Friday, March 30, 2007
Diane, our long term volunteer and dearest friend from Wisconsin has been working down here off and on over the past 13 months plus. She leaves behind her 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren up north. One of those daughters called the other day with heartbreaking news from one of her best friends.
Beniah, age 2, fell into a sewer drain. His father rescued him. His mother is expecting their 3rd child and was ordered to bed rest until delivery. Beniah is now in a drug induced coma and needs prayer to have all his organs restored to normal health. The next few hours are critical. This is an enormous tragedy but we all know all things are possible with God and that He is our ultimate healer. Please keep this entire family in your prayers. I will do my best to keep you as updated as I can from here.
I did make it back for my son's wedding. It took 12 hours but the travel was uneventful, thankfully. Tomorrow is the wedding which will also require more traveling. Thank you in advance for your prayers for safe travel. I will then be heading back south for another 12 hour trip come Sunday morning. Hopefully I will have some great family photos to share with you next week.
Thank you again for your prayers. Accidents happen all around us, most of which we know nothing about. This one is now known. Thank you for caring.
Until next time ... God bless this family ... Susan and Monty
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Very early tomorrow morning I will be leaving to attend the wedding of my son. This means there will be no blog entry until I return on Sunday evening.
Your prayers for safe travel would be appreciated. It's a really quick trip but I am not going to miss my only son's wedding. I have also found that being mother of the groom requires alot less time and preparation than being mother of the bride! :)
By the time I return our team of 150 volunteers will be on the ground and ready to rock and roll come Monday morning. We will be awaiting the arrival of the additional 45 Sunday night. Be sure and stay tuned as the week should be awesome!!!
Have a blessed weekend.
Until Sunday night .... Susan and Monty
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Today was a day spent looking at more homes requesting help! Yes, they seem to be coming from the woodwork - still!
Our first stop was at Susan's house. Susan is one of those who still has not asked for help. We were given her name by a friend who is concerned about her. His concern was well founded! Susan still doesn't have her house torn out, there is still mold inside and we discovered that her entire home will need to be rewired before we can do any rebuilding. She and a friend are cleaning up her household things that were still strewn about the house. Mentally she just hasn't been able to go in and sort through things - too many emotions. She is having some difficulty but she is making progress and promises to have everything out by Monday morning when we will come in and finish the tear out process, spray for the mold, get an inspection and then look toward the future.
The next stop was at Marcus and Leanne's home. They were blessed with another church team of volunteers a few months ago that did get the sheetrock hung but didn't have the time to finish it out. They also had a couple of accidents where a foot went through the ceiling when they were putting a new roof on so those places will need redone. We also plan to start in there Monday morning.
The last stop was at Melvina's house. Diane was on the team of volunteers that tore out Melvina's house back in October of 2005 -- yes, nearly 18 months ago. Diane looked her up to see how she is coming along and although she has all her walls up and they are painted she is in need of doors and all the trim. She was so glad to see Diane as she had nearly given up on getting it completely done. We will also start in there on Tuesday morning, she works on Monday.
You might be asking how we can start all three of these homes next week? God is blessing us with a team of 150 (yes, you read correctly - 150) volunteers from the great state of Illinois! This is a school where the students are all highly skilled construction volunteers and they are planning on spending their spring break here blessing others rather than laying up drunk on some beach somewhere! What a wonderful thought! And along with that team we also have a team of 45 coming from California to do the exact same thing! Like I said -- we, and the people of the Gulf Coast, are blessed!
At this point in time we have 10 homes in the process of being rebuilt and it would be our hope to get each family in their home before we relocate to New Orleans at the end of April. That will NOT happen without the prayers of EVERY one of you who have been following along with our mission to rebuild homes through the rebuilding of lives! We ask that you intensify those prayers! We know that with God all things are possible! We see it and live it each and every day!
Until tomorrow . . . Keep those prayers going! Susan and Monty
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Today was a day Faye had looked forward to for a very long time but thought it might never get here, her shopping day.
God blessed them with the funds to purchase some new furniture for their new home. She was more than thrilled all the yet realizing what a blessing it truly was. Hoping and praying for something for such a long time and then having it finally arrive can feel surreal sometimes. Today was one of those sometimes.
Diane, my mother and I loaded up in Diane's van this morning and headed to Faye's house to do some measuring before starting out. There was only one thing Faye and Mike asked for with this house -- that they could have a new mattress! Faye told us that during her entire life they had never had a new mattress set. They had always taken the old ones and passed the new ones on to their children. THIS was their turn! Before Mike had his last surgery they went shopping and picked out a set. Today they were able to buy that set. God smiled down over them and now they will be lying in the bed, looking up and smiling back at God, only now in a more comfortable bed!
We also shopped for some new family room furniture and she was able to get some photos to take to the hospital for Mike to look at this evening. I know his hospital room is filled with smiles and thanksgiving and planning and more thanksgiving going on. To know how this family lived for over 13 months after the storm, to know that they were not the ones who asked for help, to know how God placed them in our lives and directly told us to help them, to know how so many people listened to God telling them to also help them, to see with our own eyes the hand of God work in this family over the past months . . . it's one of those things that is nearly impossible to put into words. It is a joy that comes from so deep inside, not dependent on "things" but only dependent on the word of God! It's what our mission is all about. It's what God commanded us to do. It's the example he gave us while he was on this earth! And once again, it's such a blessing for Monty and I to be here experiencing it all! THANK YOU!
PS It appears that Mike might be released from the hospital this Thursday. Please keep the entire family in your prayers.
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty
Monday, March 26, 2007
Another beautiful photo taken Saturday at Bellingrath Gardens. Looks like a postcard!
Today was a day of preparation, preparation for our upcoming move into the 9th ward of New Orleans. We headed out very early this morning for what should have been about an hour and 15 minute drive. Over 3 hours later we finally arrived! There was a fatal auto accident on the bridge that crosses Lake Ponchatrain and everyone was rerouted off of interstate 10. We did finally arrive and although the meeting was a bit shorter than planned we accomplished what was needed.
It looks like we will be "on land" ready for work on May 14th. We will be closing up the Convoy station here in Gautier in late April, taking a bit of time to relocate everything, including ourselves and Diane and possibly take some time away for a few days? The time away thing might end up being a dream but time will tell.
It was good and exciting to meet with Pastor Teresa and Joel. They both share the same hearts as Monty and I and having a support system and structure set up even before we arrive will be a real blessing. We got a chance to see our new home, a small trailer donated by Samaritan's Purse, the organization originating with Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son. We will have a real bedroom, kitchen and shower .. the finer things in life! :) We are just so thankful to this organization for providing housing for us and giving us the chance to "spread out" from our current 144 square feet of living space!
From the reports from Pastor and Joel it seems the gutting of homes will be nearly complete by the summer --- they are starting demolition!!! A really GREAT thing for the entire area. This means some infrustructure decisions have been made and progress can move forward! We look forward to more rebuilding and more changing lives!
We hope you will take the opportunity to organize a team of volunteers, plan a date and come and see us in New Orleans! There will be no age limitations, only that children MUST be accompanied by a parent! Get your calendars out and take a look at the rest of the year and let us know. Just call me directly or leave a comment at the end of the blog if you don't have my direct number!
We thank all of you for all you have done to help the people of the Gulf Coast rebuild their homes by rebuilding their lives! Without you this mission would not be possible and could not continue! Both Monty and I are so blessed to be here, to be working for our Lord and to be supported in prayers by YOU!!!
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty
Sunday, March 25, 2007
I wanted to post another photo of the Collierville, TN team who just left here Friday early evening. Two of the team members have left wonderful comments on the blog about how this trip changed their lives! I know they don't realize just how those comments change our lives! Teams come and go and we sometimes wonder what their thoughts and feelings have been about their trip. I want you two girls to know just how much those comments mean to Monty and I and how thankful we are to you for writing them! We look forward to having y'all back whenever you can make it! You are all team leaders now, you have experienced the blessings first hand and YOU are the ones who made a difference and will continue to make a difference in the lives of the people on the Gulf Coast! THANK YOU!
Once again Pastor Rick's sermon this morning was just for me! (wonder how he does that?) Undoubtedly a God-thing! He spoke on a chapter in Deuteronomy and when he did God told me that those verses were our verses, our mission, for going into New Orleans in a few weeks.
"You have stayed on this mountain long enough ... See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore he would give to your fathers ... See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go, take possession of it as the Lord, the God of our Fathers told you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged."
When Monty and I started out on this mission we really had no idea what was ahead of us. The calling I received just said "go and help the people". Nothing else. But it was a calling, no doubt about it. It was also a dream I had continued to have since I was a young woman. When I graduated from high school I dreamed of joining the Peace Corps and helping "someone" "somewhere". It didn't happen then. As I grew and became a mother I would listen intently as pastors in our church would talk of upcoming mission trips to all over the place. I had young children and it didn't happen then. After my children were grown there was another mission trip to an Indian reservation planned. It didn't happen then either, I was a single mom then and had to work. But I held on to that dream. It never left my heart. God kept it there -- for HIS timing, for HIS purpose. And NOW is his timing and his purpose!
Pastor Rick told us how we should keep our dreams in front of us, to protect them and to go after them! He also told us that the people who tell us it can't be done are the once who tried -- and failed! Monty and I had people who doubted we could do this, doubted we would last, doubted everything about this mission. God knew better. There were (and are) times where we are still told "it can't be done" ... Mike and Faye's house build was one of them. BUT I held on to my dream, protected it and kept it in front of me! THIS TIME is was THE time! It was God appointed time!
A challenge for ALL of us is to change our mindsets to focus on the positive, the "why I can do it" instead of the negative and all the reasons why "I can't do it".
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." NEVER forget that, NEVER doubt it!
God will never call you to do something that he hasn't already equipped you to do!
Like I said, another sermon just for me. Another word directly from God to me. Listen for his word for you. Then grab onto it, protect it and do whatever it takes to make it happen. You will NEVER be sorry, you will NEVER regret it! Living the dream God plans for you is priceless, there is nothing like it and when you live it you won't trade it for the world!
Until tomorrow ... dream those dreams ... Susan and Monty
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Bellingrath Gardens in Theodore, Alabama was our destination today. We all agreed that we needed a day off, a day away, a day to enjoy the wonderful weather.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Yes, we sadly said goodbye to 2 teams today. Greg and Pam left for South Dakota around noon. Before leaving they headed to the vet with Cooper. It seems he has a sore throat, swollen glands and was attacked by the gnats with sharks teeth and had an all around bad night! The vet ended up giving him 6 shots and meds so hopefully when they arrive home he will be feeling better! They have been here for a month and needless to say we will miss them terribly! We know they will be back as soon as they can. God be with them as they travel such a long distance home!