Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Psalm 61

There are no photos this evening as I am "borrowing" the computer at the local library. We've never even been here until this evening and to my surprise you need nothing special to use their computers. We learn something new each day!

Most of our mornings don't start as this one did. We made a home visit with Tony and Laura. She had just walked into our office last Thursday. I took the usual information from her and sent her out with the usual letter that we mail. In this letter they are asked to gather documents (deed, identification, etc) within a 30 day period and call me back when they have all their documents copied and ready to go. Ms Laura had hers ready yesterday -- she lets no grass grow under her feet!

When we arrived we only had the basic information; they lived in an area that suffered severe flooding and all she could say was that their house had "fallen in." The outside of the home looked nice, repainted with a small carport in front. It's a very small home and when we entered through the front door it was breath-taking! She arranges dried flowers and it was just beautiful! And every wall was exactly as she said, tongue and groove. We've seen alot of homes in doing what we are doing but never walls like these.

Then their story began. They stayed in the house during the storm. They were convinced they were far enough from the gulf waters they would be safe. As they watched the waters rising in the front of their home they decided they should get in their van and head out. Wrong idea! The waters rose so quickly they were unable to drive so they went back inside the home. At this point they realized the water was pouring in through the back door and at such a fast pace they soon realized their lives were in jeopardy! Ms Laura is unable to swim and before they realized it they were in water up to their necks -- literally! Mr Tony did what he could to calm Ms Laura to the point of carrying her on his own back through the waters. They walked this way all the way to the highway! Now I don't know how many miles that is but I do know that even walking it NOT in neck deep water would be more than a challenge for most of us!

They went to the highway because they hoped it was high enough to hold a dry spot for them to be safe. They were right. BUT -- Mr Tony went back into their housing area and started doing the same thing again -- carrying people to safety on his own back! I realize you can't see him but just know that he can't be 5' 8" on a good day!

Now here is the miracle -- he said they only thing that continued through his head this entire time was Psalm 61 -- verse for verse! I hope you will go to that exact chapter and read it -- you will get chills! I did!

They remained on the highway until they were rescued by others. They were taken to her father's home where they stayed for the next 2 days until they were allowed back into their own home. What they found is documented on her photos and will bring anyone to tears! But they wasted no time in taking out everything they owned and cleaning inside. This is where those tongue and groove walls proved to be such a blessing, they don't need torn out, just cleaned and sprayed for mold and cleaned and sprayed for mold quite a few times. They did just that and started doing what they could to put their lives and home back together. Like I said, their home is beautiful and they give all the glory to God!

Now comes the problem -- due to all that water and what it does to things that we never think of -- their home is literally giving way and falling into the ground. Remember that there aren't a handful of homes built on slabs here due to the water table. This one wasn't high off the ground, only around a foot or more, but now it sits on the ground. Imagine what is happening to their new vinyl flooring, to their walls that are now separating from the floors and how you feel unbalanced when you stand in certain places!

Our job -- level the house without destroying all their work! Not easy you say? You are right! It can only be done by a contractor -- one that can be trusted and one who knows what they are doing! THAT is our job -- find that contractor! Then comes the small issue of paying that contractor! That's also where we come in -- tap all our resources, and then some!

After getting all the necessary information we were blessed to sit and listen to Mr Tony as he professed his faith in the Lord -- it was amazing and so uplifting to the both of us! We could have sat and listened for hours (and his wife agreed that he can go on for that long) but we did have to go. He continued to assure US that God would bring the right people -- after all -- he brought us to them!

We all talked about all the miracles we had seen and been a part of. What an awesome time of sharing and time I wish could've lasted longer! Time I wish you could have spent with us and heard and seen for yourselves!

Pray for this couple, pray for the right contractor, pray for the finances -- just cover it all in prayer!

Until next time . . . when I will try and show you a photo . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bring on the cases

Ms Ollie is complete with new top soil and grass that should sprout easily with all the rain we had over the weekend.

Many, many thanks to Pastor Lavoy for the donation and spreading of the top soil!!!

Today started as do all Monday mornings, with our meeting where all the relief agencies meet at the round table to discuss who needs help and what we can do to get them that help. This morning we had more clients presented than have been in a very long time. This is a good thing. It means the people are being reached, especially the ones who had sort of "fallen between the cracks" and help should be coming to them. Each case must be presented with full information of what has been done and what still needs to be done. It's amazing at what still needs to be done and how some haven't even been able to begin any forward steps! I know it might seem like that is impossible to you but if you were here you would realize that nothing is impossible.

Monty has spent his day with his chain saw. A new build is finishing up where trees had to be removed to even place the house. Those trees have been piled up for awhile and needed to be removed. He took care of that today and will now head to the chiropractor to get things adjusted back into place. Handling heavy logs can take a toll but he enjoyed every minute of being outside and doing some hands-on work.

I have been working client cases and finishing the photo album for Ms Ollie. I promised her I would put one together for her since she missed everything that went on during the week of the building of her home. As I went back through all the photos and tried to select the ones that would tell the story it brought back the memories. Telling the entire story in photos is impossible but atleast with these I selected she will be able to see most of it and realize all the work -- and all the love -- that went into her home!

We start tomorrow with yet another home visit!

Until then . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, April 25, 2008

Home after home after home . . .

Mile after mile, story after story, face after face, broken heart after broken heart, and yet hope still abounds. I pray the following stories and photos will touch your hearts and give you a better understanding as to why God called Monty and I back to this area.

Our home visits will continue and we will continue! How can we not?

We did visit one very beautiful home, the home of Ms Mary. She was able to secure her grant early on and the only thing she still needs is a new HVAC unit. What happens when one of those units becomes submerged in flood waters (salt water) is that when they dry out they will continue to run for a limited amount of time. Each units time varies but eventually they all stop. With the summer temps continuing to rise now is not the time to be without air conditioning.

This home belongs to Ms Tess who is not only a single mother trying to raise her own children, she has adopted a daughter and is trying to adopt the daughters 3 siblings! She also works full time and this is what she has been looking at since the storm brought the flood waters and winds her way. She has had a new roof put on but in doing so one of the workers fell through into a bedroom and just covered up the hole with shingles. Needless to say she will need another new roof to stop the moisture from coming in and causing black mold to continue to grow.

This home belongs to Larry. Can you imagine
having your bedroom and family room looking like this -- the ceilings completely fallen in with insulation falling? In the family room he has sheets hanging to try and keep things from falling in more.

He has had a new roof put on the home so the leaks have stopped but now the remainder of the work needs to be done -- after all this time and no one has come to his aid??

Meet James and Kea and take a look at how they are living! Both are young and just trying to make it in this world. Kea suffers from cerebral palsy and fibromyalgia and is nearly confined to her wheel chair. She also has asthma! She works full time and attends school full time! James works full time and cares for Kea. THIS is how they have been living since the storm! They have been broken into repeatedly and so they do not want to leave their home. The only good thing we could find is that the home has already been gutted so here we go . . . pray for the funding and for the help!

We had another visit to Ms Alberta's home. She lives in a double wide manufactured home that has been knocked off of its blocking in two places. Her laundry room has yet to be completed but her kitchen in getting new cabinets installed as I write. We have been working on her home for awhile now but each step brings her closer and closer to not only being able to move back in -- but able to move her elderly mother back in and care for her.
As you can see (and hopefully feel) there are soooo many who still need help. We intend to continue to reach out, continue to make the home visits and continue to rebuild lives by rebuilding homes for as long as God has us doing so.
We sincerely thank those of you who have supported us through prayers, through cards and letters and through financial donations. Without all of those we would not be able to continue. YOU are our life lines and we are forever grateful.
For those of you who would like to begin praying for us or supporting us, please feel free to do so. The prayers are number 1 as nothing comes without God. The financial support is done a few dollars at a time and can be done by sending your tax deductible donations to our sending agency who directly handles our account. Those can be sent to:
IGO (International Gospel Outreach)
PO Box 1008
Semmes, AL 36575
Please make donations payable to them and include a SEPARATE note with our names on it. We are bound by the IRS to handle our support in this way. Please know that it does come directly to us.
Once again, God's blessings to all of you!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

He can be Googled

Meet Mr Douglas. The outside of his small home survived the storm -- not the inside!

If you click on the photo you can see that his home is cement block and therefore still standing.

It has been gutted and is ready for the electric, which Douglas will do as he is an electrician at the shipyard. We hope to be able to come in behind him and take the home to completion.

It looks like that won't start until July with a team coming from Florida. That might seem like a long time from now but when people have waited as long as Douglas has -- a few more months isn't anything! It would be nice to get it done before then but . . .

Douglas is also one of the fortunate ones; since the home is still standing and he wants to rebuild it, he won't have to have it raised. If he chose to demo this one and build a new one it would have to be "high and lifted up" due to the new flood zones. Just one of the many things that have to be taken into consideration when we go into these homes to see what we can do to help.

We had a break from home visits today so it's been used to catch up on a couple of things. The main thing I could work on was the photo album I am creating for Ms Ollie. She missed seeing all of the activities of the building week so when people stop her and talk about seeing this or that she has no idea what they are talking about. Trying to take the many photos I took and tell the entire story is no easy task. So many faces, so many people working so hard and yet having such a great time -- not easy to relay in photos but I'm working on it. She is so anxious to see them and hopefully I can get it done in the next couple of days.

Tomorrow we are back to home visits and Friday has even more. Many of the shipyard workers are off on Fridays so its the time to get to as many as possible. Please pray for us as we enter not only the homes but the lives of the people who are still hurting.

Oh yes -- wondering about the title of todays blog . . . if you Google Monty's name you can see he is a link to the article on the Speed Build!! We are all out there in this big ole' world in some form or another! :)

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New Mexico visits

Jude, son Joel and Pastor Larry made a visit here today. They will be sending a team here in July and wanted to check out the area, homes and accomodations for them. All went very well and we were even able to take them to Ms Ollie's. She invited us all in and was so pleased to share her blessing with them. This team joined us while we were in New Orleans last summer and we are thrilled that they will be returning. They bring adults along with kids who will have their lives changed while here.

They realize that the missing link in New Orleans was the connection with the homeowners. Here that connection will be made and miracles will happen, in many ways. We look forward to having them work with us once again.

Monty and I continue with our home visits. We had another one last night that broke my heart. James and Jess have lived in their home for 11 years and when the storm came in they had nearly 5 feet of water inside. The surge shifted the home on its foundation and even though they have had alot of rebuilding done, the shifting is causing long term problems with flooring and sheetrock cracking and plumbing not wanting to "stay put." They have 3 wonderful little children and I had to tell them that the one daughter must move out of her bedroom due to the black mold that continues to grow in her window. The outside of the window is exposed to the weather because the siding was ripped off. Therefore the moisture continues to come in and the mold is continuing to grow. It's so difficult to see a family who is doing everything they can to just survive and make ends meet struggle for so long. James injured his lower back while he was gutting the home and required major surgery. He was out of work for nearly a year and even though the income wasn't coming in the bills made their way to their mailbox. He has gotten a new job and even with that playing the "catch up" game is next to impossible. My heart breaks for them and we will do the best we can to see about this foundation problem.

The calls continue to come in, the people continue to need help and we continue to schedule the visits and pray that we will be able to help! Please continue to keep all of us in your prayers as those prayers are what changes things and changes lives!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Monday of Blessings

There are shrimp --- and then there are Gulf shrimp!!! Monty went directly to the ship to get these fresh!! The sizes down here are amazing and the prices are rock bottom compared to anything up north we are used to! You can see how he skewered them with a fresh pineapple and that was dinner one night. VERY good and very inexpensive!!

The morning began with our weekly meeting of all the relief efforts around the tables seeing what one group might need and how another group might fill that need. It was a great meeting for all. I presented the case for Jackie and his wife and before leaving I had a group volunteer to not only put the roof on -- but they will provide all the materials to do so! AND they are going to provide them with a new oven! Now that is the way to start a week! When I called Jackie to tell him the good news he broke into tears of joy, not really believing that help has finally arrived! The roof won't be put on until late next month but that didn't make any difference to him. He's waited this long and a few more weeks -- with a light at the end of the tunnel--makes no difference to him.

Our next blessing came with the funding for Robert's cabinets and counter tops. We have had teams in helping them with the final touches, including a new laundry room (see past blogs) but his kitchen cabinets were damaged and almost not usable. The funding came through, the cabinet lady has been there and they will be installed asap. One more case where we can mark "closed" and with a smile!

Late this afternoon and early this evening Monty and I will be doing a couple more home visits. And the phone calls continue to come in for us to schedule the visits. One home at a time and sometimes we can close more than one! More families taken to completion with more still in line waiting. Pray that the funding and the volunteers continue to come in for all those who are still waiting!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, April 18, 2008

Home Visits

The Coleman house is nearing completion as you can see by the bottom right photo. This team has been installing the laminate flooring and when we stopped by yesterday they were saddened that they would have to leave with the house not done -- something we try and prepare each team for. In our society we are made to feel "less than" if we don't finish what we start. That is not the case here on the coast and it's still something difficult for teams to deal with. But each team brings the homeowner one step closer to getting finished and moved in. THAT is what they need to concentrate on! We are really thankful to the Presbytarians for taking on this home and being dedicated to completing it.
The other photos were taken at Robin's home. It is being gutted and then will also be taken to completion, over a period of time. David and his teams will be concentrating on Robin's home throughout the summer and doing what they can to get her back home. Once again, we are so thankful to all these relief efforts who lay aside any names or denominations and just step up to do what needs to be done, to follow God's calling to just help the people!
Monty and I spent last evening with a home visit to one of the employees of the local shipyard. Jackie and his family are just doing what they can to keep their heads above water -- literally.
Jackie works full time and takes any overtime he can catch. His wife cares for their 5 grandchildren full time along with her 89 year old aunt who suffers from Alzheimers. Jackie built their home about 25 years ago and has put his heart and soul into it. When the storm came along it blew off so many shingles that he has spent any spare time he has in patching the roof. Each time he patches there springs another leak and he patches again. He isn't asking for anything else, just a roof. And guess what --- we are going to do what we can to get him a roof --one that does not leak! Please keep them in your prayers. They are just like thousands of others who just want a safe, sanitary and secure home to raise their family in.
Our next visits were today. This morning we visited James and his wife. They were renters at the time of the storm and lived in their car and then a tent until FEMA put them in a trailer -- located an hour away from his job at the shipyard! That trailer park was so unsafe that they requested to be moved, and they were, but it was just as bad. He stepped out and purchased a home that was damaged in the storm but have been trying to do what they can to just keep a safe home for their 3 children to live in. One child has severe allergies and the medical expenses alone are outstanding for them. He works days and she works nights and they are also doing the best they can. This home also needs a roof as it is leaking and causing mold. This creates an atmosphere unsafe for anyone, let alone a child with such an illness. The electricity on the back side of the house also isn't working. They don't even have pots and pans to cook with but are doing the best they can. More prayers!!!
Our next visit was to Gale. She also works at the shipyard painting ships and taking as much overtime as she can take. She is raising her son and putting her home back together with whatever means she can. She has done a wonderful job but has hit the point where her abilities and funds have run dry and the only thing she needs is the bathroom done. She has managed to get the materials needed and now needs the labor to get it done. We hope to tap into other relief effort teams and get the bathroom done. I found myself in deep admiration when I saw just how hard she is working and a woman in the world all alone. She took pride in telling us she did all the painting inside the house! She might paint ships day and night but she still found time to paint her entire house!
My prayer is that you will see what we see when we visit these people who have lost sooooo much. They aren't looking for a hand-out, they just need a hand-up! They are so tired of being judged, being put under a microscope, being run down, being ripped off ---- they just want a home!
As we continue to receive calls for help, as we continue to make the home visits, as we continue to praise our volunteers for doing what they do --- let us NEVER forget that this is our own backyard --- this is our neighbor --- this is someplace where 100% of us could drive to if need be --- "these people" could very easily be US next time!!!
Pray for each person we meet, each person we try and help and each life that when they see us they see Jesus!!! Pray that we carry His love with us into every life we touch!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, April 17, 2008

She's a state record holder!!!!

Yes folks, she's a state record holder for being the largest female in the state!!

And she didn't go easily either! She had come up from being buried in the mud (underwater) for the entire winter, was nesting and NOT a happy camper when they caught her! She gave them quite the fight over quite a time but in the end they were able to load her in their boat and take her to safer waters. She was making her nest IN the campground -- thus the reason the last camper in that spot had one VERY nervous dog!

The things we never think about "up" home!

This morning was spent arranging orders for materials to be delivered to homeowners. This means that those homeowners are getting one step closer to having their homes done and ready to move into.

This afternoon will be spent checking on 2 teams of volunteers. One is working in the Coleman house and the other in Robin's house. Both teams are from different relief agencies who look for their work to come through us. This is what helps us get the jobs done. We do what we can to tap into resources and the volunteers bring in their labor so it's a perfect match -- or as close to it as we can get!

Robin's house is being gutted and will then be completely redone, starting with electric and plumbing issues. She had nearly 6 feet of water inside her home.

Coleman's house is getting close to being done. The call came this morning saying they were getting ready for interior doors and that is a great sign as those are some of the last things to go in.

Later this evening we will be doing a home visit with an employee of the local shipyard. We went into the work place to see who still needed help and the responses were amazing! The best part is that when we told them the documentation they would need to gather for us they did so immediately and are now calling ready to go. That's where Monty and I come in. We call and schedule the home visit appointment and at the same time look at the house and see what has been done and what still needs to be done. It takes care of a couple of things with one trip. With the shipyard working all sorts of shifts it means that some of these visits must be done in the evenings. Whatever it takes!!

We stopped by to check on Ms Darlene's neighbor yesterday. He had to demo his house and build a new one. I couldn't believe it until we actually stood underneath it -- he is 18 feet in the air!!! He is in the framing process now and although things are going slowly, they are going forward. We also checked on Ms Darlene and Art is wrapping up some of the things he needed to get done.

We also ran into Dane (our first "high and lifted up" house) and he said his wife is not doing well, a bit worse each day. If you remember, she is quite a bit older than Dane and sufferring from Alzheimer's disease. Please remember them in your prayers. He has been working in the local park getting the restroom facilities built back after the storm. Monty and I were at the park the other evening and it was good to see the kids playing on the new equipment, people walking along the water and some sitting in the swings that were placed facing the water. Seeing some sort of normalcy isn't normal for here. It brings a warmth to our hearts knowing that life is returning, slowly but surely.

Until next time . . . Bitty and Samson (our dogs) are quite glad we are not the campsite directly on the water) Susan and Monty

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Moving" Day

There are many things that happen as a result of these storms -- things we don't think about.

Gators are one of them!

When the flood waters rise as they did, people aren't the only ones that can become displaced. Rising waters "relocated" gators into places where they shouldn't be.

Today, in the state park where we are living, one of those gators will be relocated to where she should be!

Since we are less than 500 feet from the waters and don't dare let our 2 small dogs out without leashes, we are rather glad that she will be moved to somewhere she should be! We did have a neighboring camper tell us he once lost one of his dogs to a gator (not here locally) and thus the reason his current dog was a bit more than nervous being close to any water! Smart dog!!

We are also sort of relocating ourselves back into the piles that are on our desks. I have been back on the phone nearly all day scheduling appointments to go and do home visits with those who still need help in getting rebuilt. The calls continue to come in, the people continue to walk in the office and the work still needs done. The main problem now is that the volunteers are really slowing down! Nearly all the world believes everyone here is fine -- after all -- it's going on 3 years later!! WRONG!!! It's just very old news and no one likes very old news!

Monty and I are committed to continue following God's call to do what we can to help the people rebuild, both their homes and their lives. Thanks to all of you who are making that possible for us!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tax deadline day

The "sign" California put on the new flooring going in at Ms Darlene's house. You gotta do what you gotta do to get the job done!

Thank goodness American Airlines put all their flights back in the air -- the CA team is home safe and sound.

Monty and I had to make the last minute trip to our accountant this morning to make sure all was a "go" before midnight tonight. It's not an easy task to file taxes in a state you do not live in!! Hopefully you all will make the deadline also.

We are shifting back into some sort of catch up mode. Alot of things got pushed to the back burner for the build week and now it's time to look at that back burner and move them to the front.

Another piece of blessing in regard to the build -- when we went to church yesterday morning they told us how they had taken a gift of towels to Ms Ollie and how they were a perfect match to her colors! This is what community should be all about! The church just decided they needed to give back in any way they could and it was perfect!

Have you given back for some special blessing you received??

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, April 11, 2008

All the way to Afganistan

The top right photo is just for you "Coop"! Coop came with this team last year and because he is currently working in Afganistan he was unable to come this time. He has been missed and the team wanted to do something special for him. You must look VERY closely to see that they humanly spelled out COOP for him! I know, you'll need to use your imagination! The entire staging was hysterical and filled with love! We missed you Coop and pray for your safety!

They aren't nick-named "The Dream Team" for no reason!
Last night they surprised Ms Darlene with a new range and microwave! They brought her into the room, eyes covered, and was shocked beyond words. After seeing that surprise she decided to pose in her new shower area!
Today they are finishing the tile in the last hallway, installing the base trim complete with decorative touches on the corners, installing doors, painting and caulking. And they plan on completing it all by late afternoon!
The ministry that has happened between this team and Ms Darlene is priceless. The ministry that has happened within the team is equally priceless. Everyone has been miraculously touched and will be family forever. It's really hard to describe, something that has to be seen, but none the less a miracle and a God-thing!
We will miss this team so much and are also praying they make their flights tomorrow as they are flying American!!
I have some wonderful news as an update with Ms Ollie and her new home! Since the storm she has had rather "estranged" relationships with her sisters and their families. After the miraculous work last week and them coming to the dedication Saturday they all came to her new home on Sunday after church, cooked fried chicken and told her they were taking her with them on their vacation this week for spring break! And if that wasn't enough -- they apologized for their mistreating her!!!!! And so did the rest of her family!!!!
We talk to the teams who come to help telling them that the results of their dedication and hard work remain long after they leave and return home. The ministry that takes place is never forgotten. THIS is one of the best examples that Monty and I have seen since being here for nearly 3 years now!
To ALL the teams from ALL the states who sacrificed so much to build this home --- God WAS watching and so were families, neighbors and who knows who else! God promises returned blessings to all who listen to Him and follow His calling!!!! You WILL reap those blessings! Thank you for bringing a family back together again!!!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
PS Diane made it home safe and sound -- thank you to all who held her up in prayer during her long drive home!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Goodbye Diane

Have you ever seen so many people down on their hands and knees? And take a good look at this tile, it's beautiful!
The team has the tile all down and grouted and now they are in the cleaning process -- and what a process that is! The men bringing clean water over and over again are keys! With this grout being the color of chocolate the water can get really messy really quickly! You can see the while chaulky look where they have not cleaned yet.
Ms Darlene is planning on a big BBQ dinner for all of them this evening to show her appreciation. Cooking for the volunteers is one of the ways the homeowners can express their thanks and even with that they still feel they have done nothing to thank them. Just seeing the joy and smiles in this team can warm hearts all along the street.
They have been eating breakfast at the local grocery store around the corner each morning and word has gotten around that a group from California eats there each morning so there are more and more locals gathering to meet and talk with them each morning. That in itself is ministry to the folks here and a way to bring hope to them. If they have their house done it's a way to give thanks, even if these weren't the exact ones who helped rebuild their home. If they are not back in their homes it's a way of bringing hope to them that they might be the next ones to have a team come and help them. And then there's the ministry that happens within the team, seeing the locals and hearing their stories. That changes them forever! They were telling about the woman they met who told how all she could do in the rising waters inside her home was hold her tiny infant baby above her head in order to keep the baby from drowning -- and she held the baby above her head for nearly 6 hours until help could come!!!! Like I said, those stories change lives!
Speaking of changed lives, Diane left (again) this morning. She has changed both our lives and when she leaves it leaves a hole in our hearts! The days and evenings just aren't the same when she isn't here. We are praying her home as she looks to be heading into some really rough storms coming across the nation and the distance from here to Wisconsin isn't a short one! Please join us in those prayers.
Until next time . . . We love you Diane!!! Susan and Monty

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ocean Springs to Biloxi -- on foot!!

Yes, this morning Diane and I decided to make the walk from Ocean Springs to Biloxi courtesy of the brand new bridge that now has all 6 lanes open -- complete with a walking path all the way across! One lap is 2 miles and needless to say we realized that the second 2 miles was a bit longer than the first -- absolutely nothing to do with our ages either!!! It was an amazing view and with the winds at near 30 mph we looked so lovely when we arrived back to earth! But -- we did prove to the workers on the path that we could (and did) make it!
Meanwhile our California team are working away at Ms Darlene's. Her ceramic tile is incredible and they are doing a fantastic job. Some of them are remembering that on their last trip they were installing tile in Rosemary's house. God was setting them up for this job as they now know exactly what needs to be done. By this afternoon they will start the grouting process which tells you they are moving at a great speed along with great skill. They have also managed to remove all the old broken brick on the outside of her home. That was not an easy task but they got it done.
They have some new faces with them this trip and it's always wonderful for Monty and I to get new family. As with each team, we just wish they could stay longer than a week.
Speaking of which -- Diane will be leaving us (again) tomorrow morning. I can't believe over 3 weeks have gone by and once again don't know what I will do without her here! As she told me, "I always come back" but it still hurts to see her go. Please cover her with your prayers as the weather looks as though it could bring some challenges into her travel.
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, April 07, 2008

Reflecting . . . into melt down

Melt down is something that happens after working as many hours as we did last week and then continuing right through the weekend! My hope is to take part of today and not have it as hectic as last week. One can always hope -- right??
We have spent nearly every minute reflecting on last week. There are so many things to reflect on, so many things to re-think or to think on for the first time. One thing stands out in my mind -- something I watched every single day and the same thing Pastor Lavoy preached on yesterday so I know it's a God-thing!
When Jesus gave the new commandment to His disciples He told them to "love one another as I have loved you." When we think about that it's a really !!! tall order. Jesus loved us with unconditional love, something this world is very unfamiliar with and something nearly extinct.
BUT. . . I saw this happening all last week on a daily basis. If you were to have walked onto the jobsite at any given moment, early in the morning or very late in the night you would not have been able to tell which team member was from where. Everyone was working together as if they had known each other their entire lives. You did not hear foul language, you did not hear anger, you did not hear anything but "how can I help" and "what do you need me to do?" The more experienced ones were taking the time to teach those less experienced. The leaders were praising the work of anyone and everyone. The smiles were constant and the laughter contagious. The joy inside each individual's hearts was as visible as the shirts on their backs. It didn't make any difference if they were walking around on the roof putting on shingles or if they were digging the ditch to bury the sewer lines. All were important and all were loving everything they were doing. No one was made to feel as though their part was less than someone elses.
I stood in amazement each day and yet knew this is the way it could be, the way it should be and the way it would be! When God annoints a project He doesn't just annoint the structure or the land. He annoints the people -- His people who are just there to allow Him to work through them to accomplish whatever needs to be done! And the people are willing "vessels" for Him to work through.
Age wasn't a factor. Physical ability or inability wasn't a factor. Gender wasn't a factor. Church denomination wasn't a factor. Love was THE factor! Working and building for the Lord was the driving force, the lifeline, the reason for it all.
My wish is that everyone could experience what that is like! Unless you were here, unless you felt it in your heart, in your mind, in your soul -- you can't feel it and for that I am sad! It is THE greatest blessing in this world! Of that I am certain! I pray Monty and I are able to continue working in this disaster ministry and thanks to all of you I know we will be.
Ms Ollie knows the feeling. She knows what it feels like to have the love of Jesus poured out all over you, covering everything about you - - - and the only words she could find to describe it was "I must be in heaven!"
If you would like to see the TV coverage you can go to www.wlox.com and look up anything having to do with Speed Build in Pascagoula, MS. There are 3 different spots and in the last one you will hear Ms Ollie herself trying to put her feelings and love into words.
Thank all of you for your prayers, for your love and for your support. YOU are the keys! YOU fulfilled your job and YOU were critical in this build -- even if you weren't here in the physical sense!
May God return His blessings to you one hundred fold.
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
PS Our California team arrived safe and sound late last night and are working away in Ms Darlene's house so be sure and stay tuned for the miracles that will be happening there!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

"Drenched" in Love

Well, here you have it!
This morning was the dedication and we had to make a few last minute changes! We had over 7 inches of rain last night, streets are flooded and we had to go to plan B. God had it all under control and it was awesome!
The banner you see was posted with all the names of those involved. Then you can also see the entire team composed of all the states! What a crew!
Ms Ollie came in blindfolded and the rains stopped long enough for her to get out of the car and go around front to see her home. Her shrieks could be heard around the block!
We then seated her underneath her home. There are advantages of being 9 foot in the air! Everyone had gathered underneath awaiting her arrival. It was the only place to be dry. She was given a seat and throughout the dedication there were thanks and blessings mixed with tears of joy and the sounds of Ms Ollie thanking and praising God. Pastor Lavoy gave an outstanding dedication and prayer. He spoke from his heart and from experience as his church was destroyed in the storm and he held services in a tent for months and months before receiving a new church built by mostly volunteers!
After the dedication Ms Ollie was escorted upstairs to see the inside of her new home. Once again the tears flowed and the shrieks were most audible when she saw her side by side refrigerator/freezer -- the only thing she had ever asked for! There was a second shriek when she saw her bathroom -- one for herself -- no need to share!!
While being interviewed by the local TV reporter she asked if someone could pinch her to see if this was real or not! She continued to thank everyone but always thanking God first. She had thank you cards all ready for the teams.
As she traveled from one room to another and then back through again and again she was trying to take it all in. She won't feel the reality for quite some time. Ms Faye came in and it was so good for them to meet because Ms Faye was able to bring some reality to the morning as she has been in Ms Ollie's shoes.
Throughout the rest of the morning the hugs were shared, the tears of joy continued to flow and the smiles grew larger and larger. The rains even stopped long enough for her to travel down the tiered deck!
As we left her she was thinking about sitting on her new white rocking chair on her front porch but also thinking about going back inside and seeing if it really is real!!
Ms Ollie's life wasn't the only one changed with this build. Every single person working on the job spoke of how their lives had been changed and how they want to be a part of the next one!
Next one?? Right now Monty and I would just like to take a breather -- but -- we will be in a meeting with Joe tonight to evaluate the entire project and see where we can make it better the next time!!!! I think it has something to do with that "working in the joy of the Lord thing"!!
To all the teams -- thank you doesn't begin to say it but it's all we have! We love all of you and pray for your safe travel home!
To all of you who support Monty and I and therefore make it possible for us to be here, to be doing what we are doing -- THANK YOU!!!! We love you and are so very grateful! We are living the dream of being able to follow God's call on our lives!! Bless all of you!
Until next time . . . Welcome Home Ms Ollie!!!! Susan and Monty