Tuesday, August 28, 2007
We have been on the road and although we are supposed to be getting some much needed rest it has come sporadically!! We had the blessing of speaking at a city wide church service the other night and it was such a blessing to be able to share a tiny bit of what has been happening on the gulf. At the same time it is also one of our biggest challenges --- trying to use pictures and words to tell of the miracles! Neither can tell the story but they are all we have. For those of you who have come and worked either with us or another relief organization, you know exactly what I mean!
We will continue our traveling for the next couple of weeks and I hope to be able to let you in on some of the things we are doing.
I do have a very special prayer request from today. Our home pastor, Pastor Dave, received word that his mother is in the hospital. They are running tests to try and determine the problem. The entire family would really appreciate all your prayers. His parents are in Florida and all that distance makes things even more stressful.
There is an update with Monty's sister. She had her second surgery, is home and doing very well. We thank all of you for keeping her in your prayers. Undergoing 2 surgeries in such a short amount of time wasn't easy but the Lord is working healing and we are so thankful!
We pray all of you are safe and doing well. Thank you for continuing to come with us on our mission. I miss blogging each night and will be returning to doing so in the next couple of weeks. (pray for my laptop) :)
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Here they are, the painting princesses! These two women stood outside, under a "shade"? tree and painted trim for Marguarette's house. And once again you can see by their faces that the heat wasn't the thing on their minds! The smiles, that joy that comes from inside and isn't based on outward circumstances!
Monday, August 13, 2007
I wasn't going to do a blog entry tonight but God woke me up at 3am with different ideas. (It was either Him or the black beans combined with M&Ms I had for dinner)
This is Jess from Jersey back in June when she was here with her team. This is a great mother and daughter moment.
I shared one of those special moments with her this morning before church started. Sorry Mom but this one was for me!
Jess has "got it". The "it" is something that happens when you come here, when you work for the Lord, when you have that heart of a servant, when you have a love, a deep love, for people who have been hurt so deeply. As we were talking Jess said she now realized how awesome it was to be here longer than the usual coming in and leaving in a week. She feels the draw, she feels the Holy Spirit tugging at her heart. She feels the love for the people, for people she doesn't really "know" as we would in the "real" world, but she feels it none the less. It's that draw to want to do something to help them. It's that draw to want to share Jesus with them, not necessarily in the verbal, more in the actions. She talked about how she has only been here a week today and yet it seems as though she has been here forever. She talked about how she bonded with the MN team and how she misses them, yet she is also now bonding with the PA team and they are becoming family.
She and I both talked about family. She does miss her family at home, her biological family as the world would call it. But . . . God has extended her family here. She now has family from places she would have never dreamed of.
Yet she realizes how God is stretching her. One area she has been working on is communication. She used to be a quiet child. God has other ideas for her and she is realizing them more and more each day. She has spent alot of time with the "younger" long term volunteers here, time talking, time praying and time in God's word. Not something you would expect of kids in the 18 to 28 year old range. One of those "God-things" again.
I write this to prepare you, those of you back in Jersey who call Jess family. She is changing, God is changing her. God is doing a work in her heart, her mind and her soul. She is growing. She will not return to you the same young woman, she has been touched by God and she is changed. Embrace the changes, encourage the young woman to continue to walk with God, to continue to follow His calling.
Jess from Jersey is special. She is called by God, she is chosen by God and He has a wonderful plan for her life. Thank Him for sharing her with you.
We thank Him for sharing her with us! Our lives have been touched, our family has grown and we will never be the same.
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Our soon to be warehouse, Spirit of Praise ready to be power washed inside. We now know we will be blessed with a new roof which will make us able to use it as a true warehouse.
Mid afternoon we bid farewell to our team from Minnesota. They took this morning and did some looking around the city, came back and packed for their flight home. We will miss them and pray they will take the reality of here back home and rally the troops to keep on coming!
Alot of our long term volunteers took the day to head to the beach for a day of fun. Monty and I did not go. It's just too hot for the beach, if that is possible! This time of year the water is very warm and not all that refreshing but we know the team had a great time. They are mostly in their mid to late 20's and always have a great time whatever they are doing. Yes mom, Jess from Jersey went with them and she is fine! :)
Monty and I used the day to get some errands accomplished. Even doing that in 100 degree temps can be trying!
By early evening the team from Pennsylvania arrived. It is so exciting to see family return. The very first time this team came (last Sept) there were 11 of them. They are the ones who gutted out Ms. Faye's house and when they left we had no idea what God had planned. All they knew was we couldn't rebuild their existing home. This team adopted the family and kept them in their prayers. When God made a way for us to build them a brand new home 4 members of this team returned to bless the family and be there for the grand opening. Now they return, this time there are 21 of them!! Parents brought their older children to share this experience with them. Pastor Tony was telling us how well things are going at their church and how God has blessed them since their first trip. The Bible tells us all that when we bless others God will return those blessings to us a hundred fold. Somehow I don't think we take Him at His word. Time and time again we hear the reality of that promise when the teams return to work in the relief effort for another time! This will be an awesome week so be sure and stay tuned!
We pray all of you will be in your home churches thanking God for your own blessings tomorrow.
Until then . . . Susan and Monty
Friday, August 10, 2007
But . . . as usual the MN team was ready to go. They were going back to sheetrocking and putting the last piece on Michael's ceiling and starting the coats of finish to it. Jess from NJ took the day to get some extra rest. She didn't sleep all that well last night and Troy, the MN team leader convinced her to take it easy today and get some rest. She felt much better by this evening and went out with the team. Sometimes the heat can take a toll and it's better to sit out for a day than do too much.
Speaking of just that, Monty didn't pay much attention to his own rules today! He was at Michael's house also, outside finishing the roof. It was just too hot to be out doing so and by this evening he is pretty wiped out. When he did come back at lunch time we had gotten a call from Pastor asking if we could put up a porch swing at her house. Her last of three sons is getting married tomorrow and the rehearsal dinner was at her house tonight. A few weeks ago her nephews came for a visit and "somehow" her porch swing on the front porch broke?! Monty and I were able to find just what she wanted and got it up just in time for her to come home and be very happy! She then had quite a few pictures that needed hung inside and by the time we left things were really looking good. She will be marrying her son and wife to be, she has also married the first two. What an added blessing that would be, for all parties!
This evening Monty and I took a drive down Canal Street and through downtown. It still amazes me to see all the lights and things down there and then come back to this side of town into the darkness. It's evident as we drive east on the interstate. I always think of how the lights must have continued to this side of town and how it must have also been full of life. Now the life seems gone, even with the few people living either in their trailers or inside their homes. I did hear the statistic yesterday that 20 percent of the population is back, only 20 percent after 2 years!!! Shocking!!
Please continue to keep this city and it's people in your prayers.
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Yes, today was decorate the church day. Ciri and I shopped most of the morning picking up things she had already picked out, and some things she hadn't. You can see her putting together a couple of the chairs that go with the table she picked out. The entrance of the church has now been transformed.
You can see where Monty spent most of his day! And this is a man who doesn't like heights!! Seriously -- he usually avoids them at all cost but I guess working in God's house makes anything possible. He was busy hanging crosses above the arches in the church. There are 4 arches on each side of the sanctuary and a cross hangs above each one. You can see that the church is block which is why it survived the flood of 11 feet inside but also makes hanging things on the walls quite the challenge!
Ciri still has quite a few things going and day by day it is coming together! She is doing such a wonderful job and it's good to see Pastor Teresa smile when she comes into the sanctuary.
The MN team and NJ Jess were busy putting in the last of the insulation and hanging and finishing sheetrock. They were going back and forth between 2 houses, both of which are right here in our neighborhood. They have the roof job finished and even though it was more than hot up there it's also hot inside homes because of no air conditioning.
Speaking of the heat, our LOW last night was 86 degrees! Today was the hottest yet and there is no break in site. Even inside the church, with the air on, we were all 3 soaked clear through everything! Even the teams had a tough time getting moving this morning.
This evening is the chapel service of testimonies throughout the week. Monty and I are not there as he is at Pastor Teresa's house helping her husband install a new air conditioner for their living room. It's not a good idea for me to go out alone after dark so I am here catching up on some things that need caught up. As I have said before, our lives are a bit different here, safety being the most important.
We are so blessed to have all of you out there praying for us and we thank you for all of those prayers!
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Just a couple of updated photos of Ms Faye and their home after they had the canopys installed over the windows of their home. It looks beautiful! We stopped by when we went and picked up the furniture on Monday! I sure do miss seeing them!
VERY early this morning the team from Washington state headed home. All should be safe and sound and back in their comfortable beds tonight. We all came into the porch for our morning devotions to see a huge poster on the wall that they left for us. It had all their signatures with a big thank you on it! Sure brought a smile to all our faces so early in the morning! Thanks to you -- each of you -- for coming and being a blessing to so many! We hope you come back and see us again.
Like I said, devotions seemed rather small this morning with just the MN team and Jess from NJ. Part of the family was gone. But MN kicked in, regardless of the oppressive heat, and went to insulate and sheetrock. We didn't get to see them this evening because of our weekly meeting but heard they did a wonderful job -- once again! Jess just might be heading to MN when this team leaves --- no mom, I'm only kidding! But you would think they were family, and they are in God's family!
Monty and I spent most of the day in the church. Ciri has been in the process of decorating the church. Most people would say redecorating but to redecorate you must have had decorations to begin with. Since Pastor Teresa was given this church building after the storm and when it had 11 feet of water inside it there were no decorations to start with. Today was the day the furniture started coming together and coming inside the building. Monty helped her get it put together and she and I will be heading out tomorrow morning to pick up the rest of it. Sunday should be quite a nice surprise for those "regulars" as they will see some beautiful changes! It's nice to help put things together and somehow I just felt God was looking down on us and smiling!
I'm not even going to go in to "just how hot was it?" I'll just say that the only thing that should have been on sidewalks or parking lots today was an egg and possibly some bacon!! And tomorrow is to be hotter! I must admit that sweating at 11pm is a new one for us!
We pray all of you are keeping cool and safe as it appears this heat wave is not only here on the coastline.
Until tomorrow . . . DRINK WATER!!!!! Susan and Monty
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Never mind that it's so hot we have a heat advisory for the NIGHT?? Made no difference to the team from Washington or the people who came and formed a line half way around the block for the free BBQ! You can see for yourself how crowded it got and how much fun they all had. There were water balloons for the kids, bubbles which flew overhead for the entire evening and hula hoop action that would cause some of us older ones to need a good chiropractor. The free groceries were going quite well along with some of the other free items that were placed in their bags as surprises. I have no idea the final count of hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken but I do know it was alot!!! Even the military police stopped by in their Hummer to have a bite and give all of us the opportunity to thank them for their continued protection. From the looks on their faces I don't think they get a thank you very often.
Yes, the heat index is so high we do have an advisory out for tonight. Last night the LOW was 84 degrees!
That also did not stop the roofing crew from going out early this morning to get a head start on the heat. There is also the team sheetrocking and spraying homes for mold. Just another day where teams are spread all over the city doing whatever is needed to rebuild lives and bring hope!
Jessica, from Jersey, has teamed up with our Minnesota team and is doing some sightseeing with them this evening. You would think they all came down together and had known each other a lifetime!
Monty was busy working in Pastor Teresa's office nearly all day. The base trim really looks good and she was especially happy to see it getting done when she came in with some real office furniture this afternoon! Amazing the things we normally take for granted! She doesn't even have a desk at this point in time, it's coming!!
Jessica, Joel's daughter made it back this evening. From the smile on her face she seemed to be really happy to be "home" again.
And for those of you wondering about my email account problems -- let's just say it was a "trying" day but I did discover the problem and was forced to open a new account with another provider so our account is now at a different address. For those of you who didn't receive the new address you can comment at the end of the blog entry and I will send it to you. Or you can just call me and I'll be happy to make sure you get it.
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty
Monday, August 06, 2007
First of all -- so sorry folks but my email account is still down!! Please bear with me!!
Monty took these photos. This is what some little girls' baby dolls look like after the storm and flood! They are in the dashboard of someones truck. Brings a bit of harsh reality to everything.
Yes, we have 3 states here for the beginning of the week. Washington is here until Wednesday. Today they made preparations for the cookout they will hold at St. Lukes tomorrow early evening. They took flyers around the neighborhood to let as many know as possible. I think that word of mouth will bring in people by the droves!
Our Minnesota team has a couple of people who have done roofing before so they went to the roofing job that Jansen and the team worked on last week. Now please realize that roofing alone is not an easy job. Throw in a day with heat warnings and bright sunshine and you have a really tough day! They were on the roof until noon and then the heat drove them off. They were able to join another group and hang some sheetrock inside. Even that is tough as there is no air conditioning but no one complains! Jessica from New Jersey worked with this team today and this evening they are also all together in town seeing some of the sights.
Monty and I had the pleasure of driving to Mississippi to tap into one of our resources for some furniture for Javante and his family. It was amazing as the donor knew the furniture was coming to New Orleans and it made no difference. She has a wonderful heart of service and we are so thankful to her. The family had smiles that stretched clear across their faces when we pulled up and they saw the load hanging off the back of Monty's truck! As always, God brings the people to us and He also provides for them! What an awesome "job" we have. The trip did take us all day as we had a couple of tire "issues" but God also stepped in on those and we were fine.
We do have a very special prayer request this evening. First thing this morning we had a voice mail from our very dear friends back home. Debbie and Darrel have been good friends for years. When Debbie's mother passed away a few years ago they brought her father up from Texas, added on and completely remodeled their house and he became a live in part of their family. His health wasn't good and it didn't improve when he got here but emotionally he loved being with family. Debbie called to say that he passed away and they were on their way to Texas to bury him. Monty and I would really appreciate all of you keeping them in your prayers! We all know the angels are rejoicing but he will be missed by not only their family but also their friends!
We pray all of you are well.
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
This was taken from the back door of a house that has been gutted out. Yes, those are weeds, not trees. If the homeowner doesn't get the yard cleaned up they will not only be fined but also in danger of having the house demolished.
Our California men are working, working, working. A couple of them worked at St. Luke's again today with the flooring, trim and doors. Monty joined them and it's really starting to come together. All I need to do is get over there and put my office area back together and we will be good to go.
Another part of the team was only a couple of houses away from here at the East location doing construction.
Still others were working in Inez's home doing whatever they could do. Inez and her husband were living in another part of the city but it wasn't safe for them to stay there so they had to move back into their home with no walls, flooring or bedroom. These men working there are the perfect example of what it means to rebuild someones life by rebuilding their home!
By late this evening our newest incoming team, once again from the state of Washington, arrived. This is a youth group who will be ministering to the city folks in alot of different ways over the next week.
Us "long term" volunteers met at Pastor Teresa's house for our usual dinner and fellowship evening. It's such a blessing to all of us to have a pastor who wants to make sure that all of us that are on the "front lines" are being ministered to! We always leave feeling refueled for the rest of the week! She had been gone for the past 2 weeks and I think she missed us as much as we missed her!
And of course the heavy rains also came back late this afternoon! They come nearly every day and today it was a big one complete with lightning and thunder! We all are keeping a very close eye on the weather since we are in the middle of the hurricane season.
We would ask for special prayers for the disaster that happened in Minnesota this evening. The bridge over the Mississippi river collapsed during the height of rush hour. Three of our long term volunteers are from Minnesota and would appreciate prayers for those of their home state.
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty