Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
The Ohio kids, along with Pastor A's son cleaning the parking lot on Friday. The dust you see flying was mud and is now cleared off the lot. They had way too much fun!
Today Monty and I spoke at First Baptist Church in Bedford, IN. We had met with Pastor Kraig a few weeks ago and he wanted us to come and share our vision with the entire congregation. When he realized he would be on vacation today he gave us the morning! Since they have 2 morning services we had a busy morning. It's always a blessing to us to be able to share what God has been, and continues doing. Seeing miracles on a daily basis isn't something people get used to. One of our goals is to raise up teams of volunteers who will come along side us and share in the blessings. We are so thankful to our dear friend, Stacey, for making this connection for us. First Baptist is her home church and we are thankful to now have it one of our home churches.
For me there was a deeply personal connection with this church, one that was a complete surpise. I have a dear friend, Jana, who lives in Bedford. Years ago we worked together in a chiropractors office. We spent so much time together, both in and out of the office. I was there when she had her first child, a son, who spent some unexpected time in the children's hospital. I was also there when her second child, a daughter, was born. It's been years since I have seen her and today I learned her mother is a member of this church. I then remembered being in this church when Jana's father passed away. It never ceases to amaze me how God brings us back to certain places, how much we realize that this ole' world is really very small. It was so good to see Jane (Jana's mother) and to do some remembering. I hope to reconnect with Jana in the near future.
After speaking at both services we were invited back to Stacey's mother's house for lunch. It was a time to visit and relax. We hadn't been there very long when a phone call came from Dallas, our other buddy in Bedford, from Fayetteville Baptist Church. If you look back on the blog you will see where he, his wife and another gentleman came to Columbus and spent an entire day in the Hope Outreach center getting things organized after our last large truck load of supplies arrived. Turns out they went back to their church and started a food drive and were quite successful. He knew we were in town and we made the connection and came back with quite a bit of much needed food supplies! Another of those connections made by God! Another of those family connections!
We hope to see a group of volunteers come from both of these churches!
It was also an added blessing to have Monty's mother, Judy, join us in service this morning. As you know, she had been in the hospital this week and even though she isn't 100% yet she was there to support us! In fact, every time we have spoken in a church she has been in the congregation supporting us with her smile! I don't think she knows just how much that means to the both of us! We love you, Judy!
It was a wonderful day of new connections with new family and reconnections with old family. God has blessed us so much -- we have family all over this nation -- and we are so thankful for each and every one of them!
Until next time . . . thank God for your family! Susan and Monty
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Yes, they go where we go when we go! When they see anything that resembles packing they are headed to the door! Amazing little "people."
This day was filled with one meeting after another and progress came with each one.
But . . . before I get into the day I must tell about last night! There are storms and then there are storms! I thought driving back Sunday night was unbelievable but then there was last night. It all started before midnight, the constant thunder and lightning! You couldn't tell where one thunder stopped and another started. The winds blew, the rain bashing up against our camper, the trees bending to where we thought they would break, my church fig tree outside finally toppled to the ground along with my peace lilly that was a birthday gift from our team mates in the south and the lawn chair disappeared, only to be found wedged underneath the trailer this morning. And then, of course, there was the leak in the "porthole" vent, just above our bed which required getting the hair dryer and blow drying the sheets, after making a "diaper" to tape to the ceiling. Now as you read this you might be wondering "when was there time for sleep?" and come this morning I wondered the same thing! Around 4am it finally calmed down, the bed was dry, the dogs were "pulled" out of our bed and "placed" into theirs and we crashed. And then in 2 hours the alarm went off to start the day!
My first meeting was our weekly case management meeting where we all gather to share information, resources and support for each other. I was thrilled to see 35 people in the room! It was a great meeting, some of the newer case managers felt they were ready to take on cases of their own and the others vowed to be "more ready" next week. It looks like the training course that some missed will be offered again in a nearby city so all can be fully trained.
From there we headed to a luncheon meeting with the supervisor of the nurses we have from the local hospital. As you know, the hospital is closed until who knows when so the RN case managers from there have been working with us -- the hospital keeping them on the payroll with full benefits! Kudos to them!!! We are so blessed to have them and we hope to be able to work a program with the hospital to keep them, even when things get back to operating at the hospital. After we finished telling all about what the case managers are doing I think the supervisor realized that when they do return to the hospital they will be more educated and have more experience than when they left!
From there we had a meeting scheduled with Legal Aid. One of our state representatives was also there and gave us some wonderful news with regard to one of our "difficult" areas here in town. There is a subdivision where most everyone was on a "rent to own" deal. FEMA was forced to consider them renters while the ownership of the subdivision said they were homeowners. As renters they are not eligible for alot of the help that comes in. After bringing this issue to the attention of the govenor some eyes were opened and changes were made. The families will be considered homeowners which unlocks the hands of FEMA to be able to get further assistance to them! We were thrilled and even more thrilled to realize that more trailers are on their way which means more people will have housing other than hotels and/or living inside their damaged homes! The legal aid representative agreed to come to our next case management meeting and answer questions that some of the managers are faced with out in the field!
My final meeting was to meet and greet our team from North Vernon, IN who drove up this evening to continue the work in Robert and Mary's home. A team from another local church was there today installing headers for the closet doors and made great progress. Tonights team will further that process and maybe even get the final coat of finish on the sheetrock that would put them ready to prime when they return this Saturday.
As for Monty -- with his mother in the hospital he felt a need to go and check on her. She is resting as comfortably as possible and I know was glad to see him! Thank you for your prayers and please keep them coming as she has a ways to go to reach healthy and be released.
As you can see, it was a day of progress all around! It's the behind the scenes work that most people don't see and don't even realize happens. Without all the meetings, the planning, the constant changing none of this would happen. I still am amazed at how well this county has stepped up and taken care of its own! Never did I see anything along the coast to compare!
Speaking of the coast -- please pray the hurricane Dolly would manage to loose speed and power and that those in her path would be prepared, safe and blessed!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty (and Bitty and Samson)
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Yes, we said our goodbyes to our men from Maryland on Friday evening. They had transformed Robert's home and were still sanding the sheetrock finishing late into the evening. There are some teams who come in and just do what needs to be done and this team did just that. We found them mowing the lawn and working in the yard also! What a difference little things like that can make, not only visually but to the homeowner! And while they were working a man came to them saying this family had attended their church in North Vernon, about 30 minutes from here, and they wanted to put together a team and come and work in this home and wherever else they might be needed. When the team told him about Monty and I and that we could coordinate their trip he was thrilled. He called us right away and they will be sending a "test" team for a few hours this Tuesday night and then returning for a Saturday work day! A great example of ministry coming from teams!
We also received word that our home church is sending a team to do 3 consecutive Saturdays of work. Rob, who orchestrated 2 trips to work with us in the south, will be doing the same thing here. It's about an hour drive and we are really excited for them to return. Rob is a contractor and a priceless addition to any home we land him in! Thanks Rob!!
Late on Friday we headed home for a short weekend. We had more donated items to pick up from Walmart on Saturday and wow were we surprised when they pulled the cart from the back of the store! The boxes filled the bed of my truck! It was obvious that the word had spread through the employees and they were excited at what was going on! Thanks Walmart in Bloomington and thanks again to Shelley for making it all happen!
This morning we picked up the cleaning and personal hygiene kits that our home church had put together. Keep up the good work folks, these are wonderful to give out and people are still coming and needing them!
Our trip back here this evening was rough! Not only was the truck filled to overflowing, even packing what we could behind the front seats and barely leaving room for the dogs, we got caught in a storm unlike anything I have driven through before! The sun was shining when we left and a little over half way the skies got really dark, the winds starting swirling (literally) and Monty kept his eyes peeled on the sky while I did the best I could to just keep the truck on the road. I have driven through many a storm but this one was the roughest. It was all I could do to keep it on the road. The winds would send me to one side only to then push me to the other! There were a few minutes where I thought I should pull off the road but there was nowhere to go. We did make it back in one piece and praised the Lord for that miracle!
Tomorrow starts off bright and early with a meeting with CRWRC, a relief organization that comes into disasters and does door to door, extensive assessments of homeowners and renters. We are excited to have the opportunity to work with them and hopefully keep as many as possible from "falling in the cracks" and getting lost in the system.
There will be 3 teams coming and going throughout this week, 2 from Indiana and 1 from Ohio. Please remember to keep them in your prayers for safe travel and blessings while they are here. As always, they will come in as strangers and leave as family!
We were thrilled to see the progress made in the sanctuary. The sheetrock finishers showed up and accomplished ALOT!! They will also be returning bright and early tomorrow morning and make it nearly impossible to keep up with all that they are doing!
Pray that I can get photos on here tomorrow!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I know for a fact the guys were a bit worn out when they left the houses this evening! I also think they were looking forward to an evening of staying at the church. They said they had so much food there, thanks to so many people who have been feeding them, that they were going to stay there and have a variety of things for their dinner!
They continued the sheetrock in Robert's home. By tomorrow they will be sanding and preparing the walls for the next folks who come to work.
They also were at our retired Pastor's home where they got the new shower completely installed. These units that are not one piece can be a bit challenging but they did a wonderful and professional job!
I spent my morning at the breakfast meeting with quite a few local Pastors. It was great to meet them and to see the Pastor who is now preaching at the Lutheran church where I grew up and went to school. It was my opportunity to let them know how great this community has been in working together. That community spirit is born and sent out by all of these Pastors from different denominations all coming together to work together! Thanks to all of them for their hearts of love and service.
Monty attended the sub committee meeting for the construction end of the relief effort. It went well and they are getting the full picture of all the committees working together to get the job done!
Our case management side is continuing to go full speed ahead. One of them was even tracking down a potty chair for a handicapped child. It can be difficult working with a team of people you have never worked with and working with them in this type of high stress work! It is our goal to be a support system not only to our clients but to each other. So far, so good!
I received word of a couple more people who are interested in joining our team. We are also looking into further training to catch up those who were not able to attend the first sessions. After numerous phone calls they have the listing of those still in hotel rooms and sent it off to FEMA. There are many people awaiting the arrival of the FEMA mobile homes!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
They split their time between the sheetrock finishing and plumbing. Monty worked with them most of the day on the finishing of the sheetrock. It's looking really good and should be ready for some sanding tomorrow.
Our retired Pastor and his wife learned just how valuable volunteers can be -- again! When they realized the abilities of the plumber they asked if they could get their shower and have it installed while the team is here. Guess what --- they have a shower! And today is only Wednesday!
The team also received another unexpected blessing today. When Sandy from my mother's church brought their lunch to them today she was asking them what they did for evening meals. They told her where they planned on going this evening. Sandy left and in less than 5 minutes returned saying she and her husband would be taking them to the restaurant they had picked out for tonight's dinner!!! It truly shocked the men and brought such amazing smiles to their faces! Another amazing example of how the volunteers come to be a blessing and the blessings are returned right back to them!
I spent most of my day with case management details. We are trying to find all those who are still residing in hotels. FEMA has located some apartments where the management has agreed to waive the year lease agreement so we need to get a total of those needing those apartments. We have a listing and the case managers will make another call to each one on that list again tomorrow and hopefully come up with as close to a final number as we can get. We are very grateful to that apartment complex for allowing those displaced to have a temporary home without signing a lease. I don't think there are very many left but tomorrow we will know for sure.
I had the opportunity to go and visit my 95 year old grandmother late this afternoon. She is in a local nursing home and is so happy when I get the chance to visit. I always leave wishing I took the time to go and visit more often. Now that we are in the same city I will do my best to get there as often as possible. 95 years is a long time and with each passing year each day is more precious.
We were also blessed to go to my parents for a home cooked meal this evening and get in some visiting with them. Another blessing God has given us by allowing us to come and serve in my hometown! And another visit that I vow to make more often while we are here!
Tomorrow will bring a morning of meetings. Monty will be attending the construction sub-committee of the long term recovery and I will be attending a district pastors breakfast with Pastor A. They only meet quarterly so this is a special opportunity.
From there we will be off and running in different directions once again. Maryland will be up and ready to go early and Monty will meet up with them by mid morning. I just can't say how great it has been to have them here this week. We got so used to having team after team - week after week - while we were on the Gulf and it is such a blessing to see the ministry that takes place in every direction!
Our incoming teams from IN and OH are scheduled and seeing just how many will be coming to serve. We pray the teams keep coming --from all over -- it's the volunteers who are the keys!!
The church changed in its appearance today also. The sanctuary is nearly completely cleaned out and really looks barren now. But the new is beginning and a new "normal" is on the horizon!!! Praise the Lord for new beginnings!
Until next time . . . and until I get Monty's photos downloaded into my computer . . .
Blessings to all. Susan and Monty
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Blogger "issues" only allow me to post these 2 photos, sorry guys! Maybe tomorrow?!
Yes, late last night our team of 4 men from the state of Maryland arrived. They had a few challenges with our directions but they made it. Pastor Jerry and Don waited with us in their parking lot and were very glad to see them when they finally made it. I even saw homemade chocolate chip cookies waiting for them in the kitchen so wives -- don't feel too sorry for them when they get home!
They were up and raring to go this morning. We referred them to one of the local restaurants where they were spotted immediately as "not from here." It's always nice for the teams to patronize the local places, not only as a boost for the economy but also as a boost to the people. Just seeing volunteers come into a community gives them hope and puts a smile on their faces. I think it has to do with that "joy of the Lord" thing that just shines without saying a word.
We had them busy here in the church all day. The pews were destroyed beyond repairs so they had to be taken apart, by hand, and tossed into the dumpster. Not an easy task but one these men jumped into. Even with the air conditioning I saw quite a bit of sweat dripping from foreheads!
My mother brought their lunch to them which made them feel much better! This wasn't just some cold sandwich -- I saw hot food and plenty of it! I know my mother and she knows how to cook! What an amazing blessing for these men! And I think I caught quite the smile on my mother's face also!! :)
One of the men went with Monty to check out our retired Pastor's home and another next to him. All the men will be working in both of those homes tomorrow. We always marvel at how God sends just the people we need --- Pastor's house needs a plumber and guess what -- one of these men is a plumber! Yes, Joe will get to do plenty of plumbing tomorrow!! They were ready to go this evening -- but I also think they just might sleep quite well this evening also!
I continued working with the nurses in their case management of homeowners. It's amazing to me to see how well they have their system going, even though they don't think so. We have our major meeting in the morning where everyone will come together and hopefully it will accomplish alot!
Both Monty and I went to the volunteer subcommittee meeting later this afternoon. It was another good one where much was set in motion.
A team from Frankfort, IN called and scheduled a weekend trip today also. It will be great to have fellow Hoosiers come to help fellow Hoosiers. And Pastor Jerry will have the place ready for them, for sure!
As I reflect on the day I realize the importance of everyone working together. It's never about anyone but always about everyone. We look forward to continued working together with this community and its people. We are thankful to God for calling us here and thankful to the people for welcoming us with open arms!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Saturday, July 12, 2008
It's been over a month but the mud line/water lines still remain in some places, even with the rains we have had! Power washing landscaping might become necessary?!
Over the past nearly 3 years our next door neighbor, Shelley, has desperately wanted to be a part of our disaster ministry. She tried repeatedly to come to the south, to volunteer for a week, to maybe come along with another church team -- but it never happened. Over the months she got discouraged and felt it might not happen. All the while we continued to tell her that God's timing is always right and He would let her know when the "right" time came. Even though she keeps watch over our home while we are away she still didn't think it was enough. When we relocated to here in Indiana I think she thought she might never get to be involved. Her heart was still tugging at her, still wanting to "do something" to help those who have lost so much.
Last week she approached us with an idea. She has worked at Walmart for many, many years and wondered if there was any way they might get involved. She took that idea to her store manager, Scott, and THAT became her appointed time. Scott and the claims manager, Stacey, thought the idea was great and they jumped at the chance to do something. Only 2 days ago they made the decision to start collecting "things" to donate to our ministry. "Anything" would do, would be put directly into the community, into our ministry.
Today, after only 2 days we picked up a pickup truck bed full of items! We had the opportunity to meet both Scott and Stacey and talk with them and share our ministry. They were both enthusiastic and wanting to participate in any way they could. Monty even challenged them to put together a team from there, maybe even managers?, to come and volunteer for a day. Scott thought it was a wonderful idea and wants to follow up. They asked if we could come back for one of their weekly employee meetings and directly share stories of our ministry so the employees can get more of an understanding of the whole thing. We would love to!
And Scott also made the connection for us with the Columbus store. We are awaiting a call from them! They want to be involved also!
Many times we think these large department stores are just out to make money. The rumors of price gouging run rampant. But --- do we think about the human side of those large stores? Every once in awhile we are blessed to see "behind the scenes" to the reality of it all, to the humanity side -- and today was one of those rare opportunities.
Shelley thought her time to help had come and gone. Shelley realized today how God appointed her time to get involved -- she had a special gift to give to our ministry -- to the people who will be extra blessed with these items! I can't wait to see the expressions on the faces of those receiving! Our goal is to capture some of those faces and take them back to the employees so they see the results of their serving hearts!
To Shelley --- God bless you! You recognized your appointed time --- you did not give up --- you listened, you acted and God will reward you!
To Scott and Stacey at Walmart -- you also listened, you also acted and God will also reward you!
We thank all of you and we consider ourselves blessed to see the hearts, the hands and the feet of those who understand and want to be a part of our ministry! We look forward to working with you!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Every once in awhile there are those days where both Monty and I have a "WOW" day together! Yesterday was one of those!
Yesterday Monty started his day with a 2 hour trip to Bloomfield, IN to pick up some jacks that were donated to our ministry. These jacks will allow us to lift and straighten walls in homes or even flooring if need be. We are so thankful to this company for not only seeing our request but going above and beyond in their donation!
I was working in our Outreach center just doing some clean up when the phone rang and it was the local group of case managers asking if I could come and help them with some things. That was before 9am and it was nearing 5pm before I got back! All operations are being handled through donated space at the local United Way building. It used to be a factory when I was a little girl here. My mother told me she used to work in that building! Nearly all of the case managers are nurses who are unable to work in the hospital since it is closed. The hospital is continuing to pay them to do disaster work. Case management is what they normally do but this is a bit out of their scope. I am amazed at how well they are doing and how far ahead of the game they really are! Go Girls!!
The evening brought a surprise visit from one of my brothers! What an amazing thing to be back in my hometown where my family is and actually be able to see them and have them come over for visits! I haven't experienced anything like this since I moved away 35 years ago. What a blessing!
Today I returned to the case management side of things. FEMA joined us for most of the day. The announcement hit the newspaper that FEMA trailers were coming to town -- with the option to purchase them after 18 months! The phone calls started as well as our process of trying to determine who will be offered a trailer. We started with a listing of who is still temporarily housed in hotels. The phone lines were constantly busy with the case managers dialing number after number and in some cases heading out the door to make visits.
We also got all of our case management forms ready to go. This isn't an easy process but everyone jumped in and the files are now complete. Getting all of the proper signature forms together is nearly an act of congress! With all case managers operating from the same location we will be able to all use the same forms and thus make the process so much more organized!
Monty spent his day in the church outreach center helping them relocate everything into one area. The front entry of the church has been used since the beginning but with the rebuilding in the beginning stages that area needed to be cleared out. Everything was moved into the Youth area and it really looks great! The members of the church have been great in donating their time to come and work.
The church pews are also being taken apart and disassembled. This is quite the job as there are alot of pews! Some sheetrock started going up in the entry also. Progress!!! It's great to see!
We also finalized plans for our first incoming team -- Maryland will be on their way Sunday after they are sent off from their own church. They should arrive Monday morning and we have an "array" of things they will be doing. The church pew thing has their name written all over it as well as some work in a retired Pastor's home and another home nearby. We always tell teams that the key word is "flexibility" and since part of this team made 3 trips to the south I think they've "got it." They will be quite spoiled as my mother's church will be making and delivering their lunches to them daily! Everyone jumping in and doing something makes the whole project so much more blessed! Thanks Mom!
We hope that alot more teams will be following Maryland. We realize there are disasters of all kinds all over the place and just pray that you will go someplace!!! Go and be a blessing and be blessed beyond your imagination!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty