Sunday, March 30, 2008

The house that FAITH is building

How can I possibly tell the story of 2 days without writing for 2 days!!??
I can't, it's just that simple.
Yesterday was prep work day for today and after Pastor Rick delivered an awesome opening devotion this morning to kick things off the day and the house just flew!
You can see from the photos all of the progress. We went from just the subflooring to all exterior and interior walls done. The electric has started, along with the plumbing. The windows are in and the trussess are on. Sheetrocking will be started by tomorrow afternoon.
An amazing group of people who just have the heart, the love and the willingness to come and do as God calls them!
Even our on-site security team, Glen and Donna, who brought their camper and are living on site to make sure all materials don't "walk away".
Inspections start tomorrow and Ms Ollie has the responsiblity of praying for our weather and so far she has done a perfect job!
I am exhausted and will post more tomorrow. Thanks to all the family members who are entrusting us with their loved ones!!! Blessings to all of you!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, March 28, 2008

Setting the Stage

Day One = setting the stage!!
What an amazing start! Clear skies and temps hovering around 80.
Joe and Crysta arrived at the Gulfport airport early this morning and as soon as we picked them up we headed to the jobsite.
Monty had a special errand to run -- Salvation Army donated a pallet -- yes, a pallet -- of water! He took the box truck and away he went to get it picked up! It will be amazing to see how quickly it goes! We are so very thankful to them for such a needed donation!
Once we hit the site we got straight to work. The subflooring needed some finishing touches as you can see above. Good thing the men come equipped with such muscles! The deliveries started right at 8am and continued till near 5pm. You can see in the one photo both Joe and Monty on the equipment getting everything stacked properly. The bulk of them showed up at high noon, just as our lunch was being delivered by Ms Anita and her husband. They cooked up authentic Mexican cuisine for us and it was greatly enjoyed and appreciated by all as you can see in the above photo. They are doing the same thing for us tomorrow! Way over a year ago we went into their trailer park and helped them rebuild from the storm. Now they are giving back and it is just so incredible to see how God works in everything!
Most all material is on the job except for sheetrock and materials with it. That will be coming on Monday and will be hung as fast as we can unload it from the truck.
The "drive - bys" of people looking has already begun! We have signs posted at each end of the property stating "Nothing is too hard for God" and we all have plastic wristbands stating the same thing. This entire project is thanks to God and His blessings. I will quote one of Monty's quotes, "if it's something I want to do, if it's something I can do and if it's something that is possible -- then it isn't God" and that spells out this project to the letter!
We were able to get volunteer security for tonight and tomorrow night, thanks to yet another relief effort here in town. It does make me more than a bit nervous to have materials for an entire house sitting where another truck could pull up and decide to use things on their own house! We are so thankful to Central Church of Christ for making it possible for all of us to sleep a bit sounder tonight!
By the end of the day most everyone was more than a bit tired and also more than a bit pink in skin tone! A good evening meal with all of us together was the added boost we needed. And now a night of sleep will have everyone up and ready to go tomorrow. Our goal is to dig the 3 piers that will hold up the front porch and also dig for the plumbing lines to be run.
Then Sunday morning will be the official kick off with devotions and prayers.
Like I said, be sure and stay tuned . . . Nothing IS too hard for God! We stand firm on His promise and pray that His glory will be what every passer by will see!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's Ready!

Here it stands -- subflooring on and ready to get started Sunday morning! As you can tell by Monty standing there that it is a bit in the air. Thus the reason it will be a "hard hat" work zone for the entire time.

You can also see where the red dirt came in to play and that it is as leveled off as possible -- for now.

As for the flooring "issue" from yesterday -- I know many of you must have been praying because we finally heard from the salesman this afternoon that the flooring has been located at another store branch and WILL be delivered with the remaining materials this Friday! Thank you for those prayers and remember to keep them going as I do know there will be more "issues" and they will pop up when we least expect them!

Gregg, Pam and Diane were working in two homes at once today. They managed to complete the sheetrock repairs at the one and finish laying the cement board for the ceramic tiling that will go into Ms Darlene's home! What an amazing job they have done and Ms Darlene can not only see the light at the end of the tunnel -- she has a hope and inner joy that can only come from seeing Jesus in the volunteers that have spent so much time, effort and love in her home! She only lives a block from Ms Ollie's so I know we will be seeing alot of her next week.

The teams coming from WV, WI, FL and GA will start their travels over the next couple of days. Please remember to pray for their safety as they travel. Some are coming pulling tool trailers that are loaded down and could use some extra prayers as they make the long trip. All will be here and at the opening on Sunday morning.

I promise to do my very best to keep all of you updated on a daily basis during the build. Please understand that we do not have internet access in our trailer so I will need to be elsewhere to blog. The teams will be working from 7am to 11pm each day and we will be on site nearly every hour. If you find misspellings please know that it is probably because I am a bit tired but yet filled with so much enthusiasm that making my fingers "behave" might be more of a struggle than usual!

Tomorrow is a "mental" preparation day for us. We are about to begin a 9 day run with hours that will equal over 2 weeks! Pray for us and we thank you for doing so!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Challenges" continue

This dog's face says it all!

The good news: Gregg, Pam and Diane are wrapping up yet another home! We did a complete rebuild and then the plumber had to return and make a mess of one wall! After today that mess will look like new and we will pronounce it "Done"! Once again, thanks to volunteers who allow the Lord to work through them to change and rebuild lives.

The bad news: the entire flooring package for Ms Ollie's home isn't in the store! As per the manager "I'll do everything I can to get it to you on Friday." His "everything" better be good enough!

Those last minute "challenges" that will pop up just when you least expect it --- and they won't stop until we reach heavens gates -- of that I am certain!

Until next time . . . please keep up the prayers . . . they are our power to defeat!

Blessings, Susan and Monty

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Monday

Hopefully all of you were able to celebrate our Risen Lord yesterday and are still working in the joy that came from that day!
Ms Ollie's foundation continues to rise up and should be at the required 9' elevation today. An inspection will follow and then the subflooring will begin. You can see all of the red dirt in the above photos and also the detailing that is required to raise a home that high in the air! Not an easy task to say the least!
Gregg, Pam and Diane continue working their magic in Ms Darlene's home. Her brand new grandson is doing fine and home with Mamma in Ms Darlene's little cottage. I saw them all this morning and he is beautiful! Dark hair and olive skin tone -- so small and such a miracle! Makes me even more anxious for the arrival of my upcoming granddaughter this June. I apologize for not being able to put his photo on the blog but there is the privacy issue with children!
Pam and Diane are priming and painting and transforming each room right before our eyes. Gregg created some of the most beautiful windows I have seen and will continue doing woodwork until there is no more to do. They are already planning on starting the flooring process so who knows how far they will get by the end of the week! Ms Darlene has that "deer in the headlights" look on her face -- along with the world's largest smile!!
Our days are spent trying to keep up with all the regular things happening along with the Speed Build items. Each day each list seems to grow but each day we are able to cross off others. It's an amazing thing -- to see God's hand in so many ways in one day!
We started making our list of all who are involved in this build and it's now on the 2nd page! We will have another banner posted, just like the same one at Ms Faye's and I imagine I will once again be using a permanent marker to add additional names the very same day we are dedicating her home! God just reaches out and touches peoples hearts and sends them our way!
The WV team is busy putting their last minute plans together. Joe said they are having a "mandatory" final meeting tonight. What an amazing group of people who leave their jobs, family and homes to come here and build a complete stranger a brand new home --- and ask nothing in return!!! The heart of Jesus in action!
Be sure and stay tuned. I will do the best I can to do daily updates even though we don't have internet access at our trailer. Things are happening and changing minute by minute so please keep us -- and everyone involved -- in your prayers. We thank you in advance!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, March 21, 2008

It's a great Good Friday

We passed!!!!

The hauling of red dirt is complete, the laying out of the house (for the 2nd time) is complete, the footers have been dug, the inspector has been there (on his holiday) and we passed the inspection, he took down our Stop Work order and the footers are being poured as i write this!!!

Tomorrow the blocks will be layed and also poured with concrete. When you raise the foundation of a home to 9 feet in the air it takes more work than one can imagine!

God has shined His grace on us today!! The sun is shining, the winds are light and blowing to dry things and our sins have ALL been forgiven! What a glorious day!!

AND . . . Gregg, Pam and Diane are working more miracles in Ms Darlene's home. Ms Darlene hasn't even seen what is happening there as she became a brand new grandmother last night at 7pm. Her grandson came into this world weighing nearly 8 pounds and mother and son are doing fine. Grandmother just might faint when she walks into her home and sees the amazing trim nearly complete on all her windows, rooms being primed and her bedroom painted!!!

Like I said, what a glorious Good Friday!

It's nice to have such positive reports coming from all around! The spiritual battles have been fierce! And I would be a fool to think they aren't just around the next corner. BUT -- I know Who has already won the war! And this Sunday I pray we ALL will be in church to celebrate that victory!!!

Have a blessed Easter! Susan and Monty

PS Happy 95th Birthday to my grandmother! I am SO sorry we cannot be there to celebrate with you! Keep on getting better and we will see you as soon as we can! I love you!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Waiting . . .

Yes, we wait -- and Diane, Pam and Gregg just keep working away. They have a couple of extra "paws" there today. Ms Darlene's daughter is at the hospital - in labor - as I write. So the team is watching over her lab and Gregg and Pam have their own "Cooper" with them so it's quite a busy day!! The house is looking great and they hope to be priming yet today or tomorrow. Gregg is installing window trim while the girls work the walls. What an amazing team!!

The "red" photos show the continuation of clay dirt being hauled into Ms Ollie's lot. At this very moment we are awaiting word from the city building department about doing an inspection for us tomorrow! You would think that would not be a problem?? Check your calendars and see that tomorrow is Good Friday and all government offices are closed! I just came from there and did everything but beg -- I actually did that also -- for an inspector to take time and give us the inspection and okay tomorrow. We cannot pour for the foundation until it has been inspected and if we have to wait until Monday . . . every single minute is critical when we are on this kind of time frame! And all I can do is sit and wait --- and that's something I don't do well!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rain delays but still forward

Yes, we awoke to the sound of rain pouring down -- again! And from the sound of things we aren't the only ones! In speaking with my mother this morning (HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM) she was telling me about the roads that are closed due to flooding!
Thus the photo at the top showing the red clay dirt being brought in for the building of Ms Ollie's home and the trackhoe NOT moving around! But the sunshine is now out and the winds are blowing quite strong so tomorrow should be a productive day!
The next 3 photos could be the Three Stooges but we'd rather refer to them as our family! Gregg and wife Pam and Diane make dreams come true! They are in Ms Darlene's house putting the last touches on the sheetrocked walls. Take note that the women are applying the mud while Gregg is the official sander! Thus the white specs covering that photo. It's not a lousy photo, it's reality! At the speed this team works they will be priming and painting before Ms Darlene can catch her breath!
I also got the blessing of being able to speak with Beth, one of the leaders of our California school who took their spring break trip to a church south of New Orleans; St Bernard's Parrish. The students have been in shock most of the week. The true reality of flooding is literally "in their faces" 24/7 and they had no idea the level of destruction! We are thrilled that so many of them decided to come down and really WORK during their school break! One of their main concerns is "why are the relief agencies closing their doors?" Hearing the answers of "the funding is running out AND the volunteers have slowed down to nearly none" doesn't rebuild lives and this team realizes it but can't accept it! We pray they take this heart and this voice back home with them. We pray God will use both their hearts and their voices to reach the nation and we will be able to get the people back into their homes before the next storm season arrives on June 1st.
Today comes but once, my friend,
It never can return --
So use it wisely while you can,
There's a lesson you may learn!
Until tomorrow . . . Bless you! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The look of progress

Gregg, Pam and Diane all working away at Ms Katrina's house. They not only removed all the carpeting from the bedrooms and replaced it with laminate wood flooring they also cleaned and painted the 3 bedrooms! It looks beautiful and the family was thrilled. We sort of caught them off guard with our call yesterday morning saying we had volunteers coming in but they welcomed the team and by the end of the day were sad to see them leave!
The bottom 2 photos are at Ms Ollie's. We have had a bit more than our share of "challenges" with the groundwork but things are moving forward. The city required us to bring in clay dirt before starting the construction of the pillars to raise the home. That is being done as I write and so we are moving forward. Working in soil that is only a few blocks from the water is not an easy task. The water table is very high right now and the rains have not helped us. But --- we ARE moving forward and God is on our side!
Until tomorrow . . . blessings to all. Susan and Monty

Monday, March 17, 2008


Okay, thought you might get a laugh out of this!! It was sent to me via email and I thought it was a riot!!

Where do I begin? Oh yes -- with all those people who (once again) managed to keep secrets from me!!! Let's see -- Joe, my own mother, Gregg, Pam, nearly all the local Pastors here and who knows who else!!

Yes, yesterday after church Monty and I were both VERY surprised to have Diane pop in where we were eating lunch!!! We had NO idea she was coming but evidently many!!! others did! I cannot tell you how good it was to see her!! Life just isn't the same when she isn't here along side of us!

We DID know that Pam and Gregg were returning to work with us for the next 3 weeks. When they left their home in South Dakota is was 18 BELOW zero! We have them, their rig and their dog parked east of town at one of our favorite churches and they are loving the warmth and sunshine! We are also SO glad to see them!

With all 3 of them here things just feel as they should. Only problem is that we know we can't keep them!

Now, back to another part of the weekend.

Our hometown church team from Vineyard left in 3 shifts on Saturday. And the entire team from Clear Creek left very early that morning also. We bid farewell to Clear Creek that morning before and were speechless when it came to ways to thank them. To have a team of 25 come in and be completely self sufficient is nothing short of a miracle. And it WAS miraculous to see what they did in the homes and what they did in the lives of the homeowners! Our hope is that they carry that love back into their own homes and areas and realize just how awesome our God really is!

Vineyard, like I said, left in 3 shifts. We did hear from them yesterday and they all arrived home safely. Rob and Rich worked into the afternoon before leaving and when they did leave they had all the ceilings in Ms Darlene's home completely textured and done! She is now ready for priming and painting of the walls and before long she will be looking at a real home! When we stopped by to see her today you could still see the light of her smile beaming above her MEMA cottage!

Our foundation work for Ms Ollie's home is coming along. The weather has put us all to the test! Trying to get soil "dry" while living in a swamp isn't easy. They did get some digging done for the footers today but then hit a water line. That was taken care of quickly and we are moving forward. Please pray that the weather will stay dry for only a couple more days so the footers can be dug and concrete poured -- then the weather affected parts of the job will be complete. Going 9 feet in the air is a task in itself, without the weather causing difficulties! I am literally standing on the promises of God in knowing this will get done in the time frame we need!

Construction is scheduled to begin 2 weeks from yesterday! We thank you for your prayers! Ms Ollie has been waiting on a home for over 2 years and with the help of God we intend to put her in a new home 2 weeks from this Saturday! God told her it would be April when she got a new home and he showed me the foundation in a dream so between the both of us we know this is annointed by God and He never calls us into a project without His promise of fulfillment!

We thank you for your prayers. As per my mother, my grandmother is doing a bit better and should be celebrating her 95th birthday this Sunday!!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Keep marching forward . . .let God have the rest . . .

The top left photo is at our morning devotion time. Each morning we begin with a devotion, a thought to carry us through the day. It's been great to have both hometown teams together and to see so many familiar faces each morning.

The right photo is the latest view of Ms Ollie's soon to be home. Yes, there are still a few puddles of water from the removal of the past foundation so no work has been able to begin. We are praying for tomorrow but it doesn't look likely as there are more thunderstorms in the forecast. We need a couple of dry days, one to dig the holes and another to pour the footers to place the pylons on. Since the house must stand 9 foot in the air the pylons must be atleast 4 feet into the ground. We need all the prayers we can get as trying to get anything "dry" while living in a swamp next to the bay is not an easy feat!

The next left photo is Verda, Robert and Jackie's dog! She is as broad as she is long and has been soaking up all the attention from the team working in the home! Jackie doesn't recognize her laundry room as it has been transformed, complete with a new vinyl floor! They also have been paintig walls and redoing ceilings!

Next right photo is showing the rebuilding of Ms Mercy's windows. They had rotted underneath due to the storm and this team completely rebuilt them and I know they are better than before the storm! When this team finished her house yesterday evening they told how she cried when they left and told one team member that God had placed a calling on his life to return to this area and when he answered that call he was more than welcome to come and live in her home! A true God-thing . . . again! He will be heading back home to do some powerful praying!

Next left is what someone looks like while mudding sheetrock! This man (Rob) does this sort of thing for a living and to watch him is to watch magic! He and this team have transformed not only Ms Darlene's home but also Ms Darlene! I don't think the smile can be removed from her face and her daughters are doing alot of hanging around the house just to watch all that is happening!

The final right photo is Jonathan at work installing insulation! He and his friend, Luke, have been at this for a couple of days and although they have learned so much they are too young to realize it! They just laugh knowing that the best way to get insulation off your skin is to take a really cold shower!! They should be completed with that job today and were wondering what the next "lovely" job will be for them!

Another part of the team started a new job at David's house today. They are also hanging sheetrock and doing whatever needs to get him done. David's mother is having surgery so he has more than a couple irons in the fire!

Even more of them are still in Biloxi at Tom and Debbie's continuing to rebuild their lives by doing whatever needs to be done! Debbie has even been up and out of her wheelchair more since they have been there.

And not to forget about the team at Sam's! They are not only priming and painting and rebuilding the outside of his home they are working on breaking up his patio that broke into 4 pieces from the storm! And then they are also inside installing his washer and dryer and finishing his crown!

As you can see by all of this that these teams have been incredible! It's just so difficult to relay the emotions and things that are going on! They have come in to do whatever needs done, made the trips to get the things to get it done and at the same time transformed the lives of all the homeowners! And then there is the transformation of each team member within their own team!

We all attended church together last night and the Pastor mentioned that there were 3 churches represented inside that building and just as Jesus said, when you have 3 cords bound together they are unbreakable!

That same Pastor called me this morning to get the addresses of where the teams are working so he and his wife could go and visit them and take photos! In the nearly 2 and 1/2 years we have been here doing this -- this is the first Pastor who has asked to do such a thing! It sure did brighten the faces of the teams to realize this Pastor cared so much for them and wanted to come to them and personally thank them!
We thank those of you who sent us your family members. Even though we know you are anxiously awaiting for them to return home I must admit we would love to keep each and every one of them!!!
Bless you for your prayers and please keep them going! The spiritual battles are tough and seem relentless! We must be doing the right thing!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rejoice, again I say Rejoice!

Yes, we have photos!
The top 2 are at Thomas and Debra's home. Cabinets and counter tops are being installed along with anything else needed to get this family settled into their home! Girls are using power tools == what an awesome site! These teams are taking the time to teach the younger team members AND the homeowners! Amazing ministry going on!
The next 2 photos are at Sam's where the outside is being primed and painted. The rains slowed things down a bit this morning but when the sun came out so did the energy of the team and away they went!
The next 2 are at Robert's home. They have completely transformed his laundry room into a laundry room! They are also painting in the kitchen and doing so many odds and ends it was impossible to capture it all on film! Robert is following along with them in amazement!
The next 2 are at Mercy's home. She is getting her hallway painted, something she has been waiting for months to get done. Her son in law has been working there on weekends after working all week and just couldn't get it all done. She is also getting her leaking windows rebuilt and sealed, both inside and outside! She can't wipe the smile from her face!
The last 2 are at Darlene's home. The team is sheetrocking faster than the electrician can complete his job! The sheds out back have new roofs and no longer leak. The team brought in more sheetrock for the ceilings and are transforming this shell into a real home.
Ms Ollie's foundation will not start tomorrow as planned = too wet! There is standing water in quite a few locations and so please pray that the sun will shine and the winds will blow so the drying will go quickly! Building in swamp areas is more than rough!
Stepfund's home will be sprayed for mold tomorrow and the electric, plumbing and HVAC work will begin.
As you can tell, things are happening at the speed of light around here! Having 2 teams from our hometown is beyond awesome! Seeing all of them each morning at devotions just warms our hearts and ministers to us far more than they can know! All report they are sleeping well and also not missing a meal! And watching the younger ones learn and grow is also amazing! The younger boys at Darlene's are putting wall insulation in and will learn just how good a cold shower can feel tonight! The cold water is the quickest way to get rid of the itch! And even at those thoughts they are smiling and laughing and working away!
We thank each family who sent a loved one to work with us this week! You not only sent hope and love to the residents here, you sent hope and love to both Monty and I. Bless you!
I do have a rather personal prayer request. My grandmother will turn 95 on Easter Sunday and is not doing well. She has been in a nursing home for quite some time but health wise has been fine. Her only problems have been diminishing eyesight and hearing. My mother tells me she is not doing well and has really gone "downhill" lately. Please pray for her and for my entire family. This is another of those times where being so far from home is difficult, to say the least!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty