Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
I have a very special prayer request for Monty. He is very!!! sick with what appears to be the flu. He has been running a fever and really feeling bad. He also is so looking forward to my parents arriving on Wednesday evening so we could REALLY use the prayers for healing.
Today was one of those days where satan was really active and on my back all day long! He has a tendency to do just that but today he was coming on a bit stronger than usual!! Tomorrow is a new day and God always wins!!
Tony, Shirley and Diane took the day and headed to New Orleans to check out a relief effort there in the 9th ward. It was Tony's first visit and I think he was speechless! When you see the degree of the devastation it does take your breath - and speech -- away! He took plenty of pictures which they will be able to share when they head back north to the land of the snow!
As I said, be sure and stay tuned this week. I will be getting some photos of the accident the Illinios team was involved in on their trip home. George will be emailing photos to me and has said it was the closest near death experience they have had! Once again -- God always wins!!
Until tomorrow .... God bless. Susan and Monty
Sunday, January 28, 2007
With nowhere to go they ran towards the right side of the road, off the road. The semi headed for the median. The speeding truck knicked the semi trailer and continued on into the median until he came to a stop. Needless to say, the driver was drunk!
The morning before our team left we prayed for protection for them as they traveled home. We also told them (from experience) that God has something very special for them in return for their service here. And whenever God has a great blessing for them it makes the devil more than a bit angry. We told them to be prepared for the attack from satan as it might come in a form they least expect it! Like I said, we have experience in this and try and "warn" each team. God must have something REALLY special for this team as satan DID try and stop them. The hand of God always wins and He was protecting them from bumper to bumper and top to bottom!
We're just so happy that everyone is okay and home with their families safe and sound! God bless all of you!
As for prayers, I would ask for prayer for Monty. It seems he has caught some sort of virus and is "down for the count". He didn't feel very well yesterday and today was worse. Like I said, satan on the prowl!
Our incoming team from Bedford, Indiana will be leaving in the morning and we pray for their safe travel. They have about a 14 hour drive so please remember them in your prayers also.
Another note; tomorrow Mike will be getting all the results from all the tests and will be meeting with the doctor to get a plan for trying to save his leg. Please remember them in your prayers also. Mike Jr. was with Faye in church this morning, Mike Sr. was in too much pain. Mike Jr. will be joining the team from Ohio tomorrow to help in getting the house torn down -- by hand! It was good to see him back home and we plan on working him -- and watching him receive the blessings the Lord has for him!
Until tomorrow .... God's blessings. Susan and Monty
Saturday, January 27, 2007
There they are, the Illinois and Wisconsin team together yesterday morning after our devotions.
Illinois left around 4:ooam and hopefully are safe and sound back with their families as I write this. It was just such an amazing week and we hope this team will make a return trip as soon as possible.
We awoke to rain showers again this morning. They continued throughout the day but Diane and I didn't seem to notice them while we were at the Mardi Gras parade in Ocean Springs. We managed to balance our umbrellas AND get more beads than you can possibly imagine! Diane counted hers and has 104! Mine are still in a clump waiting to be sorted through. It was fun seeing all the people decorated and all the colorful floats, even with the rain. Mardi Gras is something I have never experienced and from what I have seen already it is quite a big deal! The kids sure were enjoying the parade!
This evening Monty, myself and Diane all went to the apartment where Tony and Shirley are staying while they are here volunteering. The complex was nearly destroyed by the storm but is back together now. The only thing is that there are no tennants! With hundreds of units in this complex Tony and Shirley are the only ones there! It's a beautiful place located on the water. Shirley cooked a fabulous home-cooked (and healthy) meal for us, such a wonderful change of pace from what we are used to. We even played a few games of Scrabble where Tony found that there is no such thing as beginners luck! It was such a nice evening spent with friends who will be friends for life! Who knows, we just might get Monty to go farther north than Indianapolis and make a trip to Wisconsin to visit them!!?? I think the fishing possibilities just might be the key to get him there!
We pray that all of you are doing well and will find yourselves in church tomorrow giving thanks for your many blessings.
I had a special blessing this evening! My son, Ryan, called me to say he and his girlfriend of 8 years are getting married this spring!!!! I am so happy for them and only wish we could be there for the wedding. They don't want a ceremony and are having a small private wedding. I have always thought of Dedra as another one of my daughters and now it will be "official".
Blessings to all and until tomorrow .... Susan and Monty
Friday, January 26, 2007
Yes, today was the beginning ---- the de-construction of Mike and Faye's house! The photos tell the story.
Our General Contractor, Joe flew in town today (I think he came in without a plane!!) and the day was a God-day all the way! You can see Joe with Mike and Faye in their FEMA home at the top. The other group photo is taken on the porch of their old home.
We gathered both the Wisconsin and part of the Illinois team to get things started. The sun was shining, the temps were great and they were ready! The rafters, then the walls and finally the flooring all came down and out and stacked for salvage for the rebuild. They were up on the roof, pushing over walls and down under the flooring getting the job done. Their patio is now stacked with all sizes of lumber to be used in the rebuilding process.
Mike and Faye came by after he finished with even more testing at the hospital. He will return again on Monday for the results of all the tests and to see if they can try the surgery to connect some veins for circulation. But for this afternoon he was happy, he was smiling and he was blessed! We pulled up a chair for him and he watched in amazement. The neighbors who have been so wonderful at watching over the house while it's been empty started pouring in. This couple has been missed by all of them. We all started talking about the "speed build" which is coming about and they all had something they could do to help. One neighbor says he will get his grill fired up and do some cooking for everyone! It was just awesome to see the love flowing from this home all up and down the street once again!
Joe has his house plans all ready, 2 bedrooms with a master bath off the master bedroom and the laundry room built right into the master bedroom. There will be a second bedroom, a half bath, a family room and large kitchen. They will have a deck on the front where they can once again sit on and meet and greet and visit with all their friends, family and neighbors. There will be french doors off of their bedroom to open to their already existing patio. There will be a handicapped ramp off the side of the house. It's a basic, open style home with about 960 square feet of blessed living space!
Joe and Monty worked on checking all the required elevation levels on the property. They have the "master plan" ready to be put in place. Our Convoy leader, Fory, came by for a visit and I think I saw some excitement coming from him also! It's hard not to get excited! All you have to do is step foot on the property and it's contagious!
The Illinois team presented Mike and Faye with a special gift, a Bible that all of them signed. They also presented them with a devotional booklet and will continue a subscription to them. The tears were flowing when all that happened! If you weren't fighting back the tears I would be worried about you!
We had a few minutes this evening to stop in at Mike and Faye's FEMA home and take a few photos. They and Joe had never met so this was special time for all. He plans another trip sometime next month, to keep things on schedule, and hopefully will bring his wife along with him then.
It was such an incredible day! The other part of the Illinois team worked on finishing the floor preparations in Dane's house, cleaned it up and made it look incredible! They worked so hard and my only hope is that they will be able to stand upright once again when they get home! :)
There was a "downer" to the day, as usual. We are sorry to say that one of the financing attempts we have out there returned empty today. This will not get us down. God always steps in with another plan and He did just that. From nowhere another possibility, a near certainity, popped up and I will be pursuing that come Monday morning. I would ask that your prayers go out -- asking that what we need will be provided when we need it. We know God has annointed this build and REFUSE to let satan and his little demons do anything to dampen our spirits! Your prayers will reinforce that!
Both our teams are spending a wonderful evening at the home of one of our church members, Jamie and Cindy's. Jamie cooks up a big pot of his special down home gumbo, complete with all the fixins, and they are still there as I write this! It's such an added blessing to be invited into the home of someone, to be made to feel so comfortable and to just have a time of sharing and fun. We are so thankful to Jamie and Cindy as they try and do this with each team we have!
Very early tomorrow morning our Illinois team will be heading home. Our prayers for safe travel will be going with them. They have been such an outstanding team and we will truly miss each and every one of them! It is our prayer that they will all return SOON!!
Until then..... God's blessings to each of you! Susan and Monty
Everyone enjoyed seeing the sunshine and feeling the warmer temps today. The bottom 2 photos show Tony and Shirley hard at it --- taking advantage of the weather to get some last minute painting done at Willie's house. Tony is working on the furnace vent cover and Shirley is painting the shelving for his bath closet. Notice the 2 men from Illinois who are also "enjoying" the sunshine! They are the electrician and plumber who came to Willie's today to work out some issues. Willie now has his toilets and vanities hooked up properly and the electrical problem in the kitchen corrected. Once again it was a fantastic team effort and Willie's house is now complete. All he needs is the carpeting he has chosen for the bedrooms and his kitchen cabinets. He was a very happy man today!!
The rest of the Illinois team continued the work on their hands and knees preparing Dane's floors for his ceramic tile. And today they got done!!! None too soon for certain ones! Rafe's brother from Alabama returned to help again today! I think he's really enjoying himself! You can also see from the photos what it takes to prepare the outside of Dane's house for caulking and painting! Getting the ladder set over top of the stairs and up that high is quite a feat! But once again they rose to the challenge and got it done! Both the Wisconsin team and the Illinois team will be working together tomorrow, enjoying the sunshine and warm temps and painting the outside of Dane's house. It's our last push to get him as done as we can also.
We are really looking forward to our West Virginia contractor, Joe, flying in tomorrow to do some preliminary work for the rebuild of Mike and Faye's house. He will only be here for the day and there is alot of work to go over. It will be an awesome and productive day! God will see to it!
Monty and I attended our class to become licensed missionaries again this evening. Each Thursday night we drive to Mobile, Alabama. It only takes an hour and the classes are so incredible. We had a guest speaker this evening who spoke on having the heart of God. Really "food for thought". We will be attending the classes throughout the month of June with graduation at the end of June. God is truly preparing us for the next step in our walk with Him.
Until tomorrow .... Blessings, Susan and Monty
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Yes, last night I had "blogger error" show up at the end and was unable to publish anything. The blogger "monster" ate the whole thing! VERY aggravating!!
Our teams bundled up and went to work again today. The top 4 photos show the Wisconsin 3 -- plus Monty -- working away at finishing Willie's home. The base trim is all done and painted, the walls are painted, the doors are hung and only a few finishing touches remain. As you can see by the photos they are hard at work, and having fun! The joy of the Lord! You can also see by Diane's photo that there is an electrical "issue" that will be taken care of by our Illinois electrician tomorrow! :)
Speaking of the Illinois team, you can see the posture most of them had the entire day! They are spreading the glue to hold the flooring that will hold the ceramic tile Dane plans to install. Quite a messy and "hard on the ole' body" job. There was an added member to the team today! Rafe's brother from Alabama came over and joined the team. What an awesome act of kindness and service to the Lord! We also were told that this team plans on making monthly --- yes, every month --- trips to help us here on the coast! Now there are some obedient servants and people with hearts of compassion and giving! We are thrilled and look forward to making sure they enjoy each and every trip. Thanks Rockford, Illinois!
Today we received another extension and blessing in this rebuilding effort. Dave, the pastor of Church of Christ, has taken things to another level. He has managed to provide cabinets to anyone who needs them! He actually purchased a distributorship and will be able to provide them at an awesome savings! I already have quite a few homes in mind and will be going to check out things more tomorrow! Thanks Dave, you are awesome. Dave was telling me today that their effort has completely rebuilt 300 homes and assisted in the rebuilding of 6,000. And he has no intention of stopping! Blessings to you and your efforts!!
I must admit to you that I am getting really excited --- my parents are coming to visit us one week from today!!!! When you are so very far away from home like we are it can be painful at times. Both our families are back in Indiana and to have my Mom and Dad take time and come and see how things are here and what is happening is awesome! They will also be here for the Super Bowl and my Mom says she already has Colts shirts for us!!! GO MOM!!!!
For an update on Mike --- he had both of his heart stress tests today and also the leg vein mapping. He is to see the doctor on Friday and get the results on Monday. These results will let us know whether his heart can withstand the surgery to try and get some circulation into his leg. I would ask for added prayers this evening as when I visited with them today he was in extreme pain-- and I mean extreme! The pain medication wasn't working and he was in misery. Faye was going to call the doctor and let her know. She said he didn't sleep last night and if he remains in this pain he probably will not sleep again tonight. With tomorrow being his dialysis day he really needs to be able to get some sleep. I was able to take over the new house sketches for them to see and that brought a smile to Mike's face! Thanks, Joe!
We thank all of you for your continued prayers. You just have no idea how much they mean to us and everyone on the Gulf Coast!
Until tomorrow .... Blessings, Susan and Monty
Monday, January 22, 2007
Yes, I have come to realize that it doesn't "shower" here like we are used to in the midwest. The only term is "downpour", and that's what it did ALL night long! When you live in a metal trailer you know when every drop falls!
The above photos show our teams all in action today. The top 4 are the Illinois team. They were all in Dane's house for the day. They were putting up door casing, tackling some of the electrical and preparing floors for ceramic tile. The one photo that looks so cloudy, it's not the camera lens, it's the atmosphere in the room when sanding the floors smooth for the tile!!! They also realized the added task of needing to carry every single thing up the long flight of stairs to get in to the house! Ceramic tile is not lightweight either. They all "rose" to the challenge and had a great day. Most of them will be returning to Dane's again tomorrow; all but the plumber in the bunch. He and one more will be going to Rosemary's to do some bathroom and kitchen work.
That brings us to the next 4 photos, the Wisconsin team in action. They were working at Rosemary's house with her brother, Maury. He has taken the week off work to help any team members who come to help. This team did a major cleanup in the house! And I do mean major! The electrician can now get to the areas he needs to finish up and then finish the couple of structural things. Our goal is to bring in our Indiana team next week to do the insulation and sheetrock. Maury promises to have the materials we need on site by that time. To update you on some prayers needed -- Rosemary's mother is hospitalized in Alabama with pneumonia. Now if you remember she has COPD, a terminal lung disease, so getting pneumonia on top of this is quite severe. So all this work is being done with Rosemary needing to stay with her mother. Hopefully she will be pleasantly surprised when she sees all of the progress made.
It's so awesome to see the teams back with us and getting so much accomplished. We missed them during the holidays. It also sounds like our Iowa team is making progress in their return plans.
Monty and I spent our morning do some more PR work in getting the word out about all the blessings the volunteers have spread across the coast. We were guests on the local television show and then went across the street and did a radio talk show. It was awesome! The host was the same for both, a very strong Christian which meant he understood our heart and the hearts of the volunteers. He asked us to come back and do the radio show every Monday. The show is designed to be positive and filled with hope. It was just that! We plan to return each week and hopefully bring a volunteer with us at times so they can share their own stories of blessings and thus bring even more hope to the coast.
We made some more strides forward with Mike and Faye's home. We had a plumbing company volunteer their time to get things unhooked and turned off at their old home before the deconstruction begins Monday. It's a combination of everyone and their special gifts -- all coming together to make this work! Be sure and stay tuned as I know you won't want to miss a thing!
As for Mike's doctor appointment today --- the test results showed no blood flow to his leg. The doctor would like to do surgery to attempt to make some connections with his veins and get some blood flow going but they must first make sure his heart can withstand the surgery. So -- tomorrow immediately following his 4 hours of kidney dialysis he will report to his heart specialist for some further testing. It is our prayer that the report will be a good one and the doctors can do this surgery and help Mike to keep his leg. We know you will all join with us in this prayer.
Until tomorrow ..... GO COLTS!!! Susan and Monty
Sunday, January 21, 2007
It was exciting to watch and like I said, makes us wish for the celebrations that are no doubt going on at home. I called my son in law (a HUGE Colts fan) and he said he nearly called 911 in the last few minutes of the game! I couldn't even get through to my sone (also a HUGE fan) as the lines were too busy!
Now, back to the south! Once again I ask for prayers for Mike and Faye. He has his appointment with the surgeon tomorrow in regard to his leg. They were at church this morning but it took all he had just to get there. He had been up sick all night with vomiting so we need some additional prayers going their way!
Joe, from West Virginia, who is going to head up the construction of their new home sent the blueprints yesterday. It's a wide open floor plan and just the modest size they need. All will be ADA handicapped accessible which also gives the feeling of wide open spaces. Mike and Faye will have something they have never had --- their own bathroom off of their bedroom! Just thinking about it brings a much needed smile to their faces and takes their minds off all the medical "stuff" for a few minutes.
Our team from Rockford, Illinois arrived very late last night, or early this morning. It was nearly 1:00 am when they "checked in" and looked a bit tired this morning. They were joined by some of their family today, a real treat for them. This evening they are sleeping away getting prepared for tomorrow. They will be working at Dane's with hanging doors, trimming out areas and preparing the floors for the ceramic tile which will hopefully be going down later in the week. We also hope to get some more painting done, as long as it stops raining and creates some better drying weather.
Our Wisconsin 3 will be going to Rosemary's to hopefully get some of her inside furnishings outside in her storage unit. The electrician has a couple more lights to prepare and is unable to reach them due to too many items stacked in the middle of the rooms. Her brother is coming to help which is nice because this brings another family member into the pool of blessing. Our goal is to have the electrician finish in the next couple of days, get the final inspection, her brother get the insulation and ceiling sheetrock to the house and we will be ready to start with both next Tuesday morning with our Indiana teams arrival. But as we well know, plans are always subject to change at the last minute with no notice. Flexibility is the key! As someone quoted, "blessed are the flexible for they shall bend and not be broken". Amen to that!
We are also happy to know that our Bettendorf, Iowa team is making plans to return the middle of April! It's always so great to have teams return to work with us. It's like having family back!
We thank all of the teams who have been here and those who are scheduled to come. Without you this effort would not be. YOU are the keys. YOU are the hope. YOU are the rebuilders. YOU are the hands, feet and heart of God. YOU ARE THE EFFORT!
Until tomorrow ..... Susan and Monty
Saturday, January 20, 2007
All of those are ministry. But there is another kind.
Today was a day of the other kind. Monty spent most of the day with Dane. Yes, it's a Saturday and we are awaiting the arrival of our team from Illinois and he could have taken the "day off" but he made the choice to go and check on Dane. You all know the story of Dane, his wife dying of Alheimers Disease, him working full time and spending every minute when he isn't on the clock trying to get his house put back together. His house is the one that had to be raised nearly 10 feet in the air due to the new flood plain. Spending time with Dane, talking with him, letting him talk, letting him cry, allowing him to release alot of the emotion in his life, being there for him, caring enough to come over on a Saturday, just plain "loving on him" is the kind of ministry that I personally feel is more difficult than preaching to a crowd of people. THIS is one on one ministry, a bit scarey as you are opening yourself up to who knows what. But THIS is the kind of ministry that is desperately needed all along the Gulf Coast. EVERYONE is hurting, everyone is emotional, everyone wants someone to listen to their story of the storm, of their life, and everyone needs someone to just care enough to be here!
THIS is the kind of ministry God has lead us into. THIS is the core of the disaster relief effort. THIS doesn't take "skilled" people, it just takes people who have a heart, who know what Jesus has done for them and are obedient to turn around and do the best they can to be like Jesus to someone else.
Today it was Monty's turn to minister. Who will minister tomorrow?
Until then..... Susan and Monty
Friday, January 19, 2007
We started off the day with getting our WI team returning to Willie's. They are doing such a wonderful job on getting the doors cased out and the baseboard in. They also finished up the painting. We had to get more of the base and another door so they will be returning sometime next week to complete everything. We are so thankful for this team and for their willingness to take on any project we have for them and do such a great job!
From there we had a meeting with our Convoy leaders, Fory and Cindi. There are so many "behind the scenes" details that go on with this relief effort and sometimes so many unanswered questions. This morning was very productive and will lay even more groundwork for our effort in the future.
We also went to Operation TLC located in downtown Pascagoula. This is run by the AmeriCore and provides a huge facility where they house volunteers. They are complete with showers and a kitchen. They also provide 3 hot meals per day for the ridiculously low price of $6.00 --- for all 3 meals, not each!!!! We have a team of 150 volunteers coming for the first week of April and we will be housing them at TLC. We also will be housing a couple more teams there before the spring is over. It's exciting to team up with them and exciting for them to be able to use the facility for what they planned. Many thanks to Becky who took us all on a tour of the facility and was so gracious to meet all our needs.
It seems our West Virginia team, headed up by Joe, are really pouring the blessings out for Mike and Faye. Joe will be flying in next week to get the ball rolling with the rebuilding of their new home. He also called to let us know Mike and Faye have been touching the hearts of everyone in their area of WV and they are stepping up and providing some of the materials that will be needed for the project! When Monty and I hear of such warm hearted people, people who have the gift of mercy and giving, it touches our own hearts and energizes us even more! There is no way to thank everyone up there for all they are doing other than to tell you ---- YOU are rebuilding lives first --- and that will get the home rebuilt! May God bless each and every one of you!!!
Some rather upsetting news from Mike and Faye. Mike got the results of the testing that was done on his leg last week and things don't look favorable. He has another appointment with a surgeon on Monday and we ask you to join in prayers with us --- pray that he will not be faced with loosing his leg! This news has both of them understandably upset and concerned. They really need all of us to unite in prayer and hold them up in faith!
On the other side, Monty's step father came home from the hospital today! His kidney was removed in a 7 hour surgery on Tuesday and he is home 3 days later! Now that is from some powerful prayers --- we thank all of you!!!
Each day Monty and I are blessed to see the hand of God moving in so many ways. Today was one of those special days. One of those days that is impossible to put into words. One of those days where we truly realize just how blessed we are to be here, to see the miracles, to hear the miracles and to feel the miracles!
Thank you for coming along with us on this mission --- for being a real part in bringing the people on the Gulf Coast HOPE!!!!
Until tomorrow .... Susan and Monty
Welcome to Willie's house. As you can see he is coming along nicely and should be done before too long.
The Wisconsin three are working away with base trim, door casing and painting. Tony is excited to be using the new miter saw he received for Christmas, lazer light and all! Someone knew just what he would be needing!! :)
It was also good to talk with both a team from Iowa and from Pennsylvania who are making plans to return. This is exciting to us and helps us to know that the Gulf Coast has not been forgotten.
We also had the pleasure of seeing one of our Colorado teams back this week. They are working from our Escatawpa site and also enjoyed coming back for another week of blessing the people. There were new faces along with the "seasoned" ones and they also talked of a return trip.
Continued thanks for the prayers for Monty's family. I spoke with his mother and Tony is coming along fine. He has been up walking and eating and hopefully will be coming home as soon as possible. We are so grateful for your prayer support! It means so much to us and to the entire family.
Due to the fact that it is nearly midnight I will sign off until tomorrow .... Susan and Monty
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Our Wisconsin 3 started a "new" job today. Convoy had done some work at Willie's house some time ago and today we returned to get it wrapped up. There is priming, painting and installing base trim and Willie will be wrapped up except for his kitchen cabinets and bedroom carpeting. He was especially glad to have Diane returning as he remembered her from the last time and thought so highly of her. She had a special Christian CD that he remembered the 2 of them singing to! It's that awesome relationship connection that God always talks about!
They were all busy getting the last of the priming completed and then moved on to the painting. The walls are completely done, only a few touch ups tomorrow. Then comes the installation of the base trim. It was also painted today so it should go up nicely. They are doing such a great job and even though it's more than a bit chilly here they seem to think it's not that bad compared to home!!
Monty was at Dane's this afternoon working on getting more doors hung. Dane is getting so close. The flooring will take some time but Dane is committed to getting it done himself. As usual, we'll keep tabs on him periodically!
I attended another case management meeting this afternoon and God blessed us with an answer to our dumpster issue at Mike and Faye's. It's just amazing to be in a room filled with people whose only agenda is to help the people! Joining together with them really can get alot of "problems" turned into opportunities. When we get ready to demolish Mike and Faye's house we will need a dumpster on site. The help we needed with that came from this meeting so we are over one more small hurdle!!
If you remember I have been encouraging teams who are thinking of volunteering to get on the schedule ASAP. Today was a perfect example of what happens when that doesn't happen! We ended up with a "double" booking and disappointment. We do not want that to happen again so PLEASE contact either Monty and I or firstname.lastname@example.org at Convoy to let us know when you are thinking about coming. You don't have to have the dates set in stone but atleast let us "pencil" you in for when you are thinking of coming. The people here are still in desperate need and we are dependent on YOU, the volunteers. We have room in April so get out your calendars and start planning.
Update on Monty's step father. He was in surgery for 7 hours yesterday for the removal of his kidney. Yes, it was cancer and although the pathology reports won't be back for about a week the doctors assured them that it was confined to the kidney and they got it all. We are so thankful to all of you who have been praying! THAT is what will heal him! He has been in quite a bit of pain but has been eating solid foods and did a bit of walking today. They hope to move him into another area of critical care tomorrow so keep up the prayers.
Until tomorrow..... Susan and Monty