Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Outreaches Galore

Yes, this has been quite the Thanksgiving season!
The photos tell only a small bit of all the days.
On Tuesday we had the double outreach in Galveston -- see the last blog entry. Wednesday was spent preparing the meal to be taken again on Thanksgiving morning. You can see that Diane had the task of preparing 45 boxes of pasta and turning it into pasta salad. Monty is happily displaying the spice cake we sliced and packaged, all 15 of the cakes. The rest of us were busy preparing the bags, adding the condiments, chips and plastic ware while Pam single handedly made 750 ham sandwiches! We started around 9am and were finishing up around 6:30pm.
Thanksgiving morning greeted me with the "hitting the wall" syndrome! I am one of those who will keep going and sometimes it takes the "wall" to hit me to realize that I have kept going too long. It was one of those mornings. Gregg, Pam and Diane loaded up the lunches and within 90 minutes had them all handed out to those who were thankful beyond words.
There was a hot meal also prepared for those who wanted to come -- the Salvation Army reopened their doors for the first time since Ike hit and caused them so much damage. From the looks of the news the place was packed!
Gregg and Pam were able to head north to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving evening with family before heading back way north to South Dakota. It was sad to see them leave and just then we realized just how terrible the shower trailer really looked! Their trailer had kept it hidden and when they left . . .
Yesterday was spent doing this and that. We had an artificial Christmas tree donated and I got busy and put it up outside our trailer! No room inside but also no reason we can't have a tree. It came complete with more lights than I could possibly use and after a trip to Big Lots it was decorated with ribbons, just plain ribbons tied on the branches. And the miraculous thing --- it held up perfectly in the rains last night!
Today we decided we should start on the painting of the shower trailer. The skies were clearing and it was a bit cooler than the 85 yesterday. We had selected the color that looked like chocolate pudding --- chocolate cures all --- remember! :) Even though the skies did not stay clear and the temps continued to drop Diane and I got three quarters of it done. It will need a second coat but for now it looks better than before and might not be quite the eye sore to those who come to church tomorrow!
Speaking of church, tomorrow is the "official" leftovers potluck here. The tables are all set and I have a feeling there will be a mountain of food! What a great way to combine fellowship and food!
Today we also received word from our executive director that the 3 of us are to be ready to head back to New Orleans next week. There are 2 homes that need finished up. When those are completed we will be loading up the trailer and bringing supplies back here. Should be quite the busy week. We have no idea how long we'll be there but most likely 5 - 6 days or so. Another chapter in our adventure!
We hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and took time to realize just how blessed you are -- no matter what your situations might be --- remember that God is an awesome God and He has given all of us more blessings than we can possibly count!
Diane, Monty and I did miss seeing our families on Thanksgiving Day but we also realize that God is growing our families by leaps and bounds in our adventure of walking with Him on a daily basis!
Blessings to all of you!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Double Outreach Day


We did 2 outreaches in one day!!!!!

The morning started with finishing preparations for our outreach of vitamin water, regular water, baby products and hygiene products. I don't know the count of everything but I do know the 1 ton van was packed floor to ceiling along with the tool trailer attached. We landed --- and in less than 20 minutes it was all gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, every last bit of anything we had! God was moving and it was incredible. Just as we were closing up everything a woman with 3 small children approached and asked for a box of baby products -- we had none left. But --- without her knowledge her young son had picked up a box for her just minutes before and she was brought to tears!

Since that one went so well and so quickly we decided to return to the camp and make hot dog lunches and return to hand them out. After a trip to get food products, grilling 750 hot dogs and preparing all the sack lunches with chips and cookies it was back to Galveston for the second outreach of the day.

I had to jump out of the picture to head to the Long Term Recovery Meeting but upon arrival they had decided to cancel it due to the holiday week. They had no phone to reach everyone so --- I headed on to Galveston and met the others there.

The people were there waiting for us. We set up the area and in less than 2 hours we had all 750 hot dogs gone!!!! We also gave out another monster batch of vitamin water and regular water. Absolutely amazing. The folks couldn't thank us enough, people driving by on the street called out their thanks for us being there --- a God thing all the way.

All of today brought us to another plan --- for Thanksgiving Day. Tomorrow we will be preparing ham sandwiches and lunch bags of goodies to return to Galveston Thanksgiving Day for another free lunch. From there we will then head to our own dinner. It's just impossible for any of us to sit down and indulge ourselves knowing the need, seeing the need, feeling the need and hearing God's call for us to act!

As we packed up after our 2nd outreach we told those still there that we would be returning on Thanksgiving Day and the smiles were priceless!

Please keep these families and folks in your prayers over this holiday season. As you all gather together with your families please realize that not only is it impossible for them to gather due to their homes being destroyed, they don't have the finances! Disaster don't look at the calendar before they hit. Prayer is the most powerful thing ALL of us can do!

Monty spent his day working on the shower trailer, working in the warehouse and just keep up with the keeping up of the camp maintenance. The shower trailer now has curtains hanging at all the windows, ones that won't fall down and ones that will keep some privacy for all inside. He also created a way to hold the tin on the outsides even better. He keeps the rest of us going!

We thank all of you for keeping up with us as we travel through the chapters God has written for our lives. YOU are the ones that keep us traveling forward!

Be blessed!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, November 24, 2008


At breakfast this morning it was more than quiet -- only Gregg, Pam, Diane, Monty and I. All the chairs sitting empty, the coffee pot still had coffee in it, the breakfast food seemed so small -- guess you don't need dozens of eggs for only 5 people!?

Even though there was only 5 of us we went straight to work. If you remember I talked about the shower trailer being moved over here from the New Orleans camp? It has seen better days and we decided to "spiff" it up a bit. Monty headed out for materials and we started pulling all the old rusted screws from the outside while Gregg went inside to take care of the trim around the windows that had taken on way too much water and needed replaced.

After removing all the old screws we got all the new ones put in, the trim put up inside and Diane started painting the inside trim while Pam and I went to work on the not so beautiful orange colored trim on the outside of the beige trailer. We went with a milk chocolate color paint and although we thought we would only use that on the trim we decided to do the entire trailer in it. Monty worked on one of the windows and will get the others before we fill the old screw holes and finish the job.

It was nice to do some real hands on work and the weather was more than cooperative!

This afternoon I had an appointment with Pilar, a homeowner in Galveston. Her story is enough to bring the biggest man to tears. She immigrated from Spain to the US over 40 years ago and has raised 4 children here. Her youngest, Tony, is disabled and has Down's Syndrome. When her father died in 2005 she purchased a duplex to rent as income for she and her son to survive. That duplex was severely damaged in the storm. Since this was her income and now she has none, she took a night job at the local IHOP since she is full time care giver for her son. With no rental income she is now in danger of loosing the home she and Tony live in --- and the car she had to purchase after the storm for transportation. Her car insurance was liability only and she had no flood coverage on her duplex. She is extremely depressed but standing on the word of God which promises that He will not give her more than she can bear! I met with her for quite some time in order to get all the details and hopefully find some resources to bring her some help! Case management here I come!

This evening Monty is helping Pastor change the fuel pump on his truck -- quite the job but between the both of them they'll "get her done". His truck is only a year older than Monty's and we've been this road before!

Tomorrow we have a big outreach planned. We loaded the van and an additional trailer with vitamin water, regular water and boxes of Hope which contain either baby products or hygiene products. We will also grill a bunch of hot dogs in the morning and head south into Galveston to hand out everything! Should be a great blessing for alot of folks just before the holiday.

I will be attending my first Long Term Recovery meeting tomorrow afternoon also. Last week was just the first meeting and I am so glad to get in on the very beginning of building the Long Term Recovery! Please pray for guidance and resources for all of us!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Sunday, November 23, 2008

And then they were gone

Yes, as of a few hours ago the last team members headed for home. What an amazing week! When Diane ran the numbers we realized that 25 different homes had been completed this past week, either gutting and/or yard cleanup! Amazing statistics but we serve an amazing God!

Yesterday we bid farewell to both of the Colorado teams, the Indiana team and the Wisconsin team. Diane had a rough time saying goodbye to her home church! No one has any idea just how much home teams mean when we are all so far from home! And I don't think there were enough tissues to come to the rescue of Ryan and all his tears of both joy and sadness! This week changed his life, and he touched the lives of all who met and worked with him!

Even though all of those teams left yesterday we were joined by a local Houston Vineyard church who came and worked for the day. The local Vineyard churches have been such blessings, coming to work a day or two. They joined right in with the remaining New York team and once again had a fantastic day.

When evening came the New York team had made dinner arrangements, invited the 2 remaining Wisconsin team members who didn't leave for home until this afternoon, the Houston Vineyard team headed back north to home and Gregg, Pam, Diane and us headed for Pizza Hut -- a real treat for all of us!

By the time we all made it back to the church it was time to socialize and the games began. There is a ping pong table in the area along with a few games and once again it was impossible to tell who was from where -- it was all one big family. I have an idea that the laughter could have been heard for blocks! There were even some ballroom dance lessons going on!! And what you must realize is that these team members have worked every single day doing physical work like never before and yet they have energy left for all of this? Has to be a God thing for certain! Something about that "joy of the Lord" thing!

This morning we all met together to offer our worship and praise to God -- I wish every morning could be Sunday morning!

This week will seem rather quiet -- maybe a minute or two for some much needed rest? We are all staying right here for the Thanksgiving holiday and have been invited to Carol's home for her special family dinner! What a blessing that will be for all of us.

We sincerely thank all those who have come and served, for all the family members who stayed behind and "held down the fort" to allow those to come. God will richly bless each and every one of you and we pray you will return (anytime) to work with us again! YOU are the lifelines of any recovery work!

Until next time . . . be blessed! Susan and Monty

Friday, November 21, 2008

The miracles continue

Here they are, nearly the entire gang of all the states! What an amazing group and what amazing miracles throughout the week!
Wednesday morning Diane, Tiffany and I were headed to the sea wall with lunch for everyone. We thought it would be a nice break for all of them and a chance to enjoy the awesome weather. While on our way we stopped for gas and ran into a woman who needed a ride to the next exit. After talking with her for only a couple of minutes we realized she was fine. As soon as she got into the van with us she broke down in tears, asking for prayer as she was trying to get her life back on track. What a God appointed stop! Please pray for Melinda as she admitted to suicidal tendencies and needs all the prayer she can get.
From there we made our trip for lunch and checking on the ongoing jobs.
The worship service/orientation on Wednesday night was awesome and had Pastor Nathan not finally ended it I think we might have been there all night! Our dinner time prior to worship was packed with team members, church members and worship leaders -- literally packing the house!
Yesterday was equally busy. Once again out went the teams, many to finish the jobs they started the day before and some to new ones. Those that were finishing jobs started a new one after lunch.
Luke spent his day shoring up the walls on one home that had been gutted. After gutting he realized it wasn't all that stable and being the Christian contractor he is -- he knew just what to do and did it to perfection.
The NewYork team found themselves gutting a duplex that was beyond any of our imaginations! All of the furniture was still in both units, complete with refrigerators. The toilets had backed up into the house, nearly 4 inches deep! You get the picture! And this location was in an area where many people might not have even gone into. Yet this team went in, used the safety in numbers concept and did a fantastic job. They are returning there this morning to finish and to also cover the exposed walls and floors in scripture and possibly surround the house with prayer! They were putting their ideas together last night before dinner and were ready to go!
Speaking of dinner, our executive director came and blessed everyone with some very special barbequed chicken for dinner last night. It was fantastic and enjoyed by all.
A couple of the men are here working around camp today, inside the kitchen area, in the shower trailer, in one of the bathrooms and with any electrical or plumbing issues. It is always a God thing when we receive volunteers with specialized skills as they come just when they are needed most! I think it's one of those promises in the Bible!?
We are just getting this day started and are anxious to see what God has in store for all of us!
Don't miss it!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NY joins the crowd

Each picture carries its own story -- and there were many stories of yesterday!
All of the teams from all of the states were combined and divided into teams from that main group. One team stayed here at the volunteer camp and helped Monty inside the church building, outside in the warehouse, took down the old shower tent and unloaded trailers into the warehouse. They were all a bit more than tired last night!
Another team went to Mirvena's home. She lives in an area where there is water on both sides and her home had 13' of water inside --- yes --- 13 feet! You can see from the photos, her truck that was parked underneath the already raised home is now gone, everything covered quite deep with mud and who knows what. All her furniture and belongings were still inside the home and are now trash. The piles continue to grow and the city continues picking up. I have to admit that in the 3 years we have been doing this I think her home is the worst I've seen! The team dug, put on masks and gloves and did the job. They will be returning again today to finish the job! They told us that Mirvena came to the house and couldn't find the words to thank them enough. Whether or not her home can even be rebuilt remains to be seen.
The other part of the team went to William's home. William met us there and told how he has lived there for 25 years and had done all the work inside by himself. He was pleased that his vinyl tile flooring had made it that long. It did not make it through Ike. He was able to salvage his piano and some chairs. Most everything else also went to the curb and was trash. He worked with the team all day and will be there again this morning when they return to also finish the job. The team was going to make a pit stop prior to returning to his house to cut down a tree "situation" for another homeowner, something a person could do more than full time -- still -- after 2 months!
By dinner time the New York team had arrived. There are 15 of them and none of them have done this type of work before so today will be a true life-changing event for all of them! They were a bit nervous at orientation this morning but will be fine once they arrive on the scene. A couple of them are here at the church this morning installing a couple more cabinets in the kitchen and an overhead fan for the oven. They will join the rest of their team at lunch.
Speaking of lunch -- Diane and I are cooking hotdogs and taking them to the teams. We plan on setting up a station along the water where they can all come and sit down for a couple of minutes and enjoy the wonderful sunshine and warm temps. Years ago Galveston built a "sea wall" that is literally a concrete wall along the water that was meant to protect the city. It did the job and even with Ike it helped spare some of them. All along the wall there are places to park, a place to walk for miles and even some places where concrete benches are placed for some to sit and view the ships coming in and out of the area. Sometimes you just have to make the volunteers stop and take a few minutes to see the nice things in the area.
This evening there will be a special worship service/orientation for the teams and is open to the entire church congregation. We plan on showing slides of all the work done this past week and hope it will be a pleasant surprise for the teams to see themselves in action. Be sure and stay tuned for the results.
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Monday, November 17, 2008

4 states, 1 on the way

Yes, it's been quite the weekend and quite the Monday!
Over the weekend we had volunteers from Indiana, Wisconsin and 2 from Colorado arrive; some during the middle of the night and others at "normal" times -- all a bit tired as they all drove longer than most wanted to imagine!
Yesterday was a day of worship, arrivals, orientations, trying to catch up on lost sleep, unpacking and arranging sleeping areas for "mixed" teams. There wasn't a dull or spare moment to be had! And didn't someone say Sundays were supposed to be a day of "rest"??? :)
This morning all were up bright and early and enjoyed a full breakfast at 7am. From there the teams were divided, some going to Pastor Ken's church in Galveston and others going to Ninfa's home, also in Galveston. ALL of the work we are doing is there, which is 30 minutes from here but all interstate driving.
At Pastor Ken's they are using a tile stripper to get the tile from the floors. Tough work but they are working as if it must be done today! They are also pulling paneling from the walls and anything else that still needs removed. With their mask, gloves and safety glasses on they were ready and willing.
The other part of the teams are working at gutting Ninfa's house. Her home has been in her family for 5 generations and it has 12' ceilings -- quite the challenge -- even with ladders. With most of the teams there they are getting the work done in great time. As you will note in the one photo --- when you pull wet insulation out of a home you are bound to find the wonderful (yet large) brown bugs behind the moisture!!! Finding them, even when you know they are hiding, is certain to bring shrill screams which burst forth from the house! Ninfa herself came to check things out --- and within 5 minutes she had to leave--tears streaming down her face! It was just too much --- until --- she took some time to grieve, some more time to change clothes and she returned to work right along side of the team in pulling nails and getting things torn out and cleaned up! Somehow I know there is alot of ministry going on within those damaged walls today! Praise God for giving us all the strength we need -- when we have none in reserve!
Be sure and stay tuned this week as it is bound to hold more stories and even more miracles resulting in lives being changed forever!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, November 14, 2008

Camp Changing

As you can see, camp is taking on a whole new look! Gregg, Pam and Diane made it back safely on Wednesday. We also received the shower trailer the night before. It came in after dark and in the pouring rain but it made it. You can barely see it in the background, it has an orange stripe around it. There are 2 entry doors, men's and women's. Both have 2 showers, vanities and toilets; everything you could ask for. After a trip to Lowes for cement blocking Monty and our Georgia team got it leveled and blocked safely.
Yesterday was spent getting it powered up and water run. Our trailer was also "hard piped" into the sewer lines making it possible for us to just pull the drain plugs under the trailer to dump the black and gray water tanks. Makes life a bit easier. We also have the proper power connection also.
The other 5th wheel in front of the shower trailer is Gregg and Pam's. They will be with us throughout next week before they head to Dallas for a family Thanksgiving. Gregg has been busy helping the guys get everything hooked up and working. Even Pastor Nathan was out there working away - it took "all hands on deck".
Yesterday Pam and I toured the entire city of Galveston taking flyers to all the hotels that our still housing hurricane families. We are offering free house gutting to all of them and hope we will be able to reach those who need the help and don't know where to turn. We not know every square inch, every road and every street in the city! We figure we passed out nearly 400 flyers and are waiting to see the results. By the end of this week the city will no longer be picking up the trash at the edge of the streets and homeowners will be responsible for getting a dumpster on their sites for all the trash. Diane was able to reach the city and they will be sending work our way to try and expedite the cleanup!
Shortly after dinner we welcomed another team from Georgia. The men from Atlanta arrived Tues night and will be here through tomorrow. This team will be here until Sunday morning. Tomorrow we will be welcoming 2 teams who will be working for the day. And next week is our big week. Most all of those teams will be arriving this Sunday, teams from Greenwood, IN, Colorado, Georgia, Wisconsin (Diane's home church) and another city in Colorado. It will be an awesome week.
As you can tell, things are rolling at quite the speed -- and going well. We are hoping to see teams continue to sign up and come to help. With both holidays just around the corner we realize people are busy with family things but just know that we will be right here for both and would love to continue to bless the people right here! Just let us know if you are interested in coming down for some warm weather!!
Until next time . . . thanks to all the families who are sharing their loved ones with us this week and the upcoming weeks! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Through the Storms

Yes, we finally made it back to "home".

We slept through the nasty downpouring storms that went through south of Dallas last night to awake to more of them this morning. Fortunately the chuck wagon was parked on "high" ground and pulled out just fine.

We were on the road early and drove through some of the hardest downpours of rain either of us have ever seen! It's one of those "how bad was it?" things --- the interstate was flooded!!!! Yes, the interstate was down to one lane through the northern part of Houston, something I've never seen and something that had drivers traveling at the high speed of 35 mph.

Once we hit southern Houston the clouds let up and we came in fine. BUT . . . this evening those storms made their way here and we learned that the steps to our trailer now step out into a small pool! Good thing all trailers are going to be relocated over the next few days!

Yes, alot of relocation will be going on out back. The shower trailer from the New Orleans camp arrived late this evening, all 40 plus feet of it. It's actually a semi trailer that has been made into showers, toilets and vanities and works fantastically well. Phil is working on a plan to get everything arranged, our trailer, the one that will come for Diane to live in, the shower trailer, the chuck wagon -- an actual relief camp. The rains are supposed to subside and we are praying the weather man is on target or alot of people will be soaking wet!

At this moment we are awaiting the phone call from the Georgia team who is flying in this evening. I have no idea how flights are going with this weather but we will be here to get them settled in -- no matter what time it is. There are 3 of them and we have work already lined up for them tomorrow -- continue the gutting of Ms Saralynn's home.

Teams from all over will be coming and going over the next few days. And next week is our big week where the total number of team members is now around the 60 mark. This consists of quite a few teams from all over the nation. Alot of planning goes into preparing for these big weeks and it will definitely be exciting!

Tomorrow Diane, Gregg and Pam will pack up their trailer and head this direction. We are thankful to hear that although Pam's son was involved in a terrible car accident last night he is fine. It was that phone call that every mother never wants to receive but God protected him and we are forever thankful!

For now, we get the shower trailer driver safely on the road back east, we await the team and listen to the pouring rains. All from "home", thank the Lord!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yet Another Day

Monday morning finds us here in Corsicana for another day and night. When Monty checked on the van he found out the parts will not arrive until late in the day. With the work still needing to be done and the weather looking anything other than friendly for traveling pulling a trailer our supervisor made the decision we should stick here for another night and we are glad he made that call. Somehow doing all the 4 hours of driving after dark with strong storms predicted isn't something to look forward to. So here we are . . .

Yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, a pretty good breeze held throughout the day and we thoroughly enjoyed "That Church". Even though we arrived way too early, we thought the service started at 10 but it was 10:30, we got to listen to the praise and worship team practicing. What a beautiful setting for a church, out in the open with one side of the building huge windows facing nothing but woods and pasture. Made me think heaven just might look like it did through that window. The pastor and congregation welcomed us with open arms and after hearing of our struggles welcomed us even more. We are thankful that God took us their direction.

Our UHaul truck rental has been wonderful, atleast we have a way to get around. The town is extremely small but we have been able to find anything we needed. I'm not sure what the industry is that keeps people employed though. It seems to be a really old town, quaint and cozy. I would imagine we might know every detail by the time we leave.

Thank you for your prayers and we thank God for giving us a couple of days to get some much needed rest! When we stopped to think we realized that moving to Texas was the 3rd big move we've made this year -- with not one day between any of the moves to take a rest. I guess God stepped in and took care of that! :)

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Saturday, November 08, 2008


What a difference a few minutes can make! And isn't life always an adventure?!

We were up early this morning and on the road back to Texas by 7:30am. Sun shining, wheels rolling and warmer temps welcomed us back to the road.

By around noon we had made it through the traffic through the huge city of Dallas. Around 200 miles north of Houston we noticed a "not so good" sound coming from the front of the van. We had plenty of prayers over the chuck wagon we were pulling but this sound was coming from the van, the passenger side tire area. It literally sounded like it was grinding its way right off the van. When we stopped at a local tire place to ask the gentleman his comment was "oh my, I can't fix that." He told us about Meinekee so away we went, all of 5 miles per hour with the flashers on the entire 3 miles. By the time we reached it we were both praying outloud that God would just hold the tire on the van.

We did make it and they can fix it --- when the parts come in on Monday!

After a phone call to Phil, the Mercy Response director we made the decision to wait it out --- but we needed a place to stay. About that time Diane called to check in --- and she got busy on line and located a La Quinta for us (they are one of the few hotels that allow dogs) so we got those arrangements made and the owner of the repair shop drove us to the hotel with his own vehicle. I think he truly felt sorry for us!

Now we get to the hotel, find out they DO have laundry facilities (we didn't pack for that many days) but have no means of transportation for meals! This is REALLY small town -- no taxis and the only car rental place is closed. Once again --- Diane and her computer to the rescue. She calls and says she found a UHaul truck place who has a smaller truck and would be willing to deliver it to us --- and we have 30 minutes to call him back before he closes for the weekend.

We made the call, they delivered the truck and we can now get food for ourselves and the dogs! The hotel understands our situation and will make it possible for us to have a later check out on Monday, depending on when the parts come in and how long it takes for them to make the repairs.

Live is an adventure! And we seem to have more than our share at times!

Now comes finding a church for tomorrow morning --- remembering that it will be Sunday! I get the trusty yellow pages and check to see if there is an Assembly of God locally. We've attended them for so long it feels like a bit of home. And yes --- there is one --- That Church! No, I am not kidding, that IS the name! I somehow see an award winning photo of us in our UHaul rental truck parked near the church sign saying "That Church."

As I said, an adventure!! We are safe, we will have food, we are in the process of having clean clothes, we have access to a computer, we have beds and we know God is in this whole thing! He's the one that continues to give us the sense of humor during our adventures!

Be sure and stay tuned for tomorrow --- who knows!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, November 07, 2008

Convoy of Hope "reunion"

Yes, we made it to Missouri. We pushed through and arrived late last night. The drive was pleasantly uneventful -- sunshine and warm all day.

This morning we awoke to wind chills (almost forgot what that was) of 25 degrees!!! We both knew we had climatized to the southern warmth but got a bold reminder this morning and throughout the day. The clouds rolled in and never reached 50!

We headed directly to the Convoy of Hope headquarters, a place we have been waiting to visit for nearly 3 years now. I will post some photos tomorrow as we are currently in a hotel for the night.

It was wonderful to see old friends and meet new ones. Their warm welcome really felt good! Seeing where everything happens, the warehouse, the offices and the headquarters where it all happens when a disaster happens was awesome. What an amazing organization, what an amazing group of people who only want to do what God would have them do! Beginning and ending their meeting with prayer was an added blessing. Just as we were ready to take the grand tour we ran into Fory and Cindi --- family! Hugs all around! After our meeting and taking the tour we headed out back to hook up the chuck wagon. I only wish the Concord, NC team knew how God has turned it around and put it in our own backyard again. I need to call Gwen and let her know -- maybe while we are traveling tomorrow.

Diane, Gregg and Pam continued their work in New Orleans. It looks like it will be sometime next week before they return to TX. It seems they have discovered the awesome skills that Gregg has and are trying to keep him!!! NOT!!! :)

Tomorrow morning we will head south once again -- to warmer temps for sure! We thank you ahead of time for the prayers of safe traveling.

For all of you who continue to make our ministry possible --- THANK YOU --- more than you can ever know!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Unloading Day

Today Monty and I spent the day attempting to unload the trailer full of camp etcs. It wasn't an easy job and we only got a little over half of it done.

We unloaded cots (yes, volunteers will not need an air mattress), generators, ladders, plumbing pipe, boxes of Hope to hand out for an amazing outreach (baby and hygiene), washer and dryer and much more. The rest of it will need to be off loaded with a fork lift and hopefully we can "ask" the neighboring business if they will help us out with that again. So far they have been quite interested in what we are doing and glad to help out when needed.

This evening was our outting to do laundry. I sure will be happy when we can get things hooked up here! I enjoy being able to do numerous loads in the amount of time it would take to do one --- but the $$ isn't quite as enjoyable! $3.00 per load to just wash!!

We are also packing, once again. Tomorrow morning we will be heading north to Missouri where we will pick up the chuck wagon that Convoy of Hope is so generously loaning to us for our camp. It's about a 12 hour drive so we probably won't make it all the way there in one day. We are excited to be able to see the Convoy headquarters after working so closely with them over the past years. And we are so very thankful to them for loaning this kitchen on wheels to us!

Diane, Gregg and Pam continue working on the last 2 homes in New Orleans. Diane sounded a bit on the tired side this evening, no wonder since she has worked who knows how many days straight. They even worked through Saturday and Sunday and will most likely do the same this weekend! Sure will be glad when those are complete and the three of them can head back here with us!

As you can guess, due to our road trip we will once again be "off air" for about 2-3 days, depending on travel and weather. I think we might need to pack long pants !!!!???? as the temps up there won't be in the mid 80s as we are used to here!! Please keep us in your prayers, tires and all! :)

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty
PS An update on Diane's mother --- she should be coming home from the hospital any day now----thanks to all your prayers!!!!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

De Ja Vu

We made it back from our trip to New Orleans --- I wondered when we left nearly 13 months ago if we would ever be back --- God knew the next chapters!

Our trip over was once again plagued with tire "issues" that caused us a 90 minute plus delay but we were near a Walmart and they plugged our tire that had a nail in it and we were on our way.

Once there we settled in with Diane in the trailer she is temporarily staying in while she helps them finish the last 2 homes they are working on before they close that camp. Just as we pulled in we were directly behind Gregg and Pam who drove in from South Dakota === family reunion time!! We last saw them in March and April when they came to Mississippi to be a part of our second speed build of Ms Ollie's home!

Once again God brought our little "family" back together again. They will also remain in New Orleans over the next week or so, with Diane, helping on those homes. From there the three of them will head west and join us back here in Webster. We hope to have them stay and work with us for another couple of weeks after they arrive here.

Monty and I spent all day yesterday with Jeff, the camp director there. We loaded the trailer completely full -- and I do mean full! We have cots, generators, ladders, tools, 2 washers and 2 dryers --- you name it and we probably have it in the trailer! Other than the occasional lizard, salamandor, frog or spider climbing out of PVC pipes or pallets the day was uneventful and we accomplished our goal.

We were joined by even more "family" at our evening dinner. Mark and Jess who met each other while working in New Orleans and were married this past January joined us for dinner. They brought Suzanne with them who has been volunteering there since who knows when! Both Jess and Suzanne are from Indiana so it's always nice to talk with someone from home. We had a nice dinner and spent some time walking -- just like old times sake! We bid them farewell, all realizing that God has some people interacting all throughout their lives and we are some of "those" people --- and are blessed to be such!

This morning Monty and I headed back west, trailer in tow. This trip was pleasantly uneventful and in much less time than the first.

We had no more than landed in the parking lot when our director called and asked if we would take another trip up to Missouri to pick up the chuck wagon being donated by Convoy of Hope. This chuck wagon was designed and built by a team from North Carolina who came and spent a week with us in MS. It is an amazing piece of work -- complete with industrial size cooking things and will be used here to cook meals for the incoming teams. The women have currently been using the church kitchen but the city isn't too pleased with that idea so this chuck wagon will be yet another answer to prayer.

It appears we will head north in a day or two --- we've never been to Missouri so it's another adventure awaiting. I would ask that our "tire demon" leave us along this time !!! :)

This trip brought us new friends who will no doubt become family and returned past family to us once again. In one sense it felt as if we had never left -- that comfortable feeling you have when you're with family. Relocating is always exciting but always a bit stressful getting to know new friends and them getting to know you. We are so blessed to have our family grow each and every day! Thank you, Lord, for choosing us for this mission! May we bring joy to your heart and a smile to Your face in everything we do and say!

Until next time . . . hug an existing family member and meet a new one! You'll be glad you did!
Susan and Monty

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Kingwood Vineyard Team

Today we were blessed to welcome the Vineyard Church team from Kingwood, Texas to work with us for the day.

I wish I could show you the photos but . . . the cord I use to download my photos from my camera has turned up missing and until I find it . . . my apologies.

The team consisted of 20 members, 19 who had never been here before. It's always amazing to see how God works in each one.

They were split between 3 jobs for the day. One was at James's mother's home where they gutted the ceilings, including the insulation, tore up the flooring and used chainsaws to make a path through the back yard. Each one of those jobs is quite a "messy" job, let alone all of them in the same house on the same day!

The next crew was working at Ms Bernice's home. Sadly, she had a stroke this morning and we are still unclear as to how she is doing. The team also tore up flooring, sheetrock and moved furniture from here to there to make the work possible. Ms Bernice is having a difficult time parting with furniture and things that were flooded so the ministry work here was key. The crew even prayed with her son who has been less than cooperative during the process --- until today! God at work!

The last crew spent their morning at Pastor Ken's church. He needed some tile removed from his floors also. They went right to work and were done early enough to join the others at Ms Bernice's house.

After restocking all the tools and things they sat down to a wonderful meal prepared by the church ladies, again! Just the perfect thing to end their day before making the nearly 2 hour trip home. They promised they would be back and we know they will. God really reached in and took ahold of quite a few of them -- you can see it on their faces and in their eyes, which lead to their hearts!

As I have now said for years --- the volunteers are the keys to disaster recovery. Without them --- without YOU --- there is no recovery! We thank them and all those who have come and worked, who have been obedient to God's voice calling them.

We bid farewell to our Missouri team at 6am this morning and know they also will return to experience the presence of God again here in Galveston.

I do have a very special prayer request this evening --- Diane's mother has been hospitalized and needs all of our prayers for healing and peace. She has been this route before and each time bounced back -- thanks to the many prayers going up for her.

We will be "off the air" for a couple of days as we travel into New Orleans to pack up some of that camp and bring it here. Please keep us in your prayers as we travel. We should be back with a full report in only a couple of days!

Be sure and attend your home church tomorrow and thank God for His almighty power, protection and blessings more numerous than the stars in the skies!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty