Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lightning does amazing things

Yes, when lightning happens things get "scrambled", the computer being one of them. Thus the reason we have been off line for the past couple of days. Anyway, thanks to one of our volunteers who is a computer "wizard" we are now okay. God always brings those we need.
Above are some photos of our "neighbors". Amazing aren't they! And shocking! What you don't realize is that every single neighbor looks similar to those photos! There are no exceptions, no one was spared, no difference between those who had plenty of money and those who didn't. I pray I never become "used to" what I see here!
Both our teams from CA and MO are working hard. Some have been mudding out homes and then gutting them out, others are working at hanging sheetrock in homes, others are working on the church with all the numerous electrical "issues" that come from being 11' underwater for weeks, and still others are working on the finishing touches with electric and construction at the East location.
Somehow God takes each and every one of them and refuels them during the night so they are up and ready to go the next morning. And let's face it, kids and dirt do get along quite well. But there is something different about what they are doing, you can see it in their faces and hear it in their voices. They know they are working for the Lord and they know that without them being here, without their hearts of service, without them taking time from their comfortable lives these folks would not be inching closer to "home". They know it and they feel it and it shows.
Please keep these teams in your prayers as they continue working through the end of this week and new teams prepare to travel to experience the miracles God has in store for them while they are here!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Welcome Missouri

Late last night our team from St. James, Missouri arrived to the church location in the 9th ward. They came in through the darkness and were a bit shocked when they looked outside come morning! Darkness can hide quite alot but come light of day and everything changes! They are doing mud out and gut out today and will no doubt have stories to share when they arrive back for dinner this evening. This group has mostly teens and I know they thought they were prepared but by the looks on their faces this morning at chapel they were thinking otherwise!
We started the day with Chapel, combining both teams. It is such an awesome start to the day when you begin with song, devotion and prayer in a group! The power that unfolds is unlike anything you will find in the secular work place or in school!
From there the CA team knew where they were headed and off they went. In the bottom 2 photos you will see a couple of them working in a home just up the street. They are rewiring and whatever else needs done. You can also see a photo of the fireplace in the family room of the home, after sitting under water for nearly 4 weeks! The paint just can't take it, neither can the wrought iron it is made of!
The top 2 photos were taken on the streets just behind the church location. Once again, take wood, add water, let it sit for weeks and that is what you have left. You might think that there is no need to try and rebuild anything - - - - think again - - - - this is someones home! We are not here to judge, we are here to be extensions of God's hands, of His heart and do every single thing we do as if we are doing it for Him (we are!). Therefore, we do what needs to be done to help people rebuild their lives!
This afternoon a really cool thing happened here at the church. As I was passing by my window on the second floor I see a man walking near our gate outside. He saw me in the window and motioned toward the gate door. I called to Allen who was closer than I was and he went outside to greet the gentleman. Yes, he was looking for something . . . a church to call home! He had been referred here by the local men's Teen Challenge that is located just down the street. He was looking for a church to attend and said he would be here Sunday morning! Praise God that they are coming to the churches even before we can get out there and ask them to come!
When we think of the "mission field" most of us think of going overseas, to remote locations, to people who have never even heard the name of Jesus. Guess what! You don't have to go overseas, you can check your own backyard, your own street, your own city and I guarantee you will find someone! Our mission field is very close to us, close to all of us! Try looking and see who God places in your path! What will you do then? Will you invite them to church? Will you pray with them, even for a minute? Let God direct you, obey what you hear Him telling you and reap the blessings!
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

This cross sits atop nearly all of the cemetary plots around here. Amazing site, and thought provoking for sure!

Saturday night we welcomed our team from California. They are staying at the East location, where we live. They spent yesterday getting settled in and were ready to go this morning. They are working in numerous locations doing everything from sheetrock finishing to electrical to plumbing to porch finishing to mudding. Tonight they will be going to a barbeque hosted by a friend of theirs who lives here, a woman retired from the Coast Guard. It will be a special treat for all of them!

This evening we are expecting our team from Missouri to arrive. They will be staying at St. Luke's church located in the 9th ward. They are a group of students, mixed with adult leaders, and will be doing their share of mud outs while they are here.

I wanted to talk a bit about Hands 2 Go. It is the relief organization that is the "brain child" of Pastor Larry who is from New York. He comes and spends 3 weeks out of each month here and feels that is where God has called him. He and Pastor Teresa put the wheels in motion to start Hands 2 Go and were running things on their own, as best as they could, for quite some time.

Back in December of this past year they took a special man, Joel, to lunch. Now Joel is from northern Indiana and had been here quite a few times volunteering in whatever way was needed. He would plan on coming for a week and end up staying 3 or more. Pastors Larry and Teresa asked him if he would be interested in being the director for Hands 2 Go. He agreed and gave a year commitment to doing so.

There are 2 locations where we house volunteers. The place in New Orleans East used to be the church. After the storm the entire congregation was gone. The church building in the 9th ward opened up and Pastor Teresa moved operations there. The building at East has been transformed for the volunteers, bunk beds, full kitchen, 2 showers and all. The church in the 9th has an upstairs area that has also been transformed for volunteers. No longer are there church offices. Instead there are more bunk beds with a full kitchen in the downstairs area.

Everything changed with the storm. Everyone changed after the storm. And things are still changing by the day. Churches everywhere have transformed the space they have to help others. Some are just doing everything they can to have church again! Without the volunteers neither would be possible!

Both of our locations have the option of having 3 meals a day prepared for them (at a small cost) or they can use the facilities and prepare for themselves. We have both and both work, according to the teams needs and preparations.

Hands 2 Go has a 10 year commitment to the area - - - yes, you read correctly - - - 10 years! You might wonder why so long? If you wonder that, you haven't been here and seen for yourself! After you have seen you will understand! You might even think that 10 years is a short time then!

If you ask Monty and I how long we will be here we will not have a definitive answer. Only God knows that and He's not big on giving us His long range plans. I know that if He did, we would mess things up for sure. We do know that we are committed for as long as He would have us here. If another storm would come in this upcoming hurricane season . . . we would be first responders and go from there. Like I said, God has the set of plans. It's hard to explain unless you have been here. It's even harder to understand unless you have been here. It's a life unlike anything else. It's not a life for everyone. It IS the life for us! It's the dream for us, it's the calling for us and it's where we will remain!

Hopefully this has answered some questions you might have, or maybe created enough that you want to come and see for yourself!? Either way, we thank you for having the heart to come with us on our mission, for praying for us and for just thinking of us.

Please continue to pray for the people here, those trying to rebuild their lives and those coming to help them.

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Another Birthday?

Yes, I celebrated yet another birthday in the south! It just doesn't seem possible! As I have said before, the days run into weeks which run into months and I have no idea of where we are on the calendar!
After arriving back "home" from our Thursday night missions class I found that there had been some scheming going on around here. Awaiting me was a completely home cooked meal of ribs, cheesey potatoes, fruit salad (without watermelon), bananas in strawberry sauce and birthday cake! Diane and Dovie had been a couple of very busy ladies throughout the day! It was wonderful beyond description! Diane knows I don't care for watermelon and that I also love the bananas in strawberry sauce. She also knew that even though there was an added "item" to the menu of 40 pounds of boiled crawfish I would NEED the ribs! There are just some things that I can assure you I won't find appetizing in the south and crawfish are one of them! The rest of the crowd dove into them and also the potatoes and corn that are also boiled right along with them.
This birthday party really meant alot to me. Being new into this area and yet feeling like family so soon is definitely another of those God-things! It was a wonderful evening and I am so thankful to everyone who made it possible. And the gifts sitting on our table were just an added bonus! An Oprah magazine, M&Ms and anti-aging face cream ---- all my favorites! The jury is out as to whether the face cream will really work!!!! :)
Today we took a day and became tourists, just for awhile. You can see by the top photos that we took a ride on the streetcars that are now back and running again. We took the one that took us north of the downtown area to the cemetaries. You can't see by the photos but at this spot there is a cemetary on every corner of the intersection! You can also see that everyone is buried above ground here! Remember that we are already below sea level so going underground is not an option! Just one of those things that us northerners don't think about!
The building on the far right at the bottom is just one of many that are now closed down since the storm. You can see the windows boarded up along with the front door. Such a shame! Such a loss to the community!
We also said goodbye to Mark, Jenn and Alec this afternoon. They were headed back home to Minnesota after being here for a week doing whatever was needed. They worked on the porch of the church, mudded out a house, unloaded bunk beds for volunteers to sleep on and just whatever happened to be on the agenda for the day! It's always sad to see volunteers leave, they have become family in such a short amount of time!
By this evening we will have a team from California here and come Monday evening a team from Missouri will join them. The two together will total somewhere between 40 and 50 in numbers so the upcoming week should be a great one!
Going back to birthdays for a minute . . . I want to wish my best friend, Ellen, a happy birthday also. She and I have shared that day for years and not being able to see her is always tough and can bring a tear or two to my eyes!
And last of all we send out birthday wishes and blessings to Pastor Teresa here at St. Luke's. Her husband whisked her away for the day and we pray she is getting some much needed rest combined with some real fun!!!!
Until tomorrow where we all have the opportunity to go into our houses of worship, remember just how blessed we all are and make sure you express that thanksgiving and praise to our wonderful Creator not only tomorrow but every day!
PS A note to Porsche, Diane's granddaughter- - - yes, that's Grammie in the pictures and these pictures are just for you!!!
Until next time . . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It drove her to drink . . . (Coke) of course!

This is a Katrina doll. She was made to be handed out to children who lost everything in the storm. This one sits atop a cabinet, always smiling and reminding me of God's love, no matter how tough things appear.

You might be wondering about the title of todays blog. Well, last night Diane ventured out on her own, heading to Walmart. Now considering that the nearest one to us is 31 miles from here and completely across town she thought driving to Slidell, which is just east of us across the lake, would be closer. She was right, BUT only if she would've taken the proper exit. When she realized she missed the exit she thought she would just go to the next one, turn around and be back on track = NOT! It took miles to get turned around and then she found herself deadlocked on the interstate due to a fatal accident. As if that wasn't bad enough, the "low fuel" light came on in her van! With miles to go yet she sat patiently in the van, waiting . . . with the engine turned off.

When the road finally started to clear she was on her way . . . maybe! She did get to the right exit but after travelig for miles the Walmart was still nowhere in site and the fuel gauge wasn't refiling itself. It was time to stop and ask for directions (one of those female things)! Yes, she was headed in the right direction, just go about 5 more miles. When she finally got there she breathed a sigh of relief; but a bit too soon. She had gone to cash a money order and when she reached the counter there was a sign that said they could not cash money orders because they were out of cash!!?? (Remember, she is traveling alone!) This prompted her to hunt down a clerk to whom she could plead her case. Not only did the clerk feel horrible, so did the other patrons in line. Finally the clerk agreed to nearly empty the drawer and cash her check. This allowed her to finish her business and finally fill the fuel tank on her van. To say that her nerves were a bit on the frazzled side is an understatement. Diane is a VERY health minded lady and after going through all of this she "broke down" and just had to buy a Coke! She admitted it was probably the first one in a year! So what should have been, at the most, a one hour trip not so quickly turned into a 3 hour trip! And believe it or not the old saying that "patience is a virtue" was of no comfort to her!!!! The rest of us got quite a laugh out of the story!!!

This morning we all packed up in the church van and headed into town to help another church clear out a couple of rooms where they were going to get carpeting installed. It was an awesome experience as this Pastor had a short video of what he saw when he first returned to town and saw not only his church but his house. Even though we work in it every day seeing it is still hard to take. Not only did he loose his house, completely lost it as it cannot be rebuilt, his uncle lived across the street and died in the flood. This pastor and his wife are living in a trailer and are determined to completely rebuild their church before even thinking about finding a home for themselves! He said they have no money to purchase a home but know God will provide when the time is right! Quite an inspiration to all of us! Two of our team returned to help install the carpeting this afternoon!

It's these kind of experiences that make up our days here. God gives us the gift of laughter and the gift of compassion at the same time. Sometimes it can be tough bouncing between the two as they are extremes. But . . . it is such a blessing to be here, experiencing all God has for us, working together to rebuild lives! There is nothing like it, there is nothing to compare it to, it is God all the way and all we need is the strength and obedience to follow Him!

Thank you for your prayers for both!

Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Getting settled continues

Thought I would show you the inside of the church here in the 9th ward and the "office" area that I will be using. The office is located upstairs on the second floor area. We cleared out a corner area and used what was available to make it work. You would be surprised at how easy it is to get something set up! No fancy desks and things needed, just some space and work with what you can find! It's actually fun to see what you can create from something else!
The inside of the church itself shows you that the pews are long gone and we sit on chairs for services. The floors are also still concrete and the block walls lasted through the 11 feet of water that stood inside the building for over 3 weeks! The church organ was destroyed but the altar area made it. Just today I was able to see photos that Pastor Teresa had taken immediately after the flood waters were pumped out and it just simply takes your breath away! The thickness of the mud alone is a sight unlike anything I have ever seen! They have come a long way and yet still have a long way to go!
Yesterday was a day of meetings. With a team of people in operation our responsibilities can be divided up and no one is overloaded. Monty and I will be working with the homeowners and scheduling the jobs for the volunteers to do while they are here. Joel already has a book of around 125 homes needing help. Guess we have a good place to start! I will also be helping Pastor Teresa with the church. They not only lost possessions, they lost 100% of their congregation AND office staff! She has been operating for nearly 1 1/2 years with absolutely NO staff and can really use the help! She has such a tremendous committment to this operation -- 10 years to be exact! As soon as their website is up and operating I will let you know the web address and you will be able to see things on another level.
As I have said before, the name of this rebuiling effort is Hands 2 Go and it should also have a website before too much longer. The Tshirts are at the printer as we speak! :)
Fory and Cindy from Convoy of Hope paid us a visit this morning. It was really good to see them and we are so thankful to them for making the connection with Hands 2 Go for us. They realize the calling God has placed on our lives because they have the same calling! Bless you both for everything you have done and continue to do!
The enclosed porch at the church where we live is coming along quickly. All of the 9 windows are now in and they are probably putting the roof on as I write this. It will be such a blessing to the teams who come and stay with us. It's a place where everyone can gather, discuss the day and get to know everyone better. As soon as I get more photos I'll show you!
Until tomorrow . . . hug your neighbor and thank God for them! Susan and Monty

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Batter up

Yes, I missed an entry yesterday. Sorry.

As I mentioned on Friday, we were headed to a minor league baseball game for an outing and it was a blast! It felt so good to be out with a group of people who all share our hearts, who all understand why we are here and also realize the need for some time away from the disaster work, time to get to know each other better and time to laugh together. And laugh we did. My stomach was hurting by the end of the game. And at the end they had a fireworks display unlike anything I have ever seen before! All in all it was a wonderful night!

Yesterday we said goodbye to Mike. He had been here for a few days helping us out with numerous jobs and had to head back home. Before taking him the the airport he wanted to sample the beignets that New Orleans are famous for. In case you have no idea what those are, they look like square donut style pastries that are covered (and I mean covered) with powdered sugar. You can get a plate of 3 of them for 99 cents! We were able to sit outside and enjoy the cooler morning. We took a stroll through a couple of the streets before heading back "to the ranch".

Later in the day Monty and I took a drive around some areas of the city to try and get familiar with part of it. I am amazed at the size of the city! It's much larger than I had realized. The damage is confined to the east side and the 9th ward, all within a 10 minute drive. It's nearly mind boggling to be in one part of the city and see that is was untouched by the storm and then in the blink of an eye see complete devastation! From every building being just fine to every building being destroyed! Seeing the beauty of some of the homes and other homes with nothing left to even rebuild from! I doubt it will ever be something I get used to.

We did stop and check on some of the fishermen and they were pulling them in! It seems it must have been the time where the fish were coming nearer to the shore for feeding time and that helps the fishermen catch them. I haven't seen large fish like that from those who just fish in the lakes back home in Indiana!

This morning we were off to church. Dovie had asked Diane and I to help serve the dinner meal after church. Each week the church supplies a complete meal for all who attend the church. The menu today was courtesy of Teen Challenge. They had food from an event they had and there was more than enough food left to go around and fill each and every person here today. The baked fish, baked chicken, pasta salad and rolls were a hit, not to mention the strawberry shortcake for dessert! For some, this meal is the only "full coarse" one they will get for the week! I heard many of them tell me that this was THE only homecooked meal they get! There is always enough left for some to take plates back home with them. What a way to bless the people who have suffered so much loss. Jesus set the perfect example for us as He also fed the multitudes when they came to hear His message!

Tomorrow we will be starting with our first team since we arrived. Ezra has a family from his home church who will be joining us. It should be a great week and another opportunity to help the people of New Orleans rebuild their homes through the rebuilding of their lives!

Thank you for all of your prayers. You are our "covering" and without you none of this mission would be possible. We pray you had a wonderful message from your own church this morning and you were "fed" by the words that feed us deeper than any bread can!

Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, May 18, 2007

It's coming together

We are back. Sorry for the lapse last night but we are still traveling to Mobile, Alabama for our classes in mission training and now the trip is a bit longer than from Mississippi.
As you can see by the photos the addition being put on the back of the church is coming along nicely. Everyone is lending a hand, even me! Diane surprised me with this "lovely" pose! :)
Monty, Mark, Ezra and Diane have been working away and it just might be ready for the windows to be installed later today or tomorrow. It will definitely be a haven for those of us living on site. There has to be someplace to get away from the mosquitos or they will carry you away!
Dovie and Mike have been busy painting at the church in the 9th ward. It is looking better by the day and I think both of them have seen enough paint to last them awhile. Mike is leaving tomorrow as he only had a couple of days between stops to come and lend a hand. Dovie and her husband, Allen, are here for the next year.
We are also enjoying a break from the heat. That doesn't happen often down here and it's nice to be out enjoying it. The directors planned a special outing for us all this evening. We are going to a minor league baseball game here in town. With the weather being so nice it will just add to the fun. This is a special treat for us because our son in law back home is the high school baseball coach and played in the minor leagues after college.
Speaking of back home, today is our grandson's 2nd birthday!!!!! It's tough not being able to be there as they are having a party tomorrow! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LUKE, even if you can't read this!
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Catch up

Didn't know if anyone had ever seen a tool shed with a cross on top! When you are working where we are every cross helps!
The guys were busy working away on the new enclosed porch area all day today. As you can see, holding up 2x12s isn't a one man job. It's late afternoon and so far it hasn't rained on them. It seems it's rained everywhere else today but not on them. Maybe the cross???
Today has been a catch up day for me. There were alot of computer details that needed done with the move and I think they are all done. One can never be certain but one can hope.
Diane and I took a different route to the church this afternoon and I wonder if I will ever get used to the magnitude of the devastation? House after house after house after business after restaurant after whatever -- all empty, all demolished, all gone. You do see a few workers around, hear some construction sounds around, see a few cats running through the empty homes, it's just mind boggling. Seeing the "report" painted on the outside of the homes. The report has the date the military came through the home checking for bodies, their initials and the number of dead found. If they found dogs or cats they noted it. This info is painted on the home, no matter if it is brick, vinyl siding or whatever. We went by one today where you could see the clothing still hanging in the windows. Seeing these things day after day after day becomes the "normal". It's been that way for everyone here for 21 months now.
The big news in todays paper? The FEMA trailers that have become home to so many will remain until March of next year, at no cost to the residents. Come March of next year they will be able to remain living in them for a small cost of $50 per month. That policy will remain for the following year. At that time (2008) they will be required to pay $600 per month. The trailers will also be available for the residents to purchase them. Can you imagine living in a camper trailer for nearly 2 years? Monty and I have done it and there is no way to describe living so "close" to each other. It is something you must experience to fully understand. We have a choice to live that way, these residents don't.
When you go to bed this evening think about New Orleans and all those who suffered such horrendous loss with Katrina. Thank God that you have a spacious bed to lay down in, that you have room in your bathroom move about. Thank God that if a storm comes through with some pretty gusty winds you don't feel your home move and worry that it might blow away. Thank God that when you look out your windows to your neighbors that you HAVE neighbors! You may not be close friends with them but maybe you should be. Down here it took neighbors to rescue neighbors, to save their lives. What if your neighbor had to save you? Would you even know their name?
Until tomorrow . . . Monty and I thank God for YOU! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Yes, if you look closely behind the tree you will see Diane's new "home". And yes, those vehicles are just as close as they look -- and there are more that you cannot see! The only way to get the full view would be an airial shot and last time I checked I couldn't fly and had no desire to do so!
The other photo was taken this morning as the men started "raising the roof" on the building. The tin is being removed, saved will be reattached when the project is done. They are raising the roof and enclosing the entire area for us and the volunteers. There will be windows and it will be air conditioned so any and all of us can sit outside in the summer and not be carried away by the mosquitos or die from the heat and humidity. Stay tuned as this is the project for the week.
The project had to take an intermission as the storms rolled over us, dumping (and I mean dumping) a deluge of rainfall. Just walking back to our trailer I was in water up to my ankles, and this is in the yard complete with grass! I suppose that should be expected when you live below sea level!!! It might take some getting used to though! And we won't even talk about how the dogs will need swimming lessons just to get across the street to do their "business"!! :)
Our new next door neighbors, Allen and Dovie, are from Delaware. Today Dovie started a blog, written from her perspective. If you would like to follow along with them also just go to the blog address of They also left their home and have committed to working this relief effort for the next year. Please keep them in your prayers also.
Thank you for all the prayers you continually pray for us.
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, May 14, 2007

We're Here!

Here it is -- home sweet home!!!!

Don't be mistaken, look closely. There are 2 trailers in this photo. Together they make the size of 1 regular mobile home! We are thrilled to have our own shower and a small kitchen; the finer things in life! :)

It was a very long day on Saturday but we made it without incident. The rains even held off for us. I can't say the same for the heat! We're already in the 90s, summer is here whether the calendar says so or not. But we did enjoy the cookout they had planned and it was a great time of fellowship and getting to know the workers that are our neighbors. We also got Diane all situated in her new surroundings and laughed when we looked and saw that she is next to the only tree on the property. She had already made a nice little sitting area under the tree but also realized that when one is sitting the mosquitos (which are the size of small horses) come for their own feast!

Yesterday we went to church and it was great! Pastor Teresa had a wonderful message and all us mothers received a small gift. This church serves a dinner for the entire congregation EVERY Sunday and we had a feast this week, something extra special for the mothers.

When the storm hit here (the church is in the heart of the 9th ward) every single member lost their home and every single member left town and have not returned. There was doubt as to whether it would even continue to be a church. Pastor Teresa had another plan. She took hold of this church, renovated the downstairs into a cafe and there are around 70 plus people coming each Sunday! I'd say God is moving at quite a pace here!

From church we decided we needed to make a trip to Walmart to pick up some things. Well, the trip consists of driving 31 miles to get there! When I tell you that there is nothing in the area we are I REALLY mean there is nothing! In the subdivision where we live there are only 3 homes being lived in! If we decide to go to the nearest grocery store it's also a 15 minute drive! So we did our best to stock up on what we could. Oh yes, the Lowes is across from Walmart so it is also not a "quick" trip to get materials needed.

Today we were still busy getting things put away and trying to finish up the organizing of things. We were given a chest of drawers and some pots and pans -- both of which we are not used to being blessed with. I might even be able to cook a thing or two now! :) Monty was busy with Mark and Ezra getting the materials needed to close in the area behind the church. They plan to make it a patio area where teams and staff can meet to fellowship and not be eaten alive by the bugs. There will be 9 windows in the place and tomorrow they will be "raising the roof" literally! We are keeping Joel's mother (he is the director) in our prayers as she is having some surgery this week. He is there with her and God willing, he will return here this weekend. We also pray for his safe travel.

Diane and I finally made our way to the church this evening to be able to go online and therefore send our love to all of you out there who have been covering us with your prayers. As I have said, God specifically spoke to me and told me to "take back the city". That cannot be done without your prayers lifting and holding us up. We ARE living a dream and thank you for making it possible.

I hope to be able to reach you through the blog each day from now on. If I do miss a day please bear with me. This week is alot of re-adjusting and next week I should be here at the church fulltime and able to blog every single day again.

We pray all of you are doing well. Don't forget to count your blessings!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, May 11, 2007

We're half way there

I start with a very special photo this evening. You all remember the prayers you prayed for the little 2 yr old who fell into the septic tank and literally drowned, was revived and then told by the doctors that he probably wouldn't live? Well, that little boy is pictured above, not only alive and well but so is his entire family. Mother and soon to be newborn are fine, dad has recovered from his foot surgery and they blessed us by sending this photo! They thanked each and every one of you who prayed for all of them. God is still in the business of miracles!!! Let us never forget it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, we are half way moved to New Orleans. As I write this Monty is outside trying to get our camper trailer ready to be moved tomorrow. We took the tool trailer today and had the opportunity to meet and visit with the staff that is already there. You can see our new home in the above photos, the white one on the far left with Monty waving in the yard. The other one is our kitchen. Yes, a kitchen -- the first one in nearly a year and a half!
The bottom two photos are our neighbors. Well, no one actually lives in the homes but that is what every house looks like. Yes, EVERY house! So you can see that we have "job security" as some would call it. God is, and has been, working miracles and He isn't about to stop now.
The exact words that God has spoken to me (and yes, it's definitely Him speaking) are to "go and take the city back" and that is exactly what we plan to work on! Your prayers and support are what will make it possible!
I also need to let you know that we will not have computer access for the next couple of days. Where we live has no phone, no TV and definitely no computer lines. We will be able to get to the internet from the church where we will be working from, in the 9th ward. So my blog entries will no longer be done as the last thing I do each night. They will be done sometime late in the day during work "hours" (what are those?). Please bear with us as we make this transition and get used to our surroundings and new "customs" that we will need to get used to.
We are about to enter an entirely new phase in our ministry and we are really excited! God is still in control and all we ask is that He use us as He sees fit. BUT --- we NEED your prayers! If only there were a way to fully explain how much we need them, how we can literally feel them at times (like the shirts on our backs) and how they sustain us just when we need it! Sometimes people ask us for specifics as to what to pray for. Being as we are entering a new era we don't have specifics to tell you. God knows what we need and that's all that counts!
I would like to wish an early Happy Mother's Day to my mother, Delores, and Monty's mother, Judy. If God hadn't blessed each of us with these exact mothers we would not be here and be living the dream that God has for us! Both Monty and I want to thank you for ALL you have done and ALL you continue to do for us! We only wish we could be there on Sunday to tell you in person but we also know you understand why we aren't there! God bless both of you!!!!!
For the rest of you --- love on your mother, let her know how much you love her, how much you respect her and how God has blessed you with her. She may not be the "best" mother (in your eyes) but she is the mother God gave you and God doesn't make mistakes!!!
Blessings to everyone and we thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for joining us on this mission and for continuing to "come along with us" for the ride of our lives!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

It's done and ready to go

He's just keeping an eye on things!
Monty's truck is done and ready to hit the road. He changed a belt this afternoon, did some final cleanup on it and it's ready. He says it drives better and we no longer have diesel fumes coming up through the cab so I guess that is a good thing!
We had a wonderful lunch with Mike, Faye, Mike Jr and Y'Keisha today. It was so great to sit with them and visit and yet so sad to think that in just a couple days we will have to leave them. Mike Sr is doing well. Still doing the dialysis every other day and Faye is having alot of back pain where she had a broken vertebrae. I think she is just trying to do too much lifting and moving things in the new house, the old FEMA trailer and their storage unit. She has a doctor appointment in a couple of weeks and that should get her some relief. I just cannot tell you how much I will miss them. They had a school picture of Jacquez, their 6 year old grandson for us! Who knows how much he will have grown the next time we see them! They said they would like to plan a day trip to New Orleans to come and see us there -- pray that they can do just that! They are truly family and God blessed us so much by bringing them to us! I plan to make one last visit to their home tomorrow morning. Ms. Faye wants me to come and see the house now that it is all done and they are moved in. Pray I don't soak the carpet with tears! :(
I mentioned the storm on the east coast last night. It seems that it has now been given a name and is headed toward the south. This puts it in line with Ft. Lauderdale where my daughter just moved. Your prayers would be appreciated. Nothing would make this mother happier than to have the storm head back out to sea and away from land!
Diane and I made a visit to Teen Challenge this afternoon to thank Pastor Steve for all he has done for us. He could surely use your prayers also as his health is not all that good right now. He is battling high blood pressure problems and not doing well with the battle. He has such a wonderful ministry for the women there and is truly one of God's special people. We would love to see him feeling better again.
I have a special note for Diane's grandchildren. I understand that you are missing "Grammy" very much right about now and have been quite sad that she is not there with you. Your Grammy is missing all of you just as much (if not more) and will hopefully be seeing you before too much longer. Pray for her and remember that God has her doing a very special job for Him right now and because she is doing what He wants her to do He is very happy and surely has a big smile on His face!
We all wish nothing more than to lead our own lives in a way that puts a smile on God's face each and every day!
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pay it forward?

These seas are calm, for now.

If you have been watching the news you may have heard about the storm brewing out east in the Atlantic. Maybe we watch just a little more carefully now that we live here but the weather people make sure we know what is happening all along the coasts. Tomorrow the local weather will be sending planes over the disturbance to see if it is a tropical storm with hurricane possibilities or not. All those in the path of this storm, regardless of its category, could use our prayers right about now. The rains are falling, the waves are pounding about 15 feet in height and none of that is a good thing.

Also, now is the time more disaster help is needed. The tornados that hit Greensburg, Kansas are devastating, to say the least. They have put out a request for volunteers to just come in and help the residents go through their belongings and see what, if anything, they can salvage. This is an extremely tough time for everyone in this small town. We know what it looks like when you are wiped off the map with a hurricane and tornados are just as deadly and savage. This would be a great time to rally some troops from your church, your community or your families and send some help in the way of financial or material if you yourselves cannot physically get there. If you would be able to get there and don't know how to go about it, contact your church, or any church, or go through the Convoy of Hope website at for information. We have seen what a life changing difference the slightest bit of help can bring.

In Esther 4:14 it states "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Is this your time to help, to allow people to see Jesus through you? Take it to prayer and listen for God's response, then follow what He says! You'll never be sorry you did!

Until tomorrow . . Susan and Monty

Monday, May 07, 2007

Repairs for preparation

If you put your nose close enough to the screen you just might be able to smell it!

Today was the beginning of some repair work on Monty's truck. As I said before, some of this has needed done for quite some time and we just had to put it off. Now there is no more delaying -- it must be able to not only make the trip west but it must be able to make two trips, each one pulling a trailer. Hopefully it will all be done over the next couple of days and ready to haul.

Just getting our tool trailer ready to go has taken some time. Tools have a way of getting rather spread out in several locations. Once they were all rounded up it was then time to get them into the trailer, and balanced for hauling. It's really close! :)

And then there was the near last minute shopping needed. Since we don't really know where the stores are that are open we decided it best to make sure we are sort of stocked up on some things before getting there. I know there are two grocery stores but where the Walmart was near where we will live, well, it's no more. I don't even know for sure where we are to get gas and diesel fuel so we'll make sure we go in as close to full as possible.

We have also learned that trying to locate places online isn't accurate. Take for instance our bank. I went to one of the local branches here and asked where the closest one would be there. They pulled up 6 locations, 5 of them destroyed! The only way to know they were destroyed was to check for their hours of operation.

All we'll need is a map and some time to travel. BUT --- most of the street signs are still missing so this time it will take a bit more time! God and His sense of humor again! :)

In today's devotion it talked of SPEM prayer as an outline to use when praying for missionaries. Thought I would pass it on for those of you who are keeping us held up in prayer.

SPEM stands for spiritual, physical, emotional and mental areas of prayer.

Spiritual for the truth that leads to spiritual understanding, eliminating confusion.

Physical for the security and rest we find in God.

Emotional for relief from distress.

Mental for insight and wisdom and the peace that can only come from God.

For all of you who have been our "prayer warriors"--THANK YOU! I just thought this little outline was "right on" the dot!

Until tomorrow. . . thank you for the prayers that hold us up and make it possible for us to continue the calling God has placed on our lives! Susan and Monty

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The smell of heaven?

The state tree is in bloom and today we finally got the opportunity, and location, to stop and take some photos of them -- and to smell them. I'm sure they will be in heaven because they smell so wonderful! "They" are magnolias and they are beautiful. I thought the trees would just all bloom at once but that's not the case. Some of the blooms are already done and falling from the trees and others are just buds waiting to open. Either way, they are beautiful and just another example of the beauty of God.

Yes, Pastor Rick was back and preaching this morning. He challenged us all to not give up when trials and tribulations come our way. We all know that when we are working for the Lord we will face some pretty tough opposition from satan AND we all know that Jesus has already won the battle for us so we just need to hang in there and finish what it is God has called us to do.

As you can see, once again the sermon was just for us!

It was our last Sunday here at The Refuge and Pastor sent us out with prayer for the next step in our walk. We were also treated to lunch with some friends and just like I thought, it was hard to fight back the tears! We have been living in the back of the church, on the parking lot, for almost one year to the day and yes, it has become comfortable. Thus one of the reasons God is moving us onward. As they told us in our school, God calls us but He doesn't tell us to stay!

Speaking of moving, thank you for the prayers for our daughter as she made her move from Indiana to her new job in Florida. She arrived safely and is excited about starting a new life. We all thank you for praying for her!

I'll close with one of the verses used in the sermon this morning, a verse we should carry with us constantly; "Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always."

Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Saturday, May 05, 2007

He's home

Thought it might help to have a face to the name. Yes, Pastor Rick was dismissed from the hospital today. Thank you for your prayers and I would ask that you continue to pray for renewed strength and healing.

Even though the calendar says it's only the first of May the temperatures have already started rising. The humidity also came along with the heat today thus making it quite sticky. I guess I just spent too many years in Indiana and got used to "seasons" that are much different than here! :)

We got a little bit better start on our moving today. Monty is working away at getting tools arranged in the tool trailer in such a way that they can travel. I spent some time going through things in the camper trailer. Most of what is there can stay right where it is and can travel fine. My work will mostly come when we "land" at our new space.

In one of my devotions for today God really spoke to me (again) about New Orleans. "God is not seeking the most qualified or talented; rather He is seeking hearts that are surrendered to Him. He is seeking those who are available, dependable and willing to be used. In those lives, God will show himself strong and He will be glorified."

"Are you available?"

So many of you have made yourselves available and as I sit and reflect on all that has been accomplished because you made yourselves available it renews my strength and spirit as we head west. THANK YOU!

"Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Thou are the Potter, I am the clay; Mold me and make me after Thy will, While I am waiting, yielded and still."

Tomorrow is our last time at The Refuge for Sunday service. It will be very difficult to say goodbye to so many friends who have become family. But . . . God has new plans, new family and new blessings.

As you attend your church tomorrow please pray for us and at the same time thank God for all He has done here in Mississippi!

Until then . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, May 04, 2007

Pastor Rick

Posing at one of the monuments at the museum. You decide which one is the bronze statue!!

Today was one of those days where it rains all day and you really know you are living in a swamp land! Makes it difficult to get much done but we are making progress. Our "out" date is set forthe end of next week.

Monty took his truck to be looked at this morning and it seems there are a couple of major "issues" that must be taken care of before we go or we just might end up with the axles coming apart and our tires falling off while traveling west. Not a good thing so it will be going into the shop next week and will most likely be there for a few days.

We have an extremely urgent prayer request for this evening. Pastor Rick is hospitalized with chest pains. He was taken to the hospital this afternoon and they have decided it best to keep him overnight. He is resting as comfortably as possible but still in some discomfort. Prayers for healing would surely be appreciated, for him and his wife Vickey, their entire family and the church congregation. Monty and I both know how quickly chest pains can change peoples lives. We thank you for surrounding Pastor Rick with your prayers of healing. God is in the business of healing and aren't we all glad He is!

Until tomorrow . . . Hug your loved ones especially close tonight. Susan and Monty

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sad news

Yes, here we are as we visited the museum. Seeing the Blue Angel jets was awesome. We did see them flying the skies a couple of times also. It was amazing!

We have some sad news to share this evening. You might remember photos of Steve and Carol, or may have even had them as your volunteer coordinators when you were here. Last week Carol's mother fell and broke her hip. We heard the news that she passed away Monday afternoon. It was quite sudden and we would ask for prayers for the entire family. Steve and Carol had just finished another stint here on the coast with Convoy of Hope and were heading for a vacation to visit children. That visit will be put on hold now. The family needs held up at this difficult time and we thank you for doing so.

Due to the late hour, (we just returned from our classes) this will be a short entry.

May God bless Steve and Carol and their families! We love you guys!!!!

Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Some much needed R & R !!

Yes, we are back and truly enjoyed some much overdue rest and relaxation -- and some sunshine and clear water and white sand!
Monty, Diane, myself and our 2 dogs found Pensacola to be absolutely beautiful and we couldn't have ordered more perfect weather! Sunny days with temps in the low 80s with waves high enough to play in, once we got used to the "chilly" waters!
The main question we asked ourselves was "when can we come back?"
But we are back now and will be more than busy over the next few days. The final preparations to get moved are now directly in our faces. Monty has some work to get done on his truck, the wheel barings on the camper trailer have to be "packed" and tools and personal things have to be gotten ready.
And that doesn't include making trips to say goodbye to sooooo many people here who have become our friends! Since we are constantly in the public I think we know more people here than we do in our hometown!
I have a couple of updates for everyone. First, Tony and Shirley's granddaughter is doing well and they are thankful to everyone for keeping her in your prayers.
Second, please keep my youngest daughter, Lindsay, in your prayers. Tomorrow she will be making the journey to her new job in south Florida. It's a long drive and I would appreciate knowing she is covered in prayer, not only for the trip but for the entire relocation and job process. Thank you!
We did have an added blessing to our trip. My son and his new bride were honeymooning about 90 minutes from where we were so we made the trip there and had dinner with them the first night we were there. It was so good to see them and spend a few hours with them. They didn't even mind us jumping in on their honeymoon!!!!
We trust all of you out there are doing well. Once again, we thank everyone for coming with us as we make this new transition into New Orleans. Please continue to pray for us, for guidance and wisdom to know and do what God has in store for all of us.
Until tomorrow ... Susan and Monty