Friday, October 31, 2008

Missouri's final day

Here is a sneak peak of the weeks work for Missouri! They were fantastic and worked miracles. You can see everything from what the inside of homes looked like before they gutted, the water lines on front doors, the ships that are still piled along side of the interstate -- the side of the interstate that had to be closed because of all those destroyed, washed ashore ships! This team saw what needed to be done and got it done, no matter what it took!
Tonight is their last night, their last meal with us. We will miss them and pray they will put together another team and come and join us again. They say they will, for sure! I know they will miss the meals, the hot breakfasts and hot dinner meals where we all sit around and share what is happening here and in our lives away from disaster work. It's the time where strangers become friends who leave as new family!
Today Diane flew into New Orleans where she will help get the last 2 homes completed and arrange for that camp to be relocated here. By the end of the weekend she will be joined by Gregg and Pam from South Dakota. They have worked with us many times in the past and will stay for nearly a month. When they and Diane finish in New Orleans they will all be back here in Texas.
Tomorrow we will have 2 local teams coming in to work for the day. They have been here before and will be ready to roll. God will be rolling ahead of them and will no doubt be ready for more miracles and blessings to be poured out! Be sure and stay tuned.
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Missouri works through the sickness

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

Touring the areas

These photos were taken in San Leon, Texas. As you can see, not much left. The devastation is enormous and goes on for miles and miles through subdivision after subdivision. Sometimes it's impossible to distinguish objects in all of the trash. The upper left photo looks like everything from everywhere landed in this yard! It's enough to boggle the mind, to confuse everything you see, to wonder if reality can ever return, to doubt it will ever return to a liveable condition --- for those who do not know God! He is the only thing anyone can turn to in times like this. He has the master plan, He promises all the promises, He is strongest when we are at our weakest. On that plan, on those promised and with His strength we continue to come in to areas such as this -- to be His hands, His feet, His heart -- and bring hope to those who are struggling beyond what we can imagine!
Our team from Missouri is an example of that hope. They spent their day in Galveston finishing the gutting of 2 homes. They had their eyes opened -- wide! They had their hearts opened even wider! They are ready to go back tomorrow and start on yet another home that will most likely take them 2 days to complete. Pray for their strength, for their wisdom, for their safety! God has it all covered but it never hurts to add a few more prayers!
Also remember Diane in your prayers. Her stomach has been giving her problems for the past couple of days and she needs prayers of healing! It looks like she might be traveling to New Orleans over the next few days to help an incoming team finish the sheetrock in a couple of homes, the last 2 homes for that camp before they close it and relocate supplies and such right here with us! She will need all her strength and we will need her back here!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, October 27, 2008

Across the miles

This is only a taste -- a bite -- the smallest portion of what things really look like! Looks like Katrina? You bet, same thing, different location!
We spent most of today touring areas, trying to find some information, searching the Disaster Relief Centers for some kind of info, trying the Visitors Centers only to find them closed, gutted out themselves. We checked the newest shelter that opened just today, filled with only the homeless and transients that were that way before the storm. We looked for churches with other relief efforts and found nothing! The agencies just aren't here like they were with Katrina. "Volunteer Fatigue" is the term being used -- means nothing to those who are hurting and have lost so much! I think they have a different description for "fatigue."
Our blessing among the ruins --- Diane returned a day early --- once again surprised us! I just don't know when she will show up anymore!!! It sure is a blessing to be working together again! She does need a bit of prayer as she came back feeling rather sickly. Please pray that her health and strength will return miraculously!
We are awaiting the arrival of our Missouri team, should be here anytime now, just in time for dinner. Remember that 3 meals a day are provided for the teams who come to work. A hot breakfast is cooked each morning, a lunch prepared and sent out with each team member and a hot dinner also prepared fresh! What more could a person ask for? What a blessing these women of the Vineyard have been to provide such a thing! We are deeply thankful to them for all they are doing, and will continue to do!
Life for the both of us has calmed a bit more with the arrest of our "friend" who decided to stop by our trailer and "sit a spell" while I was out for a walk and Monty was helping the plumbers inside the church on Saturday. Once again a 911 call was made and this time he was taken away and won't be returning! Please pray for him also -- he has some real issues and needs prayer!
Thanks to all of you who continue watching out for us, praying for us and supporting us! May God return those blessings back to you a hundred fold!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Here we are

Hopefully these will give you some indication as to how we are set up here in the great BIG state of Texas.
The Vineyard Church itself is the one warehouse. There are 4 of the warehouses in this complex. One on each side and 2 in back which create a sort of square. Our location is in the back in front of one of them. It is that one that we will be building into the relief camp, complete with showers, bathrooms and bed areas. The city just turned on the electric for us yesterday so now the plans can move forward.
It's quite a nice location, just next door to the city park which is always busy! I've never seen so many basketball games and birthday parties and cookouts as over the past couple of days! With weather like this it's no wonder!
Today we took a drive to the coast area to the immediate west and a bit north of here. The damage is unbelievable! There was one area where ships were kept and they are literally mashed together making them unrecognizable. There was no way to photograph them but I will have some of the other shots on tomorrow's blog.
What amazed us is that the ONLY relief effort we saw anywhere !!!!! was CORE, Christians Organized in Relief Effort! They had a huge camp set up in MS after Katrina and it was nice to stop and visit with them for awhile to get the feel of things here. They are also astonished at the lack of help and the large areas that need help!
Tomorrow after church we will be heading into another of the areas where we hear there is no help.
We are trying to get a better "feel" as to where the help is needed the most. Galveston is nearly demolished in areas and yes, needs help. But are there other more remote areas where no one is going in? That's what we intend to find out over the next days.
I am also sad to report that once again we had to call 911 around 2am last night. It seems the same gentleman who tried to get into our trailer the night before was back in the park and screaming like I have not heard before! The screams woke me from a sound sleep and we could see him wandering around the center area of the park. The police returned once again, said they knew the man and that he wasn't dangerous. He told them he was "practicing to be a ninja??" He did quiet down after they left and come 8am this morning he walked back past our trailer, across the parking lot and to who knows where. By the time we returned home this afternoon, guess what --- he's back at the park! We realize he has some serious issues and needs help! We also realize the extra importance of locking our door! :)
We are looking forward to our first church service here tomorrow. It's always exciting to enter into a new church congregation and get to know folks. And considering our "path" this past week it will feel really good to worship and thank God for all our blessings! We hope you will be doing the same!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, October 24, 2008

4 days travel, 1 night "orientation"

Yes, we finally arrived in south Texas! Thank the Lord!

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

Nearly ready to go

The packing is nearly done, everything is almost in place.

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

Final Goodbyes are tough

Our morning started with bidding farewell to Pastor A at the church office. It's been such a blessing to be a part of this church for the past 4 months and we assured him that anytime we are back in Columbus visiting family he will find us sitting in church!

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

From strangers to family

The propane leaks are fixed, Monty took the entire system apart and redid it -- perfectionism at its finest! And just in time as the temps are forecast to drop dramatically during the night tonight. We knew the 80's at this time of year weren't going to last long!

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

Testing, testing . . .

We're once again in a time of testing . . . testing of patience . . . testing of decisions . . . just testing from every angle, from every direction.

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

Picnic Day in the park

This is the day the Lord hath made . . . and what a wonderful day it was!
The Spiritual and Emotional Subcommittee of the Long Term Recovery has had this day in the works for weeks now. They planned it perfectly and it was awesome.
There were games for the kids (and adults), free food, games, a free family photo for each family present, community service tables and more --- all free! We had families from all over the city, from all different flood areas and none were focusing all of their attention on the flood -- they were reconnecting with neighbors and having some real fun!
You can see from the photos -- me with the executive director, Doug --- who I will really miss!!! to one of the case managers covered with free stuffed animals for his 2 children to tables full of fun of all kinds --- even the TN team came, volunteered wherever needed and had a blast!
It was a great day and we are so thrilled that the sun was shining and the temps were near record high for the end of October here in southern Indiana.
This morning was our last Sunday service at Columbus First Assembly -- tough to say goodbye! Pastor and the prayer team had a powerful prayer for us and we were blessed with some heartfelt cards and well wishes. What they don't realize is that we will take a part of each one of them with us when we go. Our family has grown and we will remember them, their love and their smiles forever!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vineyard plus Tennessee

Last night we welcomed our newest team from Clarksville, TN. They will be with us over the weekend, working the picnic tomorrow, back in Jim's house on Monday and leaving for home Tuesday.
Today we welcomed our hometown Vineyard team back once again! We took both teams, combined them, divided them in two teams and off to work they went.
The first part of just the TN team went to Vicky's house where they joined her in painting. We were in this house months ago finishing the gutting. My oh my what a difference a couple of months has made! She was having kitchen cabinets installed today and so excited at the progress. The team jumped in, worked right along side Vicky and really made some progress!
The rest of the team combined with Rob and the Vineyard crew and went to work in Jim's house. There have been other teams from the long term recovery in his house and they had all the sheetrock hung and had just started the taping and mudding process. With Rob at the helm they had a couple of the boys outside tackling the yard, and tackle they did! Even the neighbors stopped to say thank you! The resident squirrel wasn't too happy with them as they were cleaning up his walnuts and he let them know with chattering noises that he would be much happier if they would leave things alone!
The rest of the team worked away with tape and mud. The girls learned the technique and Frank and Joshua were busy trying to work themselves out of one closet after another! They all did a fantastic job and the entire place looks different.
What an amazing blessing to both homeowners!
And once again my mother showed up with the largest lunch sacks ever seen -- a feast enjoyed by each one, Vicky included! Thanks Mom!!!
By this evening each team member looked a bit tired. TN will join us for service tomorrow morning and then head out to the picnic. We were extra blessed to learn Amanda speaks Spanish --- we have just the place for her tomorrow!
We want to thank each of you who have emailed your prayers and love for our upcoming move into Texas. You're the best!
With one week and counting each day is more precious than the one before, and the time ticks away even faster than usual! We sure do appreciate your extra prayers!
Many thanks to our Vineyard team for the constant dedication to coming and helping us over these past months. Rob has even promised to continue coming -- even after we are gone. He wants to finish Sandra's house and she is content to wait on him! What a servant's heart --- and what an amazing friend -- family!!!!
Until next time . . . please don't forget to continue keeping Diane in your prayers also as she continues working in Texas. Her blog is a link to this blog --- log on and see what she's been up to!
Blessings to all. Susan and Monty

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Happy Birthday Aunt Miriam

Yesterday was my Aunt Miriam's birthday. Being here made it possible for us to be at the party -- all planned by her 8 year old granddaughter, Maya.

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

Thanks, Attica!

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

Friday, October 03, 2008

Attica, Indiana works double shift

They may have been nearly an hour and a half late, they may have gotten lost more than a couple of times, they may have not had any hot water for a shower last night . . . BUT they worked overtime today!
Attica, Indiana arrived around 10:30 last night. Somehow they had more than one mix up with directions (and they have been here before ) :) but they made it, got settled, had a snack and were here nearly 20 minutes for morning devotions this morning!!!
They spent their day working at Ms Lee's house. John was there ready and waiting for some helping hands. John taught those who weren't so skilled the art of taping and mudding sheetrock. All seemed to get the hang of it and were mudding away all day. They did stop long enough to enjoy one of my mothers amazing lunches! And with a day of sunshine and temps in the high 60's it was a perfect day!
After working all day we pushed them a bit farther. Pastor A had planned an outreach to one of our neighboring churches who had also been flooded and lost everything. It's only a couple of blocks from here and they are struggling to get the building rebuilt. After a couple of visits Pastor A challenged his church to put together a team to come along side of them and help in any way possible.
That outreach started at 5:30 this evening. Attica was here and ready to go! Our meal was provided by another of the outreaches here, Eastside Community Center, who is still taking hot meals into the effected areas of flooding. We were quite pleased to have a meal waiting for us. After the meal it was back to work.
Pastor A took a team outside the building and was working with cleaning and landscaping. As they were working a couple of Jehovah's Witness boys came walking by and asked if they could do anything to help. Pastor welcomed them aboard but told them they might get their white shirts dirty, made no difference to them, they jumped in and were still working (and sweating) when I left a few minutes ago! I think it's one of those "one body" things we are always talking about --- awesome!
While at the church the team hung wall insulation, helped pull ceiling tiles, gutted a furnace room and anything else needed. I have a feeling those cots with air mattresses will feel really good tonight!!!
Monty spent most of his day working along side the team and I was busy in the office area. This morning I had a couple of up and coming book authors come and do an interview with me. One is one of the case managers and he has partnered up with someone else in hopes of writing a book about the local flood disaster. I think it's a wonderful idea and only hope I was able to give them a few good points.
I then received an email from a county 2 counties away from here asking if I could come and make a visit to them and offer some advice on getting their long term recovery case management up and running. Of course, I'd be honored to share so sometime next week I'll do a bit of traveling.
In the meantime we continue to do little things to get ready to head into Texas. I think the dogs already suspect something is going on -- amazing how they pick up on things and realize that when things start being moved around we must be about to go "somewhere."
Tomorrow will be another work day for us and for the team. We are so blessed to have them here, lending a hand wherever needed and being such an amazing blessing to Ms Lee and everyone they meet.
For their families at home --- thank you for sharing your men with us!!!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty