusiasm were contagious and their hearts of service and discipleship unsurpassed. Thanks again to all of you and thank you for allowing us to become a part of your families. We look forward to seeing you again sometime soon!

Since it was once again way after midnight before the festivities were completed I was not able to do the blog last night, thus being here in the middle of the afternoon today. This will be the entry for today also.

As I said, we bid farewell to the 5 vehicle convoy this morning and after finding space for the food donations they left behind for the daycare and school we took some time to get cleaned up before taking Diane for breakfast as today is her birthday!!!!!

This afternoon is spent trying to catch up on things, including laundry! We also are in preparation for our next team from Colorado who will arrive tomorrow along with our dear friends from home, Kim, Elmer and Rose who will be here Monday. It will be an awesome week and we are excited to meet new servants for Jesus.

This evening we are scheduled to have birthday with Diane and a family from the Spanish Village where Diane has spent weeks and weeks helping them rebuild. She has done so much more than rebuild their homes, she has become a part of their family and they want to join in the birthday celebration! Once again, a new life-long relationship! Praise God!

As I sit back and think about all that happened this week I see the hand of God! Each team that went to a homeowners home was the perfect team for that home. Each one was especially selected by God and placed there. It is so difficult to describe, one of those "you had to be there" things. But it was more reassurance that God truly is in control and is always with us, no matter where and no matter what. We see new blessings with every team and realize that this country is on the verge of something really BIG! God is moving so strongly and we see Christians taking a stand and following His calling and we see the results of both! The power of God is all powerful! No matter how and when and where Satan tries to stick his nose in and mess up things, God always wins!! All we need to do is surrender and offer ourselves up for His service! It sounds so easy yet can be so difficult! We are just so thankful to God for calling us and using us, just as we are, to do His work and His will!

We thank all of you who have supported us in our mission to rebuild after hurricane Katrina. For those of you who would like to start joining us in this effort you can send your support to our church, Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402 and mark your support "Katrina" as it all comes to us, the church keeps nothing for themselves. Without your support we would not be able to continue our calling.

Tomorrow is the day we are privilaged to enter our houses of worship and praise and thank our Lord Jesus for all the blessings in our lives. We hope you will be doing just that. If you do not have a home church, find one! It will change your life like nothing else!

Until tomorrow.....Blessings, Susan and Monty
PS We would like to ask for special prayer for Monty's step-father, Tony, who is ill. And also for Chad, a member here at The Refuge, whose mother passed away. Thank you for remembering both of them.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

NC pictorial part 2

The first photo is the children at vacation Bible school. Tonight is the last night and it looks like even more are here this evening. Praise God for the children!

The next 2 show the tent and complete setup of this team. When I said they came prepared I was not kidding! The one that is a bit dark is because it is taken during our evening praise and worship which is the highlight of the day!

The following 2 are the awesome couple who celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary, the head chefs of the group! They have not only endured the heat, they have cooked over grills and hot plates and who knows what all! They produce 3 meals each day and even though the heat index was 102 degrees today (no kidding) they are still smiling! What examples of service for the Lord!

The next 2 are of Delores's house during the construction phase. They got the kitchen cabinets installed now and have made such remarkable progress! We are so blessed that this team not only accomplished far more than we expected but that they built a relationship with Delores and her family that will last a life time!

The last 2 are taken at Julia's house. One is their lunch break and the other is her husband, Oscar, enjoying his front porch (the gary?) for the first time in 2 years! They also have far surpassed any expectations we might have had for their week! And they will also carry their relationship with Julia and Oscar for a lifetime!

This morning was quite sad for Monty and I as we had to say goodbye to our dearest friends, Joe and Dee Dee. They awoke us at 4:15am and were on the road by 5 am. We did hear from them this evening and they are home safe and sound. I really had a difficult time seeing them both go at the same time! But I did get myself pulled together in time for devotions, but fell apart then also. God blessed me with a full set of emotions and I don't have a problem using them to their fullest potential! :)

Monty and I also went to an elderly ladies's home this afternoon and shortened her front door so it would not drag on top of her new carpeting. She wasn't feeling well enough to come and see the results but was so very thankful and is nearly ready to get moved back into her home!

I hope you have enjoyed the pictorials and can feel the love and warmth coming from them. We have been so blessed this entire week with this awesome team, this team who has such a heart for the Lord and has done nothing but open and share that heart with everyone they have worked with. I just can't put it into proper words but God knows and that is what counts! Thank you, North Carolina! You will be in our hearts forever!

Until tomorrow, which will surely be filled with even more blessings and stories...Susan and Monty

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

North Carolina pictorial, Part 1

For some reason the blog will only allow this many photos. Who knows? I think it must be as tired as I am seeing as how it is going on midnight!

The first photo is of Julia's crew taking a lunch break. They made tremendous progress again today with the clearing of more rooms and carpeting.

The next 4 photos are of Barbara's house, her new kitchen, bringing in new doors and she with her sister. You can see by the photo of Brian just how hot it is.

The last 4 are of Dane's "high and lifted up" home. They are bringing up the sheetrock, working on the outside, working to spread fill dirt around the outside of the foundation and everything else it takes to rebuild.

This entire team worked their hearts out again today. The Bible School had even more children this evening and they are having such a great time learning about Jesus's love for them!

We were especially blessed this evening to have all of our homeowners join us outside for praise and worship and fellowship. It was absolutely incredible! Each one shared something about themselves and could not find adequate words to thank the team members. Delores sang for and with us again, this time accompanied by our dear friend, Joe. We all divided ourselves among the homeowners and prayed for them. It was really powerful!

The surprise of the evening was when the team brought out a huge cake to celebrate the 26th wedding anniversary of Don and Mary Ann. They are the couple who has been doing all of the cooking and what a wonderful job they have done! Mary was moved to tears and unable to say a thing!

The relationships that have been built with this team and the homeowners will be life long! If a stranger came up on the scene they would think they had been family for years. God truly placed all of these people in each others lives just as He planned. None of it was coincidence or accident! God's plan always works to the best and seeing everything that has happened over the past 3 days is such confirmation of that! Monty and I feel so blessed to be a part of the entire thing!

I will do the best I can to continue the photos tomorrow night. This blog has been having some technical difficulties lately and can be a bit frusterating! Pray for it to go a bit smoother as it is always very late when I get to it and very tired!

We love all of you and thank you for your prayers and support.

Until tomorrow...when God will be moving even stronger... Susan and Monty

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The blessings continued....

The "revival" from the parking lot last night carried all the way through today! I am not sure where to begin!

The teams headed back out this morning leaving the vacation Bible school set up ready to go for this evening. Sitting underneath racing flags made me think of home, we only live an hour from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where the 500 mile race is.

Our team for Dane made some real progress today. The women got all of his fill dirt spread as needed. The men were busy carrying the sheetrock up all 20 feet, thank goodness for the young with their strong backs and endless energy! They were also busy installing the hurricane straps and who knows what all else. There were volunteers upstairs and down and working as though they would never get a chance to return! Dane was the biggest duck in the puddle and smiling through all the sweat like he hasn't smiled in a long time!

Julia's team had a new member today, Gwen. She decided Julia might benefit from some one on one care and direction and was she ever right! An enormous amount of progress was made and they actually cleared a room well enough to get the carpeting removed. Step by step trust is being built and Julia is feeling safer and safer, the description of rebuilding hope!

Delores was blessed with a trip to Lowes to pick out new kitchen cabinets today, a real surprise she hadn't planned on! Her husband joined in the work today and was busy trying to memorize the names of all the volunteers. He is going to end up making me look bad as names are extremely difficult when you see so many people! God is working in Delores's household and she is so moved that she returned to join the team outside this evening with devotions and just general sharing of their day! Look out --- there's a possibility of the revival continuing!!!! Praise the Lord!

Last, but definitely not least, was Barbara's team. Just as I thought, she came to meet this team and is staying the entire week! Good thing she has a sister here! Her team also made tremendous progress. They reframed her master bath into 2 flowing rooms, no longer separated by a door that was always in the way. Pastor Tim also made the trip and returned with a new stand up shower and tub! They also took her shopping at Lowes and purchased her bath vanities and sinks. Monty and I were blessed with funding to go and purchase all 11 of her interior doors this morning! Like I said, a really blessed day!

Monty and I also had another visit from the Convoy of Hope leaders this afternoon. They came to load up the forklift and take it to our new warehouse. This warehouse is amazing and will be such a blessing. It has a roof which means no leaks, something new for us. The loading of the lift was not an easy task and although we got it done, the effort was filled with gasps of holding our breath combined with laughter! Fory doesn't mind going the wrong way on a one way street and God didn't mind either as He lead the way and cleared any traffic that might have usually come the right way on the street! We look forward to the blessings that will come with this new warehouse and all the space it has. Big things are in the works so be sure and stay tuned, you won't want to miss the upcoming blessings and new adventures!

We are also relieved to know that our best friend, Joe, is safely on his way and should be arriving sometime tomorrow morning. We have missed him more than anyone could know and are so anxious to spend some time with him. He brings the part of "home" that we need. Thanks Joe, not many people would take the "adventure" you are for us! We love you!!!!

It has just been so amazing to see God moving today. The kids that came to the Bible school this evening were just more evidence of Him. There were around 19 kids, most of them not members of The Refuge! To see the smiles on their faces as they learn about the love of Jesus, to see their minds thinking, to hear their laughter and joy at being in the presence of Jesus is such a God-thing. Jesus reached out to the children and rebuked the disciples when they tried to keep them away. It used to be that the parents brought the children to church but times have changed. Now we must reach the children in order to get the parents! Whatever it takes!

Today was one of those days that Monty and I strive to see. God moving, blessing the disaster victims as well as the volunteers, seeing Jesus in the faces of the children, all of which blesses us in return and gives us the refueling we need to get up and do it all over again tomorrow! Right now I have been working for 16 hours straight and although I am physically tired, it will take some quiet reading to quiet my mind. God is such an amazing God and He loves us so very much that after days like this it's just hard to take it all in. We are just so very blessed to be allowed to work in this disaster relief, blessed to be working with and for the people, but even more blessed that God chose us, just plain ole' sinners, to work through! It just gives me the chills!

We thank YOU for supporting us in our mission. Without your support we would not be able to pay our existing bills to maintain our house at home or eat while we are here. Those are the basics, the only things we ask for. Thanks to those of you who have dug deep in your own pockets, those of you who believe in our mission, those of you who can't be here but make it possible for us to be here and for all of you who keep us in your prayers!

For those of you who haven't made the step to come along with us on our mission, you can do so just by sending your support to our home church, Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please make sure and note "Katrina" on your donation as all of it comes to us, the church keeps nothing back for itself. May God bless you as you come along with us and make yourselves a "real" partner in God's work!

Until tomorrow...when there will be a pictorial feature of the volunteers this week...thank you!
Susan and Monty

Monday, June 19, 2006

She blessed us with song

I don't know that we have ever had a Monday quite like today!

Usually Mondays are a combination of confusion, questions and getting adjusted. Not today! This North Carolina team is beyond awesome! They were ready for devotions before 8am so away we went. From devotion they had already self divided themselves for the 4 jobs that we had lined up. They had taken each one of the names, knew the stories with each one and prayed over them last night. They asked God to direct them in the selection of the teams and of course, God did just what they asked.

We had a team follow me to Dane's "high and lifted up" home. The team from Alabama were already on their way and that team had grown from the 4 expected to 9 men! Dane was blessed even more! This team worked on getting the hurricane strapping done along with electrical issues and so many other things that they couldn't even name all of them. Dane kept busy with getting all of the supplies they needed. He also donated a fantastic mitre saw to Convoy of Hope as he had been blessed with a new one and knew we would be able to put his other one to good use helping other people.

A second part of the team followed Monty to Lowes for supplies and then to Barbara's. They got her bathrooms torn out and redesigned along with hanging and finishing sheetrock. They were also blessed to meet Barbara as she made the nearly 3 hour trip to meet these volunteers. She will most likely be here most of the week as she finds it difficult to not be here and see the progress and all the blessings happening each day. They feel like they will have her house almost, if not completely, done by the end of the week! WOW!

The third part of the team headed off to Julia's house. Julia has so much stuff inside of her home that we cannot even begin any tear out or rebuilding until things are gone through and either trashed or stored. This house has atleast 10 rooms and no doubt the volunteers will be busy the entire week. Julia's husband, Oscar, was so thrilled to be able to finally sit in his chair on their front porch as it had been so cluttered since the storm that when he could finally sit, he did so for the rest of the afternoon!

The fourth and last part of the team went up the road to Delores's house. They got busy with hanging sheetrock, doing electrical and some structural rebuilding. The women helped Delores also go through some of her things and decide what to keep and what needed to be tossed out. These 2 women have already bonded with Delores in such a way that only God could have directed them! They "uncovered" Delores's piano and in the process learned that she had been a music teacher and that she also wrote music. One thing lead to another and Delores ended up singing some of her songs to them.

The biggest blessing came for all of us this evening when Delores came over and sang a couple of her songs for us! OH MY! Everyone was sitting outside eating dinner together and having such a wonderful time of fellowship. They cooked hamburgers and hot dogs and along with devotions they gave testimony as to some of the things they had been involved in during their work day. After all of that Delores started to sing and saying it was outstanding doesn't begin to do her justice. She was awesome and you could physically feel the presence of God with all of us! The team then prayed for her and sat with her for quite a long time. They were also able to send an entire meal home with her. The relationship that has been built in just one day is life changing, for all of us! And they will be working with her for 4 more days! They invited her back any evening and I imagine she will be here! I wish I could describe how wonderful it all was but there just aren't proper words to do the entire evening justice. It was just something you had to experience and I am sad that you weren't here to do so.

Tomorrow the women from this team will be conducting a Vacation Bible School here in the evening and will be coming back from their jobs a bit early to prepare and set up for. The puppet stage is already being set up and it should be a wonderful 3 evenings for the children and a fantastic outreach into the community. Please keep everyone in your prayers, the children who are coming and those who are doing the teaching.

I would imagine that everyone would get a good nights sleep tonight. Although is wasn't as hot as usual and there were some clouds they are still quite tired. But the thing is, God will come in and refill them and they will be up and raring to go come tomorrow morning. God has a way of doing that when you are following His calling and serving Him.

We are just so thankful for both of these teams. Taking time from their lives, time to come down here, to work hard, to sweat, to sleep less comfortable than at home, to be away from their families....we pray God will turn around and bless them in return as we know He promises to do! They have only been here 1 day and are already experiencing the life changes that come from helping others, from being servants for the Lord!

Be sure and stay tuned each day as it has only just begun and God is moving like never before! You don't want to miss out on a thing! There should be photos of the jobs tomorrow evening. Please keep all of us in your prayers, we need the wisdom, strength and guidance that can only come from the Lord!

Until tomorrow.....Susan and Monty

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hello North Carolina

They made it! They said they would be completely self sufficient and never have I seen anything quite like this! They came in late this evening with 5 vehicles not including the enormous motor home rig and trailer that has refrigerators, freezers and a complete kitchen set up under a tent! They will be cooking every evening meal and there are 27 of them!!!!

This will be quite a week of blessings in every direction!

They are also doing a vacation Bible school for 3 evenings! Make sure you don't miss any of this weeks blogspots as it is bound to be awesome!!

And our team from Alabama doesn't arrive until tomorrow!!!!

These teams will be divided into 4 groups, working on 4 different homes and blessing who knows how many families before the week is over! For those of you who have been reading and know the jobs, they will be working on Dane's, Barbara's, Julia's and Delores's homes.

They are about to burst with excitement -- and questions! We will see how the excitement holds up in the 95 plus degree heat! :)

I realize this blog is short but it is late and there is so much work still to be done. Our day is already over its 16 hours and still going. It's just amazing how God pours energy into jobs that He calls us to do! I will be the one who has difficulty sleeping tonight, my mind will be running tomorrow's work over and over and then over again. I am just so blessed to be here, doing what God has me doing, following His voice and knowing with Him in control all things are possible!

Until tomorrow....keep this team in your prayers and be sure and stay tuned for a week bursting with blessings....Susan and Monty

Good bye Illinois

Congratulations, Kelly, you now get to leave the world of construction and return to your world of accounting!

The whole team was packed with tools reloaded and on the road by 7am this morning. As usual, it is extremely sad to bid farewell to people we have gotten to know so well and worked and lived with 24/7 all week. They were tired, sore and feeling blessed beyond measure. I always wish we were there with them when they return to their home church and spread the blessings out to everyone there! The "pebble in the pond" effect.

We spent the morning organizing and cleaning. Diane started in what was "sort of" the supply room but had turned into who knows what! Extra supplies returning from jobs found their way into the room but in no order whatsoever. She tackled it and won. It now makes some logical sense.

Dee Dee is still working on one of the supply rooms for the preschool and finding more school supplies and such than she knew was possible. She is doing a great job at getting things organized for the school so they know what they have to work with. She hopes to have it whipped by the end of the week but it's a big job! I'm sure she will be back at it tomorrow.

I started cleaning out our one refrigerator and freezer. After a few teams have come and gone it can collect all sorts of things! It now looks ready for the next ones coming in.

Speaking of teams, we were very sad to get the message that our returning team from Tennessee would not be coming this next week. Too many team members had complications and they will need to wait until this fall and reschedule. Their team leader, Bob, was extremely disappointed but we understand and look forward to putting them back on the schedule when they are all able to come. We will still be here, God willing.

We all decided we needed a short break for a couple of hours this afternoon and took a trip to Dauphin Island to relax in the sun, sand and waves. We knew not to be out very long as it was a breezy day along the coastline and with a few clouds looming around one can get burned before you know it. The water is very warm and there were a few waves flapping in and out that made it fun. Dee Dee has red feet and Monty has a red back but all enjoyed the time away. When your work days are around 14 - 16 hours 6 and 7 days a week you have to get away to refresh and renew or you can get "burned out". (pardon the pun)

We were also blessed to be taken to dinner by another couple in the church, Chad and Kristen and their 2 girls. I don't think I have laughed that hard in who knows when! To be able to fellowship and eat and laugh and get to know people is just what God created us for. He is very explicit about it in the Bible, about how developing relationships is essential. We are so thankful to Chad and Kristen for making us feel welcomed and loved. You guys are awesome. Oh yes, thanks to Kara and Anna also!!!!! :)

Tomorrow is our day to praise and worship our wonderful Creator and we look forward to it. We all need to be refueled and refilled and have a day to sing, worship and praise God. Both Monty and I are so thankful to Him for choosing us to be His servants, to us to work through, sinful as we are, He chose us for this mission and we thank and praise Him for doing so. We hope you will also be in worship come tomorrow and ask that you thank and praise Him for all of your many blessings, and keep the people in the coast in your prayers.

God is good and we are blessed that He first loved us!

Until tomorrow, Susan and Monty

Friday, June 16, 2006

Their last day!

The Illinois team really poured it on today and now Barbara has a complete kitchen with sink, cabinets, counter tops and appliances! Even though today's heat seemed even hotter than any day this week, they kept going and going until they reached their goal! What an amazing crew!

They blessed us this evening by taking us to dinner and we had such a wonderful time visiting and getting to know them even better. They really have become family to us and as with the rest of the teams, we will never forget them and hope they will decide to come back and see us and bless the community again! Please pray for safe travel for them as they will be leaving very early tomorrow morning and it is quite a long trip home.

They also had the opportunity to visit the Spanish village this morning and help with a couple of their windows. Manuel speaks Spanish so it was a real treat for him and them! Diane and Dee Dee worked all day there with the flooring and base. They did get to enjoy a great Mexican lunch which held Dee Dee clear through dinner!

Monty and I enjoyed a visit from the couple who heads up the Convoy of Hope relief efforts all along the coastline, from Texas to Florida. It's always nice when they get to come and visit as we don't see alot out of them. They are always on the road going from place to place and it's a blessing to actually get to visit with them for even a short time. They are so glad the effort here in Gautier will be continuing and assured us that Convoy has no intention of pulling out of the area as the needs are still so enormous! We did help them load up pallets of bleach and take it to the relief efforts elsewhere where the tear outs haven't started yet. We still have homes that need torn out but they are getting fewer and we still have enough bleach to get them done.

We also received a phone call from our hometown newspaper and they will be doing an update article which should be in next Thursday's paper. They have been very good at trying to keep up with what is going on and trying to keep the story going to enable the relief efforts to also keep going. When he asked me what the mood is down here it was tough to tell him about the depression, the desperation and how the suicide rate is climbing. It just seems like everyone would know these things because every time we turn on the TV it's still all we hear about. Then we have to stop and realize that the reason we are hearing about it is because we are living in it. The rest of the world is only interested in sensationalism and that is no longer the case with Katrina. It's sad, but true, the out of sight out of mind. We hope to keep the awareness level up with this blogspot and tell the truth about how life really is here, even after nearly 10 months!

We thank you for taking and keeping interest in our own "neighbors". Just remember that this is not overseas, this is in our own backyard and these are our fellow Americans!

If you would like to really help make a difference and become an active part in the rebuilding process you can send your donations to us through our home church, Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. Please note "Katrina" on your donation as you will receive a tax certificate. Thank you for making it possible for Monty and I to continue the calling God has placed on our lives. Without you it would be impossible!

Until tomorrow...God bless! Susan and Monty

Thursday, June 15, 2006

She's 98 and going for 100

So sorry for the delay on this blog. "Mr. Blogger" himself must have been doing his own construction last night as I entered the blog 5 times, and lost it each time! Frustrating to say the least but we are back up this afternoon, trying to make up for lost time.

Allow me to introduce our newest family member, Margaret. She is truly 98 years old, completely self sufficient and has already "claimed" her 100th birthday and certain she will make it! She says 99 1/2 is not good enough! Her grandson called us to see if we could help her out. She was flooded, layed in her bed and watched the waters rise to the bottom of the mattress and receed just about as fast as it came in, and surprisingly enough, the only thing she needs is new kitchen cabinets and flooring in the kitchen! It was such a blessing for us to go and visit her yesterday. The history she has in her heart and mind is priceless! We hope to be able to get new cabinets, flooring and check her electrical in a couple of weeks. Just about the time we thought we needed to leave Monty reached for her hand to thank her for allowing us to come into her home. This lady started in praying and shook the foundation we were standing on! Talk about a direct connection with God, she prayed for things for us that we hadn't even thought about and had me in a bucket of tears! We ended up sitting down on the floor in front of her and listened to her preach and witness to us for the next hour! Just one more on the listing of God-things! Thank you Margaret, we look forward to coming back! For the rest of you, please pray that the funding comes in so we can do what is needed for her.

The top left photo is Leon's bathroom ceiling above his shower, thanks to Katrina. The floor and wall at the bottom near the floor look the same. We also visited him yesterday and since he has all of the materials needed right there waiting for us we also hope to get in there in a couple of weeks and get him taken care of. Leon is having some real heavy personal struggles and can also use the prayers of all of you!

The next photo is Delores's house (same name as my mother and spelled the same). She also had quite a bit of storm damage and also has all of the materials needed to get the repairs done. The God-thing with Delores is that when we called (we only have our cell phones) she didn't recognize the phone number and normally would not have answered the phone. She said for some unknown reason she did answer and there we were, just what she had been praying for! It's always nice to be greeted at the door by someone telling you that you are an answer to their prayers! Sort of puts a smile on your face and re-engerizes you for whatever else comes along! We will be sending our next group of volunteers to her on Monday morning and she will be right there working along side of them! Having the homeowner there is always an added blessing, for us and the volunteers!

The last photo is Dane's "high and lifted up" house. I have already told his story and we just wanted to get a real "before" photo to let volunteers see just what they are in for. Dane will also be working right along side the volunteers. He is taking a week of vacation! Not what we would describe as a vacation but for him it means the world and IS a vacation from trying to do all the work by himself. He has been putting the siding back on the outside of the house and constructing the front deck so there is a way inside the house to work. He will also have a team on his doorstep Monday morning.

We hope you will enjoy seeing the "preview" photos that we have shown you. We thought this might also be a way for you to see the before and realize just how great the need still is here. Whenever someone calls us for help we put them on our list and try to do the best we can to prioritize their needs. This is not an easy task to do as our hearts go out to everyone and we must realize that we cannot get help to all of them immediately. The people we went to see yesterday had been on the list since mid March and we were just now able to get to see them. We do not send volunteers out to work in a house unless we have been there first and know exactly what they are going in to. This takes alot of time, alot of open ears and most of all - gasoline! But the blessings that come from those visits are priceless and are what starts the relationships that God talks about and what He put us all on earth to create!

As all of that was going on our team from Illinois was still busy blessing Barbara and her house beyond measure! Barbara's original plan was to come here (remember, she relocated with family nearly 3 hours away) on Sunday for her doctor appointment on Monday, meet with the team and head back north. Well, she is still here! She has gotten so excited at watching everything that is happening, visiting and getting to know the team that she now says she is not going home until they do! They are scheduled to leave Sat morning but that remains to be seen! This morning we had the pleasure of going shopping with them at Lowes. You see, they made preparations ahead of their trip to come here and bless someone with appliances. They knew they would be working in Barbara's house and thus had a plan. But as always, God steps in and says "I have a much better plan, follow me!" As they got to know Barbara their hearts were opened more and more and the next thing you know they are phoning home and today not only purchased her refrigerator, range and dishwasher, they also purchased ALL of her kitchen cabiinets and hope to have everything installed before leaving!!!!! Now is this a blessing or is this a blessing --- for all of them! Just as we finished unloading everything Barbara returned and if only you could see the joy in her face, hear it in her voice and feel it in her heart you all would be dripping tears onto the keyboards of your computers! THIS is exactly what our relief mission is about! THIS is exactly why we need your support to enable us to continue to follow the calling God has placed on our lives! For us to have to pull out of here due to lack of financial support would not only break our hearts, it would break God's! Be sure and watch tomorrow's blog for photos of Barbara with her new kitchen! I just have a feeling that this team will not leave until she has her kitchen! Bless you Illinois team, you are God's angels, and ours!

This same team also stayed up until way past their bedtime last night working on some doors here in the church for the daycare. After working all day in unbearable heat and sweating until you can wring the water from your clothes, they showered, at dinner and worked here! Now that's service to the Lord!

We would like to ask for prayers for all of the families that are presented in these photos. Time and space would not allow me to completely tell their stories. Just know that each one has been hurt by the storm and needs help. The rest is just details. We need the volunteers to continue to come to bless these, and so many other, families! Remember, this is not in another country, this is right here in the good ole' US of A, in our back yards! Don't turn your backs on our own, just when they need us the most! God tells us that when we help the least of these we help Him and I, for one, would feel honored to help God!

God's hands are moving down here like never before. There are angels all over the place. Miracles are happening everyday and people are being saved and reserving their place in heaven because of people like you, supporting people like us who just get up each morning and ask God to use our hands, our feet, our feeble minds, whatever He needs just to get His work accomplished.

We ask for you, yes you, to come and join us in this relief mission. The "fields are ripe and the harvest is waiting" so don't let the opportunity pass you by. We need your financial support, there is no "around the bush" way to let you know. Bills are bills and needs are needs, you all live in the real world and know these things. All we ask is that we are able to pay our bills and eat, nothing fancy, just the necessaties. We thank those of you who have, and are continuing, supported us. Without you we would be forced to pack up and head home, leaving these needs unmet. For those of you who have not sent your donation, please take it to prayer and listen for the still small voice of God's direction. Please mark your donation "Katrina" and send it to our home church, Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402.

This blog is a combination of yesterday and today. We thank you for reading, for keeping us in your prayers and for helping bless our own. May God return the blessings to you in multiples as we know He promises to do!

Until tomorrow....Susan and Monty

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Barbara Pictorial

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so there are an awful lot of words here. This Illinois team is working under some enormous heat loads, as you can see in the photos. They have not been outside playing in the hose, that is sweat!!!!
You can see the "family photo" with Barbara, priceless!! She has been so excited at seeing what is happening she decided to stay in town, come back to the house to clean out some things in her garage, and just generally watch her home being rebuilt! It's all about relationships. God said so and God is the one who knows!
They all continued with the sheetrock, insulation and finishing of the sheetrock all day today. They are also finding out that some of the decisions that need to be made are decisions that you don't normally have in construction. We try and give the teams notice that building under these circumstances is unlike anything they have ever worked under. And working together with a team of people that you have not worked with before can also be a bit stressful but these guys are wonderful and making outstanding progress!
We would ask that you keep them all in your prayers. As I mentioned earlier, it's really HOT down here and one can overheat quite easily. They need prayers for a hedge of protection around them while they are working and also pray that they are able to get adequate rest at night. It can also be challenging sleeping in a room with a bunch of guys!! :)
Diane continues working in the Spanish Village and Dee Dee will be joining her on Friday as she will be finished teaching school. Anita, from the village, drives Diane home each afternoon after work and today they had taken her shopping before coming back! What a wonderful family!

We want to thank all of you for your support. If you would like to join with us in our mission to rebuild the Mississippi coast after hurricane Katrina you can send your donations to us through our home church, Vineyard Community Church at PO Box 3277 in Bloomington, Indiana 47402. We are supported strictly by YOUR donations. We are not supported by one specific church and without your donations we would not be able to fulfill this calling upon our lives. We do have a home back home and there are still bills that must be paid in order for us to have that home to go home to. Thank you for your hearts of giving and we pray God's blessings come back to you ten fold.

Until tomorrow ... Blessings to you all. Susan and Monty