Monday, July 31, 2006

Problem or Opportunity?

Well, Mondays usually have alot of twists and turns with it being the first day on the job for new teams. This one was "extra" twisting!

Remember the flooring in Barbara's house, refer to the photo----well, most of it had to be taken out today and replaced! This tile flooring is not ceramic tile. It actually snaps together sort of like hardwood flooring. It is called a "floating" floor. The grouting material that came with it comes in cans and looks like decorative cake icing coming out of the tube. It is VERY time consuming and difficult to use. After consulting with others we decided it would be best, and most cost effective, to use regular grout. WRONG!!!! We did use it in two rooms and when we got done it looked great. Looks can be deceiving. Today, when we thought we would make awesome progress and maybe get it close to being done we were "rechanneled" in our way of thinking. It seems the floating part of the floor caused the grout to crack and then crack some more. It just wasn't going to work. We had to go back to plan A with using the tube grout. This required the pulling up of all the grouted flooring and replacing it with new, ungrouted flooring. We thought about removing the grout and replacing it with the tube grout and again, NOT! The time invested in doing that, not to mention the mess, was not feasible. We have plenty of the tile itself and knew that was the way to go. One of those "three steps forward and two back" kind of things. The Indiana team took it very well, went to work, no complaints, just get it done! Bless them!!!! They were working well into the evening and are installing light fixtures, door hardware, electric details and every other kind of job you can imagine. They are even working on repairing the columns on the outside of her house that came down in the storm. They hold up a small roof section over the front of the house and really need to be repaired and put back in to protect the roof portion.

Just one of those days where things get a bit more than challenging and we just have to sit back and look at the challenge as another opportunity to learn something! That can be tough to do! Thanks to all of you and your prayers we were able to get it done today! :)

I was afraid that Monty might have been down for the count this morning. He was up all night not feeling well and didn't make devotions this morning. By mid morning he was up and around and doing okay, once again thanks to all of your prayers. Remember when I said that even if you don't know what to pray for when praying for us the Lord knows and He has it all covered! We ended up spending the most of our day back and forth from Barbara's and Lowes. Tomorrow will begin with a trip to Lowes as her back double patio doors must be replaced. There is a list to go along with those doors and hopefully more progress will be made once the list is checked off. We are so very blessed to have organizations such as Convoy of Hope and Camp Hope who believe in this relief effort and are such a help to us. Bless all of you for your serving hearts! Without you this would be impossible.

When I looked at the calendar and realized today was the last day of July I was shocked! I just don't know where the time goes! It seems like it was March just a couple of days ago! We are just so busy that days can go by and we don't even look to see what the date is! Must be another of those "God things".

It was also exciting to see all of the new children's bikes lining the front of the church this evening. They are donated to us to give away at our Outreach this Saturday. There will be some awfully happy children taking home those bikes! Those are just a small sample of the exciting things that will happen that day! God will be pouring out blessings all over the area and we are once again just so thankful to be a small part in the whole thing! What a blessing it is for us!

Thanks again to everyone for your prayers and support. May God bless all of you!

Until tomorrow....Susan and Monty

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Day of Rest??

What is the theme of your life?

This is the title of this mornings message and one to cause some deep thought. Pastor Rick had us think about how music and songs have impacted our lives. When we hear a song from our past it usually makes us think about a specific moment in our lives and we have no trouble remembering the details of where we were and what we were doing. If music has such a huge impact on our lives jut think how much more WE impact the lives of others! Really makes you stop and think, doesn't it. It did me!

God has put each and every one of us here for a reason, for a purpose, for an eternal call. When God gives us our purpose we are to take ahold of it, hang on, be determined, like a "pit bull on a pork chop" if you get the picture. That pit bull won't let go, no matter what. Pastor told us we should be the same way when God calls us to do something, don't let go of that call, no matter what! Needless to say, it was a thought provoking message!

We were so very pleased this morning as our newest Spanish family came to church! Even though they don't speak English, they were here! Pastor and Diane print out his message in Spanish for them but can you imagine going in to a church where you cannot understand a word that is being said? They weren't going to let anything stop them from coming and we pray God touched them and that is understandable in any language!

Usually we try and take Sunday afternoon and get a bit of rest but today God had something else in mind for Monty, myself, Diane and Teresa. After church we passed by the C.O.R.E. camp down the road. That stands for Christian Organized Relief Effort. This camp has been based at a nearby church since right after the storm. They are now in the process of moving out and turning the effort over to the church. They housed their volunteers inside of tents and served them their meals each day. They ended up with extra food and materials and invited us to come and take whatever we could use. We also called a couple of other relief efforts that we know and invited them to come and get what they could use. It's just another way of passing on the gifts God has blessed them with to others. That is what makes all of these relief efforts work.

We ended up coming back here, hitching up the trailer and off we went. We were able to bring back food, paper products, brooms, shovels and many other supplies. We also got food that we will be able to use in the churchs food bank. It was quite a blessing (and alot of hard work)! :)

Our team from Indiana joined us in church this morning and then took the day to travel the coast all the way to New Orleans. We always encourage the teams to do so. They need to see the full effects of the storm and be able to take the whole picture back to their own churches and communities to encourage others to come down and volunteer.

We want to take a minute and send a special thank you to Rick from our home town and The Life church. He was making a presentation to his church this morning in hopes of encouraging others to come and volunteer their time. We thank him for his service while they were here and for also doing eveything he can to raise awareness of the reality of here! We love all of you guys and miss you!

Note to Amber --- we are really excited to know you are coming back with Barry and family. We will definitely be able to used you at the Outreach. Wear your shirt! :)

Tomorrow startes another team on their mission of rebuilding homes and lives. It's always exciting to get them on their way the first day as they come in filled with energy and enthusiasm and are raring to get going. We would ask that you keep them in your prayers so their energy and enthusiasm will carry them through the week. They have already showed us just how great they are going to be with getting us electricity in the back area where we work and in covering the vents that had been leaking rainwater into the building every time it rains. We know they do good work because it rained during church and there were no leaks! Thanks so much guys!

Until tomorrow...please think about what the theme of your life is, or what you know it should be! Take it to prayer and be sure to stop and listen for God's answer!

Love to all...Susan and Monty

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mt. Vernon, Indiana arrives

Today we welcomed the newest team from our home state of Indiana. It's been awesome to have 2 teams from "home" this past month.

They came in ready to get going and that is exactly what Monty got them doing. Since this church building used to be a grocery store all of the lights were on one circuit and either the entire building is lit up or the entire building is dark. Thanks to these men we now have lights in our back area that are on a separate circuit and will hopefully save some on the electric bills around here.

They also found themselves on top of the roof covering some vents with tarps. When we get a heavy rain it comes in through those vents and floods the back area. Thanks to these men we will no longer flood and will no longer have to line the floors with plastic tubs to catch the rain! Who knows what they will get in to for their next project.

They will be attending church here with us in the morning and that is always special. The congregation gets such a boost when volunteers are here for church. Their afternoon will be spent traveling the coast, getting the full picture of the devastation - after 11 months! Today is the 11 month anniversary.

Monty and I were treated to a special evening dinner this evening. Andrea and her husband, Chris (from our NC team) flew into Gulfport for a family get-together this week and decided to come by here and take us to dinner. What a blessed thing for us, enjoying a wonderful meal and getting reunited with family. Yes, they are all family once they have been here. It's a God-thing and something you have to experience to fully understand.

I have a special story for the NC team, from Barbara. Remember how the bone spur in her knee just somehow miraculously "disappeared"? That wasn't the best thing that happened to her! Remember how you prayed that her son would be able to find a job? Well, not only did he find an awesome job, he found one right here in Pascagoula! He had been offered the job here and another in NC. The NC was going to pay a bit more and he felt he had to go where the money was going to be. When he told the local company the story they not only matched his NC offer, they increased it, offered to pay all of his moving expense AND 3 months rent until he can find a permanent home here! Barbara was so excstatic when she was telling me that we both had goose bumps! She said her life completely changed the night all of you from NC prayed for her and wanted me to be sure and let you know. Thank you each and every one! You are truly God's angels!

On a more somber note, I just got word that our dear friends in Pascagoula, Bruce and Linda are desperate for help. This couple has been so good to Monty and I, taking us to dinners just when we needed the fellowship and laughter. They lost everything in their home and hired a contractor to do some of the major work required. And now we learn that he left --- with their money and with the job nowhere near done! I know this kind of thing is happening all over down here and it makes my blood boil but when it happens to people we dearly love it makes it boil even more! We will do the best we can to get volunteers over there and get their work done. THIS is where we need YOU! Without those volunteers we cannot help them, and we cannot help all of the others who call us! YOU are critical to this effort, not us! PLEASE take this plea to heart, pray about it, talk to your friends and family and see where the Lord leads you! He WILL lead you in the direction he has planned for your life!

Thank you, all of you, for everything you have done and are doing! You all know who you are and we love you dearly and miss you so much!

Tomorrow is our day of worship! We ask that you keep us in your prayers, and the entire coast!
Thank you and God bless ..... until tomorrow....Susan and Monty

Friday, July 28, 2006

Katrina Kitchen Photos

Here are the photos I talked about last night. The cross standing alone is an amazing testimony of faith. In case you can't see it well, it says "Power from God". You can click on it to enlarge it, or any of the photos. The striped tent is the kitchen where all of the meals are served. You can also see the area reserved for those who are volunteering longer than a week, the place where they park their RVs of all shapes and sizes.

The red banner hangs in the back of the kitchen, just behind the serving line. It says it all!

The little buildings that look like storage barns are exactly that, only they have 6 beds inside and house volunteers. They are built by the Amish and donated to the effort. After they are used all the Amish asked in return is that they be donated to those who need them. Just another example of this entire effort being one church body with many members with hearts of service.

I am still amazed at how many different relief efforts are going on here along the coast. All of them have their special part and are what make the entire effort a success. We tell people over and over again that whatever label is over the door of your home church isn't what matters, we are all one body in Christ and that is what matters. You can drop your label when you come over the state line and pick it back up again when you leave, if you need to.

Today Diane and Teresa reached out in to another avenue of rebuilding. Instead of focusing on the structural rebuilding they helped one of our church families pack away some of their things in order to prepare for rebuilding. Both husband and wife have had more than their share of health problems and just don't have the strength to pack and move boxes. Teresa and Diane were able to make wonderful progress and minister to this couple at the same time. When we went to preview their home the other day trying to get a smile from either of them was next to impossible. Today when we returned to pick up the girls, both David and Cindy were smiling from ear to ear and had a renewed sense of enthusiasm that had replaced their feelings of being overwhelmed. It's like I have said so many times, there is no such thing as unskilled labor here and there is something for everyone to do!

As Teresa and Diane were helping Cindy found some clothing she wanted to donate to the cause, just another way she could turn around and bless others. THAT is something that will put a smile on our faces for sure! :)

Monty and I had an opportunity to talk with the Pastor of the church in Pascagoula where we had been located before moving to Gautier. We were thrilled to learn that Pastor Tim is really rolling along in getting their church building rebuilt and returning to a real church! He had a huge task ahead of him as this is a large church with many rooms and he has "taken the bull by the horns" as some would say, set his goals and is heading full steam ahead and getting things done. Good job Pastor Tim, you are always in our prayers and we are blessed to call you and Sheri our friends!

We heard from our team from Mt. Vernon, Indiana this evening and they are only about 4 hours away. They have stopped for the night and should be here early tomorrow afternoon. They will then have time to get settled in and get things prepared for church on Sunday morning, traveling the coastline on Sunday afternoon and ready to work hard come Monday morning. Keep them in your prayers for continued safe travel.

I have put a link to Convoy of Hope on this blog entry. I guess I just assumed that you all had located and seen their site but then realized the true meaning of "assume" and thought I should put the site on so you could easily find it. is a wonderful site and I encourage you to go to it and read about all of the fantastic things this organization is involved in. You will be shocked and hopefully moved to keep them in your prayers!

Until tomorrow....enjoy the first day of the weekend and count your blessings...we all have more than we could possibly matter what our circumstances.

We love and thank all of you for joining us in this miraculous journey....Susan and Monty

Thursday, July 27, 2006

God's Katrina Kitchen

These are the plastic bags that will be filled with free groceries to be given out to those who come to the Outreach next Saturday.

No, these are not my children...but yes, in a way they are! Can you look at those dear faces and then refuse to help their families rebuild their homes? I think not!

Teresa and Diane continued working in Stephen's house today. Stephen had to go to "real" work today as he is in college and must have some kind of income over this summer to help get him through next semester. His mother chose the paint colors she wanted and that is what the women spent their day on today, along with some cleaning and more sheetrock finishing. Their house is really starting to look like a home. Their cabinets should be here in a few days and then we are really talking about being close to being home again.

Monty and I made a trip to Pass Christian today. There has been an enormous relief effort going over there ever since the storm. Pass Christian was almost completely wiped off the map as that is where the eye went through. The relief effort, "God's Katrina Kitchen" started with a gentleman from Kentucky who came down and started cooking hamburgers on his grill for anyone who needed food. The idea took root and he has been cooking ever since. There are 2 absolutely huge tents set up and one does nothing but serve 3 full course meals 7 days a week. At their highest they were serving over 3500 people a day! They are now "down" to around 1000. Take a minute and think about just how much food that takes and then think again about how many volunteers it takes to do something like this! It's mind boggling! They also have another huge tent set up that was, in the beginning, a clothing "store" where once again everything was free. No, they don't charge one red cent for the food, ever! The clothing tent has now been converted into a food storage/church tent. They hold church services every evening, also 7 days a week! It's like their motto says, "One God, Many Churches"! If you would like to read more about this effort you can go to

I should have photos on the blog tomorrow night so you can see some of the inside workings going on. They also went out into the rebuilding side of the relief efforts and like us, they have way more work that needs done than volunteers to do the work!

We were really blessed to be able to go there and talk with those who are coordinating that effort. It's great to be able to talk with others who are "in the same boat". Finally someone we have something in common with! Chris and Wendy and Greg are amazing people and I would ask a special prayer for Wendy as she and Chris are expecting their first baby in early October and are hoping to be back home for the birth but as they both said today, "wherever God has them at the time is fine with them". Hearts of service? Oh yea!!

As we made the drive over and back, it's about an hour one way, it gave us another opportunity to see just what has been done along the beach. They have gotten alot of the debris under control but it still looks like a wasteland. There aren't near the people that should be. There are more pieces of heavy equipment than there are people. Very little, if any, rebuilding has started along the coast in the business area. The old mansions are gone and no signs of anything started in their places. It just brings tears to your eyes and makes us realize that this rebuilding will still be going on 10 years from now, yes --- I said 10 years!

We did learn something else interesting today. The Kitchen is located directly across from what used to be a beautiful beach area but the water is closed to everyone! They have managed to sweep the sand to some extent but the water is filled with who knows what. The authorities have told the coordinators that if people are seen in the water the Kitchen will be fined. And as if that isn't enough, they also were told why .... there are still flesh eating organisms in the waters! It's enough to keep that many volunteers OUT of the water for sure! And they say this effort is nearly over????!!!!! It just makes me want to scream out! How about YOU scream out for me, wherever you are, to whomever you talk to, to everyone you talk to! Wake them up to the reality of it all, shake their foundations and break their hearts to do something to help!

We thank all of you for everything you are doing...until tomorrow....where there will be more photos....God bless you....Susan and Monty

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Convoy of Hope rolls in!

When the Convoy of Hope rolls in it IS noticed! You just can't miss something like that, rolling into town absolutely filled with blessings! Today it was filled with food, food for a kitchen that is on going and food for The Refuge Outreach in 10 days! There are 11 pallets of food that will be put into plastic bags marked Convoy of Hope with the John 3:16 verse in just about every language you can imagine! This food will then be handed out FREE to anyone and everyone who comes through the lines. Last outreach approximately 2,000 bags went out! And an added blessing is that Convoy really knows how to pack a truck! Every pallet was shrink wrapped and able to be off loaded with the forklift! What an amazing blessing Convoy has been since the onset of the storm. They load these trucks with food, water and medical supplies and are the "first responders" immediately after the storm. They don't have to go through all of the legal red tape to get in. Their reputation preceeds them and the blessings flow and flow and flow! We feel so extremely blessed to be such a small part of such a wonderful organization! Please keep them in your prayers.

In the very first photo you see Monty with Stephen. Stephen is our volunteer who came from us going to see if we could help his family in any way. Even before he knew if we would do anything in his familys house he volunteered to work with us and bless others. Isn't God amazing! And today was his girlfriend, Annalee's birthday. 21 years old ----can you remember that age? I have "no comment"! :)

The group photo is of the couple who volunteered and drove this truck from Missouri for free! Just another way people can be involved in this rebuilding effort!

The following photos are of our Alabama team at work. The group photo was taken the morning they left. The Convoy banner they are standing in front of has been hanging there since right after the storm!

I need to mention someone who is more than a very special person! See that man in the photo with Monty ---- that is Teresa's husband, BARRY! Yes, he does have a name and this man agreed to have his wife stay behind and continue working with us. What a man, what a husband! He went on home to go back to work AND do the best he can to keep the household up and running! Like I said, what a wonderful man! Barry, we promise to take good care of her and look forward to seeing you come back! (maybe we should keep one member of each team as a hostage so someone from the team would come back)!

Before and after unloading the truck Monty and I were out looking at new work requests. The first one will require a contractor because there is just too much structural damage for us to get in to. We have to draw the line on what we can and cannot do and this one is just out of our scope of work.

Another one has some structural damage but they have a specialist coming in this weekend to evaluate things. We will be taking Diane and Teresa over there this Friday so they can help them get some things taken into storage and get some things organized. Just another of those ways to be a blessing and be involved in the effort. You don't have to have construction skills, just a heart to serve others in any way you possibly can.

Everything is coming together for the outreach next Saturday and it's so exciting to be preparing for. When I hear about the thousands of people who came to the last one over Easter weekend it makes me so thrilled to be able to be a small part of this one. These outreaches are something ANY church can do! Convoy of Hope has a standard setup and can come to any church out there who would like to sponsor such a thing. You don't have to be along the coast and suffered damage from the storm. You just have to want to have an outreach and want to bless those in your communities! If you would like more info, just go to their website and contact them. You will be blessed in return beyond your wildest imaginations!

We thank all of you who have, and are, supporting us in your prayers, cards, notes and calls. You all mean the world to us and without you we would not be able to fulfill this calling. Monty and I were just talking this evening about how this entire mission is groundbreaking and history making. There has never been a relief effort such as this. There are no supervisors to go to if we have questions, no "how to" manual to refer to for the answers, no forms to follow, no person leading us in the way they did it. It really is history making and we are all learning each and every day! Thus the reason we NEED your support and prayers! You are the keys to this effort, not us! We thank you more than words can say and just ask that you continue to do what you are doing!

We want to welcome home our home church mission team who are returning this evening from a week in Costa Rico. We pray you had a blessed week and are filled with hearts full of joy!

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Goodbye Alabama

This morning was another of those where I find myself in tears! No matter how long we are in this effort and no matter how many teams we meet and work with, I will never get used to saying goodbye to them! It's just so hard as they have become family and we miss each and every one of them! We did hear from them and they are now home safe and sound! Thanks to all of you who came and made such a difference in the lives of those you helped and in ours!!!!!!!

We did manage to keep one of their own, Teresa! She stayed with her decision to stay for the next couple of weeks and we put her right to work. She, Diane and Stephen went to work in Stephen's house with drywall finishing, sanding, priming and painting. They will be returning there tomorrow.

Monty and I were busy running errands this morning and trying to get things accomplished. We took a key to Barbara's house over to Jake who is her HVAC man and will be hooking up some air conditioning, even if temporarily so we can get the flooring done. We went by her house to check the floors and the grouting looks great --- thanks Larry!!

I worked on getting a couple more houses for us to go and check out tomorrow morning. As I have said before, we always go and see the places to evaluate everything before we send teams in to work. We have 2 lined up for tomorrow morning. One of them was from a phone call. The lady left her home before the storm and went to Atlanta. She is just now returning and absolutely nothing has been done in the house. It flooded from the ceiling and possibly the floor, she isn't sure how much water though. All of her furniture is still inside and everything is covered with black mold. Sounds like a mess and probably just that and more. Please keep us in your prayers.

This evening we were able to bless another family with sheetrock. We had a work request from a lady living in a trailer. She needed some sheetrock and had requested furniture, linens and pretty much needed anything we could give. We met them and loaded their truck with the sheetrock. We then were able to bless them with some kitchen chairs and matching stools. We also had gathered some linens, towels and blankets to give to her. We loaded the sheetrock and followed them to her home. What a site --- and I forgot the camera ---but will definitely return so you all can see what we saw! She is living in her trailer with her children and 2 more family members. The insulation in the walls is completely exposed, one window is broken out in the back bedroom and she has flooring that is gone --- so gone you see the ground below! This isn't just a small area either! To say she needs help is an understatement! When we gave them the linens and such she burst into tears with gratefullness! And of course, so did I! Monty and I both looked at this visit as a renewal, God showing us how much help is still needed and a reassurance that we are doing what He would have us do! We will be returning this weekend to hopefully get some subflooring put in and to atleast get things started. She has family members who are trying to help, when they get off work and on the weekends but she needs more help than that! We thank God for placing us here and giving us the privilege of being the ones to help her ! Oh yes, did I mention she doesn't speak English??!! Thank you Lord!

THIS is exactly why we need volunteers, we have so much work to do and it just keeps coming in and we can't do this without you! I just don't know how to stress this enough! I know it's hot and humid here, I know you have lives and families of your own, I know it would cost some money to make the trip, I know you have bills of your own to pay, I know there are a thousand other reasons as to why you CAN'T come! But I beg of you to think of the one reason you CAN! In the Bible God COMMANDS us to help others, especially the widows and the fatherless. He doesn't ask us to do so IF we have the time or the resources, He commands it! Then He tells us that when we help the least of His children we are helping HIM! Just give it some thought, talk about it with your friends, neighbors and church families. See if you can spark some interest! Start something ---- start a rebuilding effort rolling and then get on board as the blessings will be returned to you over and over --- get ready for the ride of your life!

We thank you for doing what you can, for holding us up in your prayers and for making a difference in this world! We pray God's blessings on you and yours.

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

Monday, July 24, 2006

They're on their way home

Thank you so much for the prayers for the guys.

Kaylon was dismissed around noon today and Rick slept through the night and is feeling better today. Kaylon got a script for meds and was pounding the Pedialite along with Rick. I know that stuff works miracles!

They decided they would get a head start on home and after running them over to Mobile to pick up a one way car rental they were on the road about 5pm. We pray for safety as they travel and for the same tomorrow. We were very sad to see them go but also glad that they are feeling better. We just can't preach enough about the dehydration and how quickly it can happen.

Monty and I had our usual job runs to do this morning. We were pleased to be able to get Larry, Diane and Stephen back in to Barbara's. Larry "let it slip" that he lays tile and that was all we needed to hear. He was busy the entire day with the grouting and it is really looking good. Barbara came by to meet the crew and thank them for all they are doing. She also had a wonderful testimony! She has trouble in both of her knees and is looking forward to knee replacements. Until that time she gets injections but has had some difficulties with them due to a bad spur on one of her knees. When the NC team was here they specifically prayed for and over her knees. She just went back to the doctor for another injection and to the doctor's surprise (not Barbara's) the spur is gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another miracle from God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The rest of the Alabama team was once again busy in Julia's and Icy's homes. They wrapped up their work today because they will be leaving in the morning. Almost all of them though. No, no one is sick. Teresa has decided to answer the call from God and stay here for the next couple of weeks! She feels there is something here for her and wants to stay! We are thrilled beyond words and have more than enough to keep her busy. Her husband and family will return next weekend in time to help with the city wide Outreach that The Refuge is planning. We feel so blessed to have her here and to have them returning in a couple of weeks! Another miracle from God! (God sure has been busy down here with miracle working) :)

I want to take a personal minute and thank those of you from home who have sent cards and notes expressing your care and concern over my being sick last week. It means the world to me and I thank all of you. You have no idea just how much those things mean to me, they keep me, and us, going. I do feel back to full steam and have learned a very valuable lesson! I hear all of you and promise to take better care of myself!

I just want to thank the Indiana team from home once again. We absolutely loved having all of you here and want you to know just how deeply you touched our hearts! Being here, so far from home with family and friends is tougher than you can imagine and seeing familiar faces is like a life line for the both of us. We hope you all will come back and see us sometime and we will see all of you the end of next month.

Thanks to all of you who keep us going in the calling God has placed on our lives. We love you all and miss you deeply.

Until tomorrow....Susan and Monty

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Please, please pray!!!!

We have urgent prayer requests. Both of the men you see in this photo are now hospitalized here in town with dehydration and a virus. The past 24 hours have been busy!!

Last evening the younger one, Caylan, began feeling sick to his stomach. Once he started vomiting it was over and he was rushed to the local hospital around 11pm. Due to his fluctuating blood pressure they admitted him and even today are still trying to get things stabilized.

Rick, the other gentleman was the one who drove to the hospital and didn't get back here to the church until 4:30 am this morning. Caylon's mother and a friend, Bethany, stayed at the hospital and are still there tonight. Rick came back to get the rest of his team on the road home.
The team took their van and are hopefully home safe and sound, and healthy, by now. Rick decided to try and get some much needed sleep.

Immediately after lunch Rick was headed back to the hospital, courtesy of our van, and was planning on picking up the women, getting them all some lunch and possibly a shower and then returning them to the hospital. Plans changed.....drastically!

They did get the lunch and when immediately Rick began feeling sick to his stomach. They decided to return to the hospital and by the time they got there he himself went to the ER and
just got back here. They pumped him full of fluids and anti-nausea meds and he is sleeping as we speak and should sleep through the night.

Caylan is showing some improvement but still running a fever and they are trying to lower his blood pressure. He has not been out of bed yet and is still on liquids.

All of these people involved NEED your prayers! This virus is a tough one, one I myself know quite well. Their departure date is very up in the air and it's even tougher being sick so far from home. We just want to make sure they are all healthy and rested before they start the 14 hour trip home.

Please keep everyone in your prayers and we will keep you posted tomorrow as the the status of them both.

God bless all of you....and keep you healthy.....Susan and Monty

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Working on a Saturday!

Here is our Indiana team at opening devotion. I should have both Alabama and Indiana at devotions by tomorrow.

Today was just another work day in the week and it was equally awesome. The Alabama teams returned to Julia's and Icy's and worked away. Today they had decided to take a later lunch and make it a mid day break. During mid day is when the heat is extremely intense and they made a smart decision. They then returned to working and worked a bit later into the day.

At Julia's they are nearly complete with hanging the sheetrock and they also finished the painting of the one room and it is beautiful! Julia decided to exchange the door she purchased for one that was the exact size and it should be installed on Monday.

At Icy's they also continued with the sheetrock and scraping the existing ceiling textures and also got those ceilings painted. They will also continue on the same path of work on Monday.

Indiana worked until mid afternoon and then took time and toured the coast all the way to New Orleans. They continued in Mrs. Watson's home, Delores's home and then Rick went to the Spanish Village and Anita and family are now able to cook on their stove and use their air conditioner!!! Praise the Lord!

Monty loaded up sheetrock for a family this morning and the thanks they poured out was enough to once again bring me to tears. All they could talk about was how thankful they were for the volunteers and if it hadn't been for them they wouldn't be as far along as they are! (And they have a LONG way to go!) They were just amazed at being able to get the sheetrock they needed and wanted to know who to thank. We told them to thank God! Amen.

Sometimes it seems strange to me that Monty and I can work 15 to 17 hour days, run 6 and 7 days a week and get up each day and do it all over again. But the Lord tells us that if we follow His direction and His calling He will provide us with what we need to do the job! He doesn't lie! It's almost as if I can literally "feel" the refreshment in the night and I awake with enthusiasm to start all over. Each day is a new and different day and has a boatload of blessings just waiting for us to discover. I just can't put it into words, it's something you have to experience and the only way to do that is to follow the calling the Lord has placed on your life! And He has placed one, you just have to listen for His voice and obey! Sounds easy, doesn't it! But guess who is standing at your front door ready to convince you otherwise, yep, Satan himself! Just realize the promise God makes, He WILL make the pathway for us!

Someone asked me today how long we planned to be here doing this relief effort. The only answer I could answer was "as long as God plans for us to be here". For me to even think about having to return home, to go back to the normal "job" routine, knowing about everyone here that still needs so much help....I just don't think I could do it! I thank all of you for making it possible for us to do this! You are a blessing to us far more than you can realize, unless you have been here!

We pray each and every one of you will be in church tomorrow praising and thanking the Lord for all of your many blessings. He is truly worthy and we are truly blessed!

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

Working on a Saturday!

Here is our Indiana team at opening devotion. I should have both Alabama and Indiana at devotions by tomorrow.

Today was just another work day in the week and it was equally awesome. The Alabama teams returned to Julia's and Icy's and worked away. Today they had decided to take a later lunch and make it a mid day break. During mid day is when the heat is extremely intense and they made a smart decision. They then returned to working and worked a bit later into the day.

At Julia's they are nearly complete with hanging the sheetrock and they also finished the painting of the one room and it is beautiful! Julia decided to exchange the door she purchased for one that was the exact size and it should be installed on Monday.

At Icy's they also continued with the sheetrock and scraping the existing ceiling textures and also got those ceilings painted. They will also continue on the same path of work on Monday.

Indiana worked until mid afternoon and then took time and toured the coast all the way to New Orleans. They continued in Mrs. Watson's home, Delores's home and then Rick went to the Spanish Village and Anita and family are now able to cook on their stove and use their air conditioner!!! Praise the Lord!

Monty loaded up sheetrock for a family this morning and the thanks they poured out was enough to once again bring me to tears. All they could talk about was how thankful they were for the volunteers and if it hadn't been for them they wouldn't be as far along as they are! (And they have a LONG way to go!) They were just amazed at being able to get the sheetrock they needed and wanted to know who to thank. We told them to thank God! Amen.

Sometimes it seems strange to me that Monty and I can work 15 to 17 hour days, run 6 and 7 days a week and get up each day and do it all over again. But the Lord tells us that if we follow His direction and His calling He will provide us with what we need to do the job! He doesn't lie! It's almost as if I can literally "feel" the refreshment in the night and I awake with enthusiasm to start all over. Each day is a new and different day and has a boatload of blessings just waiting for us to discover. I just can't put it into words, it's something you have to experience and the only way to do that is to follow the calling the Lord has placed on your life! And He has placed one, you just have to listen for His voice and obey! Sounds easy, doesn't it! But guess who is standing at your front door ready to convince you otherwise, yep, Satan himself! Just realize the promise God makes, He WILL make the pathway for us!

Someone asked me today how long we planned to be here doing this relief effort. The only answer I could answer was "as long as God plans for us to be here". For me to even think about having to return home, to go back to the normal "job" routine, knowing about everyone here that still needs so much help....I just don't think I could do it! I thank all of you for making it possible for us to do this! You are a blessing to us far more than you can realize, unless you have been here!

We pray each and every one of you will be in church tomorrow praising and thanking the Lord for all of your many blessings. He is truly worthy and we are truly blessed!

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

Friday, July 21, 2006

Photo Night with Indiana & Alabama

Here is our day, in complete color, sweat and all! What a day it was! We had a record 7 jobs going on in one day and it was fantastic!

The first 2 photos are of our tilers, hot as they might have gotten they tiled away and made huge progress! Barbara made the 3 hour trip here to meet the gentleman and thank them for the work they are doing. She had them in tears, and they thought they were big tough guys! :) It's a God-thing! They even took time at the end of their day to go over to the Spanish Village and get started on getting power to one of the trailers! What a team!!!

The next 4 photos are of Pastor Watson's mother and father's house. The team was busy hanging sheetrock all day, once again in the intense heat! That really is sweat you see, not water that was poured on them. Stephen joined this team today and had the "fun" of working high and lifted up on the scaffolding to reach the peaks in the ceilings!

The next 4 are introducing you to Icy and Jerry's house. The team spent their day removing the kitchen cabinets, hanging sheetrock and painting the ceilings, only to find they needed to scrape the ceiling first! Go Girl Power!

The following 2 photos are at Julia and Oscar's house. This team of 3 tore out the remaining sheetrock in her laundry room, insulating it and rehanging sheetrock. Julia joined right in with them in painting her room a beautiful light yellow, the color that she said made her smile when she came into the room!

The final 4 photos are of Delores's and Tom's new "family". She can now use the new dryer the Colorado team bought for her, she needed electrical done and this team got it done! You can bet that Delores is washing and drying clothes this evening and hearing a new "music" in her ears! They also got her family room ceiling fan up, anything to make it a bit cooler!

As you can see, these 2 teams had an incredible day! Each person had a smile on their face, no matter how much sweat was combined with drywall dust, the joy of the Lord held fast in their hearts and nothing was about to take it from them! That joy carried into each one of the households they worked in and was clearly evident in the faces of the homeowners. Each of these volunteers has expanded their family and the same goes for the homeowners! Going around to each home, taking photos, it's such a joy and blessing to see the miracles happening each and every day! Every volunteer says the same thing, you have to be here to experience it!

So many of these volunteers already have plans to return. This is awesome!!!!! They have already spoken to their pastors at home and informed them that this relief effort if FAR from over and they want to come back! THIS is what it takes to rebuild lives!!! Committment, love, compasion and allowing God to work through each and every one of them!

We say a HUGE thank you to each of these team members, Indiana and Alabama equally!
We love you all and are humbled by your servant hearts! God had something special for each and every one of you here and I do believe you have found it! Praise be to God!!!!

Until tomorrow....which will be a full work day for all of us....Susan and Monty

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Working for the Lord

First note to Jack of NJ team coming = bring any and all hand tools you can fit into your trip space. If you can bring power tools, pack them. Most likely you will be hanging sheetrock someplace. You can never bring enough tools so use your judgement based on the space you have. We look forward to having you here.

What a day this was! Our hometown Indiana team awoke raring to go. We took time to evaluate all of the 4 jobs they would be involved in and allow them to take some time to divide themselves into groups, according to talents. It didn't take long and they were all ready!

One group returned to Delores's house and we were amazed to see all of the work she and her family had been doing while we were away! She welcomed them with open arms and the tears started when she heard one of them was the electrician she so desperately needed. By the end of the day she had been out and bought a brand new air mattress for the gentleman and his son who are helping her, she heard they were sleeping on the carpeting and thought they needed more! Another of those blessings being returned to the volunteers.

Another group returned to Barbara's house. They continue with the laying of the tile flooring and final wall work in the closets. Barbara will be coming to town tomorrow just to meet this team and tell them just how much she appreciates them. Sounds like another blessing to me!

A third team went back to Stephens's house where they got busy hanging doors and sanding walls. It seems they all really hit it off and felt like family in the first day on the job, coincidence? not on your life!

The fourth group went to Pastor Watson's mother's house. She lived about 2 blocks from the water and lost the entire house. This group was also busy hanging sheetrock and seemed to have a blast, working in the heat with no air condition even!!!! Isn't it awesome how God supplies the energy to do His work!

Earlier this evening we welcomed the Alabama team. They are 7 women and 3 men! Go girls! I always love to see women coming to help! I always tell them there isn't anything a man can do that a woman can't also do! It might take us 2 hands instead of one or a bit longer but we can accomplish anything we set our minds to! They are anxious to get started tomorrow. Part of them will be returning to Julia's house to tear out her laundry room and hang new sheetrock. They will also be replacing the damaged area in her upstairs bedroom. The rest of them will be starting a new house, the home of Icy and Jerri. They will also be hanging sheetrock.

Monty and I feel so blessed to have both of these teams here. Coming to southern Mississippi in mid July isn't my idea of a vacation but these people have taken time from their lives and their families to come here and do whatever it is that they need to do to help these residents rebuild their homes and their lives! You don't get much more of a God thing than that!

We were also blessed to have past volunteers, Don, Maryanne and daughter Kaity stop in and visit with us this afternoon. What a joy it is so have them return, and to talk about organizing more teams to come back and do more work! This family was such a blessing to both of us and every life they touched while they were here. Thank you guys and we will be keeping you in our prayers as you prepare for the new adventure God is planning for your lives!

By tomorrow I hope to have photos of all the things going on. We have 6 different projects going on at the same time and balancing all of them successfully can get tricky but we know God is in control and He will bless each and every family represented, both those needing the help and those receiving. Please keep all of them in your prayers.

Until tomorrow....count your blessings....and hug your family....Susan and Monty

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Meeting Day

Today was the kind of day that can refill you with renewed enthusiasm for not only what we are currently doing but for what is about to come! God is such an awesome God and always far exceeds what we think is the best that could happen.

We were blessed to attend a luncheon meeting this morning with a group of Assembly of God ministers at one of the local churches. The truck we unloaded last week was filled with furniture, and the gentleman responsible for that furniture came and spoke to us all today. It never ceases to amaze me how things start happening with God in control! This man, Pastor Steve, is from nearly 3,000 miles away, the state of Washington. He told how he wondered how he could be of help here, him being so far away. Never fail, God always has a plan. Through numerous connections and people he has managed to obtain literally hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of furniture that will be shipped here to the coast and we can further bless those who have lost so much! There are casinos, condos and who knows who all involved, that redecorate every so often and they have agreed to send their "old" furnishings to Katrina victims. To hear the enthusiasm, the joy and the hope in Pastor Steve's voice, to see it on his face, is to be renewed ourselves. We are about to embark on another completely new adventure in rebuilding lives! It is, and continues to be, such a blessing to be called by God into this mission! Be sure and stay tuned as the blessings will no doubt continue to pour out all over the coast. We are on the cutting edge of history and God is out in front paving the way!

After the meeting we went with the heads of Convoy of Hope, Fory and Cindi, to get their trailer loaded up with floor tile for a church south of New Orleans. The tile has been released by Bethel Assembly and we thank them for such a wonderful gift. I didn't think you could go 2 hours south of New Orleans but I was wrong, Katrina sure did so that means we can too!

As I write this we are awaiting the arrival of our team from our home town, Bloomington, Indiana. They should be getting close and we pray for their continued safety. They have had a very long day and are probably getting tired about now. Please keep them in your prayers this week as they continue to issue heat warnings for here, the temps and the humidity continue to climb daily! We thank The Life Church for sending us the volunteers we so desperately need.

Speaking of teams, this was a main focus at the meeting today. The teams have slowed considerably and without them we cannot get the work done. There is no way to state it other than as a fact. WE NEED YOU! We need volunteers to get a renewed sense of urgency to realize the devastation is still all around us. I realize that there is alot going on in the world right now, the Israel things and such. But THIS is here, in our backyards, and we need to continue to remember what is still happening here. Please, consider coming to help or mentioning it to others who might be able to come. Try mentioning it at your church and see if you could organize something. You'll never know until you try! Just remember that Jesus tells us that when we help others we are helping Him!

We thank you for supporting us with your prayers and thoughts. YOU are what makes this mission possible!

Tomorrow will prove to be an awesome day, new teams spreading out over 4 different jobs, new photos to be taken and more people to bless. Be sure and stay tuned, tell others about this blog so they can come along with us. Spread the word! God is love and love is pouring out all over the coast!

Until tomorrow....keep cool....and pray for all of us and the families we are helping!
Susan and Monty

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Good news day

WOW -- a day filled with good news.

First, our dear friends from home, Jeff and Karin are engaged! All I can say to both of you is "yeah, it's about time!" We love you both and are so glad God saw fit to bring the two of you together. Have a great time in Costa Rico! May God bless and keep you both!

Second, our new friends from North Carolina, the cooks "Don and Maryanne and daughter Kaity" are heading this way Thursday morning and might be stopping in to see us! We are really excited to see them. We pray blessings on their trip. Hey guys, just call us when you are close and we'll be sure and be here!

Monty, Diane and Stephen worked the entire day at Stephen's house. It looks as though Stephen just might have his room back to looking like a room again. Bless his heart as he and his parents work late into the night every night but it is paying off and things are improving day by day. He now has a door on his room and might just have paint on the walls tonight? We are anxious to get their house close to being done so Stephen can continue his volunteering in the homes of others for the rest of his college summer break.

I can't imagine what our teams would look like if one person from each home that has already been rebuilt would join us for a day or so, just to give back a small portion of what they received. Our teams would be bursting at the seams!

I went back to visit Julia this afternoon to see how she and her family are doing and see if they are ready for the next group of volunteers to come in Friday morning. Boy oh boy have they been busy! They managed to tear out all of the paneling and insulation in the kitchen and family room and take out the bar area in the kitchen! I left her with a list of things she needs to have to be ready for the next team and she was on her way! I think she was in a hurry because the central air in the house has quit working and she was a bit warm! :) She said to be sure and tell the "Sarge" hello! She has not been able to find Sarge's address so if you are reading this, please contact Julia and give her the contact info --- again!

They have actually been issuing heat warnings for here the past couple of days. About a week late for me but I understand them quite well now! I feel much better this evening and have been doing fine with solid foods. I just have no desire to return to the warehouse anytime soon!

As I mentioned last night, please keep our home church in your prayers as they leave early tomorrow morning for their mission trip to Costa Rico.

Also, a very special prayer request for Dane and his family. I spoke with him today and his contractors are behind schedule, as usual. But his wife's caretaker fell a couple of days ago and cut her head, requiring stitches. She also has not been able to recover from the disc injury to her back and will be undergoing back surgery tomorrow morning. Dane will be taking her to the hospital and as you can imagine, he is feeling a bit overwhelmed, again! Remember that his wife is totally bedridden with Alzheimers disease and requires full time care. This family has more than their share of burden, let alone the fact that he is trying to rebuild their home. Also remember that if you know of anyone who could come up with an elevator to donate for their home please comment at the end of the blog and let me know. If you remember, Dane's house was required to be elevated nearly 20' in the air after the hurricane, due to new flood codes in the city. Please keep this entire family in your prayers!

It's time for my evening to come to a close so until tomorrow.....we love you! Susan and Monty

Monday, July 17, 2006

Calm Monday

Okay, I did watch the Brad Pitt in New Orleans this morning and really thought he had some great points and was just about to be thrilled that we are back in the news when the news media did just what Brad asked them not to do ... they made it all about him! I was truly disappointed and can only hope that part 2 tomorrow morning will be more about the situation than him as a celebrity and new father.

Mondays are usually quite hectic as we are usually getting a new team on the road. But since our teams are not arriving until mid week today was very smooth. Monty was busy most of the day getting some much needed repair work done on our van. We were referred to a reputable mechanic who found a couple more things needing repair than we knew about. Fortunately he was able to repair them and not cost us both arms and a leg. God is amazing, even when it comes to mechanical things! :)

Diane and Stephen returned to Stephen's house to continue hanging drywall, priming and preparing to paint. They took a couple of detours to look at some flooring possiblities but no decisions as yet. They have plenty of time as the flooring will be the very last thing done. The house is really coming together, amazing what some real walls can do for a place! In another few days it should be ready to paint and then be in waiting for the cabinets to come in and be installed.

We heard from both of our incoming teams, Indiana and Alabama, and all is on schedule. They are all excited and ready to go and we are ready to welcome them. We did issue sort of a "warning" though....the heat here needs to be addressed and people need to plan accordingly. The fast and furious pace is not the pace we will be going. You all know I am speaking from first hand experience and do not want anyone to go through what I did. We will be slowing down just a bit but none the less accomplishing miracles! Please keep these teams in your prayers for safe travel and good health.

I would also ask for prayers for our home church, The Vineyard. A team of 10 will be leaving very early Wednesday morning for a mission trip to Costa Rico. For some of them, including the pastor's wife (Lisa) this will be their first trip and they are a bit on the nervous side! They, and we, would appreciate all the prayers you can send their way! We love you all and send our blessings along with you for a blessing filled trip!

Until tomorrow....God bless and protect each and every one of you....Susan and Monty
PS. To Don and MaryAnn ---- we hear you are heading this direction and would LOVE to see you if you have the chance to stop by!!! Love you both!!!!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Thank you Pedialite

Thanks to Pedialite, by the quarts, I think I am on the mend and have lived to learn a very valuable lesson! Thanks to all of you who have kept me in your prayers, I appreciate them more than you know.

Please allow me to be a week late in introducing the newest homeowners that we are working with. Welcome John, wife Brenda and their son Stephen, who is now our new all-summer volunteer. These photos show what someones home looks like when the water level was below the 4' line and they were only required to tear out their walls at the 48" mark. You have rooms with no walls, bedrooms with no separations for privacy and alot of attempting to match the sheetrock with what is already there. Mom Brenda has been scraping and scraping trying to get the upper walls prepared. Thanks to a blessing from our Camp Hope people we were able to provide the family with new doors, something they had been saving to do before the storm and thought that it would be impossible to do now.

Monty, Diane, Bobby and Stephen worked in their home all last week and the work will continue this week. The doors are ready to be installed and the taping and mudding of the walls is coming along fine, thanks to the work of the family, even throughout the weekend! You see, when you live in the home while the rebuilding is going on you are never away from it, it consumes your life and after over 10 months this family needs some joy and fun in their weekends, not rebuilding!

Our new incoming volunteers will start arriving this Wednesday night and this home will be one of the ones they will be working in. The Wednesday night team is one Monty and I are looking forward to hosting as they are from a church in our hometown. We pray blessings on them as they prepare for the trip and for safe travel here.

The next team this week will arrive Thursday and are coming from Alabama. It's not that far away yet they, like everyone else, take time from their own lives to come and help others. The heart of a servant is an amazing thing!

On this mornings news they were talking about the Today Show that will air tomorrow morning. It seems Brad Pitt made a trip to New Orleans and is appalled at the way nothing has been done to date! Maybe it will take the celebrities to get on board to raise the awareness levels and spur some people into reality! Atleast with the celebraties we are assured it will be back in the news, and that's a start! Oprah is also planning another show about Katrina and like I said, atleast it will bring it back into the news and people will see the reality, the devastation, the loss of life and lives!

This weekend we had another meeting with our Convoy of Hope leaders, Fory and Cindi. They paid us a visit and I was telling them how we have been getting requests for help in Slidell, Louisianna. When I asked about a relief effort there they told me to call a Baptist church there as there just aren't enough relief efforts set up there to date! You cannot set up relief efforts when you have no building to house them in, no way to feed them, no way to get water to them, no place for them to get gasoline, no place for them to use the bathrooms.... you get the picture! And people are calling us! The one call is for a 90 year old widow woman whose house hasn't even been torn out yet! Now I know you aren't here and maybe you haven't seen the photos, but you can imagine in your mind what it would look like if your home flooded and you didn't touch it for over 10 months, black mold would be .... well.... picture it for yourself and then ask yourself just where would you start....and what if you were 90 years old? Get the picture? Could you turn your head and say, "sorry, we don't have anyone to help you!"

Please take these thought to prayer and find a way you can help in this effort. There IS a way, you just need to see what works best for you. If you can, watch the news tomorrow. I don't know what it will tell or show, but it will tell and show something!!! Please.....we beg you....pray for the people here, for us and for a way that you can become an active part in the rebuilding of lives. God bless you!

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

Friday, July 14, 2006

Really Sick

My apologies to everyone for being away from the blog for so many days. I have been really, really sick and just couldn't do it.

These 2 photos explain what started it all. This semi truck came in, loaded all different kinds of materials donated to our rebuilding efforts. It was an awesome donation and will be one that will bless the lives of so many people. BUT, we were unloading for over 5 hours inside of a warehouse. Most of the unloadind had to be done by hand and the temps outside were nearing 100 so you can imagine just how hot it was inside the warehouse and the truck trailer! I doubt if you really can imagine unless you were there but we estimate between 125 and 150 degrees. No amount of water could be kept inside your body. I am not a big person and every drop I had was gone. By the time we were done I was already sick to my stomach and knew I might be in trouble. Right I was!

By that evening I could barely make it and food was the last thing I wanted. By Wednesday afternoon I was in trouble. We ended up in the ER at the local hospital and they pumped me with IV fluids, after 4 tries!

Yesterday proved to be no better, actually worse. We returned to the ER and after xrays, blood work, more fluids and meds to stop the fluids from "leaving" from both ends I think I just might live today. It seems I also contracted a virus on top of heat exhaustion! Not a good combo at all~ Tomorrow could be a big day --- I just might be able to handle Jello!

So I am sorry I have not been blogging but should be back from today on.

We did say goodbye to Bobby from Virginia this morning and pray his next 2 days of traveling home will be safe. Tomorrow I will have photos of where he, Diane, Monty and Stephen have been working all week.

Thank all of you who called to say you were praying for me. You don't know how much it means!

Love to all and until tomorrow.....Susan and Monty

Monday, July 10, 2006


Our team of 3 were quite busy today! Mondays are always the day when everyone is busy "getting their feet wet" and adjusting to the new job they are beginning.

Today they were working in John and Brenda's home. Their son, Steven, joined us for devotions this morning and will be working with us not only in his parents home but for the entire summer, until it is time to return to college. We hear he carries a 4.0 grade average so it looks like we have a smart one along for the summer!

As I said the other day, John and Brenda only had to tear out their sheetrock 48" up and today was filled with recutting new sheetrock, installing the insulation and trying as best as possible to match the new sheetrock with the old. This can be a really tough job because you are leaving a seam nearly at eye level and the margin for error becomes much smaller. Monty worked with them all day and everyone was adjusting to what needed to be done and how it was going to get done. They did get started with the taping and mudding in one of the bedrooms and are working at a good pace. Both John and Brenda are right in there helping and that makes a world of difference having the homeowner on site helping.

Steven was telling us this morning that in one of the homes in their subdivision 5 people died in the flooding. They are next to a bayou and thus the reason they flooded so far from the bay waters. There are still homes in this neighborhood with the FEMA blue tarps on the roofs awaiting insurance claims!

The news this evening had a special report on the insurance here in this area. These people were not in a flood plain prior to the storm. The insurance companies have covered the damages to their roofs but say the rest is due to flood waters and they have no coverage for that. The flooding was caused by the hurricane but the adjusters don't seem to look at it that way so there are thousands of people who are just plain out of luck, not to mention out of money! The news had no resolution, just stated the facts and interviewed an insurance adjuster who held fast to the original ruling. He said to change things at this stage in the game would be a nightmare. Wonder what he thinks the people are living through right now!??

We received a surprise in the mail today. Some of our worship team at our home church got together and wrote songs and made a CD. They decided to do this for us and for a couple who are doing missions in Guatamala. The proceeds from the sales will be divided between us and them! We are so humbled that they would do this for us and are so thankful that they did! We received a copy in the mail today and it is AWESOME!!!! We want to say thank you to all of those involved and ask God to send special blessings to them for their unselfish service. We love you guys!!

I want to also offer a very special thank you to 3 women from North Carolina. One of them came here to volunteer with the group a couple of weeks ago. Andrea C. went home and stirred the hearts of some of her friends and I just want to send a heartfelt thank you to each of you, Andrea, Pamela and Brooke----your gift was awesome and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Come see us sometime!

Today I talked with yet another couple requesting help. She just had surgery for cancer and he is completely disabled. They only received insurance funds for the damage to their roof but are reapplying hoping something will change. In the meantime they have both been so sick they can't even get the furniture and small belongings out of their home in order to make room for us to come in and start the rebuilding. Monty and I will be going to look at their home later this week and see if we can get some volunteers there to help them pack and move some things. THIS is where the women volunteers are such a blessing. For all of you women who think you can't do construction so there is no need for you to come, think again! This kind of need is all around us and women are wonderful for just this kind of need! Not to mention ministering to both of these people in such a time of need!

We thank all of you for reading our journal and keeping up with what is happening here on the coast. YOU are the ones who realize this relief effort is NOT over and these people still need our help in a desperate way! Please keep them in your prayers!

Until tomorrow...which begins with a Convoy of Hope delivery first thing in the morning...stay tuned to see what is in the delivery....we love you all.....Susan and Monty

Sunday, July 09, 2006

What a message

Today was one of those "profound" days, atleast for me anyway.

You know how sometimes you can almost hear the audible voice of God in your ear, and it's not so silent! In church this morning that is just what I heard.

Church was awesome! It was both baptism and communion, profound enough in themselves. But the message from Pastor Rick really struck a cord with me and has been with me the entire day.

He spoke on the 7 steps to a peaceful life; wouldn't we all love that kind of life, the sometimes seemingly unattainable! I want to run through each one in short version as it is my prayer that someone out there will be touched as much as I was. All of it is based on Romans 12:16-21

1. live in harmony with others
he challenged us to go after resolution aggressively! Kind of like a pitbull on a porkchop - he will not let go! Don't walk away without resolution, no matter how long it takes.

2. be humble
our pride causes our ears to stop listening. We have to stoop low to rise above. God promises that we will be exaulted.

3. be positive
we all know it is way too easy to see the negative in someone else, to focus on what they don't do rather than on what they do do. We are to encourage each other and focus on their strengths.

4. be peaceable
we should "cut the crap" (pardon the language) and get to solving the problem. Don't wait for the other person to make the move, it depends on us! The Bible says "blessed are the peacemakers..."

5. be forgiving
let the other person, the one who hurt us, know that they owe us nothing, they are forgiven. After all, didn't Jesus forgive us from things that we have done that are much worse?

6. be aggravating
(this took some definition for me)
the old saying "kill them with kindness" really does work. Bake a cake for the person who hurt you and see what happens, you'll be surprised.

7. be strong
overcome evil with good, now that takes strength. Be determined to live in harmony with others, no matter what it costs us!

Psalm 133 says the Lord commands His blessings to those who live in harmony with others. I don't know about you but I sure would enjoy the Lord's blessings in my life!

The greatest annointing comes to us when we are at our lowest level. We should all be fighting for the lowest position, the one of the lowest service, rather than our usual climbing the ladder to the top.

This entire lesson really hit home with me and I pray it does the same for some of you. Living in harmony with others sounds all easy but think about it --- it's one of the toughest things we do and we are challenged by it numerous times each day. It's not easy to be kind to the person who hurt us so deeply, it's not easy to overlook those seemingly little annoyances from our spouse, especially when we must overlook them day after day after day. But let's all try to focus on the positive things in each other, the good things. We may have to look a bit deeper in some people or on some days but let's atleast make a vow to ourselves that we will try!!! That's half the battle right there!

By mid afternoon our volunteer who drove all the way from Virginia by himself arrived for his week of working with us. It took him 2 days and a wrong turn landing him someplace called Pineapple, Alabama but he made it! We look forward to having him with us this week. He, Diane and Steven will be a team for the week and tomorrow we will begin a new house, Steven's house. Steven wants to volunteer with us for the summer while he is off of college and we thought starting at his and his mother's house would be awesome. They will be putting insulation in the walls and hanging sheetrock. Steven and his mother were some of the more fortunate ones, they only had to tear out their sheetrock on the bottom half of all the walls. Now will come the challenge of matching the new with the old. With any luck they should be able to complete the hanging, finishing and hopefully the priming and painting this week. Keep them in your prayers.

I thank you for coming along on this journey with Monty and I. We are so blessed to be working in this relief effort and even more blessed to have you keeping us in your prayers. Be sure and stay tuned as this will, no doubt, be a blessed week with many surprises. Every week is!!

Until to all....Susan and Monty

PS. Thanks Stacy, it was nice talking to you today! I love you!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Free indeed


Our Saturday morning started with an "emergency" voice mail from Ms. Alma Sue, again! The only thing we got was that her front door would not close, it was off the hinges and she lived where frogs, lizards and snakes would come in. Diane hopped in with us and away we went to see what the problem really was. Ms. Alma wasn't kidding when she said it was off the hinges AND that critters would come in. As the real story came out she told us she had "run into" the door with her electric wheelchair cart this morning. As for the critters, the fiddler crabs were having their own party, inside her house! She lives near a bayou and the little things have no problem navigating their way up to and inside of her house. They are quick little creatures who aren't happy when someone like me comes along side of them and tries to get them to run out of the house! One in particular stood up on his back legs and snapped his little claws at me(as if that would help?). We got her door back on it's hinges and with the 4" nails Monty used I doubt if she will be able to knock it off again! It is truly a sad case as she is unable to drive due to cataracts and is so very lonely living alone. She asked us today if we knew of anyone who would come and share her house with her as she has an extra bedroom. If only we did!

This afternoon was quite a treat for us. We had the pleasure of meeting Jim, the gentleman who orchestrates a fantastic relief effort sort of behind the scenes for us. His efforts make it possible for us to do some of the things we do and we are so thankful for the opportunity to finally meet him. He brought along his daughter and sister. His sister, Jean lived in Bay St. Louis and she and her husband lost everything, including their house. They had absolutely nothing to come home to. They went to a hotel 2 miles inland, thinking they would be perfectly safe as no storm had ever come inland that far. Wrong! They ended up stranded in their second floor room for the next 5 days with no food or water or power. Jean was telling us that the water surge was over 30 foot high and the wave itself was over 15 foot high, combined with winds of over 140 mph thus the reason they lost everything! It was so interesting to hear her speak of what happened then and what has been happening ever since. She praised the Lord for His hand in everything, taking what surely the devil meant for harm and has turned it into blessings. She praised the volunteers for everything they have done and continue to do. She affirmed what we have been saying for a long time, this will take years to rebuild and that no government is set up to handle this type of disaster - and that it's about time people stepped up and did what God has called us to do, help others! She also made a statement that I found profound --- she said that when she realized that every single thing they had, including their house, was gone - she felt a sense of "freedom"! She felt free of the "things" that everyone feels they must have, especially in our society today. We all are pressured into thinking we must have the lastest, greatest and newest "thing" out there; that what we do have isn't good enough or we have to have more and more and more until the definition between need and want is gone. I just found that thought, of freedom, to be wonderful! It is one I will be thinking about for quite some time! I hope it will provoke some thought in you also....want verses need....we really do need so little!

We enjoyed a wonderful lunch, thank you Jean, and then returned to the church here so they could all see how the relief operation runs from this location. Time just seemed to fly by and before you know it hours had passed and they needed to head on down the road.

Jean and her husband have since moved and purchased a house in Pass Christian, very close by her brother and his family. He (John) had alot of damage to their home but are in the process of rebuilding and getting close to completion. Jean and her husband are beginning to feel "at home" again and she wanted to know if there was anything she could do for us?! God bless her heart! Monty and I will be making a trip to visit them as soon as time allows and realize that our family just grew ---- again! God and His relationships ---- isn't He awesome!!!

We want to thank Jim and Camp Hope for the help they are sending to the coast. It takes all kinds of relief efforts to do this rebuilding of homes and lives and Camp Hope is making that alot more possible for us --- THANK YOU to all of you! God will reward your giving hearts!

Tomorrow is our opportunity to attend our church and thank and praise the Lord for all He has done for all of us. It is our prayer that you have a home church and will be there tomorrow. If you do not have one, find one! Find one NOW! God has big plans for all of us, one of the most important is to be in relationship with Him and with other Christians. Don't miss out on what He has planned for you and yours!

Until tomorrow ... we thank God for calling us into this relief effort and we thank you for keeping us in your prayers. Susan and Monty

Friday, July 07, 2006

It didn't rain!

I found myself missing them today, Kim and Elmer. It's at the end of a week where I usually get tired and that is when I miss family and friends.

After all of the rain over the past couple of days it finally stopped today and allowed me to catch up with laundry. It piles up quickly when everything is wet and we have no room in the trailer for anything to pile up! :)

We wrapped up most of the organizing and it looks sooooo much better than what it did and you can really find something when you need it. And we have everything in "dry" areas. This church is in what used to be a grocery store and the roof has "special" places where the water pours in. We know where to place the buckets but over the past couple of days we had to add a couple more. Placing things strategically is a must if you want to keep it. Just entering and exiting the backdoor takes athleticism. There is no guttering over the door and the roof is flat so "when it rains it pours" takes on a whole new meaning and one can be showered to the bone in a matter of seconds!

I want to send out a special thank you this evening. This goes to Steve and Carol, the couple who ran the relief effort up until the end of May when they went back home to Wisconsin and Monty and I relocated here. They sent us a wonderful card and note today and I just want them to know how much they touched my heart! We love you guys and miss you something awful but also know you are moving on to whatever God has in store for you! Lady Di also sends her love and thanks!

Tomorrow we start preparations for our next volunteers. It's just another work day for us. It is amazing to me how the days have no names and the weeks just seem to fly by!

Have a safe and wonderful weekend. Spend some time with your families, love on them and use tomorrow to prepare for church on Sunday morning. Praise and thank the Lord for your life!

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