Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Checking in

Sorry it's been a whole week but I am now having troubles with my laptop and am working from a church. Therefore there are also no pictures!! Bear with me, I'll get things worked out! :)

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

Two more head home to MN

Here is a great photo of all the long term volunteers. Today we bid farewell to 2 more of them.
Ciri and Brandon headed back home to Minnesota this evening. If felt like having my own children leave! Both have been here for about 2 months and in those months everyone becomes family. We pray for their safe travel as they have such a long way to go.
Ciri owns her own Irish Dance Studio at home and took time this summer to teach the church children to dance. This morning they dance for all of us in church and I have no doubt that the Lord was smiling from ear to ear! They were dancing for the Lord and it showed in every step, in every move and in every smile! Ciri will not only be missed by us here but also by those children whose lives she touched so deeply.
Brandon asked us to not do any more work in Laura's house unless he was here! He took ownership of all the work done there and hated to leave. He learned to hang sheetrock and could work right along side of the pros. He might have a quiet nature in social situations but put him on the job and he takes hold of it!
It's so hard to see these "kids" leave. They really have been like my own children and have, at times, made me miss my own a bit less. I truly believe that God placed each one of them here to add to my kids and allow me to love them as if they were my own. He has a way of doing things like that!
We are still keeping a very close eye on hurricane Dean and praying for the Lord to blow it out before it causes any more damage! Please join us in those prayers. We have lived and seen and experienced first hand what happens with these storms. The destruction lives on after the storm has blown through and has collapsed. We are nearing the 2 year anniversary here and in most areas it looks like we should be 2 months after the storm instead of years! You have seen the photos. Some of you have seen it first hand and know exactly what I am talking about! Again, please join us in this prayer.
I want to also let you know that blog entries will be off and on over the next days. Monty and I have quite a list of business that needs taken care of. Our access to the internet will also be off and on so please bear with us and also keep us in your prayers.
Until next time . . . God bless all of you! Susan and Monty

Preparation for . . .

Yes, sometimes we do have a bit of time for some fun! With the group of younger, long term volunteers you just can't help but find those moments that are priceless! The photo on the right is one of those. Mark decided to give Monty a very big!! hug and it was hilarious!
The above photo is Allen and Dovie's son, Alex with Ciri in the canoe last night. I think Alex was quite happy when they got back to shore!
Today Joel and Janssen headed out for their road trip. We pray they will be safe and protected on each and every mile they cover!
The rest of us spent the day in preparation. Some also preparing to travel and some of us just trying to get tools and things in order. With teams in and out the tool situation can get out of control and sometimes you just have to stop and put it all back together. Today was one of those days and we got it done!
Once again we are also preparing for hurricane Dean. Even though the forecast doesn't have it coming to our immediate area every single person here knows that can change in a matter of minutes. We are all praying that it will just blow out and all will be safe. We would ask that all of you pray the same prayer and ask your churches to do the same. God parted the waters for the Israelites, calmed the storm for the disciples and did a multitude of miracles. He is still in the business of doing miracles. I think we shortchange ourselves by thinking He can't or isn't doing them anymore and blowing out a category 5 hurricane is impossible! "We don't have because we don't ask". Monty and I are asking and we pray you will do the same.
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thank you Pennsylvania

Yes, very early this morning we said a tearful goodbye to our PA team. The group photo was taken last night after our testimony service. Getting 21 people together for a photo isn't an easy task. And yes, adding 1 from NJ made the family complete! We pray they will have safe travel again tomorrow. They were driving part way today, stopping for the night and should arrive late tomorrow. We thank them for everything they did and most of all for coming back to work with Monty and I. What a great team - and family!!
Once we bid them farewell the rest of us got busy. We had alot we needed to accomplish and a time period to get them done.
Our first stop was to the School of Urban Missions location. They are closing down both the school and relief center on the West Bank here. They have already been more than generous with their supplies and had some tents for us to pick up this morning. Once we got them loaded on the trailer we headed to our warehouse to unload them.
From there we headed back to where we live to unload the doors given to us. Those doors came from Mississippi. Mark went and picked them up Wednesday but our truck broke down, with all the doors loaded on it. The wrecker showed up with the truck in tow very late last night. The doors had to be unloaded from the truck and reloaded on the trailer to be taken to the warehouse. The dark clouds were coming at us from both sides but we made it and it never even rained where we were. We were soaking wet, sweating was once again too easy today! And working in the warehouse manages to mix black dirt in with that sweat making for quite the mess. But we got it done and were back in enough time to shower before our evening appointment.
We were invited to Papa and Mama Dufor's home for a cookout this evening. They live on the water and their home was hit with the 30foot surge of water in the storm. They received alot of damage, said they found seaweed bound up UNDER their shingles on their roof! They aren't done yet but they are living back in the house and waiting for FEMA to come and pick up their trailer.
Papa had his fishing poles ready to go and Monty had his loaded. There was an awful lot of fishing going on and you can see by the photo that Janssen was the one who brought in "the big one"! And it WAS a big one! Monty got the net underneath and they discovered the huge redfish! Everyone had a great time. We even got out in the canoes and took a "stroll" through the area. It was good for all of us to get away and relax, laugh, eat and have some fun! It was especially fun since Janssen will be heading home tomorrow. He is planning on returning but what a way to "go out".
I have a couple of special notes.
1. We found a small leather Bible underneath one of the beds here at the East location. It belongs to someone named Heather Nicole and is signed by her parents. We would love to return it to you but don't know exactly who you are and where you are. If you will leave a comment at the end of the blog I will do my best to return it to you.
2. Someone named Judy also commented about possibly returning to work with us for a longer time. I am sorry to say that your name doesn't ring a bell with me and I need more info. You can also leave your info in the comment section (I won't publish any comments with personal information in them).
We would also ask for prayers in regard to hurricane Dean. No one or no place along the entire Gulf of Mexico is ready for another hurricane. Please pray that this storm will lessen in strength.
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blessings through testimonies

Yes, today they banded together and cleaned and cleaned and then cleaned some more. Windows and walls got washed, floors got mopped, dishes got washed and bathrooms got cleaned. All the really deep cleaning that is difficult to get done when teams are coming and going each week.
They were awesome and St. Luke is sparkling and shining like it hasn't in quite awhile!
Part of the team was still working away in Margauritte's house trying to get as much done on their last day as possible.
The other part was still in Laura's house also trying to get as much sheetrock hung as possible. They also had the blessing of being able to spend some time with Laura today and getting to know her better.
Getting to know the homeowners here in New Orleans isn't something that happens often. Most of them were forced to relocate someplace other than here and they don't get back to their homes as much as they would like. When teams do get to meet them and spend some time with them it is really an added blessing.
This evening was our usual Thursday night worship and testimony night. We stayed here at the East location and packed the porch. Testimonies are always such a special time. Hearing how God has touched and worked through the team members brings such life to everyone present. Tonight included some special prayers for special healing. You could feel God's presence in the room.
This team took a trip back to MS last evening to spend time with Mike and Faye. Of the 21 that are here, most of them had been here last Sept and did the tear out of their home. Only 4 of them had seen the final results. The rest of them had only heard the stories and seen the pictures. They had a wonderful evening. Ms Faye had a special cake awaiting them and they all were so happy to reconnect and for the new ones, see the faces and hear the voices! This bond between this family and this church will last for a lifetime! THIS is what the rebuilding is all about! Rebuilding lives!!!
We are so thankful to this team for coming back to work with us. They were such a joy and blessing while we were in MS and they were even more so here! And the best news is that they want to plan another trip for this winter! Go team!!
For us long-termers, it was so uplifting to see this team go out into the hottest week of the year and never complain! They just wore their bandanas, drank their water and worked and worked and worked. Not a single one down with any health problems. Now you know God was working here this week!
They will be leaving us around 6am tomorrow and we will be very sad to see them go! Please keep them in your prayers for safe travel. They will be on the road for 2 days before reaching home and their loved ones!
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Painting Princesses

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!
And then there were those who spent the day scraping and scraping and scraping windows! Some of you might think "how dull, how boring" but their faces say the opposite.
And then we have Jansen and Pastor Tony. Smiling through the sweat band and looking as though they have known each other their entire lives, not just a few days.
The final two photos are another part of the team who went and wacked away weeds taller than their heads to keep the homeowner from having his home dozed over. Yes, for those who have not been able to keep their yards taken care of there is now the danger that the city will come in and push over their homes. They do receive written notices and then we get the call and away we go. Be careful not to judge them and think that "the least they could do is mow their yards", remember that alot of them have had to relocate to places far away and others are not physically able to care for their places without the help of people who used to be their neighbors who would come and lend them a hand. Alot more than the homes themselves were lost. Those who have come back and are trying to rebuild say the thing they really miss is their neighbor. They might be the only family on the block who came back!
The third part of the team was still working on hanging the sheetrock. Once again they made wonderful progress and the house is starting to look like a home.
The entire team had planned to have dinner early and drive over to Mississippi to visit with Ms Faye and Mr Mike. That plan had to be delayed until tomorrow. Mr Mike went into the hospital for what was to be an outpatient surgery. The doctors were going to remove the stent in his chest that has been used for his dialysis. In and out was the plan, and it was that way -- until they took him directly to dialysis and tried to use the existing stent in his arm. It had closed too much from not being used that the dialysis was not possible. Since he cannot miss a single appointment they took him straight back to surgery to place another stent in the other side of his chest. He entered the hospital at 6:30 this morning and got home that same time this evening. He is exhausted!!! So the team will be making the trip tomorrow. Please keep both Ms Faye and Mr Mike in your prayers. All of these health problems have a tendency to wear on them and today was one of those days!
So . . . the team took a drive into the lower 9th ward where some of the houses are being dozed over. As I write this I have not talked with any of them to hear any news. I plan on getting there tomorrow and see for myself. It's not someplace I get to very often.
Thanks to your prayers Monty was back working today. His chest discomfort is gone and he spent most of the day with the team at Margauritte's house. Later in the afternoon he went back to the church and hung a few more of the decor going in.
I have been working on some Power Point presentations as we will be doing some speaking engagements in churches over the next weeks. Putting those together is not easy. It's nearly impossible to show the complete picture of what it looks like here. No matter how many photos I use it just doesn't relay the real story, the real pain, the real need for volunteers. We will put the pictures together, we will tell the stories and we will pray that God touches the hearts of those who are listening and they will get the real story by feeling instead of seeing. As I have said many times and will continue to say, WE cannot do this alone. The keys are the volunteers who continue to come to help, who continue to take a week or a few days from their own lives to help others who have lost so much. THIS is showing God's love in one of the most practical ways we can think of. THIS is following in Jesus' footsteps! I don't know about you but I choose to follow His steps instead of anyone elses!
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, August 13, 2007

From Jess (IN) to Mom

The heat didn't seem to mind most folks today.
Could it be we are getting used to it?
After the orientation and devotion this morning the PA team was divided in two and away they went. One of the men is skilled in construction so he went with Mark to finish the ceiling sheetrock in Michael's house.
Part of the team went with Jansen to finish removing the brick from Pastor Brown's house so it can be raised to the new flood levels.
The other part went with Jess and Brandon to the house one street over from where we live to continue hanging sheetrock.
The pictures pretty much speak for themselves. Notice that everyone is smiling, no matter how hot and sweaty they are. When they did get done for the day I saw Brandon literally squeezing the water from the shirt he had been wearing!
The top photo is all the girls telling their families back home "I love you" in some sort of sign language.
The bottom three photos were taken at Jess's request. She wanted to be sure and tell her mom that she loved her and this was her way of letting her know. She said her mom reads the blog every day and wanted to make sure she knew Jess is okay! Mom, you have a great daughter! Her smile is priceless!!
The entire team was treated to a local favorite for dinner this evening - jambalaya! I did hear one of the team admit he had never had such a thing but from the looks of things he was pretty pleased with the results. Dovie always tries to provide the teams with some of the local flavor while they are here. No doubt red beans and rice will be on the menu sometime this week.
I would ask for some special prayers this evening. Monty has been down all day today with chest discomfort and just overall not feeling well. Most of you know that he had a heart attack 3 years ago so any chest discomfort brings back memories and fear. His blood pressure and pulse rates are good and maybe this is God's way of telling him he needed a day out of the heat and hard physical work? We both would appreciate your prayers for healing!
Until tomorrow . . . when the heat continues . . . Susan and Monty

She's got "it"

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

Goodbye Minnesota

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

Just a swingin" on her porch

Our morning started with the heat index at 112 degrees at 9:00 AM!!! Saying we were all a bit sluggish pretty much describes it.

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

Church Decorating

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

"Dog Days" for sure

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

Free BBQ second time

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

WA and MN and NJ

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

Welcome Jessica and Minnesota

This was taken of our team during their roofing job this past week! Roofing and near 95 degrees and they never had a negative comment! Must be God involved somewhere in there!! :)
After church this morning Monty and I headed to the airport to pick up Jessica from New Jersey. She and her team have already been here working with us 3 times. Her heart keeps bringing her back and so she decided to follow her heart and come and spend 2 weeks with us this time. She said it's the first time she has flown alone and did very well. She will be working right with the teams already here and by spending 2 weeks she will be able to really get a better understanding to how God is working here. For us, it was like having family come back. She remembered that it was exactly one year ago today that the team from Jersey came to spend a week with us while we were working in Mississippi. We all laughed when we realized that it seems like we have known each other for a life time instead of just a year! We thank Pastor Mike for recognizing her heart and making it possible for her to come back. And for Mom -- we promise to take good care of her!
At the same time Jess was landing at the airport the team from Minnesota was landing. They were delayed since their flight was cancelled yesterday but today all was well. There are 6 of them and since they have some experience in roofing they will be quite busy being high and lifted up this week. We don't get people experienced with roofing here very often.
As you can see, this will be a week packed with action and wonders and miracles. We hope you don't miss a day! And we hope the internet makes it possible for me to blog each day. The email thing is still "under construction" and I pray that construction is completed by tomorrow!
Until then . . . Susan and Monty

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Picnic for the neighborhood

Before I get into anything about today I have a note for some of you who might have been trying to email us something. Our email account is down, the site is undergoing some changes and in doing so we are a bit frustrated because we cannot access it. So . . . please bear with us until we can get it back.
Today was an incredible day. What a blessing for the neighborhood, and anyone else who happened to drive by. The team from Washington had planned a picnic barbeque from 1:00 - 5:00pm today here at our east location. You can see some of the faces, the ones who stood at the grills in near 100 degree temps and never complained and those who were the fortunate ones to be under the small tent! I don't have a head count but am guessing we served atleast 100 people and probably more. Some who stopped were people who were working on neighbors homes, others stopped just to see if the sign saying it was free was true -- it was! They cooked hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken with all the fixins. They had games for the kids and thanks to the sidewalk chalk our sidewalks are some of the most beautiful ever! It was just such a blessing for those few neighbors who are here or who are trying to come back to be able to get a free meal and get to know others. Some came and stayed the entire afternoon and others just came by in their cars and trucks.
This team knew exactly what they were going to do and had the planning to an art. They will be doing the same thing on Tuesday evening at our church in the 9th ward and I expect it to be packed with people!
We did say goodbye to our California team this morning -- actually last night as they were up and out of here around 3:00am for their flight! They spent last evening in the French Quarter seeing the sights and getting the sights and sounds of what makes New Orleans tick! Yes, there is Bourbon Street and it's not someplace most Christians want to visit but that street is only one in the quarter. Walking through all the others hearing the music and seeing people from all over the world is a great experience, not to mention sampling the cajun and creole foods they are famous for!
All in all it was one of those days where we count it such a blessing to be here, to see the people, to hear their stories and to see the smiles come on their faces when hospitality is shown to them, no matter what they look like, no matter how they are dressed, no matter what language they speak! They are all God's children and when they realize it -- it's priceless!
Thank God for being counted as one of His children when you enter His house tomorrow.
Monty and I will be driving to the airport immediately after church tomorrow to pick up Jessica from New Jersey who is coming to spend 2 weeks with us! Awesome!!
And we will be continuing to keep Joel's daughter, Jessica in our prayers. She went back home to Indiana for the weekend but will be returning early next week.
Also in our prayers is Suzanne who also went home to Indiana (go home state!!) and will also be returning in about a month!
Blessings to all of you until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Miracles mixed with sweat

A variety of pictures that don't begin to describe the day!
You might ask why people are cutting grass in the sunshine on an extremely hot day? It's one of those joy of the Lord things! Even cutting grass that took twice as long because of the height of the grass! Most of the youth from Washington spent the entire day walking through the neighborhood doing yard work and it was fantastic! I was looking through the gate at the church when I took the one of Allen mowing (actually he grooms the lawn).
The next two show the awesome cross inlaid in tiles inside the sanctuary at St. Luke's. These men and their creativity is incredible. Monty asked them to put in a cross in the area and put in a cross they did! You can see the over-view under the arch and get the big picture.
The next two are the men installing carpeting in the house across the street from the church. Once again, a job well done!
The last two introduce Beau and Inez and their home. They were living in an apartment after being flooded from this home. The apartment was broken into two times and they were forced to leave and return to their house. The walls are missing in most places and they have no furniture. But ... this team is working wonders and not only with the building itself! Beau is a man who doesn't say much, has a few mental difficulties and isn't cognitive most of the time. But I witnessed another miracle this morning. I was sittting on the swing with the both of them, waiting on the team so I could get some photos. When that team pulled up and Beau saw the men he lit up like a light bulb! He greeted them with a smile and started talking like there was absolutely nothing wrong with him! It's those kinds of relationships that change lives, both of the homeowner and the team!
There was still another crew on top of a roof all day! The last place you would want to be on a day like this? Not for this team. They came back all smiles underneath some sunburn and said the breeze and the water made it a really great day!
This evening we had our weekly chapel time where team members can give a testimony about anything that has happened while they have been here. Amazing that after nearly 2 hours we have to stop due to the late hour! One God-thing after another!! It just seems to happen on a daily basis around here! And we are the blessed ones to be here on a daily basis to experience them all! We thank you for making that possible and for sharing in the blessings!
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Washington comes in mid-week

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