Monday, October 29, 2007
Once again I didn't get around to letting all of you know that we were going on travel for awhile and would be off and on for about a week.
And yes, the fall colors in the mountains are outstanding!!! We managed to be here in peak season and God pulled out all the pallets of colors for us! We will be traveling through even more of them today and the sun is shining brightly so it should be wonderful! God has truly blessed us on this trip. Just seeing his beauty revives the soul!
We have had such a blast on this trip. We came to see our team from West Virginia - the team who built Mike and Faye's home in 6 days back in March of this year. You can refer back to then on the blog and see what I am talking about. It was so good to see the guys and to finally meet their wives and families. We spoke at their church and then they had planned a huge picnic for all of us! Brad and his wonderful wife opened their home to all of us, and there was alot of us! Spending the day with all of them, remembering that awesome week hearing them tell how it touched them . . . priceless!
When we return home I will be sure and post photos for all of you to see.
Today we are heading up to PA to see the team who not only gutted Mike and Faye's old home but also returned to furnish their new one and be there for the grand opening. We will also have the opportunity to speak at their church and see friends who are now family!
Be sure and stay tuned. This trip has been, and will continue to be, such a blessing! We love you all!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Ever since I was a little girl I have loved this time of year here at home. As you can tell by the photos I still do.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The summer has suffered such a drought and now we are under storm watches and warnings. This morning brought so much rain at once that the city streets were flooding and getting across town to do a missions report on our local Christian radio station proved to be an adventure in itself.
By this afternoon we saw sunshine and now another round is expected tonight. Just as they say, if you don't like the weather in Indiana stick around because it will changed momentarily!
Yesterday and today had special blessings. As you know, I always talk about the family relationships that were developed with the people in whose homes we worked and within the teams that worked in those homes. Yesterday I received a wonderful phone call from Delores in Gautier. No special reason, she just wanted to call and say she was thinking about us and once again say thank you for all the teams who had come and made it possible to get their home back to a home again! It's those kind of calls that can really brighten one's day.
We also received a call from Convoy of Hope and have a planning meeting scheduled with them in the upcoming weeks. With hurricane season only days from expiring we all must do what we can to prepare for next springs disaster season. It will be here before we know it.
And then there was the phone call from Jenny in CA who is bringing her team into the south to volunteer. She had some last minute questions and concerns and is very excited at doing a mission trip within the states. I will miss getting to meet her in person but she and her church want to be a part of the first response plans and I promised to keep her in the mailing list loop.
I did hear from dear friends of ours in the Gautier area and they told me how a tornado touched down right next to their home this morning. They and their home are fine but their neighbors did not fare so well. There is quite a bit of debris mess and I told them they would now have the opportunity to do some disaster work of their own. They always told us how they would like to do what we were doing and now they get the chance. God has a sense of humor and it's one of those "be careful what you wish for . . . " things! We are thankful that they are okay and pray for their neighbors.
Speaking of prayer. I mentioned to you a couple of weeks ago that our neighbor was undergoing surgery and yesterday they received the results of the biopsy and it wasn't good news. I would ask that you continue to keep Tony and Evie in your prayers.
Also, one of our own Vineyard family underwent extensive surgery yesterday and really needs your prayers. Pete was in surgery for nearly 6 hours, had trouble with his pain meds after, had lungs collapse on him and is having a very tough time. Please also keep him and his family in your prayers.
Prayer contains such awesome power and although we might never visibly see the results with those who we pray for we know God's promise to always hear. Please use the power in your prayers. God gave it to us to be used!
One more short note. Monty and I have a new email address and if you would like it please leave a comment on the blog and I will be happy to see that you get it.
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I awoke early hearing what I thought was someone knocking on our front door. This might not seem strange but we do have a doorbell and so knocking isn't something that usually happens, especially early in the morning. I dozed back to sleep but couldn't relax so got up. No sooner had I come through the bedroom door than my daughter called asking if we were aware of what was going on, that we were under "lock down"?
About 1/2 mile from us the police had an apartment building surrounded as someone had been taking sniper shots from one of the units. We were all ordered to keep our windows closed, our blinds closed and doors locked until the "situation" had been resolved. Opening my blinds and such is the first thing I do each morning so at once I felt "trapped" in the dark. And of course our dogs didn't care about anything except going outside to take care of "business". I did go out with them and felt like I was in a ghost town as every house had their blinds closed and not a vehicle was moving.
Within about 3 hours the gunman had tried to leave the apartment in a car and was captured. He was intoxicated (surprise!) and gave no reason for what he was doing. They did find assault weapons inside, one of which was an AK47 so he did mean business. At this time they still have no motive for what he did.
The entire incident really got me to thinking. The entire time we were in New Orleans I knew we weren't exactly safe. Living in the murder capital of the nation brings some reality to that feeling. Each time I would step outside to let my dogs take care of business I sort of "cringed" at each passing vehicle. Stepping back inside our FEMA trailer brought a slight sense of safety but even there I always wondered how safe we really were.
This morning I realized that we aren't ever really safe, not like we think we are. We are now over 800 miles from the murder capital of the nation and it is still right in our back yard, literally.
So many freedoms and so many things that we take for granted on a daily basis. So many things we get comfortable with and therefore not as alert as we should be. I'm not saying we should live in a state of fear all the time but we should take note of our blessings and not take them for granted.
It never felt so good to open blinds, open windows and doors and step outside to feel the breeze and feel the freedom. But I still found myself crouching just a bit!
Thank God for your freedom and His protection.
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
We used to gather a bunch of friends who played guitars, bass, harmonica or anything else that made music and play and play and play. They play anything from gospel to bluegrass to spiritual. It's just so relaxing and fun and I have really missed it.
This evening it's just Joe, his girlfriend Stacy, and Monty and I. Stacy is a professional singer so it really lights up the evening!
On the homefront I have been working on a letter that we will be sending out to those with whom we have worked with over the past couple of years. This letter has a couple of purposes, one of which is to update people with our mission and another to let them know we are responsible for raising our own salary. It's not an easy thing to put together and I have been running it over and over again both in my mind and on the computer for days now. I think I have it ready to go. Pray that it brings the message as God wishes.
We are also still in process of working in and on our house. Monty has been more than busy with the small repairs of this and that here and there. I have a "pile" in the middle of the house that will be in our garage sale next Saturday. Like I said before, all of us just have too much "stuff" and I am ridding us of quite a bit! Feels quite good!
We are also putting together plans to head to West Virginia and visit with our family of guys who are responsible for the 6 day Speed Build of Mike and Faye's house. If you are new to the blog and missed that miraculous week you can go back in the archives here -- March of 2007 should show you the story. We are so excited to see these guys and get the opportunity to meet the awesome women behind them!
There are just so many people who have become our family and we hope to get to see alot of them over the next few months.
Our deepest thanks to all of you who came in as strangers and left us as family! We love you and miss you more than you know!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Over the past couple of days we have tried to regain some sort of "normalcy" in our lives. Being back home brings a mixture of feelings.
Yesterday there was a fund raiser for Monty's uncle who is battling pancreatic cancer. There was an amazing turn out of people! It was a time to see friends and family that hadn't been seen in years. And yet there was that feeling that even though time seemed to stop for us it continued to roll on for everyone else. We weren't here when Larry was first diagnosed. We haven't been here for the other family get togethers. We have prayed, from a long distance, but haven't been a physical part of the family.
Today we were back in our home church. Yes, our church family and friends are there. Yes, it is wonderful to see them, to give and receive their hugs. But it feels different. They also have continued on with their lives. In one way we have missed so much. We don't know the details behind certain things, don't know the stories, don't even know some of the people. Our lives have been so very different and here we have no one who truly understands what our lives were like. Even though we are in the midst of family and friends again in some ways we feel very alone. It's kind of like time stopped with us but not for everyone else. Hard for you to understand? Even harder for us. I know it's just part of the decompression, part of returning to reality and something that will get better as time goes on. But . . . for now it's a feeling I'm not too partial of.
I do find myself just wanting to be at home and in God's word. I was looking through all our books just this afternoon trying to find something to study, something that I could pour myself into, something that would pour itself back into me. I didn't find it but I also didn't get to the bottom of the box I was looking in either. Maybe tomorrow.
Until then . . . Susan and Monty
Friday, October 05, 2007
Scenery and smiles from Wisconsin!
Today Monty and I had the pleasure of restocking our food pantry at our home church. It felt good to be helping again. It brought some realization to me. I realize that I get alot of my value from things that I DO and I will be struggling with adjusting to not "doing" for awhile now.
I would like to give you the definition of "sabbatical" as this is what Monty and I are in right now and for the next couple of months. "A period of atleast 3 months intentionally set aside by ministry personnel in pastoral relationships as an occasion for reflection, recreation and revitalization unencumbered by their usual and customary responsibilities. It finds expression in study, rest, spiritual retreat and prayer."
Now there might be someone who feels this definition should only be used by those who pastor churches and their congregations. That brings up a conversation Monty and I had with one particular Pastor in the south. We were having dinner one evening, discussing all that God was doing along the coast. This Pastor had tears in his eyes as he told us that there are Pastors all over the nation who will never in their lives reach as many people and touch as many lives as we were reaching and touching in the disaster ministry. It really made me stop and think then and it still does.
I couldn't number the people we met, the homes we entered, the stories we heard, the prayers we prayed, the tears we cried, the hope we brought. All in the name of God who knows that nothing is impossible for Him. It was such an amazing walk.
And now that walk goes into a sabbatical. Shifting my gears into that isn't the easiest thing for me to do. I read a quote today that really expressed a portion of what I am feeling; "I am going into the locker room to evaluate the first half and getting ready for the second half."
Although this segment of disaster relief ministry has ended we are building for the next segment. BUT . . . we must get some rest! We must rest in the Word, in study, in prayer and yes -- in recreation. Resting in the Word, study and prayer are welcome and understandable. The resting in recreation is a bit foreign and might take some getting used to. For now, I choose the Word, study and prayer. I find myself not wanting to be around alot of people, wanting instead to sort of hibernate, reflect, remember and thank God for the amazing walk He has taken us on and praying for the upcoming walks He will continue to take us on.
This is the part that I have trouble with but I know that just getting alone with the Lord, resting in Him, seeking Him and allowing myself to be led by Him is exactly what I need. God is such an amazing God and His callings on our lives are miraculous! I thank Him for this calling on ours!
Until tomorrow. . . rest in Him with me. Susan and Monty
Yes, we were all smiles when we were all together in Wisconsin last weekend. Whether it was our day trip on Steve and Carol's pontoon boat, visiting the Green Bay Packers Stadium or standing in back of Tony and Shirley's house, everything just seemed "right" when we were all together.
Over the past nearly 2 years now I have written from my heart. I plan on continuing to do so, even now. It's the only way I know how to write. It is actually a form of therapy for me and hopefully you will gain some understanding.
I have heard the word "decompression" many times but never really knew how it must feel. I think I am starting to learn. Bear with me as I "digress" and think back over things.
When I felt God's calling to go the the south and "help the people" it was the clearest thing I had ever heard. There was no question, there was really no decision to be made. It was just something I HAD to do. The details weren't spelled out, there was no book of "how to" but there was that knowing that God had called me and that was enough for both Monty and I. From that very day it began. We were constantly meeting people, hearing their stories, feeling their pain, seeing the loss. We were living it 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We operated on a level that neither of us had ever operated before. God supplied our energy, God supplied our strength, God supplied our compassion, God supplied our everything! We didn't take time to feel anything except what we felt for the people. When we pulled in to the parking lot of the church in Pascagoula it began. It continued there for 4 months and went with us when we pulled into another church parking lot in Gautier. It still continued with us as we pulled into the East side and 9th ward of New Orleans. We didn't have "time off" or "time away" as we did when we lived in the secular world. We lived where we worked and adapted to any and all living conditions no matter what they were. Living in 144 square feet of living space requires some adapting! :)
Over those 20 months we met thousands of people. We were continually in the public eye. We saw nothing but devastation, we felt the loss as if it were our own, it was our own! We welcomed team after team after team, people who would drive into the parking lot as strangers and leave less than a week later as family. We watched their lives change. We watched God move in and around and among them. We watched as their own families grew to include the homeowners in whose homes they had worked. Every day we saw miracles, every day we saw God moving, every day we were blessed. I find myself re-reading these words and realizing just how "small" they are in comparison to what God really did. And I also realize that unless you came, unless you experienced, you may have no idea what I am talking about.
Now comes the big question (for me anyway), how do I decompress from all of that emotion, from all of the physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological? How do I sort through all of that?
Please pray for me as I am finding this very difficult.
And thank you for the prayers for my daughter. The surgery went well and she is doing fine.
Until tomorrow . . . Susan and Monty
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Technology is wonderful -- when it works. We have been given plenty of "opportunities" over the past few days to see the not so wonderful part!
Today Monty is working on getting internet set up in our home. Simple?! You would think. NOT! He is currently in town, as we speak, getting parts that are required! I don't even try as I know nothing about getting them connected. He does and it's best that I stay a bit clear, you know what I mean! :)
As you know, we spent a long, wonderful weekend in Wisconsin. You will see some of the photos as soon as possible. We were supposed to arrive home Monday but it seems a layer of "unliftable" fog arrived up north and flights were being delayed and canceled faster than they could post them on the boards. We ended up staying Monday night and trying again yesterday. First thing we saw on the board was that our flight was delayed. It did make it in an hour later and instead of flying into Milwaukee we flew into Chicago. The skies had cleared by the time we reached there and after a layover of a couple of hours we were once again headed home. All the flights were uneventful, which is a good thing! Neither of us are great (or good) flyers so uneventful is great!
Wisconsin was wonderful beyond words. We spent the entire time at the world's best bed and breakfast -- Tony and Shirley's home! Even though Tony was on a mission trip up in Alaska and we didn't get to see him until an hour before time to leave we thoroughly enjoyed their home on the river!
Seeing Diane again, and spending every waking minute together was just like "old times". She transported us all over the place and we even managed to get in a few games of Scrabble! Life just isn't right when the 3 of us aren't together!!
Gregg and Pam from South Dakota also joined us. They spent over 2 months working disaster relief and knew first hand all that goes on. Steve and Carol also joined us. They served 2 "terms" in the south doing exactly what Monty and I did. They blessed us with a day on the lakes, touring around on their pontoon boat! Not even they could believe how beautiful the weather was. A definite God Thing as only God could know just how much we all needed a day like that. We had "brainstorming" sessions all day one day and it was great! As I have said before, this ministry is about to take on an entirely new face and we are so excited about it! Diane's church has such a vision when it comes to missions and it was so awesome for us to have someone share in our calling.
I would like to ask for extra special prayers. My youngest daughter, Lindsay, lives in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. Come tomorrow morning she will be undergoing surgery to remove a cyst. For all of you who are mothers you know how difficult it is for me to be here and she to be there! Please pray for her as this isn't an easy surgery. Thank you!!
We are so excited that all of you are continuing on this journey with us. Things are changing and things are happening and things are growing and things are GREAT! Hopefully I will be back to blogging more often. I miss it and I miss all of you!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty