Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
It used to be a home and there used to be piers out over the water -- "used" to be! Water and wind took care of wiping out both!
Our team from Missouri continued gutting homes, their 4th day. The Pastor of the team has been battling allergies and a nasty cold all week. I thought he just might stay back and rest today --- not! He kept pushing, kept going and did an amazing job! After our evening meal he was wiped out and is down for the count!
Speaking of meals -- this church provides 3 full meals per day for the teams, and for us. The breakfasts are cooked, hot meals. Lunches are packed and sent out with the teams. Dinners are also cooked, hot meals! I don't think they have any idea just how priceless these meals are! For all of us! Many thanks to all of them who are involved and to Amy who coordinates the entire thing!
Monty spent his day in the warehouse/new housing building. He is taking down alot of steel framing and will rework the building to house the volunteers and house the tools. The city of Webster is working with us to assist in getting the camp all put together. We only have a couple of weeks and pray it will all come together.
Diane and I were working on paperwork, case management and you name it. The afternoon was spent checking on the team and looking at the homes and church that will be worked in on Saturday. So much behind the scenes planning to pull it all together!
Tomorrow she will be flying to New Orleans to help finish the last 2 homes that relief camp is doing following Katrina. I will run her to the airport and we will be driving over on Sunday for a couple of days to load up a trailer and bring it back here. Again --- so much behind the scenes to get and keep things going!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Our trip started Monday around 1pm after saying goodbye to family. I don't like goodbyes at all!
We were on the road a whole 45 minutes before hearing that shot gun sound, once again! Another blown tire on the camper, other side but still damaged! I look up to see part of the trailer dragging the interstate as Monty hobbles along to the next exit -- a rest stop. We make a connection with an RV service company only 6 miles down the road. From there they are able to make the repairs but let us know that we are carrying the incorrect weight ratio tires on the trailer! They have connections with a tire company another 6 miles down the road, they make the call but the tires cannot arrive there until the following morning. Since it is now evening we make the decision to stop for the night and wait for the tires to arrive the next morning. With another 1100 miles to travel we do not want to repeat this senario! And to be honest, both of our nerves were a bit on the frazzled side!
The next morning we are off and running with a new set of tires, thanks to the discount they gave us when we told them where we were headed! God's hand once again.
We traveled all of Tuesday and all of Wednesday. Early Wednesday we realized we would not make it into Texas that day as originally planned. After looking for a place to stop for a couple of hours we were in for the night and preparing for our 4th day on the road!
Thursday morning we were up and out and finally arrived, no more incidents, around 3pm yesterday!!!! I cannot tell you how glad I was to be out of that truck and walking around for more than a pit stops amount of time! Not to mention the dogs!!! They had become quite accustomed to the passenger seat!
When we arrived we were told that the power for our trailer wasn't hooked up yet so we made plan B and used one of the generators on site. Since the weather here wasn't to get below 50 at night we knew we would be fine. We had a full charge on the trailer battery and it proved to be sufficient for the night.
After a nice dinner with the outgoing Omaha, Nebraska team and some last minute putting the details of the trailer together we were more than exhausted. The first problem -- shutting off everything going on in my head. Somehow the night seems to put it all into an even higher gear!
I could not sleep so I got up and sat in the chair for awhile. Around 12:45am I hear someone grab ahold of the trailer door --- trying to open it! Shock!!!!!!! After trying unsuccessfully once the person tried again, this time really tugging on the handle! At this point I realized I must get Monty up and call 911 at the same time! I also hear the person rattling things around in one of our trucks. Too bad he didn't try to open the door on mine as it would have set off the panic alarm!
Monty jumps up, opens the door and confronts the man dressed all in black with a backpack on his back and a hood over his head. He asks him what he's doing and that he should "stick around as the police are on their way." The man didn't seem too worried and just strolled down the driveway beside the building! Monty continued to call out to him to wait and then decided to hop in the truck and see where he went. About this time the police showed up and went through and around the buildings repeatedly trying to locate him. They were not able to find him and think he hopped into an awaiting vehicle!
After spending over 30 minutes looking for him they returned to our trailer where we could fill them in on the whole story and also let them know who we were and why we were here and that we would be living here for quite some time! They were such amazing, caring men and told us they would put our area on their nightly patrols to be certain we were safe!
Now I was supposed to try and sleep again?? You've got to be kidding! It was up and in the chair for most of the rest of the night for me!
Early this morning we were up to bid farewell to the Omaha team. We sat and visited and went over their paperwork from the week so I can get all the info back to Diane when she also returns Monday. This team was here to cut trees and that is exactly what they did all week!! What an amazing job they did!
The rest of the day was spent with Phil from Mercy Response and Pastor Nathan touring the damaged area of Galveston! My oh my! Ships still piled in the interstate keeping one lane closed -- mess after mess after mess! Tomorrow Monty and I will head out on our own to do some networking and see what needs are there and how we can best fill them.
One thing I did realize --- we have seen this type of disaster before and can now fully see past it! We know the results, we know what needs to be done, it's just fitting all the puzzle pieces together to bring about those results. The usual questions are still there; where will the funding come from, will the volunteers come, where are we best suited - in what exact area? We have taken the step of faith knowing God already has the answers and already has the plan. All we need to do is be obedient and take the steps!!!! Please continue to pray for us!
As you can see, it's been quite the week! The start of another chapter in our lives. We thank all of you who have come along with us so far. For those of you who are new -- hang on as we are about to go on another ride of amazing blessings and you won't want to miss a single one!
Until next time . . . may our night be quite and our sleep restful!!! Susan and Monty
Sunday, October 19, 2008
One of our favorite photos taken at the Good Sam Club Rally a couple of weeks ago. The truck in the background was the envy of many attending! And it was still on the showroom on the last day also -- not sold yet!
It's another very late night where I should have been asleep hours ago but my mind is racing and this is the best form of "therapy" for me. Let's hope it works this time.
We have been under extreme heat warnings for the past couple of days and it has reminded me of the good ole' Texas weather. All we need is for the thermometer to be just a bit higher and we would be there!
Today I did not go out and continue my deck priming and painting. We had an appointment to visit a local church and thought it might be nice to stay "clean" for a full day! I admit that being able to take a shower anytime we like is nice but every once in awhile it's just nice to stay clean the entire day!
Our appointment with a local Methodist church was great. We met the Pastor and his wife and were thrilled to learn they are already reading the blog and so had a clear idea of our ministry before we even walked in the door. A dear friend of Monty's mother attends this church and brought about the meeting. They are going to check their calendar and see if they can schedule us to speak to the entire church sometime soon -- atleast before the next storm comes in and we are back out on the road.
From there we returned home where I started working on photos to show to our home church Sunday school kids this Sunday. An email also came in saying that they have opened up our lesson to not only the grade school age kids but also the junior and senior high! It's always an honor to be able to talk with others and kids are alot of fun. We have quite a few photos that will hopefully help them understand a bit more about disaster missions. Opening the floor for their questions is also something we do. It allows them to ask whatever is on their minds and hopefully is also alot of fun for them. Keep us in your prayers!
While I was working on that Monty was next door visiting with our neighbor lady. She lives alone and has a yard full of trees and shrubs and years worth of leaves that all need cleaned and trimmed along with gutters that are over flowing. Being the great husband that he is -- he volunteered our services to come and clean things up for her. Our friends that came for dinner the other night, Amy and Rodney, also volunteered to come and help and bring a couple of their friends. We set this Saturday as the day of helping. Monty said she is already so excited and at a loss as to how to say thank you. It will be great for Amy and Rodney as they are young and want to do some sort of mission work in the near future. May as well get their feet wet now and this is a great project! The entire neighborhood will benefit from this one!
The rest of our evening was spent with discussing truck "issues." With 2 of them needing major work we are trying to weigh our options and see which is the best route to take. Finances are always at the front of our decisions and with donations down . . . we turn it over to God as He always provides just in time. Times are tough for nearly everyone and I guess since we are "off" the field for a rest some feel that donations aren't needed?! That guess is very wrong as we are preparing for the next venture but . . .
And like I said, with all the goings on of the past days and especially today I find myself unable to shut off my brain in order to sleep. I know there is a switch somewhere . . .
Until next time . . . "rest in the Lord." Susan and Monty
Tomorrow morning we will be headed south on interstate 65 once again.
Over this weekend we were able to attend Monty's school reunion where he saw friends from long ago and touched base with them. The weather has been perfect, the chill in the air telling us all that is truly is fall. The colors in the trees, the leaves falling, all signs of God's beauty.
This morning we attended our home church where they all gathered around us in prayers for safe travel, for each of our needs to be met and for God to work through us as we go out to follow His calling. As expected, it was difficult for me to hold back the tears.
This afternoon we bid farewell to neighbors knowing each one will be watching over our place while we are away. I actually went out and cut down the last of the dead flower blooms, another sign of winter around the corner.
Yesterday I went to visit my daughter, son in law and 2 grandchildren. The baby is only 4 months old and I realized that the next time I see her she will most likely be crawling and have no idea who I am. I had hoped to see my son but that didn't work out. He lives about 2 hours north of us and owns his own business so his work hours are precious.
We were able to have breakfast with Monty's mother and stepdad and she joined us in church this morning. Another set of goodbyes.
It's this "in between" that tears at my heart strings. Still here but not fully and not yet there . . . sort of like stranded mid stream. I know the calling, I hear His voice, I feel the excitement of another new adventure, but . . . leaving is NOT easy and I know it never will be. But it's all part of it and we signed on for the long term, for the duration, for the "whatever and whenever and wherever."
Tomorrow morning will be the most difficult goodbye -- to my parents, especially my mother as we will have breakfast with her before leaving. I cannot express the blessings that I have enjoyed over this past summer with my family! Being able to just stop in and see what's going on, to have them stop by our trailer do to the same, my brothers at arms reach, my aunt joining us for lunch almost on a daily basis . . . I thank God for all of that -- and more!
I did find out some really exciting news ---although Diane will not be there when we arrive on Wednesday she will be returning the following Monday! Yes, the Vineyard Clear Lake Relief Camp has realized her own calling over the past few weeks and have asked her to stay on and take charge of their outreaches!!!! She had family committments back in Wisconsin and they agreed to fly her home and back --- because they love her as we do!!!! Isn't God amazing in how He knits people and lives together, over and over again! I am so thankful to Him for keeping her there to work with us once again!
As you can surmise from this we will be "off line" for the next few days. Please pray for us, for safe travel, for wisdom, for guidance, for strength, for you name it! YOUR prayers are what keep us going. We thank you for them, for those you have already prayed and for those you will pray in the future.
As soon as we arrive we will let you know. We hope you will be putting together a team of volunteers to come and work with us?!
Until next time . . . be blessed! Susan and Monty
Friday, October 17, 2008
From there we headed back to the United Way to pick up a manual the case managers had put together for me -- every single form we used is in this book! I didn't even realize there were so many! We said goodbye amidst tears but also realizing that these nurses want to put together a team and come south to work with us. I am so hoping they do just that as they need to experience the other side of disaster relief! I am certain Melanie and her husband will be coming down --- I watched this relief effort make a change in her life that reminded me of the one that was made in mine!
After both of those goodbyes we headed to lunch to meet my Aunt Miriam. We have been so blessed to eat lunch with her nearly every day over the past months. It's the little family owned places that keep us going when we relocate and Aunt Miriam and Uncle Dean let us in on this one, Kramers. The three of us have had quite a few laughs over lunch and we will miss her so very much! It was an added blessing to become even closer to my favorite aunt!
It was then off to say goodbye to my 95 year old grandmother!!!! She has contracted a couple of infections over the past couple of days but was in the dining room having lunch and quickly finished so we could visit for a few minutes. She is as sharp as a tack but has difficulty seeing and hearing in one ear. Monty took the time, as always, to kneel down and pray with and for her. She admits that she is tired and "ready to go." We prayed for both healing and peace, peace being the most important. She then spent the rest of the afternoon with my mother, visiting and cherishing every minute. Oh how I will miss them both --- my heart just can't go there!! I thank God for the family connection I have had over these past 4 months. I cannot put into words what it has done for my heart and soul!
By late afternoon we were on the road to home. Monty has a class reunion weekend that we have had planned for nearly 3 months. We also made it home in time to vote on the early ballots since we will be out of state on election day. We stopped by the reunion to get registered and get our schedule of events. We already saw the wife of the founder of the school, both of which are still there and directing it. They have been such a blessing to so many children over the years and are still going. God bless them!
We now have the camper trailer hooked to Monty's truck and ready to leave the parking lot of the church on Monday morning. Just a couple more checks of everything and we will be heading south on interstate 65 once again. Please pray for our safe travel. The distance is nearly 1200 miles and when pulling a load of 12,000 pounds behind you it can be a bit nerve racking.
Thanks to all of you who regularly keep us in your prayers. THOSE are our life lines --- more than you can possibly know.
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I was blessed to have lunch with one of my long time, childhood best friends, Denise. Even though we have been right here in the same town all summer we both are more than busy. She is the executive director of the Montessori school and me . . . Today we made the time and as always, wished we had made the time long ago and more often. It was so nice to sit and visit, to remember, to laugh and to cry. One of God's special blessings.
Our neighbor, Shelley, returned to volunteer her time again. She was busy calling the listing we received from the center who has been taking hot meals into the flooded communities since the flood. She was checking to see who still needed them and who was now okay on their own. These calls also allow us to check on the families and see how they are doing, do they have a case manager to help them and just a general "we care" phone call. It kept her busy all day and she will be returning again tomorrow. Thanks Shelley!! Love ya!
Late this afternoon the Long Term Recovery had planned a going away party for both of us. They had pizza and a beautifully decorated cake. Some of the nurses who were case managers and have returned to work came back to say goodbye. They had put together a scrap book of photos as a gift for us -- looking through and seeing each face, each smile, brought tears, smiles and a heartful of love. I remember coming into the building, into the room and seeing nothing but strangers. Over the past 4 months each one has become family!!! A tight knit, loving, caring and supporting family! There are no words to thank each of them. We just pray they will keep in touch with us and continue to do the amazing work they are doing to rebuild this community, their home and our second home!
We love you all and will take a piece of each of you with us. How awesome it would be to see you come to us in Texas??!!
Thanks for the love and thanks for being our family, not only while we have been here--- but always!!!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
You would think we would be used to it. It always !!!! happens when we get ready to relocate. No matter how much time we give ourselves to prepare . . . the testing comes!
Yesterday one of the case managers decided she needed to hand off her cases to someone else. She has done an amazing job and has such a heart for helping people that it broke my heart but I do understand.
After dinner we went to say goodbye to our TN team. They were leaving early this morning. All were more than exhausted but yet talked of putting together a team and coming south over next spring break!! Book it now --- spring breaks are really popular times! It's always tough to say goodbye to a team, this one was no different. At the same time we also had to bid farewell to Pastor Jerry. He and his church have been incredible over these past 4 months, housing our teams and always making them feel so welcome and at home!! Thanks to everyone at Petersville United Methodist Church!
This morning was our weekly case management meeting and my time to say thank you to all those who have made my job such a blessing! I tried so very hard to not shed tears and almost made it -- just a small "blurp". I only wish they all really knew just how amazing they are!
Monty was off to help my mother with a truck load of food supplies coming into her church. They have a Hot Meals program every Monday night where they feed whoever walks in the door. These food deliveries come once a month and it was great that Monty could take time and help her out. I sure will miss my parents! They have no idea!
After lunch Monty was to pick up our propane tank for the trailer. When he had it filled the other day he thought there was some sort of leak! Not a good thing! The tanks are located outside of the trailer and built with openings in the bottom of the compartments so if there is a leak it will go outside and not inside the trailer. Yes -- there was a leak -- and a problem with one of the connections. He took out the main pipe last night and thought it was going to be okay --- not! When the tank came back today the leak was still there -- along with a couple more!
Understand that when we don't have propane we don't have hot water or heat. You might not think heat is necessary just yet but also understand that trailers are not insulated like homes and it gets cooler inside than it is outside. The heat we can live without because we have a small box electric heater that can do the trick. Not the same with hot water! Taking a cold shower is just plain "not nice" and honestly quite painful!
Since Monty had an appointment for a check up with his cardiologist in Bloomington we headed home mid afternoon. That will take care of the no heat and no hot water until we get back tomorrow morning and he can work on the whole thing! Remember the testing . . . ??
Good thing we have that assurance, that calling, that inner joy that isn't based upon circumstances, the joy that comes from knowing God's promise for us, the promise of a future, the promise that no matter what we are going through, He's always there.
His calling is clear. We just have to trust in that calling and those promises! Your prayers are appreciated.
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Quite simple things like this are something we haven't been able to be a part of for . . . what a blessing to be able to be there last night! Good job, Maya. Thanks for inviting us!
Yesterday was our weekly case management meeting. I had to crowd everything on the agenda to get it one one page. Seems we always have alot to get through. We are still working on the phone calls to get a new "snap shot" of the recovery stage. Our executive director must have numbers ready to write for the grant, a task that is ever changing and nearly impossible. But the case managers continue to pour over the phones and we are nearly there. Give them a task and they go after it like a bulldog goes after a pork chop!!! What a team!
With our time here quickly coming to an end there are those who are determined to put together a goodbye party!!! Strangers who have become family and who are going to make sure I cry a bucket load of tears in leaving them behind!
Monty continues to get things, tools, prepared for transporting. We positively must !!! lighten the load on our 5th wheel trailer to make the trip safely. Trying to decide what to take and what to leave is difficult but he's getting through it a piece at a time.
It has been such a blessing to hear from those of you who send your well wishes and prayers foro safe travel and talk of coming with a team and working with us once again. Many, many thanks to all of you -- we look forward to seeing you again.
Today was a day filled with all sorts of this and that. Seems every time I turn around there is a question or need. Oh how I will miss all the wonderful people we have come to know.
I have linked you to Diane's blog listed above. Remember --she is working with Mercy Response in Galveston, has been there for a couple of weeks now. She has photos of what is going on and is keeping us up to date with all the events. The saddest thing is that she will be leaving and heading back to Wisconsin the same time we will be headed south to Texas! She'll be back though---I know she will!
Here at Columbus First Assembly amazing progress is going on --- the new church pews are being installed in the sanctuary!!!! What an amazing day Sunday will be --- the white plastic chairs replaced with beautiful pews! Alot of people will truly feel at home again! The men installing them are working all hours of the night to get the job done. They had to be brought in piece by piece and assembled inside of the sanctuary. With the missions banquest coming up I know Pastor is sitting on pins and needles hoping everything gets done in time!
This blog entry may seem like a little bit here and a little bit there --- welcome to our life! We do know that God is in complete control -- His timing is always perfect -- and we just need to obey and follow! Thankfully He is a patient God also!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Monday, October 06, 2008
Wondering what the photo is -- ever heard of a "crazy" quilt? I hadn't either but my mom got the buy of a lifetime at a local auction over the weekend and if we look at the date on the thing (1871) it's REALLY a find!
I am a real fan of sayings or one liners or whatever you might call them. I just read a fantastic book about volunteering and all of the following came from this book. I hope they encourage you half as much as they did for me. I actually typed each one here, cut them into different shapes and put them all around the walls in the case management room. From the comments they all enjoyed them and found the encouragement I would hope they found.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.
Service is the great equalizer.
In helping others, we move beyond ourselves and find ourselves renewed.
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
My faith demands the I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have, to try to make a difference.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin with it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by attacking back.
When we start out to make a difference in someones life, we inevitably change our own.
It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action.
Life's most urgent question, "what are you doing for others?"
Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, devoted citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that has.
People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.
Volunteering gives you confidence and superhuman strength. I am now officially a superhero!
The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself the more energy you will have.
It's easy and natural to love your friends and family, but it takes a really extraordinary person to love a stranger.
If you are out there working in your community and you aren't getting discouraged, you're not paying attention.
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.
True fulfillment comes from identifying and meeting the needs of others.
The experiences of service are the ones that stay with us for a lifetime.
Service is a gift of ourselves that we give to the world, for which in return, we receive bountiful and unexpected gifts of our own.
You don't have to possess the knowledge or the skill or the energy to complete a task when you begin it; you just need enought to begin. More will come.
Service brings people together and bridges differences.
Everyone has the power to make a difference in the world.
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Sorry there was no blog entry last night -- sometimes Blogger gets the hic-ups or something and it's just not possible!!
Yesterday started with morning devotions with the Attica team and off they went for their final day of working with tape and mud in Ms Lee's house. As you can see by the photo on the right some of them got quite creative when it came to mudding the ceilings!!! Necessity is the mother of invention but I just don't think he should pursue a patten on these!
From there we headed off to a "town hall" meeting to address some of the flood damage issues in one of the local mobile home parks. The residents in this park and almost all Spanish speaking but we had interpreters and the meeting went very well. We have a plan to take in materials they need, underneath insulation, vapor barrier and subflooring but wanted to allow them to step in and do the work. We had over 20 residents ready to step up and help themselves and their neighbors!!! THAT is a successful meeting!
By the time we were finished the team was enjoying another bountiful lunch from my mother's church. With the large amounts of food it's a wonder they are able to get up from their seated positions! Thanks, Mom!
When we did check in on them in the afternoon they were still mastering the art of finishing sheetrock -- and had become quite good at it. John, the lead construction manager on Ms Lee's job (he lives here locally) is an amazing teacher and these 5 men were amazing students. Now I doubt any of them went home and decided to make it their career but if they go on another mission trip they know how to finish sheetrock!!
We bid farewell to them there at the job before they left to clean up the church housing them and themselves. As always, it's so tough to say goodbye but these men want to make another trip to Texas to work with us there! Go Team!
This morning Columbus First Assembly kicked off their missions week with an awesome message from Pastor A. He concentrated on the verses in Matthew 28 where we are all "commanded" to "go" and make disciples --- the "go" part surely hit home with Monty and I. We only have one more Sunday at this church and then our last one will be back with our home church, Vineyard, in Bloomington before we head south. Saying goodbye will be made twice as difficult having to do it twice -- but -- we now have added sooooo many names to our book of family members!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty