Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Not enough hours

I realize there has been a couple of days delay in blogging but as the title says, I just cannot seem to find enough hours in the day to get to everything!
After our more than full day on Sunday we started Monday with our weekly trip to Walmart to see what all they had saved up for us -- WOW!! This time we literally had to strap boxes on top of the toolbox on the truck to get everything back to Columbus! What amazing blessings we had in tow -- the food from Bedford and all the "etcs" from home! I learned to depend on my side mirrors even more since the rear view one was completely blocked.
We arrived in Columbus with our load and immediately started unloading. Thankfully we were in time for the church meeting and to also get some help from Pastor in unloading. The meeting went well, discussions on how to best rebuild the 2 other portions of the church buildings. Both of these buildings housed the childrens wings, teen wings and adult wings. The architect has his work cut out for him but rose to the cause with some great plans.
After that meeting Monty needed to head right back to Bloomington to be able to help his stepdad haul a trailer the next morning. With his mother just out of the hospital she wasn't able to help. Monty was happy to do so. He spent all of Tuesday escorting and setting up the trailer and arrived back late last night.
My day yesterday was one meeting after another. We started with the weekly case management meeting and all went well. The case managers are doing such a wonderful job! We had a few more who decided they were ready to take on some cases of their own. They are partnering with those who have been managing, going out in pairs and getting things done one homeowner at a time.
After that meeting came one with the new executive director of the Long Term Recovery. He has scheduled a city wide meeting for Friday night in hopes of giving the people direction in their recovery process.
From there I had the opportunity to meet with the chairman of the construction side of the Recovery team. I was glad to be able to sit down, one on one, and let him know the needs. He left with direction and purpose and will be able to be a great asset to this process. The construction side comes in to assess damages of the homes, obtain estimates for both the homeowner and the case manager and also supervise the volunteers who are coming in to help. His hope is to tap into some of the talented men who are now retired but not retired from their knowledge of construction.
After that meeting I had 2 more men in my office putting together information for the city wide meeting Friday evening. We were working on a power point presentation to hopefully get even more information to the people. Charlie had some great printouts with the outline of the process and from the "test" power point I got this morning it looks great. Pray that the people will come and they will gain the knowledge, and hope, they need to bring their houses back to homes.
As the day neared it's end my mother called to invite me to dinner. My neice and her 2 little boys were flying back to Florida this morning so it was nice to be able to say goodbye to them. I must admit I don't think I was very good company as I was so tired I could hardly be civil.
After a quick dinner it was off to church. Remember that I said service times had to change due to borrowing another church? The Bible Study night is now Tuesday. Once again Pastor brought in the names of those who have come through the Hope Outreach Center this week and we prayed over them individually. I have no doubt they felt the prayers!
When I finally got back to our trailer (home) Monty was there, just arrived. By now it's dark, we're both exhausted and yet wanted to go over our days to each other. It's such a blessing to work together and be able to share and know that the other one really does understand!
In between all the meetings I heard from 2 more teams who are in the process of scheduling trips. We are in such great need for teams who have some skills in construction. Those that come and only have a few with skills are able to teach the others on the team and then they become the skilled ones. It's a God-thing!
And also, in the meantime, the church is looking great! The walls are now painted a new color and it's looking better and better each time I come through the doors. For us it's difficult to come in after a storm or flood -- we have no concept of what everything looked like before! But I do know that the "after" is going to be beautiful and with all those who continue to come through the Outreach Center for help I hope to see the seats in the sanctuary full!!
Today Monty was blessed with the return of one of our favorite volunteers, Chip. He lives nearly 2 hours north of here and came all 3 days with the original parking lot outreach. He called and wanted to come back for the day so he and Monty went to Bruce's house and continued the process of mudding the sheetrock. It's looking better each day and will be ready when our home church, led by Rob, returns Saturday for more work!
I will be in a special information seminar all day tomorrow where many of the established relief efforts will come and share their knowledge with all of us here. It should be a great day -- if I can sit still for the whole day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
PS That man with the funny hairstyle --- he's the Youth Pastor here. He challenged the youth to raise money for Speed the Light and guess what -- they raised the money! He made a deal with them that if they succeeded he would allow them to shave his head -- their way!!!! And you see the results!!! Wonder if he learned anything about challenging youth to do anything??!! Great job to the youth for raising the money for such an amazing organization. Wonder what Speed the Light is? Check it out on the web!!! You'll be surprised!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Thank you Bedford

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

Vineyard "finishing"

Yes, the Vineyard home church team rolled in and started finishing the sheetrock in Bruce's home. He was smiling the entire day as he watched the progress.
Cheryl was setting the screws and quickly learned the difference between setting them too deep or not deep enough. Practice makes perfect! I think she also got in on the mudding!!
Big Pat took on the mixing of the "hot" mud. Rob (and Monty) are experienced enough to use what's called hot mud -- it dries in 45 minutes and some in 25 minutes. You MUST be experienced to use it or you can imagine what happens!
Rob started in just as if he was working a regular day! He's a contractor so this is routine for him. He and the team had the first coat on the entire house before the end of the day. The nail places have all 3 coats on and are done.
My mother brought their lunches, once again, and they enjoyed each bite! I think Bruce has been taking some of his lunch items back home for evening snacks!
Today was one of those days where the temps got a bit hot and sticky but the team kept taking in water and sweating it out just as fast. I know Big Pat enjoyed his ride back home as he came over on his motorcycle and I imagine the breeze felt pretty nice.
It was a great day all around, Monty even got to go and do some hands on work. He really enjoys that and would be happy to have the opportunity to do it more often. I have a feeling that if I can't find him sometime in this next week he'll be across the street at Bruce's doing some of the finishing himself! :)
A note about the first photo of my mother and myself. I think I forgot the story about the delivery truck. My mother's church has had a program of feeding the homeless for years. She has been the director of this and thus arranges for the food planning. The Gleaners is a local delivery for her and a truck was scheduled to arrive last week. She thought it would be loaded with food but instead it came filled with cleaning supplies and such. Knowing that her church didn't have need of the entire truck she sent it to us! It really helped restock our Hope Outreach! Monty took this picture of us --- not too bad really!! Thanks to my mom for once again making it possible for she and I to spend time together!!!
Hope all of you will be in your home church tomorrow to express your thanks and praise for all of your blessings!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Thanks Ohio, Welcome Vineyard

There they are, the team!!!!
They worked all day yesterday and managed to get Bruce's house completely sheetrocked! It looks professional! They worked past the time they planned on leaving but wanted to accomplish their task before heading home. We are so thrilled at what they did and how much fun they had in the process that we asked if there would be any way we could adopt them!? I think their families might object!
You can also see how part of the group had a fun time trying to clean the remaining mud from the church parking lot. The hose and water might look like fun but the shoveling part took some muscles! They did a great job and hopefully with the next rain we will have a better looking parking lot!
As they pulled from our parking lot around 6pm they were heading to take showers and hit the roads. Once again -- thank you Ohio for coming and blessing all of us! We welcome you back anytime -- for as many times as you want to come!! We will always have work for you and God will always have blessings for you as well!
This morning we welcomed our hometown church, The Vineyard to the neighborhood. They came to pick up where Ohio left off -- taping and mudding in Bruce's house. Bruce was up bright and early and ready to meet some new "family." One of the men on this team, Rob, is a contractor and hey Ohio---he said you did a great job!!!!!!!!!!!!! Coming from the ones who must come in behind you with taping and mudding that is quite a compliment! That is what they will be doing all day long! I've seen how they work and it will be another incredible transformation by the end of the day. Rob will also be bringing teams the following 2 Saturdays. He has already planned on working on the basement wall that fell in.
As you can see in the one photo, lunch was once again delivered to the Ohio team courtesy of my mother's church! And it's definitely filling as one felt the need to catch a quick nap! Mom will be here again today with more lunches for this team! What a blessing that is to them. They don't have to leave and drive and try and find someplace to eat, not to mention the cost savings! Once again ------THANKS MOM!!!
Watch for another blog this evening with photos of this team. The internet was a bit "off and on" last night, thus the delay to this morning. Sorry!
Until later tonight . . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Welcome Mansfield, Ohio

Today was the day we got to meet the team from Mansfield, Ohio. The Pastor from this church used to be Pastor A's youth Pastor so it was an especially warm welcome! They made the 5 hour drive to work today and tomorrow and work they did!
You can see from the photos that they were involved in a couple of projects. At the top you will see Monty with Bruce who lives across the street in front of the church. I've already told his and his mother's story and today we got to finally get some real help to him. This team stepped in and got busy hanging sheetrock! As you can also see one of the girls volunteered to "get on the wrong end of a shovel" and dig out where Bruce's foundation wall caved in and trapped him in the basement with the rising waters.
A couple more of the team worked in the church continuing to rip out carpeting behind the baptismal area. They were also hauling out more trash and more metal to take to the salvage yard.
Anywhere we needed them-- they were there! They will be staying the night with Pastor A and his family. What a wonderful gesture of gratitude and love. I think I heard they were being treated to a special dessert this evening?!
Today was also the day where the United Way opened their doors to disperse the free furniture that had been donated to them. What a day that was! At last count they figured they helped furnish over 150 homes. They lined up at the outside doors, waited to be called inside, chose what they needed, picked up everything, loaded up and headed home. It was such an amazing blessing to so many who have nothing, think about coming into your home with no furniture, no beds, no anything!!! It's rather mind-boggling!
One special story that I must share with you. Early in the morning a woman came to the center for help. She was a mother with small children and another on the way. When the President of the United Way met her and heard her story he told the case manager to take her downstairs and "get her anything she needs." Now we all knew this President had a big heart but today he wore it on his sleeve and blessed a young mother beyond her wildest imagination! Complete with carseats! Thanks and thanks and thanks again to Dorel for the donations of the furniture!!! God's special angels at work!
We have a thanks and praise report -- Monty's mother was released from the hospital today. She has some rather strict instructions to follow but will be getting better day by day. We thank you for the prayers and have another special request. Our teaching Pastor (Tom) lost his mother yesterday -- on her birthday! She has had some health issues but this was a surprise. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.
Monty and I were blessed to have dinner at my parent's home this evening. My cousin from Florida, Katy, and her 2 precious little boys are here for a visit. We usually miss out on her visits because we are gone but tonight we were so happy to be able to have an evening to visit. Her youngest is nearly 3 and it's the first time we have seen him! I hope to see them quite a few times in the week they will be here. Just an added blessing God has given us -- being able to do our disaster ministry at home!!!!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

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

Moving right along

Finally ---- your prayers must have worked!! PHOTOS!!!!!!
The beginning ones show the work being done inside the church. They are doing everything from finishing the sheetrock to rebuilding the platform to stripping wallpaper from the restrooms! Whatever needs done -- it's getting done by everyone who has some time to donate - regardless of age! Each day shows improvement and that brings hope!
The men of Maryland finally get the press they have waited for. You can see what a great crew they were! Miss you guys and look forward to your return! Just remember -- each one of you is a team leader now!
My day started and ended with organizational meetings. Monty's meeting was in the middle of the day. I started with a special meeting introducing us to CRWRC, an organization who comes in and does very in-depth assessments after disasters. Everything they do, the program and the people to run them, are absolutely free! It was a great meeting and we expect them to arrive here as soon as they can put things in order on their end. It will enable us to cross reference our client base and try even harder to make sure people aren't faling through the cracks of the system.
From there it was checking on the case managers. As I said before, we have quite a few nurses who have been displaced since the hospital is closed. Some of them are working with us as case managers and doing an outstanding job. It is our prayer that they will be able to stay with us but a couple of them have already been reassigned by the hospital. They are sending them to other nearby hospitals. We don't want to loose them and are hoping our luncheon meeting tomorrow will allow us the ability to share their value and that they will be able to stay working with us.
Monty's afternoon meeting was with the volunteer sub-committee of the long term recovery organization. When they came to the realization that they didn't really have any problems they realized it was due to the fact that everyone is working so well together! What an amazing idea -- and one that is working!
My last meeting had to do with some furniture that has been donated, how to get it to the community in the proper way, how to get the construction sub-committee to understand what is needed by the clients and the case managers and just general last minute checks before our early morning meeting tomorrow with the case managers. We hope to get a better idea as to the number we will have doing the case managing.
Good news came today -- one of Mary's clients, Don, was moved into a FEMA trailer Friday evening! His home is in danger of being condemned and his prayers were answered with this new home. Who will be next?
I also spoke with an incoming team from North Vernon, IN. They are arriving tomorrow evening and will be continuing the work in Robert and Mary's home. And then they will also return to work this Saturday. They have asked Monty and I to come and speak at their church and hopefully to share the vision of long term recovery so they can continue sending teams into the area.
Monty told me that he heard from a team from Chicago wanting to schedule!! Great news!!! Bring them on!! We are ready!! The homeowners are really ready!!
I have a very special prayer request this evening. Monty's mother is in the hospital with an intestinal virus. It appears she will be there for a few days as she is really sick. Please join us with prayers of healing, comfort and love. He will be making a trip to visit her tomorrow so also pray for safe travel for him.
Until next time . . . LET'S GO TEAMS!!! Susan and Monty

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Thank You Maryland

I'm not sure what the problem with photos is but there definitely is a problem! I hope to find out and get it corrected asap!

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

Maryland photo expose' (or not?)

Yes, good ole' blogger is experiencing a variety of technical difficulties this evening -- just when I have a boat load of photos to show you!! Hopefully tomorrow?!

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

She got a shower

Another day of Maryland hard at it!

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

Maryland and Scriptures

You can see the Maryland team hard at work again today. They are in a home that had nearly 4 feet of water inside. The mudding and gutting was already completed and some sheetrock had been put up. These men went in and worked on plumbing, taping and mudding of the sheetrock and replacing more. They are doing a great job and from the smiles on their faces I think they're having a great time while working.
Once again they were provided "lunch" from my mother; if you call a full spread of meatloaf, macaroni and the works a "lunch'!! One of them mentioned needing a nap but I doubt he got there!! :)
While they were working away the youth Pastor here at Columbus First Assembly gathered a team of youth who went to our retired Pastor's home. They went armed with permanent markers and proceeded to cover the exposed stud walls with scripture after scripture. This home is held up by the word of God -- in the literal sense. Pastor's wife called this evening to thank them and she said how much they appreciated this act of kindness, love and service. This is something we started doing while we were on the Gulf and it needs to spread nationwide!
We held our first official case management meeting this morning and I am pleased to say that the meeting room was full! What a blessing this is for all those who need someone to come along side them and guide them through the "maze" of reconstruction, relocation or whatever changes they are going through following a disaster. We will be meeting once a week to discuss cases and also to be a support group to each other.
This evening our church held its weekly Bible Study night. It used to be Wednesday night but with borrowing another church some scheduling had to change. Pastor brought in the names of some of those who have come through the Outreach center to gather things they need. We divided them between those present and prayed over each and every one. We did this last week and I know it made a difference in the lives of those we have reached. One lady came to the Bible Study this evening after coming through the Outreach just today and receiving prayer along with her needed supplies. She testified as to how she had been praying all alone and how the power of group prayer had lifted her and helped her to realize she isn't alone! God and His perfect disaster ministry!
The 4 volunteers from Maryland also came to Bible Study and were warmly welcomed by everyone there. They showed how people's hearts are filled with joy when they see volunteers take time from their homes, their families and their lives to just come and help in any way needed.
I must make a special note in regard to one volunteer --- Berney! Happy 20th wedding anniversary to his wife --- both she and he rescheduled their 20th anniversary from tomorrow to next week!!! Now is THAT a servant's heart or what!!?? Bless you both for not only hearing the calling from God but following it! May God bless you with MANY more years together!
We have 2 more teams who have contacted us with schedules to come and work! This is so exciting and we pray more and more will call and have a time they can come. Be it a couple of days or a week --- you will make an impact and will be such an enormous blessing to so many!
Please continue to pray for this church as the rebuilding process continues day by day. The sheetrock is being hung in places and the sound system in the sanctuary is coming together. This is a HUGE financial undertaking and we are all praying for it to be completed debt-free! Impossible you say? Just remember that "with God NOTHING is impossible" and we are all standing on that promise. If you would like to help this church with that goal please log onto Pastor's blogspot listed in the links on this site. It gives the details. Pray and see what God lays upon your heart!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, July 14, 2008

Welcome Maryland

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

At the God appointed time

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

Double "WOW" Days

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

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Busy in all directions

Sorry for the non entry yesterday but it was one of those days where I just couldn't get enough hours in the day! Today is nearly the same!
Yesterday I finished my 2 days of case management training and my brain was on overload. Even though I have worked in this area for what seems like forever, there was still information that I needed. Thanks to UMCOR, the Methodist disaster relief for their educational programs. The church was packed with people and all left with a feeling that they just might know what they are doing!? It was a great opportunity to meet and get to know all who are involved. We had folks from all over the state, not just this county.
We also have some numbers of people affected. For the state of Indiana FEMA has nearly 15,000 families who have filed for assistance. Right here in Bartholomew we are approaching te 2,000 mark. And there are still those who have not filed. The deadline is August 11 and they will be filing right up to that date, and beyond!
We now have our team housing location secured! A Methodist church down the road will be housing our teams. Bless them for not only agreeing to house them but they are creating showers for them. It's a rather small church but their enthusiasm for this would pack the largest church! I think each and every team will be spoiled rotten by them! They are already talking about ice cream socials and I hope to make each one! Nothing like good ole' home-made ice cream with all the fixins!
And with the announcement of a place for team housing comes the teams calling. They have actually been calling for weeks and now I can tell them we are ready to schedule. Maryland will be the first, arriving this weekend! They have even agreed to help the housing church finish the showers if need be!! For all of you who might be thinking of sending a team, now is the time to get scheduled! We will have a maximum of 12 people per team and prefer no one under the age of 16 years old. The max is due to the housing space. PLEASE let me know asap if you would like to come and experience what it's like to be the hands and feet of Jesus and experience true miracles in more ways than you can imagine! Just ask someone who has done a disaster mission trip!
As you can see in the photos the Hope Outreach is going gang-busters! A steady stream of people coming in empty handed and leaving with boxes being loaded into their vehicles! They file into the church, walking around and through the extension cords running down the halls, past the construction workers who are still stripping tile from the floors and stopping at the end for prayer. So many have told us how much they appreciate the prayers. One said she had been to quite a few places and this was the only one that stopped to pray for her! She was in tears, tears of joy!
At last nights Bible Study Pastor A brought in some of the names of those who have come through. He divided them among us and we all prayed for them, by name. It's those prayers that will rebuild lives, making them new and alive like never before. We want everyone to experience the new "normal" that is about to happen!
Tomorrow will be a day of "revamping" our outreach. The construction workers need access to the entry of the church so we will be making what used to be the youth area into the outreach. We will be reorganizing everything!!!!!! and creating one huge room where everyone can continue to come and receive both material blessings and spiritual! We just might find a few muscles that have been laying dormant also!?
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty