Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustov update

FYI---for those who want a close up and constant update with this hurricane you can watch the Biloxi TV station 24/7. They are on the air, and will remain on the air, throughout the entire thing. Click on the area that mentions that coverage, enlarge your screen and watch as though you were there.

Continue the prayers!

I just spoke with Ms Faye, Pastor Lavoy, Pastor Rick, Pastor David and left voice mails for a few more. They are ALL leaving and state the areas look like "ghost towns" as most have left already! Praise God!

We continue receiving calls from teams who came to work with us and we thank you for those calls! We have sent your well wishes and prayers to those we are talking with. They thank you and bless you for thinking of them!

Until next time . . . "even the winds and the waves obeyed Him. . ." Susan and Monty

Saturday, August 30, 2008

God be with them

We are all watching, television, internet, anything with news about the upcoming hurricane. And the tropical storm coming right behind it. Are we praying?

I was speaking with Gary, from our Illinois team this evening. He called to check on us. He does that every couple of months or so. His calls are such support for us, just knowing he is there thinking about and praying for us! He also helps supply the safety equipment we use in the field after a disaster. He is stock piling as we speak, preparing. Thanks Gary!

As we told Gary, and those in Columbus who have asked, we WILL be returning to the Gulf Coast --- when God calls us. It's not a matter of IF we will go, it's WHEN. And to be down right honest -- our financial support will need to improve to even allow us to pack up and make the trip! We know we won't be going within the next weeks. There will need to be time, time for those who are the experts to come in and make the areas safe. Preparations will need to be made to handle volunteers. Safety is the key! We have learned that the work will be there for a long time and the volunteers won't. God will let us know when it's time to go, when it's time to leave here! THEN we will be ready!

For all of you who are watching the news and waiting -- as I said -- are we praying? Not only should we pray for the hurricane to blow out and away -- we should be praying for the people -- and they now have names and faces for alot of you who went to volunteer after Katrina. They are no longer just faceless strangers -- you have a connection with a family or families. It's personal -- and that makes a big difference!

Gary mentioned Dane, I think of Ms Faye, Ms Ollie, Pastor Tim and Sherry, Pastor David, Pastor Lavoy, Pastor Rick, all of their congregations, and thousands of others who we helped. How will they handle this? Are they evacuating? Do they have someplace to go? We have spoken to some of them and made our home here available for anyone who wants to come this far north. But how will they handle it if they return to loosing everything -- again? This is where we we need to be praying -- courage and strength to get through whatever it is that they will need to get through! God promises to never give us more than we can handle but . . .

I also challenge every church out there --- keep your doors open for tomorrow and Monday! Keep the doors open for prayer -- for anyone and everyone who might want to come inside and pray for the Gulf Coast. I know we can pray anywhere -- but coming inside a church just makes us feel closer to God, closer with others who might gather there. There is power, amazing and almighty power in prayer. When we gather together that power is even stronger, and so are we! You Pastors -- think about doing this! God is calling us all to pray -- open the doors and let us in!

Challenge YOUR church when you attend tomorrow. Be there to welcome those who want to come in and pray!

Let us all join together and pray for our brothers and sisters in the south! God bless disaster victims!!!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

PS the Biloxi television station can be accessed at During Katrina they stayed on air throughout the entire storm, only relocating when their roof blew off and required them to move to the basement!

Friday, August 29, 2008

3 years --- again?

Has it been 3 years since the lives of nearly everyone along the Gulf Coast faced a disaster like no other in history? Every home, if it was left standing, had lives of "trash" hauled to the streets to be taken to landfills.

And now they begin preparations all over again. The buses are rolling in to evacuate those who have no transportation of their own. The lines at the gas stations will grow longer and longer. Grocery stores are already facing barren shelves. Lives are once again facing loss, devastation and grief.

Relief agencies are preparing, lining up at a safe distance, ready to move in on a moments notice with water, food stuffs, emergency equipment and the like.

As I remember those we left behind when we relocated to Indiana it brings tears and hurts my heart! Even having been missionaries in disasters for nearly 3 years I still have a basketball in my stomach! I have spoken with many of our southern families, listened to their fear and prayed with them.

We all are speechless as we watch the weather channels, as we watch the news on this anniversary. I challenge each and every one to join in prayer -- prayer for those who wait, for this, and the storm behind it -- to fall apart!

We all know how Jesus calmed the storm for the disciples -- He is commander over all! We pray for His hand to reach out once again and calm the seas!

To all of our Gulf Coast families -- we love you and we are praying for you. If an evacuation is called for ---PLEASE LEAVE!! Life is more important than "things", no matter how valuable those things appear to be!

Thank you for your prayers -- prayer carries power like we cannot imagine -- we pray for that power to calm the seas and calm the hearts of those who wait!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's the little things . . .

We've all heard that it's the little things in life that make the difference -- it's true, and sometimes when you least expect it!

Our case managers make their home visits in pairs. One pair, Tena and Eric, came back feeling so blessed from such a small thing.

As they were on their way to do their home visit Eric showed Tena a penny he had found in his driveway that morning. It was a unique penny because it had a small picture of John F Kennedy as well on the front of it. Neither Tena or Eric were certain it was even real but it was unique so he held on to it.

While the homeowner was copying some of her documentation for the case managers she ran across her insurance papers. The papers were still wet and moldy, actually dripping with old flood waters. In that same envelope were some family photos that were also destroyed. The homeowner could not hold back her tears as she continued to explain that she had been a coin collector and had lost the entire collection.

Eric knew then just why he had found that special penny that morning. He pulled out the penny, showed it to the homeowner and then told her it was hers to keep! As she looked in disbelief the joy brought out a wonderful smile -- even in the midst of the destruction. She told Eric that even if that penny was worthless to the world -- it made her day!

Sometimes we never know how our smallest of actions have the most giant effects. One teeny tiny act of kindness can literally change someones day. I know that homeowner has already shared both the story of the penny and the penny to everyone she knows and that small penny did the same thing for them -- brought a smile to their face and warmth to their hearts!

We all would do well to remember the little things -- and listen to that still small voice that tells us to light up the world with our "worthless" things!

Thank you both, Tena and Eric, for sharing your hearts of service and your acts of kindness! Keep up the good work!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


This blog is being written in the middle of the day as there might not be an end!

Yesterday was a day filled to the top and overflowing, much like today. Our morning began with our weekly case management meeting. With all meeting rooms already taken we utilized our key word, "flexibility", very early in the day. We all decided to meet in the case management room where we lined the chairs 2 and 3 deep but we made it work. In the end result we all agreed to continue meeting there since it is the hub of all the activity.

We do have a few cases ready to be brought to the unmet needs table starting next week. From there we will be tapping into resources at a pace like never before. We also were blessed to welcome quite a few new case managers into the family. They completed their training last week and were ready to go. They left completely equipped with an ID badge and Tshirt. Cases were given to them, they made visitations with other case managers and thus the initiation was over and reality arrived.

The rest of the day was one meeting, formal and/or informal for the rest of the day. So much was accomplished, all positive.

Monty spent his day at Bruce's, both un-installing and reinstalling kitchen counter tops and the works. The final task was taking Bruce to the shop to have his car battery checked since it had died. The kitchen looks great, installation done to perfection and another happy homeowner!

As I had said before, my brother from Florida flew in last evening. We were thrilled to be able to sit down together and have dinner and then continue our visit into the evening hours sitting in front of our trailer enjoying the evening temps and cooler breezes. For those who don't know, I have 3 younger brothers. 2 of them are here in Columbus and I see them pretty regularly. With Ross living so far and us being on the coast for so long, our visits have been rare. This one is great and we plan on being together for dinner again this evening. For our parents to have all 4 of us kids together is rare -- and alot of fun for us all!

This morning started with another new case manager coming on board. With the possibility of our hospital RN case managers possibly being called back to work we are desperately needing other case managers to come on board. We are doing all we can to make our plea to the hospital to not call them back to work until the hospital is actually open again -- possibly the end of October?!

For those of you who remember our retired Pastor and his wife and know they lost everything in the flood -- today they are getting their carpeting in -- Home is on the horizon!!!

Our neighbor, Shelley, returned to volunteer again today. Little did she know how valuable she would be! The case managers discovered her ability to speak Spanish and had 8 clients lined up for her to speak with. I wonder if she will be able to speak English by the end of the day!? She has an open door complete with red carpet for whenever she can return!

As I said, this blog is coming in the middle of the day. There is a very important meeting scheduled for this evening (which will have us very late for dinner). There is an area of "contention" here in the city, one that went underwater in the flood and one that needs some "intervention". Our State Representative has taken an active role in the disaster recovery and he scheduled this meeting to get to the bottom of some of the questions and concerns that have been plagueing not only the homeowners but now the case managers. We pray this will be a peaceful meeting where questions will be answered and forward direction will be routed. Please join us in that prayer.

Tomorrow morning will start bright and early with another meeting where we also will be looking for a bit more direction and a few more answers. It is one where both church and state will sit at the same table -- both with the same goals -- help the people! It will be another meeting where I feel blessed to participate and even more blessed to see with my own eyes! God is an amazing God and never more amazing than at these type of meetings!

Be sure and stay tuned for tomorrow's blog -- I have an incredible story of a woman who was in line for the TV show Extreme Makeover --- and then the flood came!! You won't want to miss this one!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, August 25, 2008

Peace, Prayer & Service

Sunset on the Gulf--sites I will never forget -- sites that remind me of Pastor Dave's message yesterday -- peace! There's just something so peaceful in a sunset over the water.

All weekend we kept our eye on Tropical Storm Fay -- waiting to see where she was heading and how quickly. We kept in touch with Ms Faye in MS and she was doing well, getting a bit of rain but no real wind -- as of Saturday evening anyway.

We were able to spend a couple of days at home for the weekend, seeing our church family and being refueled a bit. As I said, Pastor Dave's message was about peace and it just made me realize so many things about it -- how we are responsible for what we feel inside -- it's a choice we make. God promises us a peace that is beyond human understanding yet we still doubt -- must have something to do with satan!

We were also blessed to be able to attend the city wide prayer session last night. It was held in the auditorium of one of the high schools. We literally brought the churches into the school, even if the school was closed. I know the peace and prayers that were brought in there stayed there. There was even a special prayer for Elana, she was a teacher there and her loss is being felt throughout the school! It was an amazing thing to be able to congregate and concentrate our prayers on the city! Watch what God does next!

Speaking of Elana, my daughter reports that the baby, named Lane, after his mother, is hanging on in the hospital up in Chicago. Please continue your prayers, for the entire family!

This morning we made our quick trip back to Columbus and into the thick of things immediately. I checked in on the case managers, who were doing great as usual, before heading off to a meeting with the volunteer subcommittee. The main issue facing that committee is locating housing for the incoming volunteers. Monty and I are blessed to have Petersville United Methodist open its doors for us and our teams. There are many who are waiting to come through the United Way and we are desperate to locate adequate housing. The committee will be reaching out to other local churches and we pray a location will be found. Local volunteers have been coming at a pretty steady rate during the summer months but they have lessened and the ones from out of state are calling and ready to come. Up to now they have had to find their own housing but that needs to be taken care of for the long term. We pray a church, or churches, will recognize the need and step in to fill it.

This evening we went to my parents' church to help my mother serve the Hot Meals program they have every Monday night. They serve a wonderful meal to whomever comes in the doors. Tonight that totaled over 80 people! It's alot of work to plan and prepare the meal, arrange for the volunteers to do the serving and then clean up everything. My mom had been there most of the day and yet still left with a smile on her face! I think I know where I get part of my heart of service to others!! :) Monty also enjoys being there and visiting with the folks.

I am also excited because my brother who lives in Florida, Ross, will be flying in tomorrow evening and spending a week at my parents' home. Usually I only get to see him once when he comes home and now I can see him whenever I want -- isn't God amazing! He placed us right here, in the middle of family -- as Pastor Dave says, "God is all about relationships!"

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, August 22, 2008

Part 2 -- Has it been 10 years?

Is this a photo of service in action or what????

Today is our 10th wedding anniversary!!! Are you kidding? Where in the world has the time gone???

All throughout this day I have found myself reflecting on this day -- 10 years ago. We women are good at doing that -- sentimental, I think they call it!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans for a future . . . " has always been one of my favorite verses. Every year I marvel at how God keeps this promise.

10 years ago both Monty and I were very different people -- from complete opposite backgrounds -- some thought we had absolutely nothing in common! God knew otherwise! In our 10 years we have been through things that most couples won't go through in a lifetime. We have survived the contradictory opinions of others, illnesses that should have killed us, family "squabbles" that might have torn us apart, moving from Indiana to West Virginia to Michigan to Mississippi to New Orleans and now back to Indiana. We have relocated from our home to a camper of 144 square feet back to our home and then into another (larger) camper. We have lived in a neighborhood, a couple church parking lots and a state park. We have welcomed 2 new grandchildren, reunited with a long lost father and a long lost son, buried an uncle, a family cat, and a few friends, laughed together and cried together. We have loved each other and at times "disagreed" with each other. Through it all, we had God as our third party! As we all know, a thread of 3 strands is not easily broken.

God has lead us every minute of every day. He knew the plan He had layed out for us. He knew where we were to go and when. He knew the struggles and the joys. He knew the destiny! He holds the planning book. He holds the keys. Boy am I glad He does!

I thank God for bringing my soulmate into my life. I thank God for my blindness until the appropriate time, for my heart that refused to believe the worst, for the faith my parents instilled in me, for His love for me.

I wouldn't trade one single day of the past 10 years. If I did, I wouldn't be where I am today -- living the dream with the man of my dreams!

Thank you Lord! I am a better person because of this man you brought into my life, this man who keeps me balanced -- and loves me with an unconditional love! I AM living the dream!

Happy 10th anniversary Monty! I wonder what God has in store for us next? Whatever it is -- I know we will be there together --- thank you!

I love you!! Susan

No Answers

Please take note of the comment posted on yesterday's entry.
Yes, today was the funeral of the young mother, wife and teacher. At age 27 one would never dream life would end. One would never think a small daughter and premature son would be left motherless. A husband would never think he would be a widower and single father to those children. Yet today, it became a harsh reality. Sometimes there are no answers -- none that make any sense to those of us left here on earth. Only God has those answers! We don't have the answers but we do have faith -- faith in what God tells us -- Elana is in heaven with Him and in that -- we have atleast one answer!
Those living in Columbus, Indiana never thought they would flood. They never thought water would rise so high inside their homes that they would loose everything -- furniture, clothing, photos, heirlooms, things that can never be replaced. Sometimes there are no answers. Sometimes we only have our trust in God to get us through!
The above photos were taken at the UMCOR house as the foundation work continued today. Monty spent little time underneath -- the subflooring was replaced in the needed areas and the floors are now level. This team has been wonderful and will hopefully return to their homes realizing they made a huge difference in the life of this homeowner. She may not have answers as to why the flood happened but she is seeing the hand of God in those who come to help -- expecting nothing in return.
Take a minute and pray for this young family facing such a difficult road ahead. Take another minute and pray for those not only in Columbus but for all those who suffer such losses in disasters. Pray -- not that they would necessarily have the answers -- but that they would place their trust in the One who holds all the answers!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Down and Dirty

Yesterday we received a phone call from the Methodist relief effort -- UMCOR. Charlie and crew were working in one of their homes and had "gotten in a bit over their heads." In all actuality they were a bit "under" as you can see by the photos.
Monty decided to put to use some of the experience he had in blocking and setting mobile homes. A plan was formed, jacks were brought to the site and today, with the help of our good buddy Chip, Monty and the team jacked up the floors of this home!
As you can see by the photos -- they were working in the crawl space ALL day long! They only had about 2 feet to work in. This required all of the work to be done in a laying down position or crouched so low your nose was touching your knees! They jacked up the main supports of the house, rebuilt them and gave the house a level and stable floor! They had to manuver 6x6 pieces of lumber underneath along with all the tools necessary to make the corrections and stabilize the home.
It was quite the job and as you can see by the latter photos it also took a bit of time to get ones self clean! The combination of dirt and sweat create some real messes but these guys never complained. They just kept working with the dedication it took to get the job done!
This home is located along a street where Hawcreek runs through their backyards and every single home was flooded. Some had their basement walls literally cave in and are undergoing major construction. It looks almost like a war zone all up and down this street! This home will stand firm from now on!
Many thanks to Charlie and his crews at UMCOR for all the fantastic work they have been doing!
Monty will be returning tomorrow but all that work will be inside the home -- not the crawl!
Pray for his muscles -- every single one of them is hurting tonight!!!
And as I sit here in the church, on top of a roll of carpeting ready to be put down in the entry I marvel at the beauty in the sanctuary! The carpeting may be going a bit slower than we would like but it sure does look nice. With any luck they might get the foyer and hallway done sometime soon!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Different Directions -- But all forward

One of those days where every time you turn around you are heading in a different direction but all of them are forward!

One of the sure things in disaster response is change -- sometimes on a daily basis. Flexibility is one of the key words!

This morning was filled with preparation for an article for the upcoming website for the Bartholomew County Long Term Recovery Team. Since I am supervisor for case management I had to prepare something for there and for the weekly update that will appear in the local newspaper each Monday. Might sound easy for someone like me who never seems to be at a loss for words but sometimes . . . I did get them both done and both responses were a thumbs up so they must be okay.

From there it's checking in with the angels of case management, answering questions that have come up and making sure all is going forward. They really are angels as they take everything in stride and are always smiling and laughing together. There is a nasty rumor going around that everyone who is employed by the hospital and NOT a paid case manager for them might be called back to work as early as this coming Monday! No one was able to verify anything and I hope it is just that -- a rumor! I know the hospital will need them as some point in time and I do want the hospital to reopen as soon as possible --- guess I can't have both worlds, can I?

We also learned from our local State Representative that we finally have a much needed meeting scheduled for next week with a local trailer park management and the residents living there. We have needed a "sit down" with the both of them to hopefully get to the actual truth on alot of things. Thanks to this State Rep for taking such an active roll in the disaster response!

Today was also a huge step forward in the procurement of our construction supervisor. John officially joined the team and is preparing some of his much needed paperwork as I write. He will be in charge of estimates for homes, whether they need that estimate to obtain a building permit or to purchase materials for the rebuilding of their home. The case managers have been anxiously awaiting this placement and will have plenty of work lined up for him even before he has the forms ready. He has plenty of experience and will hopefully have a group join him to enable this division of the recovery to flow as smoothly and effectively as possible. Welcome to the team John -- you are a blessing to us all.

Monty received a call to help the Methodist relief effort with the raising of a home. He got a good start with just seeing what will be needed and having the homeowner prepare for tomorrow. Our good buddy, Chip, from up north is coming back to work with Monty tomorrow and they will dig into the project and hopefully accomplish just what needs to be done. Raising and/or leveling homes is not an easy job but they are ready to tackle it.

I also had the pleasure of accompanying one of the case managers to a client's home this afternoon. Eric did a fantastic job with Sharon. Sharon is in one of the areas where the city might be doing a buy-out of her home. The basement wall collapsed and the home has been declared structurally unsound. No one is allowed to enter because of this. She is in an apartment for the time being and is receiving the rental assistance from FEMA. She was feeling pressured by others to "do something!" Not knowing what is the right thing to do both Eric and I reassured her that she needs to wait! Wait is a tough word but even the Bible tells us there are times of waiting and she is in one of those times. It could be up to 18 months before the buy-out plans come into effect --- and that is half the time it usually takes to plan buy-outs! She had a smile on her face when we left and thanked us for easing some of the pressure she was feeling. She was also pleased to learn that her sometimes unannounced bouts of emotion are also completely normal and there is nothing wrong with her! Sometimes that smallest bit of reassurance counts as huge!

All these directions, everything seemingly happening at the same time --- and we are thrilled and blessed to be right in the big middle of it all! Thank YOU for making that possible!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Important Info Update

For those of you who have called, commented and/or emailed in regard to the neighbor of my daughter ---

Elana Veach was only 27 years old. She died leaving behind a husband, Alan, a 20 month old daughter and a very premature son who is clinging to life in Chicago. Her husband is the new principal of a new high school and NEEDS your prayers!

There has been a memorial fund set up for the family and I just want to get the word out to whomever might feel touched to help -- in any way!

The Veach Family Memorial Fund
c/o United Commerce Bank
211 S. College Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47401
for information you can call the bank at 812-336-2265

Once again, many thanks to all of you who are praying and are so caring.

Until later today . . . Susan and Monty

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Here and There

Before I get into anything else -- thank you for the prayers for my daughter's neighbor family -- I do not have an update from her yet but will be sure and let you know when I do get one! PLEASE continue the prayers.

We made it back to Columbus yesterday morning with our newly repaired 5th wheel -- home sweet home! I am still amazed how much I feel at home in a confined space these days! It's nice to see it as it should be and not have to look at the damaged side any more. Thanks State Farm!

We were pleased to see the carpeting going into the sanctuary -- slow as it might be. Pastor is less than thrilled with their speed, their incorrect measurements in some places and a few other issues to which we welcomed him into the world of construction! :) It looks fantastic and they have scheduled September 7th to be the first Sunday service back in the new/old building. We are all excited and thrilled at the thought! Praise the Lord and lay the carpet!

This morning began with our weekly case management meeting. Some were at training, some were at employment meetings and some were on vacation but it was a great meeting. We are progressing well and VERY anxiously awaiting the construction subcommittee to have their folks rounded up so we can begin getting full estimates of damage to homes. Please pray that the right people are placed in these positions and for God to pour out His blessings upon them as they do His work!

We were blessed to welcome CRWRC (Christian Reformed World Relief Committee) to our table this morning. This organization comes into disaster areas and does incredible assessments. Their services are completely free -- and that includes the computer program they leave behind for us to access and expand upon! They will be here for the next 2 weeks, some walking the streets checking on people, some located in strategic areas taking walk in appointments with people -- doing anything and everything they can to reach everyone they can. All to hopefully avoid those who have a tendency to fall through the cracks of the system. There are around 20 of them, all retired who come at their own expense. For dinner last night they were fed by my Mother's church who feeds anyone who comes in their door on Monday night! In Columbus one can find such "hot meals" every single night of the week -- all for free! What an amazing blessing, not only to the community but to folks like these who come to serve the community at their own expense! Thanks to CRWRC and to all who made their trip possible!

The case managers continue to work one on one with the people here. We get new clients every single day and with the FEMA deadline passed we see them coming quicker and in greater numbers. Pray that these case managers will have the strength and the --- everything --- they need to get the job done! They are the heart and soul of the relief effort --- they are angels!

Monty continues going out into the community checking homes, talking with the homeowners, giving them rebuilding guidance and working with the case managers to do both! I teasingly tell people he is meeting other women every day!!! God bless him!

Our evening ends with Pastor's weekly Bible Study -- just the shot in the arm we need to keep us all going! None of us can "give to others" without being fed ourselves!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Special Prayer Request

Today is my daughter's birthday -- she just gave birth to our second grandchild (a girl) a couple of months ago.

Today she learned some tragic news about their neighbors and I would ask for "super" prayers for this family.

The husband in this family just took the position of principle at the brand new high school here in town. School started this past week.

His wife has shared many pregnancy stories with my daughter, hers being due in November. They also have a daughter who is 20 months old.

My daughter said the mother was telling how difficult this pregnancy has been, how she has had troubles breathing.

Yesterday she went into premature labor and died! Yes, the mother died! No one knows any details at this time as to why.

The baby boy is alive and thought to be in an Indianapolis hospital, hanging on.

This leaves a father of a 20 month old little girl, a wife who just died (at the age of 32), a son clinging to life and a new job in a new school! Life is tough!

Many times we have questions as to why things happen the way they do. Many times we don't have answers.

We must trust in our Lord at these times --- and we MUST pray!!

Please pray for this father, for this little daughter and for all the families involved in this unexplained tragedy!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, August 15, 2008

Locks of Love

Today was the day I had thought about nearly 3 years ago.

When we left home to begin this disaster ministry I vowed to let my hair grow for a year and then donate it to Locks of Love. Now, nearly 3 years later I got it done.

I actually lay awake last night thinking about it -- hadn't thought about it in nearly 2 years. I awoke knowing today was the day it just had to be done. And I knew who the one was who had to do it -- Eddie! I met Eddie 20 years ago when I first came to Bloomington. Off and on over those years he cut my hair. He knows the wave, the thickness and how it grows. He had to be the one.

Early this morning I headed out to find him and when I did he didn't even recognize me!

We set the appointment for late in the day and I knew I would be going early to look through books to get any idea as to what to do with "the leftovers."

Eddie didn't let me down. After it was all cut off and measured it ended up being 17" of hair that will be used to make real hair wigs for children suffering from cancer and the side effects of hair loss due to chemotherapy! I am thrilled and so blessed to be able to help in such a small way! I know my hair will go to the child God directs it to! Thanks to all who make programs like this possible! Amazing blessings!

Thank you Eddie and thank you Locks of Love!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Outreach of Food

Here we are, all in our Hope Outreach shirts -- handing out food to whoever got in line!
Today, thanks to Gleaners, we were able to bless nearly 250 families with free food -- yes, completely free! Not many things are totally free, no strings attached, these days!
The truck was scheduled to arrive at 10am but the people started lining up around 8am. They were content to wait, shopped through the free clothing we also had for them, and didn't even mind that the truck was nearly an hour late!
But then -- a pretty hard shower came through -- just for a short while. They took the trash bags and made water proof clothing out of them! Creativity at its finest!
They came with bags, they came with boxes, strollers without the children, wheelchairs which they pushed in front of them, wagons, luggage carriers, laundry baskets, backpacks -- you name it and it held food products.
We had bread, chips, fresh vegetables, crackers, juice drinks, water, all sorts of food -- enough to fill containers to overflowing!
We heard "thank you" in just about every way possible! To be on the back side of the table handing out natural grain chips was a great blessing for me. I loved seeing the faces change from sad and down trodden to smiling--or atleast the beginning of a smile. As we blessed them they blessed us back in return. The "have a nice day" that I heard continually really did allow me to have a nicer day!
This entire outreach worked us all past lunch. It was worth every minute of it.
My early morning began with yet another meeting. This one was held for all the chairs of the Long Term Recovery and was quite a successful meeting. We had a representative from the governor's office, a State Representative, the city Mayor, many reps from FEMA -- the list goes on and on. Everyone has the same goal -- to help the people with as many resources as possible. We all realize there will be a new normal for the city and we want to bring that to a reality as soon as possible.
To have a room filled with everyone from government officials to local Pastors -- all in agreement and all with the same goal -- what an amazing site and an even more amazing thing to be a part of! God at work!
My position as Case Management Supervisor was put into place officially. Doesn't really mean anything different for me and for what I have been, and will continue to do, just some sort of title I guess!?
Monty was busy next door with Carolyn for a short while. She is coming along fine and hopefully that will continue in a forward process so she can reach that new normal before too long.
Later in the day we finally took our camper up north a bit to get the repairs done from the blowout we had coming up from the Gulf Coast! Parts had to be ordered and then timing wasn't that easy but we finally got it there. It should be done by Monday, we pray!
My truck is also back and running smoothly --- thanks to my brother, Johnny! He and his city connections took care of my new fuel pump and we are SOOO thankful to them! Many thanks to Todd, the mechanic, for his care and expertise! Neither Todd or Johnny have any idea how big of a blessing it is to us to have them take care of us and our vehicles! Thanks guys -- you are awesome!
As another note, the carpeting was being laid in the sanctuary today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is going to be beautiful! Since that is one of the last things to be done, other than the pews coming in, we hope to be having church "back home" again real soon. Pastor says we won't wait for the pews -- chairs will do fine for the meantime! Be sure and stay tuned for the finished product! The church is about to enter its "new normal" before too much longer! Thank you Lord!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hanging with the neighbors

Yes, Monty was hanging with the neighbors yesterday -- hanging sheetrock that is!

Carolyn had Pastor Cliff and Noah getting things started. They needed a couple extra hands to get things done and Monty enjoyed spending the day fellowshipping with them. Carolyn is getting a good start on the repair of her home. Pastor Cliff came all the way from Ninevah just to help! It's people like that who "preach the gospel and use words if necessary!"

I had our weekly case management meeting where we go over the past week and continue educating everyone on the processes. Each case is different so trying to follow some "pattern" is a bit tricky. Everyone is doing an amazing job and I am blessed to be working with them.

Various meetings continued throughout the day. With the FEMA registration deadline being Monday we got some final numbers today -- Columbus had a total of 2375 registrations! That is the second largest county devastated in Indiana!! Morgan county had the highest! We keep the entire state in our prayers as everyone continues the repair and rebuilding processes.

More prayers are requested for our dear friends in Cupertino, California. We heard on the news this morning where there was a fire in the Apple plant. No further details at this time but please keep them all in your prayers! Apple is one of the largest employers in the area and we pray no one was injured and no one lost their job due to the fire.

Today begins another day for the Hope Outreach Center at church. Even though they don't officially open the doors till 9am they were ready and waiting at the door this morning. The requests for food continue daily.

Tomorrow morning we will be having a city wide outreach on the parking lot, hosted by the Gleaners. This will be an amazing blessing to those in need as food will be stacked and they will be able to come and help themselves! Thanks to Gleaners for providing such amazing blessings.

I also heard from our Lima, Ohio team who will be coming in next month. This is Pastor A's brother's church and we are really excited to have them coming to help. They are in the planning stages and we pray God's blessings on each and every detail for them.

Off to another day -- off to God's day -- off to hopefully be His blessing to the community in whatever way He has in store for us!

Thank you for coming along with us on our mission! Hope you are enjoying it as much as we are! It's that joy of the Lord thing!!!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, August 11, 2008


This was taken a couple of weeks ago when storm clouds were "brewing" overhead!

The past couple of days have been sharing days, sharing of so much information that is can make ones head spin!

Yesterday we were blessed to be able to share our "story" with the local church here in Columbus. They all know we are here and what we are doing but few knew how we got here and where we were before and what we were doing then. It's always an honor and blessing to share our backgrounds with them, to show them God's hand leading us day after day and now year after year. We always show the television DVD made of Mike and Faye and we always have tears flowing as they watch and listen -- Mike's line of "it makes you believe there really is a God" is the core of the message! Thanks to Pastor A for inviting us while he spent a much needed and long overdue weekend with his family!

Our evening was spent with my parents and hearing my dad say "we have a daughter again" meant the world to me! Being able to stop in and visit with them is something I have never been able to do in my adult life! We always end up laughing and remembering and truly enjoying being together. Thank you Lord, for bringing us here!

Today started off with more training -- training for our case managers. There is a great computer program where information from clients is stored and used and then used again as a resource for getting them back into their homes. It was a 4 hour training and full of useful information. Ivy Tech hosted us and even allowed for a morning session and an afternoon one to make it available for all the case managers.

From there it was back to the office area to catch up on things and prepare for an afternoon meeting with the volunteer subcommittee. This meeting was also filled with information sharing. Representatives from other subcommittees were there and the sharing of information between us is critical. For everyone to work together to accomplish the results we all must communicate! I always think of how pleased God must be when He sees all different denominations, all different occupations, all different races and cultures sitting at the same table with the same heart and the same goal -- help the people! Don't we wish that could be the case all over the world!

We are all planning on quite a few volunteers coming to the area next month. School will be back in session which brings some sort of normal back to households. We are thrilled to know they are coming as the need is so great and skills are crucial! If you haven't scheduled a time to come how about looking at your calendars and seeing what you have open? Teams can be large or small, a team of 2 is still a team! We have the housing and we have the work -- we just need YOU!

We'll be waiting to hear from you! We'll be ready to share information as to how you can help!

"The harvest is plentiful, the workers are few."

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Indiana doubled

It's been a busy couple of days and today it continued with 2 teams from the great home state; Bloomington Vineyard and Columbus Faith Victory churches showed up in full force and ready to work!
Faith Victory was placed in 2 different homes; Bob and Mary's work continued and a new project for Bertha was started.
At Bob and Mary's they continued with last minute sheetrock finishing touch ups, properly sizing and installing all the interior doors and priming the walls in preparation for painting. As God always does, He sent us just the people we needed -- a sheetrock finisher and interior carpenter who's speciality is doors! Isn't God amazing!
At Bertha's they continued with the gutting out of her home. She literally lives on the river and even though it's an amazing view that view isn't nearly as nice when the water starts rising and comes inside the home! This team worked so very hard and did such a great job! There is still much to be done but it will get done one day at a time and one team at a time.
Our Vineyard crew returned for their 3rd Saturday in a row. Rob brought Keith, his son Jonathan and his friend, Luke to work for the day. They all returned to Bruce's house where Rob installed all the kitchen cabinets, Keith touched up with finishing the sheetrock and the boys wheelbarrowed flood dirt that was piled up in the back of the church parking lot over to Bruce's where they filled in the block wall Rob rebuilt last weekend. There is no longer a hole next to the wall and we no longer have a pile of flood dirt in the parking lot! One man's trash is another man's treasure!!! God at work again!
All the team members enjoyed another lunch provided by my mother's church, First United Methodist Church. They work up quite a hunger in what they do and mom and her friends always make sure there is more than enough to fill them up! Thanks mom!
Along with all of that going on today we were able to see the work coming along inside the church. The tile flooring is being done and the painting looks awesome! The carpeting has been delayed ( a bit) but everything is coming together. All of the colors and patterns have been chosen and now it's just putting them all together to create a beautiful place to come and worship our awesome God!
Will you be worshipping tomorrow?
That brings me to a special prayer request for our special Pastor friend back in Mississippi, Pastor Lavoy. His mother, who lives in Florida, was injured in a nasty fall and could surely use your prayers for healing and strength. He is currently with her and we pray God's touch for the entire family! Pastor Lavoy --- we miss you more than you know! Please send our love to everyone there!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Her turn finally came

Yes, our neighbor Shelley has always wanted to come and volunteer with us ever since we left nearly 3 years ago and headed to the Gulf Coast. Time after time she would come and visit with us when we made a quick trip home, telling us how much she wanted to come. Her heart was pulling her but her job was pulling her in the other direction.

Today was her day! She was off work and made the trip to come and help in any way she could. She is also our Walmart connection and since we did not make it home this past weekend to pick up the items donated she loaded her own van and brought them to us today.

She and the others that were volunteering in the Hope Outreach were quick to start opening the boxes and enjoy Christmas in August! So many wonderful things that will go to so many people in need!

After lunch I went and found that she was shop vaccing the sanctuary! The shop vac was her donation to the church! They are trying to prepare for the incoming carpeting and Shelley knew the cement floors needed a thorough cleaning. She spent nearly the entire afternoon working away and not leaving one spot missed.

By the end of the day she was covered in dust but it didn't phase her. She brought a change of clothes, washed up as best as she could in the one sink still usable and met her friend for dinner!

I love it when God puts a plan together! Only He knew when the right time would be for her. With the beginning of all schools, including the local university, just around the corner she will not have another day off for nearly 2 months! But today was the day she had been waiting for!

For Monty and I -- seeing our own neighbor working so hard and yet with a smile on her face --- priceless!

When will YOUR day come? Will you miss it? I hope not! God has amazing blessings just waiting for you!

Until next time . . . We love you Shelley! Susan and Monty

Monday, August 04, 2008

ER grand re-opening, Welcome FL

The 14 year old that swam across the house to narrowly escape the flood waters -- they come in all sizes and shapes! And they ALL are traumatized!

This morning we welcomed our visitors from the Orlando, Florida area. Three of them, Gretchen, Susan and Timothy flew in last night to visit with us for the next 1 and 1/2 days. They will be sending teams of volunteeers to help with the rebuilding and wanted to check out the area and their accomodations prior to scheduling. We toured the city, had plenty of time for meetings and then set them free to join a family member for dinner this evening. We are really excited about this team. They sent teams to the south and train their team leaders prior to their coming. They have alot of plans to make and after today seem to be well on their way.

Tomorrow morning they will come along with us to two Long Term Recovery Meetings, one involving everyone on the committee and another with case managers. Hopefully this will give them a small window into how well the county is handling everything.

We all started our day attending the grand re-opening of the Bartholomew County Emergency Room facilities. As you know, the hospital has, and still is, closed since the flood. All patients have been flown into other surrounding facilities. The progress from all of the hard work has paid off enough to have the ER up and functioning once again. They are down to 12 beds instead of 19 and still will fly those needing admittance to other hospitals but just having the ER back is priceless! The Indianapolis news teams did a great job in covering the story. Please remember this hospital and all its staff in your prayers as they still have a long way to go!

Monty spent most of his day at Bruce's doing some of the final finish coat sanding in preparation for priming and painting. Bruce has family visiting him for the next couple of days and they have plans to install the kitchen cabinets and prime and paint. His mother was excited to see all of the progress made over the past couple of weeks! The Florida team was also thrilled to meet both Bruce and his mother!

Yesterday was the afternoon for my parent's church to conduct their free toy give away to the children affected by the floods. They were amazingly organized and prepared for however many came to choose their special toys. They did have quite a few and had enough toys to continue giving them out the rest of this week and plan on using the rest for Christmas toy drives and such. By Christmas everyone will find those lists of those needing help to be quite a bit longer than in past years so this was an added blessing! Great job First United Methodist Church -- God was smiling as He watched all of you bless those kids!

I have a special prayer request --- the "main man" for the US Disaster side of Convoy of Hope, Kary, has been struggling with low back problems for the past few weeks and just today was able to return to the office without his cane. Please remember him in your prayers and ask God for complete healing. This man, and this organization, do SO much to reach those who have suffered in disasters of all kinds and he needs to be 100% ALL the time!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Indiana times two

What a day they had! The breezes came from the north, the sun was shining and they were ready to go this morning -- almost! The crew from Frankfort felt a few new muscles from their work yesterday and also found out more than a few of them snore! Oh the joys of mission trips!
They were joined by our home church team, for their second Saturday of volunteering.
We had 4 jobs that needed done today and after a big huddle meeting they divided themselves into teams that had the two cities mixed together!
Part of them headed out with Monty to pick up the sheetrock for a single mother. Monty borrowed the trailer from our friend Dave, at church. This home was a bit north of town and needed sheetrock hung -- after moving "stuff" around. This single mother is forced to live in her home while it is being repaired so household things must be moved, then moved again to get work done. They rose to the occasion and were there all day accomplishing their goal.
Another part of the mixed team headed back to Bruce's where Rob lead the crew in finishing the inside sheetrock and he took on the task of rebuilding the block wall that caved in during the flood and trapped Bruce in the basement. Rob had his own personal assistant from Frankfort and no doubt this gentleman knows how to lay block by now! The wall is to perfection and the walls are nearly ready for priming and painting. Bruce has a terminal smile on his face!
The last of the mixed team headed out for two jobs -- in one day. The first required them to crawl underneath a home and spray a bleach solution to kill any possible mold from the flooding. The single mother has an autistic son and the men on this team were able to reach this child in a way no one else had before. I hear ministry at work!! Now this team was predominately women based but let me tell you - those women rose to the occasion and mastered the task. A couple of the men did most of the spraying and then the team headed to job two -- a woman needing the rest of her home gutted and the massive clean up process that follows that. She told the story of how her little 14 year old dog survived the flood by swimming across the house! The dog is now terrified for her to leave his side! If animals have this kind of reaction doesn't it make you wonder about children?! As you can see by the photos the women packed a punch when it came to cleaning. Crow bars and hammers were mastered quickly and at the end of the day the homeowner was thrilled beyond words.
My mother and I had the fun job of taking lunches to all of the teams in their work locations. Yes, her church was at it again and this team was just overwhelmed at how much nicer that made their day. They didn't have to stop working and try and clean up enough to then try and find someplace quick to eat. I only wish my mother could've been here as they gathered at the end of their day to hear their appreciation! And if she only knew how nice it is for me to be able to spend time with her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It's still amazing to watch a crew of people from different cities, from different churches (Frankfort represented 3 churches) come together and represent Jesus in all they do and wherever they go! Frankfort told how they ate dinner at a local restaurant last night and when the conversation came up as to why they were here and what they were doing they were given a 10% discount on their meals!! God at work!
As they gathered around at the end of the day and discussed all different parts of their day they all realized just how blessed they had been in return! It is our blessing to see this happen again and again with teams and realize that God touched their hearts and they will be forever changed!
We pray safe travel for all of them as they headed home. They are a bit tired, a bit more sore in spots but their hearts are bursting with joy, the joy of the Lord!
We thank them all for coming! We thank their families for sharing them with us. We invite them all to return -- and how about you? Want some of that joy in your life? It's as easy as letting us know when you want to come!
Rob and our home church are dedicated to coming again next Saturday and for the first two Saturdays of each month -- for as long as it takes! Rob, Pat and Cheryl -- you have NO idea how much we love you all --- see you next week!
Lets all go to our place of worship tomorrow and rejoice in the blessings we have that we so easily take for granted!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty