Saturday, June 30, 2007
There were the usual couple of errands for a weekend and then the day was just gone.
This evening we did take a trip across town, way across town, and went to the Vineyard Church. Our home church is a Vineyard and until I went inside this one tonight I didn't realize just how much I missed it. This one was very large! Ours at home isn't so large. But the feeling was the same, just minus the family we have back home. This Vineyard also runs a disaster relief station, Mercy Response. We met one of the women who does the cooking for their teams and she talked about how they are venturing into the rebuilding phase come this fall. Their teams continue to come and therefore families continue to be blessed. God at work, no matter what the label above the door says. One Body! It's what we have preached since we arrived long ago!
By the time we returned this evening two of our incoming teams had arrived. Northern Indiana, Joel and Jessica's hometown church, and the state of Washington are here. They total 25 and are raring to go. The Indiana team is mostly youth and Washington are skilled workers. They will be staying here at New Orleans East Church with us for the wee.
By tomorrow evening we will be greeting our own hometown team, most of them football players from Bloomington South High School. There will be 42 of them so you do the math and will quickly realize it will be an awesome week. They will be staying at St Luke church. We are also praying that whatever has caused the power outage in that area will be corrected by tomorrow morning so we can worship in less than 100 degree heat and the team can sleep in air conditioning! You might want to join us in that prayer!
We pray all of you will be in your home church tomorrow, worshiping and praising God for the many blessings you have. Number one being a safe, clean and dry roof over your heads and a soft bed to sleep in. Remember, you don't know how much you take something for granted until you don't have it any more!
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty
Friday, June 29, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Remember the story of the house where the woman made dolls? This face is one of them, found on the floor and carefully, very carefully, placed for this photo. Also remember that if you click on the photo it will enlarge for you.
If you look VERY intently maybe you can see the woman in the pink dress and brown hat that covers the baby's nose?
Just another of those things that become lost and destroyed in the storm. The son who worked along side us in the house shared how he had carefully saved as many of the faces as possible and had no idea the extent of the doll building that his mother did.
That same man came to church this evening. On Thursday nights we have a special worship service with praise and worship music and a time where people, anyone, can share their testimony. There is such power in ones' testimony, ones' story of their life. Tonight was really powerful! I lost count of how many people spoke out about how their life had been and how God had changed them and everything around them. Each story was different but yet the same. All of us have different lives but all of us are loved by God and when He steps in and changes us the praise and glory rings true with each person. They are unable to completely express how they feel and it's as though you can literally see their heart on the outside of their bodies! The church was filled with the presence of the Lord! We even opened the windows of the church so the people walking or driving down the streets could hear the music!
Early tomorrow we will bid farewell to our 12 from PA and around noon another farewell to the team from MI. We ask God to protect them as they travel, to cover them, to lift them up and to reinforce the love and blessings that they brought with them back to them one hundred fold.
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
These photos might be a bit shocking but they are truth; they are what we see every day, what we work in, what the residents see, what they used to live in, what was home to them.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Yesterday our team of 12 from Pennsylvania arrived and early this afternoon our team of 54 from Michigan arrived. The 54 is a team of youth and most of them are making their second trip. They were double shocked when they arrived, once for how much has been done on the church and second for how the city still looks like it did! They realized just how much they are needed.
We also had a nice surprise when 2 girls from northern Indiana returned to work for the week. They have been here before and when their jobs allowed them extra time they headed south! Pastor Teresa was all smiles when she saw them in church!
After getting everything unloaded, they came in a tour bus, we all gathered in the church for our orientation meeting. This is where the basics are spelled out and all of us "long term" volunteers tell where we are from and why we are here. It's a fun time, a time to see the faces of those who have been here before and are thrilled to be back and then the faces of those who have never been here and are wondering about everything. Each day those faces take on an entirely new look. It's an amazing thing to watch. God reaches out and touches each and every person who comes here and it's written all over their faces!
After our orientation we returned home and had another meeting with Joel to discuss the plans and work areas for the teams tomorrow. They will be doing everything from mudding and gutting and yard work to hanging sheetrock. As I have said before, "something for everyone".
The PA team will be having their meals prepared for them by Dovie. The MI team brought their own cooks and will handle things on their own. It's a great choice to offer teams and for only $10 per day per person you can have 3 meals a day prepared for you (Monday through Friday).
Tomorrow is also a special day as it's Dovie's birthday. We all love to celebrate special days and this one will be complete with cards, cake and a couple of surprises!
I also heard from Diane and she arrived home safe and sound early this afternoon. She already had one grandchild with her and was headed to see the other two! Today is her birthday and I'm sure her entire family had a very special day planned for her! (Still doesn't make me miss her any less) :(
Tomorrow starts a new week which will no doubt be filled with miracles and blessings. Be sure and stay tuned.
Until then . . . Susan and Monty
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Yes, we have returned with graduation from missions school completed! The ceremony last night was wonderful and as you can see by the first photo, Ms Faye was there! She made my night! The only sad part is that Mike could not be there. He could use your prayers, again. He is back in the hospital with blood pressure problems. They found him on the floor nearly comatose and admitted him. But there was nothing, and I mean nothing, that would keep Ms Faye from coming!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The couple on the left are missionaries to Guana and the couple on the right are in the Phillipines.
Sorry for no journal entry last night. There were some major problems with my computer and Monty was up into the wee hours getting them worked out. It seems there are people who can hack into computers, use them for their own purposes and end up causing problems (to say the least) to the one who has no idea their computer is being used by anyone other than themselves! Amazing how satan can take every single thing in the world and use it in a destructive way! Thanks to Monty's perserverence all is working okay, for the moment.
Last night we had some pretty powerful storms come through and the rains lasted most all night. Once again I see what happens when living below sea level and heavy rains come!! Flooded streets become the norm.
We did have the opportunity to travel to the far west side of the city last night and even walked through a mall! Surprising how real civilization becomes the abnormal site! It doesn't take long to return to what is the norm for us, streets with no people and houses with no life! Even the stray dog that is running around our homes can't understand what is going on!
Most of my day was spent trying to get some paperwork done for the church and Pastor Teresa. It's surprising the things that are lost in the storm. All of the offering envelopes were destroyed. It's those little things that really add up. I was able to contact a printing company across town who agreed to print new ones for a reasonable price. Just the thought of having offering envelopes with the name of the church on them as soon as this Sunday brought a smile to Pastor Teresa's face!
Today Monty and Allen spent the entire day underneath the van that belongs to the church. The brakes had gone out and needed replaced before anyone could drive it. With a couple of trips for parts and a day to devote to it they got it done and ready to go. Not an easy task in the heat and humidity either! But with our teams starting back in this weekend and continuing steadily over the next 2 months it will be needed on a daily basis.
This evening we went to Pastor Teresa's home for dinner, our usual Wednesday night affair. She always has a wonderful meal and a message for us. Tonight she "hit the nail on the head" as some would say. She challenged us to think outside the box when it comes to praying for people, not waiting for them to approach us and ask for prayer, praying for those we might not think of and basically stretching ourselves. She also encouraged us to be ourselves, be who God created us to be. We knew God brought us here, directly to her, for many reasons and each time we meet together we see another reason! She has such a "real" way about her, something not often found in pastors. Having her for our mentor is such an amazing blessing for the both of us!
I want to let you know that we will be "off the air" for the next 2 nights. We will be traveling for our mission school graduation. Although I look at it as an "ending" I know God is thinking of it as a new beginning. It is alot to mentally and spiritually take in, being ordained ministers and graduated missionaries in less than a week! It's given me so much to think about over the past few days, I have felt "different" and to this point I am unable to get my feelings and thoughts into words! Shocking? you think; No, reality!
By the time we return there will be 2 teams of volunteers on their way here, 12 on one team and 54 on the other. Get ready for a fantastic week of blessings and miracles!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Monday, June 18, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Amen and Amen!
This morning both our teams were off on their flights home! None of them were ready to go, which says alot for their hearts!
Both of these teams had stayed at the church in the 9th ward and within a day you would've thought they were all from the same place and had known each other all their lives! It never ceases to amaze me that when God reaches into peoples' hearts He actually unites them! As I have said many times there are two kinds of ministry that happens here. There is the obvious ministry that develops between homeowners and the teams who come in and help them. Then there is the ministry that happens within the team itself. Even though they come from the same church they probably don't know each other all that well. After spending a week where they not only work together, eat together AND sleep together, they know each other VERY well! They become a family! For the rest of their lives they will have the bond that was formed while here! That is just such an amazing thing to watch from our viewpoint, and it happens every single time!
Speaking of bonds- - - the first week of July we will have a hometown team coming to work with us. One of the local senior high schools is bringing their football team and some Youth for Christ. I just found out this evening that one of those on the team who is coming is our own Pastor's son! You just don't know how much that means to us and how exciting it is! Not only is a piece of home coming, it's a very special piece of home! We have promised to provide alot of photos that week so his family will realize just how special he really is! Get ready John, you are about to experience a life changing week - - - I promise!
For any of you who think you might like to come down and experience all that we have spoken about, just let me know with a phone call or comment at the end of the blog and I will get with you as soon as possible. The one and only guarantee we have is that it will change your life!!!!
Make sure you attend the church of your choice tomorrow and thank God for your many blessings!
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty
Yes, both Monty and I were ordained into the ministry as pastors last night! It was the most humbling experience I have ever had! I still have a hard time taking it all in.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Yes, the heat is definitely on! Even the weathermen are talking about how the heat is here earlier this year! Oh goody! Today we had a temperature of 96 with the humidity above 50% which makes being outside feel like 108 degrees! Sweat takes on a whole new meaning!
Sunday, June 10, 2007
A couple more photos of the mud out that took place yesterday with the team from IL. One of the bedrooms and the bathroom, shocking aren't they! Not to mention that all the dark color you see on the floor is mud, dried, but mud!
This morning we had the blessing of having all 3 teams with us in worship service. Illinois youth group, New Jersey and Kentucky. NJ and KY are staying at the church location and seem to have become family in only one night. They told us how they all had trouble sleeping last night because they kept waking up feeling the need to pray. So pray they did! They were in the middle of their own worship when we arrived this morning.
After the dinner served at the church we had orientation with NJ and KY teams. From there the KY team did some traveling and NJ headed back to Pascagoula, MS to visit the homeowners where they had worked the last time they were here. They had called Rosemary and she was expecting them. It should have been a wonderful thing for Rosemary to see them as they were the first team in her home, helping her to go through all her things prior to any reconstruction being done. One of those relationship things that will last a lifetime - - on both sides.
The Illinois team had taken the afternoon to spend on a "Swamp Tour". They seemed to be quite tired and hot when they got back this evening but said they had a good time. I must admit that I am not completely certain what one of those tours is but I think the name pretty much says it all! With the temps here nearing the triple digits and the humidity near the same it's no wonder they were a bit on the warm side!
Tomorrow they will all be heading to their work sites. Some of them will be finishing sheetrock, probably doing some hefty sanding from their "learning" day last week! :) Others will be installing ceramic tile in a local church and still others will be hanging sheetrock. There will be others painting and as always, the day will be filled with surprises! God has a way of doing that down here! Sure keeps the days from repeating themselves!
Until then . . . God bless! Susan and Monty