Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thank you Wisconsin

Even though most of them didn't want to leave, the end of the week arrived and they pulled out last night after filling their tummys with dinner. The past couple of days passed as a whirlwind. They continued working in Marie's and bid farewell to her, with tears. I think George would have moved in with her!
They continued gutting any and every home Diane had lined up for them. They cleaned the church here, they organized and cleaned in the warehouse, they put another sealer coat on the roof of the shower trailer, they organized tool trailers -- we asked them and they did it!
As you can see from the photos they had a blast!
Hai's roof had an unplanned delay -- waiting for the Texas windstorm inspector to arrive and sign off for the shingles to begin. He did arrive around 2pm yesterday and the sounds of nail guns could probably be heard for a block away. They tarped it last night and even though they all wanted to come back, the WI team had to leave it in the hands of Gary, our local Vineyard volunteer, and Hai's brother, Paul. They are the ones finishing it up today -- in the warm sunshine and temps near 70. Hai has a smile that will never wear off!
Monty and I have continued home visits in the city of San Leon. And they keep calling and keep asking and we will keep going and keep helping.
Last night was an amazing miracle and blessing for us see and experience. The San Leon Community Church was devastated by the storm and all Pastor Bob could talk about was his people in the city who were hurting . A group called God's Pitcrew came in and rebuilt not only his church but the parsonage as well -- in one week!!!! The grand reveal was last night and what a night it was! Pastor Bob was nearly speechless and couldn't sit down -- he had to continue mingling through the crowd thanking people, hugging them and thanking them again!
While we were there one of the assistant directors of the local long term recovery started talking to me. He told me how this community had been impacted by the storm and how no volunteer groups had been coming to their assistance. He told me how they had prayed that God would send who they needed. "It couldn't be just anyone" he said, "it had to be someone special, someone hand picked by God -- it had to be you." Comments like that bring me to my knees in thankfulness to God who does just that---hand picks us all! He knows where we need to be, He brings us where we need to be and as long as I know He is guiding me I know everything will be fine! I thank Him for leading us here, to the San Leon area. Each time Monty and I drive into the area I have that inner "feeling" that THIS is where we are supposed to be! Yes, the language "thing" in working with a mostly Vietnamese society can be difficult -- but God gives us the universal language of the heart and everyone understands that!
Another one of our homeowners that we are working with was also at church. She came up and wanted to once again thank us for what we haven't even done yet! We just got her materials in and will hopefully be over there this week. But, none the less she had to thank me again. She commented on how God had truly called us to this work. She said "you would do anything you could for anyone, wouldn't you?" She could see the heart that God has placed inside of me and that warmed my heart!
Another amazing week has passed by. Another week where I feel closer to God than the last, one where I know He has lead and where I know He is leading further. And today we have a team from one of the Houston Vineyard churches that has come for the day. They are working in on a new gutting job and cleaning underneath Alonzo's home. These are 2 more homes and 2 more homeowners who will see the hands and feet of God at work!
Many lives were changed this week, homeowners, spectators and volunteers. Today will be a repeat! We thank God for calling us to this -- we thank Him for providing for us -- we thank Him for all He will do in the future. As long as He holds the planning book we are all better off!
Until next time . . . be blessed! Susan and Monty

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Home visit after home visit

Just a sample of some of the home visits we did all day in the San Leon area.
Sonny's mobile home is totaled, we'll need to go in and completely demolish it - cutting it apart and hauling it out to make room for the "new used" one he wants to purchase with the small amount he received from FEMA. Problem is he has no place to go with the few belongings he can salvage from his old home -- we're working on a solution.
Levita has a blue tarp over her entire roof -- we'll be putting on a new one as soon as we can get some roofer volunteers. She also has a bit of FEMA money that we can ssstttrrreeetttccchhh as far as we can to purchase materials. She also has siding that needs repaired but was blessed to have no water enter her home. She is wheel chair bound so we will also need to be the ones to go and get her building permit.
Lan did not have water come inside of her home because it is already raised a bit off the ground. But the water did rush underneath and destroy all the insulation and vapor barrier along with the skirting. Her air conditioner also quite working and water is leaking in around one of the vents on the roof. You can see what we will be attempting to accomplish for her. And she has no money to work with, the slight amount she received from her insurance went directly to her mortgage company so she didn't see a dime. Yes, this can happen between insurance and mortgage companies.
We measured for new decks on the front and back of Clairice's new mobile home she purchased with her FEMA money. She is 80 years old and it's nearly impossible for her to get in and out at this time.
We also measured for another deck for Jeannie as she did the exact same thing as Clairice. In fact, they are neighbors.
Hai's roof continues being worked on. The inspector came in and gave the volunteer roofers some Texas windstorm guidelines and was very pleased with what he saw. He will return again Friday morning to do a final check and then they can finish up with a few final shingles and call it complete.
Marie got a shower today and the plumbing to it has begun. A bit of framing will need to be done to accomodate the larger size but she will be able to step in and also sit at the same time. She is thrilled.
Another part of the group worked on 2 different homes, both of which consisited of a bit more gut out and sorting through items for the homeowners. One of the homeowners, an elderly man, didn't believe a bunch of girls could do his gutting of sheetrock and even went to get his camera to take photos! The girls showed him what a bit of God given strength can accomplish!
The team also continued with Paul and Susan and hanging sheetrock. They will most likely start finishing that sheetrock tomorrow! Wow!
It was a day of being on the road, inside and outside of homes, underneath a couple and doing whatever it takes to get our initial information to begin the process of trying to meet as many of the homeowner's needs as we possibly can. I never cease to be amazed at the level of devastation but also the level of creativity and strength of those homeowners! Please keep all of them in your prayers!
Tomorrow we continue with jobs, start new ones, do more home visits and attend a case management meeting --- wonder how many extra hours we can squeeze out of the day??!!
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

They're praising the Lord

The photo of the 3 men is taken at Marie's house. The men are hanging sheetrock, doing general cleanup, preparing for plumbing and wrapping up some electrical work. Amazing what a few extra hands can do. And just as I knew, Marie has won their hearts!!
The other photos were taken at Hai's house as the team was tearing off her old damaged roof preparing for the new one. They have it all tarped off for the night and will start with new shingles and any needed repairs tomorrow. They plan on "chowing down" their breakfast so they can get an early start! And all this without making a single dollar!? Must be a God thing for sure!
Diane spent her day going from team to team trying to keep them stocked with everything they needed and taking our director, Phil, on a tour to see what is happening. With teams spread out all over that can be quite the task!
Monty and I also spent the morning taking extra materials to the team at Hai's before I headed off to the biweekly meetings of the Long Term Recovery Team. Today was quite a wonderful meeting -- atleast for me and thus for Marie. With funding that comes in, earmarked for homeowners, the Long Term Recovery steps in to make certain it goes to the homeowners. BUT -- we must have some sort of regulations with it. For those who received enough insurance or FEMA dollars to purchase their own materials, we come along side of them with volunteers to provide free labor and thus stretching their dollars much farther. For those who didn't have insurance, didn't get enough from FEMA, are disabled, elderly, single parents, etc. those funds are prioritized and the only way to receive them is through the homeowners case manager. That's where I come in. Phil came and did an estimate of the cost of bringing her home to completion. I took that estimate, along with the required documentation to the Long Term Recovery today and was granted money that will hopefully help us bring it to completion!!!!
When I went to Marie and broke the good news to her I know you probably heard her praising the Lord -- no matter how far from Texas you live!!!!!!!!!!!! She nearly fainted in my arms! She has been so afraid that we would get started and not be able to finish as she is now out of money. As always, God steps in just at the right time and saves the day! I love it when He brings a plan together!!!!! Her tears rolled, her praises rang and she gave a sigh of relief like never before!!!
Just prior to stopping and talking with her I stopped by Paul and Susan's to see how they were doing with their team. Their team had completely finished installing ALL the insulation throughout the entire house and will be returning tomorrow to start hanging the sheetrock. While Paul was telling me all this he also had tears streaming down his face! He couldn't believe that all the subflooring was down, all the insulation in and walls would be coming together tomorrow as soon as the delivery truck arrives! It's one thing to have a woman crying on my shoulder but even more powerful to have a man doing so! God is truly an awesome God!
Yes, it's been a day to praise our Lord! Every day is! But . . . there are those days like today that make the praises ring a bit louder and with a bit more joy laced between them!
We look forward to what tomorrow will bring. Monty and I have back to back appointments with homeowners in San Leon and will be doing well to be back here in time for dinner! The next day looks the same! The more we reach the people the more we share God's love for them and SHOW them how much He loves them!
Until next time . . . be blessed and do a little praising of your own! Susan and Monty

Monday, January 26, 2009

Time out to breathe?

Good thing we have our photos of our week away. The past 2 days have been so busy that it only seems like a dream now! :)
Yesterday we welcomed our newest team who drove down from Wisconsin and are truly loving the weather here! They didn't even care that it was cloudy when they arrived. We went straight to work getting them settled and through orientation. From there they headed out for food and to see a bit of Galveston before going there to work. They didn't get back until evening which gave Monty time to check vehicles and tools and Diane and I time to get some extra food and things in. By the time we were done it was dinner time and then the team had returned. By the time I got back to our trailer it was nearly 10pm -- where does the time go?
This morning it was up bright and early and ready for breakfast and to get the team divided up and off to work. We had planned on a roofing job but the weather was a bit touchy so that was put on the back burner until tomorrow. Part of the team headed back to Marie's house to continue the work there and even got into some sheetrocking. Another crew headed out to Pastor Ken's Vineyard church. They were still doing a bit of tear out before starting with insulation and then into sheetrock later in the week. Yet another group headed to a city to the east of us called Hitchcock where they finished gutting a home and were thrilled when the homeowner took time from work to come and thank them. And yet another team went to Paul and Susan's house where they were just in time. Paul has a heart condition and is the typical man that wants to continue doing what he did prior to being sick. He had been reinforcing all his floor joists and laying a layer of subfloor -- all of which was too much and caused some heart issues to reoccur. The 3 guys who went to help him today were another God appointment. They will also be there all week and most likely also into insulation and sheetrock.
Monty spent his day with tools, tire repairs and ordering and purchasing materials for upcoming jobs. The men at the tire store weren't too happy about putting 2 patches into one tire but they also did it for no cost -- what a blessing for Mercy Response as tire repairs seem to be a weekly thing sometimes and can get quite costly.
Diane picked up a couple of the men who are skilled roofers and they headed off to Hai's house to get some estimating done for her roof materials. She will need an inspection prior to starting, mid way through the new roof and at the end of the job. These inspections are required by Texas law if the homeowner wants to carry wind insurance. And just as you would suspect, inspectors are nearly impossible to come by -- you just can't have enough of them! But Hai is thrilled that we are starting to move forward with her home also.
As you can see, we are getting into the rebuilding stage with a few of the homes. That's always an exciting time to actually get to put something back together instead of taking it apart and for all intense purposes - making it look worse. Rebuilding takes alot more planning behind the scenes to make certain the right materials are on sight for the volunteers and that those materials are paid for. Sometimes I think we have to become magicians! But just as God promises over and over again --- He always provides just what we need just when we need it!
We look forward to what the rest of this week will bring -- blessings and miracles are a guarantee so be sure and stay tuned as you won't want to miss a one.
Until next time . . . Be blessed. Susan and Monty

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's still a dream . . .

Today is our last day here and we are so thankful for the much needed rest and relaxation, even if the phone did ring -- I refuse to shut it off -- not with children and grandchildren so far from me!

We have enjoyed the continual sunshine and amazing breezes that never stop. The sandy beach areas have been awesome, especially since everyone here thinks it's winter and are staying away from them!

We did meet up with our team of one, Hugh, from Washington. He is still working with us and also decided to take a couple three days to come here. He used to live here and is enjoying seeing some old home places. The three of us will have dinner together tonight! Strangers becoming family!

I did think one of my all time dreams was going to come true today!!! And then I found out -- not quite yet! I have always had a love for horses and even owned some in my time. My black and white paint was my all time and forever favorite. She now lives with children who enjoy riding her, even if she did turn 20 years old this year!

My dream is to ride horseback on the beach! Sounds simple? Not so! As I was paging through one of the visitors guides last night I found my dream -- come and ride horseback on the beach! The cost was amazingly low and even though Monty would rather do most anything other than ride a horse, being the wonderful husband he is he said "let's go tomorrow." We drove to exactly where it was supposed to be only to find out it had been moved, to the island area behind us. No problem -- we headed in that direction. As we were driving I thought I should call the visitors center to verify the address. Good call --- they said the ranch had closed down just weeks ago! And sure enough, as we passed the ranch we could see all of the horses there ---along with the "auction" sign for the entire place! Sooooo --- that dream remains a dream, one I know will come about at just the right time! And Monty smiled --- knowing he would !!! be able to walk tomorrow!!!!

Until next time . . . cherish those dreams and never stop dreaming! Susan and Monty
PS My uncle cam through his surgery just fine. Thanks again for the prayers!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sunshine - and phone calls

The weather has been perfect, flawless sunshine and temps only God could have ordered!

We are catching up on some much needed rest and spending some time also catching some vitamin D from the sun!

And yet the phones ring --- the people of San Leon are sooooo thrilled to know Mercy Response is offering to help them -- in whatever way we can. The ones we have already met are letting those we haven't yet met that we are here to help. Just over the past 2 days I have received who knows how many calls and scheduled just as many home visits for when we return to the area. Please keep these folks in your prayers and also pray that the manpower and resources will be there for us to help them in whatever way they need.

Today has also been an historic day -- one we thank God for! The freedom we have in this country should NEVER be taken lightly. Maybe you voted for him and maybe you didn't --- makes no difference now. We all need to come together to pray for our leader and his family. We are blessed to be living in amazing and changing times -- God bless America!

Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty
PS I would like to add a special prayer request for my Uncle Dean who will be undergoing some "tricky" surgical procedures tomorrow. We pray blessing over the doctors and nurses and for peace for him and his family! Love you Aunt Miriam!!!!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Time Off

For those of you who do your best to keep up with us you realize that in the year 2008 we made 3 major moves; from Indiana to Mississippi in January, back to Indiana in June with their floods and in October we moved to Texas following hurricane Ike in September.

You also realize that with each of those moves came some "difficulties" with tires and such--all quite stressful.

This week we are actually taking some time off -- time away -- time to rest and recuperate before the spring season is upon us. Looking at our schedule we already know that the spring season is blessing us with many volunteers, some weeks as many as 70 plus! In order to serve all of them to our best ability we knew we needed to rest up and be ready.

Thanks to Mercy Response who also realize the need for time away and rest.

We traveled about 4 and 1/2 hours to the southwest and are in the Corpus Christi area. We arrived last night to find the temps already quite warm, nearing the 80 degree mark. I doubt we do alot of "sight seeing" and such -- that requires driving and since my truck has some engine problems we brought Monty's diesel -- great for the long hauls but sort of a beast for sight seeing! It's the rest and relaxation we are needing!

We thank all of you for keeping us in your prayers! Those prayers strengthen and uphold us daily!

As for Diane back at camp, she and Phil (the director) are making what is hopefully the last trip to New Orleans to bring back a couple of trailers and items from that camp to ours. Please keep them in your prayers for safe travels.

As you can see, we do have internet access here and will be updating you every couple of days.

Until next time . . . be blessed and thanks again to our awesome team from Las Vegas who left us Saturday morning --- but not before cleaning and organizing the tools, the warehouse, the vehicles AND Diane's camper trailer! You guys are awesome and we look forward to your return!

Be blessed! Susan and Monty

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's the first night she hasn't cried

We only met Hai yesterday. In 2 days the team has gutted her home. Most importantly, they have changed her life! The smile that covers her small face is the first key. Talk to her and hear her heart! She worked right along side of them, even teasing them for taking breaks. She thanked them over and over again and still felt that thank you was meaningless. So she took a step further. She contacted one of her friends who owns a Thai Seafood restaurant and invited all 14 of us to come and enjoy dinner this evening. And we all went, some showered and cleaned up and others straight from their jobs. What an enjoyable experience! The chef decided to surprise us all with family style. He brought out all sorts of appetizers, soups and 10 different main courses for us all. Hai smiled all through the dinner, enjoying every minute, meeting the rest of the team who has been working at Marie's and still thanking those who have been at her home. God's presence was all throughout the restaurant! Everyone around us could see Him and feel Him -- awesome!
As we were leaving the restaurant, everyone giving hugs -- the quote of the week -- Hai said to me, "Tonight is the first night I haven't cried!" ( I couldn't hold back my own tears!)
It's those kind of things, those God-things that are what disaster relief is all about. Life is all about relationships -- and life long, life changing ones happen here, with every team in one way or another. If you ask the ones who have been in Marie's house all week they will say the same thing.
Tomorrow we bid farewell to this team -- and it will once again feel like family is leaving us. It just plain hurts when they leave! And our prayer is that they all will return, our door is always open to them --- and to you!
Our thanks to the team, our thanks to the homeowners and our thanks to YOU!
Sleep well Hai and Marie. Your lives have already been changed by the teams and God has only just begun! Fasten your seatbelts!
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Moving into San Leon

This morning we had the sad job of saying goodby to Bill, the 18 year old who has spent the past week and a half working with us. It's always hard to see someone leave and Bill was no different. We tried and tried to get him to stay, told him it was against the "policy" to leave in the middle of the week --- but we know his mother was waiting for him with open arms and wanting to hear all about his trip. We prayed him out, covering him with blessings for his future and hope he will come back and work with us again!
Our work day started with another outreach into the city of Galveston. We took water, vitamin water, pet foods and treats and perfume sample packets. We were able to set up on both sides of the street and it was amazing. People were stopping and running from side to side. I was surprised at how many needed food for their pets, and the pets they had adopted that had been abandoned after the storm! The team spent their time speaking blessings over all that stopped and once again Chuck was walking out into the traffic just to make sure all got something!
From there part of the returned to Marie's where old rotten framed walls are now replaced with brand new 2x4's, old separating walls have come down and new ones have been put up. What was once the tiniest bathroom I think I've seen is now becoming one where she can walk in and more than turn around. The heaters that the team purchased last night allowed Marie to sleep through the night -- the first time she can remember doing so! As hard as she fought having them brought in -- before the team left this evening she asked them to make sure they turned it on as it's forecast to get near freezing tonight!!!!!
The rest of the team headed into San Leon, a community to the southeast of here that really caught most of the east side of the storm -- the worst side to catch. So much of the town is gone and those left there have been wondering if anyone would ever come to help! We did and we are! We started in Hai's home today. You can see by the photos that the walls were all tongue and groove -- and all are covered with mold and must be torn out. It's so sad and yet she was right in there working with the team! She is the mother of 5 small children and her mother has come to help take care of them while Hai tries to get her life and home together. She is living in a FEMA trailer and thankful for it. The team will continue working there tomorrow and we will continue doing what we can to get her home rebuilt. The first thing will be getting a new roof!
Diane and I spent our day with the outreach, checking jobs and checking out many more upcoming jobs in San Leon. We were gone the entire day, met many new people and saw God move in so many ways! We cried with homeowners, we laughed with them, we gave them hope and they gave us smiles and hugs in return. During prayer this morning we prayed to be the hands and feet of God and today I feel we were just that!
Monty was back at camp working on vehicles, trailers, warehouse details and planning for tomorrow. It seems his "to do" list grows by the day and he's one of those who consistantly keeps moving forward, one item at a time! I find it amazing to see how God refuels him to overflowing on a daily basis. Right now he is inside the church taping and mudding a wall in the pantry where the shelf pulled out of the wall leaving huge holes. By the time he is done it will be done to perfection!
Our team decided to take a night out and headed to the movies for the night! They have all earned it! With tomorrow being Friday it brings us all to the realization that they, too, will be heading back home on Saturday! I'll wait and shed those tears then.
Thank you so much for your prayers for my daughter, Lindsay. She called this morning and was feeling better. She was even thinking of going into work for the afternoon! Isn't prayer awesome! And isn't our God even more awesome!
A special thank you also goes out to Monty's mother for sending us some love in the mail! Thanks Judy -- we love you and miss you more than you know!
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Outreach, Rebuild, Expand, Gut

It's been quite the 2 days!!
Yesterday started out with another outreach of goods to the Galveston community. You can see by the photos that it was awesome! We took gallons of drinking water, cases of vitamin water, granola bars and french fried onions ( we never know what's coming with the truckload of donations) and within 40 minutes of opening the doors on the trailers we were empty! The entire team went along and everyone was amazed -- and blessed. They found out just how much need still remains and so we are returning again tomorrow morning with pet foods, perfume products and more water!
The teams divided up again and headed back to Marie's to continue the gutting and structural repairs along with the beginnings of electrical. With the forecast of really cold temps for last night we all were worried about her keeping warm with no electric and no water. We tried to bring in a generator and keep it going all night but were warned that her neighbors would surely complain and so we couldn't do so. This morning we realized that something!!! had to be done! When the team returned she was cold to the bone and her arthritis was causing her alot of pain. After working all day they pooled together funds at this evenings dinner and headed to Lowes to purchase a small propane heater, return back to her house tonight and hook it up for her! She has stolen their hearts and God is working miracles!
The rest of the team headed into a new home to gut. This home was a bit of a challenge for them as it seemed that the homeowner wasn't all that thankful to have them there. As they returned today they found out otherwise. She called this evening to thank them all and express her appreciation. Sometimes teams wonder how we "find" the homeowners and still are confused when we tell them that God places them in front of us. We are here to offer mercy for mercys sake, no judgments, no opinions. God is always right and He is the ultimate judge. He Himself came to those who most people wouldn't go near -- and we are extensions of His hands and feet. The team even had 2 devotions on the subject and made us all stop and think and realize!
Diane, Monty and I spent our day with our director, Phil. He spends way more time in the offices in Houston than he would like and enjoyed going to different homes, seeing what is going on and where we may be headed with rebuilding. We stopped by quite a few homes and ended up with Marie. We then headed off to the city of San Leon, about 30 minutes to the east of us. This small city was hit extremely hard with the east side of the storm and we found out that almost zero volunteers are in that area. At yesterdays Long Term Recovery meeting we met up with Pastor Bob who has a church in that area. It seems his church is the central point for everyone in the city, even though it was severely damaged and they are meeting with FEMA tarps as their walls! We offered to come along side them and help them with those people who are coming to him for help. Today we met him for lunch, toured the city, made alot of connections with those needing help and will return tomorrow to gut one home. Hai is a vietnamese single mother of 5 children whose home has not been touched since the storm. She is living in a FEMA trailer on her property and just needs help of any kind. When I called her to tell her we could be there in the morning she was thankful beyond words! We hope to make more connections and be able to do more and more work in the city. We will return there tomorrow to check on the team and get further info on Hai. Please keep her, and the entire city, in your prayers.
Speaking of prayers --- my daughter phoned me to tell me about her 36 year old boss who started the new year with the discovery of 3rd stage breast cancer and a double mastectomy! Please keep her in your prayers as she has a long, difficult road ahead of her.
Secondly, that same daughter phoned me this morning to tell me she has a bad case of the stomach flu! Also could use prayers.
We thank you (as always) for your prayers and for continuing to come along with us on our missions!
Until next time . . . Be blessed. Susan and Monty

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bags and bags and more bags

The things we do to get the trees cut down! I guess some of us just never grow up!

Our Las Vegas, Washington and Virginia teams once again joined together and worked as one.

Part of them returned to Tonnie's to help him continue the gutting of his home. They even went up on the roof and put down a tarp to stop the water from pouring in through the kitchen ceiling until he can get a roofer. They all talked of how they were able to minister to him, to pray with him and his neighbors and how they hoped they had "planted a seed" for God's kingdom.

The rest of them returned to Marie's house where they also continued the gutting and boxing of more personal items in preparation for moving her to the other side of the home to gut the areas where she has been living. They also got her soffit painted and helped her daughter, Amy, get some things moved for herself. Ministry at its finest - and it will continue throughout the week.

Monty took the day and worked on getting Diane's trailer plumbing "hard piped" into the sewer system. Trailers all have tanks to hold the regular shower and/or dishwater and toilet waste but those don't last long when you are living in one. To save having to hook up an expandable hose and run it to the sewer we take regular PVC pipe and make it so all you need to do is pull the lever and dump the tanks directly into the sewer. This not only takes the proper materials but also the calculations of the angles of the pipe to make sure everything is rolling downhill. He has the materials in place and will continue working on the rest.

Diane and I spent all day in the warehouse going through pallets of granola bars, canned food items and paper products in preparation for another outreach to the community tomorrow. We plan on loading the flatbed trailer in the morning and all of us heading out to give away everything -- free! I don't think this team realizes just how quickly everything will go out. We hope to do a couple of those outreaches before the week is over.

Everyone enjoyed dinner this evening and then a time of sharing between them. They talked about what this trip has meant to them thus far. It's always amazing to hear how God is working in each of them! They come to be a blessing and find blessings far beyond anything they can imagine. It can bring the biggest man to tears, tears of joy!

We are so thrilled to also tell you that we have teams booked solid through the first of May! They keep calling, keep going to the Mercy Response website and completing their signup. Today our neighbor, Shelley, who works for Walmart called and she has successfully organized a Walmart team who will be coming the first of March! She has been trying to come and work with us for over 3 years and it's finally coming to reality!

We are still putting out the request (plea) for volunteers. Without YOU this work cannot get done! YOU are the keys. We cannot do it alone and the work is endless. At last report from the city of Galveston there are still over 1000 homes needing gutting!

If you are interested or just curious, please go to the website ( and everything you need it there. It's easy and will give you a life time of memories and bless you beyond your imaginations!

Until next time . . . be blessed!

PS Happy to report that Diane's mother is resting comfortably at home -- thank you for the prayers!

Susan and Monty

Friday, January 09, 2009


Her land is cleared -- and she is thrilled!
We worked all day with cutting dead trees, limbs and more trees and limbs. The storm wreaks havoc enough and then add salt water and it's a real plant killer. Sharon and her husband are fortunate to be one of the few living in one of the new FEMA trailers already. They received over 5 feet of water inside their home and are now being told that in order to rebuild it they must raise it. The level it needs to be raised to is still being determined and they are not certain whether they would be cost effective to rebuild or just push it over and start over. It's a really tough decision and one many people are facing.
But we were able to atleast come in and make the yard look better and make both of them feel better about things. That is the blessing -- bringing hope that things will work out!
It was a beautiful day, breeze with sunshine and temps around 80. Once we washed the sawdust off we could see some pink skin -- quite nice for Hugh, our volunteer from the state of Washington!
We are currently waiting for our team from Las Vegas to arrive. Their plane won't land till nearly 11pm so it will be a late night for them but we know they'll be up and ready to go come tomorrow morning. Part of them will be going to Marie's home to continue the gutting process and prime and paint her new soffit. Another part will be helping one of our church members with the rebuilding of their home and a third part will be gutting another home. Quite the busy day -- and it's Saturday!
We are also awaiting the arrival of our director, Phil. He has been in New Orleans all week and is bringing one of the camper trailers back with him -- a real home for Diane. She has been living in the church office for the past 3 months and will be happy to have some room to stretch out in and a real bed to sleep in!
As we approach what is a weekend for most, it's just another work day here. It never ceases to amaze me how the days all run together. It seems Sunday is the only one different and that's good because we can get more and more done and help more and more people.
We hope all of you have a wonderful Saturday and please remember the people who lost so much in hurricane Ike.
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Outreach day

Yes, with the temps nearing 80 and plenty of sunshine we took advantage and took the trailer that was already loaded with vitamin water, regular water and granola bars ( all courtesy of Convoy of Hope) and headed into Galveston to bless some folks.
As usual, the entire load was gone in 30 minutes! Pastor Ken even stopped by to hand out things. The people are always so thankful and still in disbelief that everything is free. It's such a blessing to be able to bless them. I don't think I will ever stop being amazed at how awesome God is!
We plan on reloading the trailer asap and heading back. We are so thankful to Convoy for supplying us so we can help those in such desperate need!
We also took the time and went to check on Marie and see how her house is doing. Our volunteer from Washington went along. We were happy to see Marie's new roof and her daughter, Amy up on the ladder priming and painting the new soffit.
We plan on having our Las Vegas team (who arrives tomorrow night) start there on Saturday morning and continue the gutting process and possibly get into some electrical issues.
And in one more stop we arranged for the 4 of us to head back tomorrow and do some tree removal for another family. They are so excited and we are happy at the thought of getting out and doing some of the physical work. Even though most of us are still a bit under the weather we figure being out in the sunshine will help. And as always, helping someone else takes our minds off ourselves.
I do have a special prayer request --- Diane's mother. She was scheduled to have some fluid removed from her lungs early next week but has ended up in the hospital. She could surely use some extra prayers right now.
Thank you for all you do, for your support, for your prayers and for your love. God WILL return those blessings right back to you.
Until next time . . . Be blessed. Susan and Monty

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

From sick to sicker????

Yes, it seems I have gone from not so good to worse!

The beginning of the year has been a rough one. I have managed to get what Monty had, sore throat, ears and a head throbbing and stuffed to the max! Thankfully we do not have a team this week so I have a few days to get better.

Diane also came back sick -- it seems to be everywhere and touching everyone.

We did have a team of one -- came in from West Virginia Sunday night and immediately left with our director the next morning to return to New Orleans to finish up the closing of that camp and transfer of things back here. He will most likely be gone the rest of the week.

We are also expecting another team of one late tonight. He will be meeting up with the incoming team arriving late Friday night -- from Las Vegas.

As you can see, even though we are all down sick, time doesn't stop and we keep going. We all appreciate your prayers!!!!

Blessings to all of you.

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, January 02, 2009

MN Last Day

Amidst some of the heaviest fog I have seen so far the team headed out this morning, a bit sad it was their last day to work.
Our first stop was the Galveston Humane Society to donate a trailer full of dog and cat food donated to us by Convoy of Hope. Three of the guys went along and packed bag after bag, making the employees AND the animals quite happy. The Humane Society also gives out free animal food to those residents who cannot afford to purchase their own. It was a great way to start the day.
One part of the team returned to Leon's house to continue the gutting. There are some real structural issues with his house but atleast now it is cleaned out and will have time to dry out in order to reassess rebuilding. Leon was all smiles seeing them all return, and quite thankful.
Another part returned to Dave's house to also finish the gutting. They not only got the house done, they got the garage also. Dave's house appears structurally sound and we will be moving forward to see how we can come along side them and offer our help.
And yet another team started another new job, gutting the lower part of a home for Melinda's mother, who is 80 years old. This team was excited because they had not been able to actually complete any of the jobs they started this week -- all for good reasons beyond their control. They got busy and worked along side Melinda and her husband and got the job done! We are also going to see what we can do to help them get her mother back into her home.
It's always sad to see a team go -- and this one is no different. They brought some rather young and inexperienced youth with them and these youth should be pleased at the work they accomplished! They never complained of being tired, they never complained about the food (as some can be quite picky), they were flexible when it was required and always gave their best! It has been an amazing week and we would love to just keep them here with us! Goodness knows there is plenty of work to be done and they are now experienced! But we also know family members are awaiting their arrival home so we will pray them out of here and ask God to cover them as they travel over the next couple of days!
Diane will also be flying back here tomorrow and we also cover her with prayers of safe travel. I think she has spent much more time than she liked shoveling snow! Wisconsin has had a record for December and she knows it better than anyone!
We have jumped head first into this new year and are so thankful to this team for the week they have put in, for working over what should have been a holiday for them, and for being such a blessing to the folks in Galveston. Even the neighbors nearby have noticed them and have expressed their thanks, just for them being in the area and donating their time! I know Jesus must be smiling from ear to ear!
Thanks Minnesota -- we love you and hope to see you back with us next time!
Until next time . . . be blessed! Susan and Monty

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Blessed New Year

Happy New Year to all!
For us, it's Thursday! Yes, we were awaken by the sounds of fireworks during the night. Must have been the sound of the new year, too tired to tell and all still looked the same come morning!
The MN team was up and back at it this morning. Once again divided into 3 teams.
One team returned to Dave and Nancy's house to continue the gutting process. They did a fantastic job yesterday and we knew it would be a 2 day job. Both Dave and Nancy are so thankful for all of the hard work. Monty and I will be meeting with both of them next week to see what we can do to come along side them and assist with their rebuilding. They are both very worried that the funds they received will not be enough. Hopefully with us supplying labor and they the materials it will be a perfect match.
Another team went to Saralynn's home to finish the gutting that started a few weeks ago. They also went equipped with many boxes to help her box up what can be saved. Those boxes will be placed in a room, after it's gutted, and we will work around them as we also come along side her and supply labor to rebuild. She hopes to get her roofer scheduled asap, then follow with an electrician and then us. It's the perfect plan but we all know that plans are only made to be changed!
The other team started a new job for Leon. Leon's house still has all the furnishings inside! All covered with mud and even though most are dry, the carpeting is quite the mess! They started with carrying out all his possessions (his life) to the curb for trash pickup. We also know this job is a 2 day event. They will be doing the gutting (walls, floors and ceilings) along with yard cleanup before calling it complete. Leon must find out whether his home can be rebuilt -- is it structurally sound? From what we see it's questionable. He also was very thankful, telling us he had been trying and trying to get someone to help him and how thrilled he was when I called yesterday to say we could be there this morning.
As you can see by the photos, alot of this team is on the "younger" side, between the ages of late teens and early 20's. What I love about teams like this is the endless energy of youth! They might be dragging a bit in the morning but just fill them with some food and they are ready to go! They can work circles around us "adults" and what a blessing that is for all of us! They love to serve, they know when the situation requires compassion, when it requires strength (both physical and spiritual) and they also know how to keep laughter and joy abounding! We are thrilled to have them here and sad to know tomorrow is their last day!
This evening they are all being treated to dinner in a local restaurant -- something they have certainly earned and will no doubt be a blast! We just pray there is enough soap and water to thoroughly clean them before they go! :)
Today does start a new year. It's a time to look forward with anticipation, with joy and with faith. What's past is past, we all need to focus on what's in front of us. Monty and I are excited to see where God is leading us, what He has in store for us and to see all the miracles He is waiting to show us. We hope all of you feel the same!
Remember the past, look forward to the future BUT cherish today!
Until next time . . . be blessed beyond measure! Susan and Monty