Monday, September 29, 2008

What day is it?

Is it really Monday or was there more than one day in today? So many directions -- all leading to the same destination -- helping the people!

First of all, many thanks to Jenny for the thoughtful comment! If you only knew how much those comments warm my heart!

We were blessed to get a couple of days at home over the weekend. It was quite late when we arrived but getting just one day means the world. It felt good to be in our home church to worship yesterday.

The rest of yesterday was a bit challenging! If you know us you know we have 2 dogs who travel everywhere with us --they actually share "their" home with us! One of those dogs is a Chinese Crested Hairless -- yes, he only has hair on the top of his head, face and tips of feet and tail. So you can imagine my shock when I found about a dozen fleas taking up residence on the top of his head yesterday!! I don't know how they all found room! I flew to Walmart to pick up flea shampoo and the drops that I usually put between their shoulders each month (I realized I skipped a month -- bad, bad!)

Less than 10 minutes after getting him all treated he started having a reaction unlike I had ever seen --- he acted like he was on speed -- running through the house with no destination -- jumping from furniture to furniture at a pace that made the energizer bunny look like a turtle! He was drooling so much he looked like a saint bernard! I had no idea what to do but call a vet ---yes on a Sunday after 5pm --big mistake! Not one single vet would help with any advice but bring him to Indianapolis where they could hook him up to an IV, keep him through the night and all day today! I just wanted to know if he would be okay and this would work it's way through his system?? After a total of 4 more baths, no answers from the vet, good advice from the pharmacist at Walmart and a good dose of Benedryl he calmed down.

We all survived the trip back to Columbus only to see our other dog show signs of reacting!! Not nearly the same reaction but none the less she also got a dose of meds. The reactions have calmed some throughout today but still a bit of itching going on.

My lesson ---- don't forget the monthly drops!!!!!! Ever!!!!!! What a day!!!!!

Today started with a bang, meeting after meeting, decision after decision -- all moving forward with the recovery. We will be conducting a phone interview with our existing clients to try and get a firmer idea of what still remains to be done in their recovery. Our executive director is preparing to apply for a grant and numbers are critical, nearly impossible to pin down but critical. He's almost there.

I also heard from Diane and they are starting the construction of the relief camp in Webster, Texas. The Mercy Response team from New Orleans came over to help this week since they didn't have volunteers at their location. Still serving over 3 years later!

Tomorrow is our weekly case management meeting and there is much on the agenda. The nurses from the hospital are slowing being called back to work with the scheduled opening at the end of October. Their cases are being handed off to the other, non hospital personnel, and all is going smoothly. Each one that returns to work is missed terribly but we all know life goes on and they need to return to running the local hospital!

Thanks for all the prayers of support -- keep them going!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Please note the link web address!

Where oh where have the days gone? I've always heard that the older we get the quicker time goes by -- I think that is doubled when you are working disaster response!

First off -- Diane made it to Texas safe and sound. She is a bit diverted from her original plan but we were able to connect her with the Vineyard Church Disaster Relief being set up in Webster, Texas. Thus the link listed here with Mercy Response! This camp is just in the beginning stages of being set up. They are currently located in New Orleans, where they will be closing soon, and in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We visited their location in New Orleans many times and attended church there on Saturday nights while we were there. They run an amazing operation and are so blessed that Diane was welcomed with open arms. I just spoke with her and she was headed out with a team to gut a home -- one of thousands needing done!

Back here at the ranch we are continuing the work -- repairs, repairs, repairs. In between are meetings, meetings, meetings. We are in the process of trying to get help into a mobile home community where mainly Mexican families are living. They suffered quite a bit of damage and we are working through the language and trust barriers at the same time. We need to get their mobile homes insulated with the cooler weather approaching and hopefully this will be accomplished within the next couple of weeks. We are blessed to have Spanish speaking case managers who can get the rest of us through that barrier.

I am still working on the Spiritual and Emotional Subcommittee also. We are working on a "Flooded Neighborhood Reunion" day in the local city park. We have the location and the basic idea of how the afternoon will go. Tonights meeting will iron out a few more details. It should be a great day where neighbors who haven't seen each other in quite some time can reunite and have some food and fun at the same time.

Last night there was a Youth Gathering at Columbus First Assembly. Monty and I could hear the music coming through the walls of the church and into our trailer parked out back! We popped in to see the church filled with teens and leaders and all praising the Lord! Sure did warm our hearts!

We also visited with another church that was flooded out here, only a couple blocks away from where we are. They had nearly 11 feet of flood water in some parts of the building and are still working on the sanctuary part. The Pastor was not there but a few of the members were working away trying to rebuild the stage area and the steps leading up to it. We hope to use part of our incoming Attica, Indiana team to come along side and offer even more help. They have been holding their services in a temporary location as we did -- only they are meeting in my parents' church. I love seeing the bodies and denominations come together!

I am teased quite often about living in "my own little world" where everyone is nice, no one is nasty and all is well! I know all about the "reality" thing --- but --- I like it in my little world! I am now being forced to "remove my head from the sand" and face the reality that my nurses from the local hospital are being called back to work! Yes -- the hospital is still closed but they plan on reopening by the end of next month! These nurses have been absolutely priceless and I can't stand the thought of loosing them! I know they have to return to work as the hospital needs them but . . .

There was an agreement made with long term recovery and the hospital -- we will be able to keep one of the nurses right here indefinitely!!! Praise the Lord! Sharon has been here since day 1 and will be able to continue her work here and continue to assist all of the case managers! Thanks to the hospital for seeing the need and for sharing her with us!

I also want to thank the other 27 case managers who work tirelessly every single day! What an amazing group of people who have hearts of gold! They all go above and beyond and won't accept no for an answer! God bless them all as they are the heart of the disaster recovery!!!

As many of you might know, John Mellencamp did a concert here on Tuesday night. It was amazing and long term recovery gave away a pair of tickets for that concert. It was a total surprise -- we put names in a hat and Karen and her husband were the ones sitting in the balcony having a blast the entire night! It was quite a nice gift but can't compare to what they all deserve! I think God has some special "gifts" awaiting them when they arrive!

An update on Monty's step father: he came through his surgery fine -- a bit rougher than planned but is home resting comfortably. We hope to visit him this weekend. Thank you for all the prayers!!!

Angie's sister is getting along fine, also resting comfortably at home! Thank you for those prayers also!

We love you all and thank you for your support of our disaster ministry!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, September 22, 2008

Diane heads south

Most of you already know Diane -- and you also can imagine just how much I have missed this past year! She has such a heart for ministry and is once again following that heart and call from God. Her home may be way up north in Wisconsin but she and her trusty van are headed to Texas as I write this! She will connect with an AG Pastor in the city of Houston and assist Convoy of Hope with their immediate needs outreach. They are shipping truck loads of supplies into the area and she is headed in to help. Please keep her in your prayers for not only safe travel there but for safety while she is there! Girl Power at its finest!!!!
Seems this evenings blog is filled with prayer requests -- it's been one of those kind of days.
First -- Monty's stepfather, Tony, went in for what was to be rather simple surgery (if there is such a thing?) today. He had a growth on his back and they were going to remove it -- but when they got in there the growth had wrapped itself around his spinal column and was alot more extensive than they had planned. The surgery took quite a bit longer than expected but he is out and hopefully on his way home! Yes, I don't think they keep anyone overnight anymore! Please keep him in your prayers for healing and strength.
Remember a couple of weeks ago I asked for prayers for the sister of our Volunteer Action Center? Angie's sister had a double mastectomy last week and Angie is now in Baton Rouge with her and her mother. The surgery went well (as well as that kind of surgery can go) and her sister is resting at home. We also pray for healing and strength, for the entire family! We miss you Angie but also know you are exactly where you need to be! We'll be fine until you get back -- don't worry.
Today was the first official day of fall -- around this part of the nation that means leaves changing to all the wonderful colors. It also means the temperatures start dropping at night and it can get quite cool. We are desperately trying to get as many homes repaired as quickly as possible. We have many who are living in mobile homes where the water got up underneath and are in need of new insulation, vapor barriers and skirting. We are working against the clock on these and even though the Quaker volunteers are here this week we just don't have the manpower to get things done in the time frame we are given on the calendars! It was calculated that for every trailer that needs the above listed work we need 10 volunteers to work all day to complete one trailer!! One trailer park alone has 76 trailers -- only one park of many!!! Do the math and you see what we are up against! I would ask for prayers that God would send the volunteers and that He would keep the temps in the above normal category for as long as possible to allow us the time frame to get the jobs done! When I think of the small children playing on these cold, carpetless floors it hurts my heart!!
We thank you for all the prayers you send up for all of our requests. Prayer is the most powerful thing in heaven and on earth!! Aren't we glad it's so easy to do?!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A goodbye picnic

The hosting church, Petersville United Methodist, decided to try out the new grill given to them by this Florida team -- and it was awesome!
The church planned an old fashioned pitch in cookout this evening, invited the entire church and everyone had such a good time. New relationships were formed and old ones deepened. The food was incredible and all came to the conclusion that the grill was outstanding and would be used alot more often. My parents came along and the coconut cream pie my mom brought nearly brought about a riot! I think I saw someone licking the pie plate clean!? :)
They finished their last day continuing the taping and mudding at Ms Lee's house. Monty and I finally got the chance to meet her when her bus brought her by to see the progress. She wasn't able to go inside as her wheelchair couldn't make it through the construction but the smile on her face was all we needed. She is so excited, so thankful and so anxious to return to her new home! She talked about being forever grateful to these teams who have come and blessed her so dearly.
It was so difficult to say goodbye to all of them this evening. It never gets easier -- never! Strangers come in on Sunday and by Friday they are family -- real family! I wonder if I will ever run out of tears when it comes time to say goodbye? Not!
Our doors will always be open -- no matter where we are working in disaster ministry -- doors always open!
We keep this team in our prayers as they travel for the next day and a half. We pray for safe travel, we pray for deeper relationships both between them and within their own families, we pray they will come back and work with us again!
We thank them for the life, the joy, the hope and the love they brought to the community and to us!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Orlando's Magic

They were all together as a team today -- one house -- one goal -- one heart!
Monty worked with them, teaching some to tape and mud while others took off on their own and worked away! Susan's daughter joined the team for today and tomorrow, an added blessing for them both.
As you can see from the bottom photo -- there is always time for fun! It's that joy of the Lord thing coming through.
This team has a bond between them that will last a lifetime. Some are already wishing they could stay -- just a bit longer -- their hearts have been touched! Go God!
Pastor A stopped by to see them today, to see what an amazing job they are doing. Visits from Pastors mean alot. They don't come for acknowledgment of any kind yet a "job well done" goes a long way!
What a team -- and they aren't complaining about the perfect sunshine and temps either!
Tomorrow is their last day! Be sure and stay tuned . . .
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Monty

Day 2 with Orlando and they are working flawlesly! They are still working in both homes and will be doing so all week. They have this goal of finishing the sheetrock in both -- let's see how they do. So far everything they are doing is of superb quality -- and it IS about quality and not quantity!
I started the day with our weekly case management meeting. The discussions are wonderful and everyone bonds into a close knit family more and more each day. And when it comes to getting things done--get back as they are unstoppable!
Monty had the devotions with the team this morning and shared his testimony with them. From what I heard you could've heard a pin drop and everyone was mesmorized. All of us have a testimony and sharing it brings life to others, and ourselves.
By mid morning he came and picked me up and was surprised by the case managers with a birthday card and gift. They had gotten him a toy set of tools -- brought a smile to his face and warmth to his heart! Remember what I said about being family??!!
We then headed to my mother's house where she was hosting a luncheon for the Red Hat ladies. What a hoot it is to see them come in with those purple outfits and red hats that are amazing to behold! We had agreed to help Mom serve and had alot of fun doing so. I am amazed that even though my Mom is 75 years "young" she continues to do these things and loves doing so. (Sorry, Mom, for giving away your age but I do so with admiration!!) My sister in law joined in helping serve and as we left Mom was giving the ladies a tour of their historic home!
Our afternoon was spent with the team and back answering questions with case management. Before I realized it the clock was past 5 and we had to be ready to attend dinner at 6:30pm. The long term recovery invited a team of men from Jackson, Tennessee to come and share their expertise in disaster recovery. Their city has been through 3 tornadoes in less than 3 years. We will spend the entire morning with them tomorrow and hope to pick their brains and gain some education from their experience.
During the dinner they brought a special dessert for Monty's birthday, complete with singing Happy Birthday!
Our team will return to their 2 homes tomorrow and also branch out into some yard cleanup and work at our retired Pastor's home. The weather is outstanding and they are ready to go and help even more.
Until next time . . . thanks, Florida, for sending us such an incredible team!!!!
Susan and Monty

Monday, September 15, 2008

Orlando in Action

Their shirts say "Serve Team" and that's exactly what they are doing!
Our day began with our usual morning devotions and Monday morning orientation. It was nice to be able to do so in the new sanctuary here. The team had one additional member today, a friend of a team member who drove down from Indianapolis to work with them for the day. We also had team member Susan's sister come and join us for the devotion. She is a member here at Columbus First Assembly. And Pastor A also came in so we had quite a few people up and ready to roll on a Monday morning.
After the devotion Monty took them to their jobs, both of which are in the same subdivision and only a few houses apart. They divided themselves into 2 teams and went to work.
One team is continuing the hanging of sheetrock in Ms Lee's house and it gets closer to being done each hour. The other team returned to Andy's house and are also hanging sheetrock. With both homes being so close together they could check up on each other and make changes if need be. When I checked on them after lunch they were mostly white with sheetrock dust so that means they had been working hard!
They also had a very nice surprise waiting for Pastor Jerry, the Pastor of the church housing them. They donated a very large and very nice grill for the church! This is a smaller country type church who really enjoy family functions; ice cream socials and the like. Pastor was really shocked and really thankful! It's just what this church needed! Quite a nice gift! Pastor emailed me later and wants to plan a cookout with them one night this week. We love to see how the hosting churches get involved with the recovery effort and don't even realize how valuable they are!
They spent their evening in a worship service and then headed back for some much needed rest. They will be up and out early again tomorrow and be even more ready to go since they now feel a bit more comfortable in their jobs.
Please continue to pray for them while they are here and for their families that are back in Florida. And of course continue the prayers for everyone along the coast of Texas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Outgoing Ohio meets incoming Florida

Today was "All Together Sunday" at church. Our Lima, Ohio team stayed for the special service. Immediately after they were homeward bound. It's always sad to see a team go and this one was no different. The good thing is that we know they are coming back as soon as they can! Blessings to all of you -- what a great week it was and we look forward to seeing you again!
Our Orlando, Florida team also arrived just in time for church! The two teams immediately bonded and even sat together at church. Florida was easy to spot as the back of their shirts said "servant team." We look forward to starting a brand new week with them tomorrow. They took the rest of today to get settled in and prepared for the week.
Church was outstanding this morning! There was so much happening and the Spirit was moving throughout the building and the people!
The music celebration was a stage full! A guest pastor and his team came and assisted with the music. I think they must have heard us outside on the streets as they drove by -- it was awesome!
From there we had a guest from the district present Pastor with a plaque for their outstanding missions outreach, even during the devastation they themselves suffered. Another guest from the City also came and presented a certificate pronouncing today as Columbus First Assembly of God day!
Another church came to present a check to help with the flood fund along with the Lima church leaving one for the same thing! The Lima youth also took up a donation and presented that check.
Pastor also acknowledged those responsible for the reconstruction of the sanctuary. The VP of the construction team was at church along with his wife.
My parents also came this morning. It was so great to sit in church with them, to have them experience alot of what has happened and to be able to share it with them!
The guest speaker for the message today was Chad Varga. If you are like me and hadn't even heard his name I beg you to look him up online and see what an amazing man this is! His testimony will bring you to your knees and there won't be enough tissue to dry your tears! He has such a heart for our youth and challenges us all to have the same. He has a couple of books out also. He used to be a professional basketball player and has been able to take the word of God to literally millions of kids. We were blessed to be able to hear his message! He also told all those who are so focused on the disaster and discouraged to get out of themselves and do something for someone else!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After the service we were planning for the church picnic. Everyone was wondering if we would even be able to have it -- the remains of hurricane Ike arrived up here today -- complete with winds above 50 mph. The rains stayed north of us but the winds were fierce. We lost a major limb in one of the trees here at the church and there are numerous limbs scattered throughout the city. But the rains did come a bit later in the form of a heavy mist and the temps started dropping -- only after getting the church softball game completed and the meal eaten and the devotion done! You can see from the photos that we had quite a crowd!!
An amazing day --- an amazing Lord --- two amazing teams --- and another week right in front of us! Be sure and stay tuned --- it's a busy one and God is at the wheel!!!!
PS I have an update on Angie's sister -- we had a prayer request for her; she lives in Baton Rouge and will be undergoing a double mastectomy this Wednesday so please include her and her family in your prayers!! God is the master healer and His healing is what we ask for!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Church Work Day

This day held a little bit of everything and alot of heat and humidity!
It was work day at church, all in preparation for our special Sunday service in the morning. You can see from the photos we were doing everything from trimming shrubs to pulling out those damaged from the flood to washing tarps and materials. Pastor was out digging the shrubs before hooking a rope to them and pulling them out with that truck. Everyone was working, even the little bitty guy you see in the one photo. We got alot of work done and things do look much better.
Our Ohio team was finally all here. Part of them went on to Ms Lee's house first thing. Another part of them stayed here at the church and took out the old baptistry -- not an easy job! Monty is standing in front of what is left -- see all that stone? They did a great job and then headed out to Ms Lee's to join the others. They have made amazing progress and it should be nearly ready for out incoming Florida team to start finishing.
Rob and Rich from our home Vineyard church also returned to continue working in Ms Sandra's house. They also completed the sheetrock and left it ready for finishing.
Can you guess what the Florida team might be doing?
Once again my mother was running around delivering lunches to everyone. She also had another team from their own church so I don't even know what the total was but she got them all delivered somehow! The Lima, Ohio had a really nice card of thanks for her too!
I had a couple of words in my title yesterday and didn't follow up with the story behind the words -- sometimes my mind goes alot faster than my fingers and then both skip a beat! Anyway, one of the case managers, Eric, discovered a very hidden talent in one of his clients. Seems his client had been mowing lawns for a living but when Eric made his home visit he discovered drawings that this gentleman had been doing. He quickly realized how talented this gentleman was and with a connection at Ivy Tech College and Nashville for possibly a showing he turned this man's life in a whole new direction! I've said it before and will continue to say how excellent these case managers are! They all go above and beyond and even discover hidden talents and know how to direct them toward a wonderful future!! Good job Eric!
We do hope all of you are praying for all those devastated by hurricane Ike in Texas. We understand what they are going through and will see what the future holds . . . Please pray for them while you are worshiping tomorrow morning.
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Artist and the Rain

Before I get too far in this I want you to know you can see the video of the flag presentation to Bruce's mother online. Go to and click on the video for today. If you don't get there until tomorrow (Sat) I'm sure it will still be there. It's awesome! And it made front page of the newspaper today -- quite the article!
Today was a day of much needed rain! We needed it today -- but it's in the forecast for the next 4 days -- the remants of hurricane Ike will make its way here by Sunday and they are saying some pretty heavy stuff. That we don't need!
We need to be praying for everyone along the coast of Texas -- Ike is coming in with the highest tide of the month -- thus the huge surge! May God protect them all and may Ike loose his power -- quickly!
Our Ohio team was full steam ahead today. Two new team members came in last night and the gentleman with the knee swelling was back on the job. They were working in 2 homes today, Lee's and Andy's. Andy just lives around the corner. They are also hanging sheetrock in there. From what I heard there was some pretty powerful ministry going on there today!! Praise the Lord and lay down the hammer!
One of the new team members is Pastor A's brother, who is the associate Pastor of this Ohio team. He is getting to spend some quality time with his brother while here! What a blessing for the both of them!
We were blessed to join all of them in another evening meal this evening. It's just so awesome to share lives and stories with those who come to serve. God sure did make this big old world seem small sometimes!
Tomorrow we will be gathering here at the church and Rob with our home church team will be joining us. Rob will return to Sandra's home, some will return to Andy's and some to Lee's and others will be working here at the church for their work day prior to the big All Together Sunday! A day filled with service and filled with even more blessings.
Remember -- to keep up with all that is happening with the church go to Pastor's blog at . There you can see the new steeple and know exactly how well things are progressing.
Please keep this church in your prayers -- pray that Sunday will see souls saved and our Lord praised for all His blessings.
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Minus 1, Plus 2

Ohio keeps on going -- even with one man down for the day! One of the team members not only had knee replacement surgery about 6 weeks ago he also had a pace maker put in a week later! And you think you aren't able to go on a mission trip????? He had a bit too much swelling in his leg last night so today he took the day to get some rest. The other two continued on sheetrocking and the house is looking great! Give a woman a power tool and she can do anything!!! Just look at the smile on her face!
They will be joined by two more team members later this evening. We knew this team would come in stages and they weren't kidding. Tomorrow night three more will join them. Just keep 'em coming Ohio!
I had more meetings today. This morning we had a meeting of all the subcommittee chairs and we always accomplish quite a bit at these. They are also great at keeping the communication flowing with who is doing what and where. We did take a moment for silence at 8:46am to honor those who lost their lives 7 years ago. We all remember just where we were and what we were doing on that fateful day! We ask the Lord to be with the surviving families as they relive the horror once again today!
The day ended with a meeting with the Spiritual and Emotional care subcommittee. I had never been to one of their meetings but was invited this morning. They are in the planning stages of a Sunday afternoon outreach day at one of the local parks. They want to combine food with fun and since we have participated in and helped organize quite a few of these in the south they asked if I could come and share some of our experiences. They have a great idea which we all took and ran with. We put together the format for a flyer to get the general information out as soon as possible. I liked the ideas they were putting together and was pleased to be a part and to be asked to return next week to finalize more of the plans. Since they have set the date for this event for Sunday, October 12 we only have 4 weeks. No problem!!!
It's an amazing thing to be a small part of other subcommittees and see what they are doing! All are working together like a well oiled machine -- all with the same goal of helping the people -- doing whatever it takes to do that! Like I have said before -- living the dream! Everyone with like values, everyone with like goals, everyone with like hearts --- no place else in the world I would want to be!! Thank you Lord, for this calling!! And thanks to all of you who continue to make it all possible by your support!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty