Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Phil tours San Leon

The story behind tonight's photo:

This family (the mother was working and not home at the time of the photo) moved from Vietnam to here 5 years ago with the dream of making a better life through a better job. The father took a job working on the oyster boats and the mother learned to be a nail technician.

Two years later the father caught his right arm in one of the boat's ropes and lost his arm and most of his shoulder. He will never to be able to work again.

Their children are currently 17, 16, 14, 13, and 12. What a beautiful family!

When the storm hit San Leon they were living in a 4 bedroom mobile home which they owned. They did not own the land it was sitting on. The storm destroyed the home, it was nearly unrecognizable in the photos they shared with me. They received some FEMA funds and paid to have the home demolished and removed from the property. They are now living in a 2 bedroom mobile home that was also damaged in the storm -- and not repaired! To see the inside nearly made me sick! Holes in the flooring that are covered with duct tape to keep from falling through, a bathroom with nothing but exposed subflooring and wet at that, doors with no door knobs -- just holes, water stained flooring in the hallway . . . the list goes on and on. What are we going to do to help? Anything and everything we can! This is going to be quite the challenge, they need additional finances to do anything and I am in the process of putting together a case for them and hope to tap some resources and successfully show them the miracles that God can perform! Please pray for those resources to be readily available and that this family can once again have a home -- a proper home!

Today Phil drove down from Houston and I was able to take both he and Diane on a trip through San Leon to see all the work going on. Both were pleased and were blessed to hear the thank yous from the homeowners and see the relationships building between them and the volunteers.

Terri's roofing and siding are in process and looking good. Her bedroom is finally getting electricity run into it also.

Cathy is getting insulation in her walls and her electric is nearly complete.

Hai not only got the last of the insulation but sheetrocking started. Her plumbing should be complete tomorrow.

Richard was being painted at the same time the deck is being built and wiring being completed. His elevation inspector came and passed it with flying colors.

Jeannie's skirting of her trailer is complete -- Monty and his 2 girls did a fantastic job! They will finish her back steps tomorrow.

Clarice has her deck almost done also. The rails were quite the challenge but the team mastered it and it looks great.

The tour also included an estimate for Hank and his trailer and Laura and her trailer. Both will need some financial resources so my work is cut out for me!

We also drove by a home that needs to be completely torn down and demolished. The homeowner said both the city and FEMA said it is not structurally sound. We have to see something in writing and will then further assess the home.

Another really busy day -- another day of God pouring out blessings all over the area! The teams talk of the miracles and blessings each night and morning in their devotions. It's always amazing to see, literally see, God at work.

Monty and I are blessed beyond measure to be the ones who get to stay week after week and continually see miracles! Thanks to all of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

North meets south

They came from the cold northern weather and are thrilled at the temps pushing 80 degrees. Some are even a bit on the pink side. As they call home with reports of what is going on they are receiving "cold" remarks about our warm weather! I expect to see even more shorts tomorrow with the temps warmer.

They are once again working all over the city of San Leon.

Terri's house is now getting a new roof on the back side and the front siding continues to come together. Terri decided to relocate her back door to the other side of the bedroom area and board up what had been a window. Good choice, especially since we have the perfect exterior door right here in the warehouse.

Hai's house is getting water lines run. They finished with all the insulation this afternoon and will be ready to start hanging sheetrock in the morning, as soon as I return from Lowes with it on the bed of the truck! Starting my morning at Lowes, a daily routine!

Richard got his deck completed, wiring for electrical done, sheetrock hung and finished and painting started today! He is thrilled to see all of the work getting done. Once the inside is done we can help with the outside. Peggy's leg is doing better and responding well to the medication.

Jeannie is in awe at her trailer skirting starts taking place. Monty and his team of 2 women are working away and having a great time in the process. The women will be experts by the time they are done.

Clairice is also getting her deck built, and it is big enough for Pastor Bob to come and sit and visit like he did before the storm. The women were pounding away with the nails today and made quick work of it all.

Cathy's house is getting electrical wiring done, final plumbing changes, outside siding completed and final doors and windows installed. They might even be painting the outside and insulating inside tomorrow.

Naomi's house has only 4 more sheets of sheetrock to be hung and nearly all the finish coat is done.

Paul and Susan had all their priming done yesterday and we await a return call to let us know when Susan is feeling better and the painting can be done.

The church in Spring, Texas is getting its metal roofing installed and should be done tomorrow. Pastor Ken's Vineyard church in Galveston is also nearing the final finish coat and coming closer to priming and painting.

You run the numbers on how many jobs are going on --- sure keeps us busy going from one to another making certain all are doing well. And the trips to Lowes are at the beginning of the day so they can continue without interuption.

Today was the regular Long Term Recovery meeting where we all come together to see how we are all doing and get an update with resources. It's always filled with information and also a great time to check in with the other organizations and their progress. We are the only ones working in the San Leon area and received quite the thanks from the committee for being there.

I am receiving more calls than ever since the Sunday outreach. Mostly are from the Vietnamese community. My list of call backs is now nearing 40 calls! I also received a call from a lady whose home has been condemned and she is asking if we can tear it down! I did go by and get some photos but will need to get inside to fully assess the whole thing. What a shame!

Another call came in from an 86 year old woman who is at her wits end. She needs a partially new roof and received a bid from a contractor for nearly $8000!!! I have a home visit scheduled with her for Thursday!

I also did a home visit with a Spanish family this afternoon. They also have 5 children and are all packed in a small FEMA trailer. They only have a few things left to complete the rebuild of their home so hopefully we will be able to access some funds along with volunteers and get them completed.

The calls keep coming. The requests keep coming. We pray the volunteers keep coming! As always, they are the keys!

For the families who have sent their own family members here to work with us -- and for those who will be sending theirs in the future -- we thank you from the bottom of our hearts and the people thank you!

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

Sunday, February 22, 2009


The past few Sunday mornings have begun with memories of my dreams the night before. Monty suggested I share a couple of them with you . . . they have me a bit confused.

My first one ended with me seeing my father taken to heaven, holding God's hand and smiling back at me as he ascended -- both pain and joy filled me as I recalled the entire thing with Monty.

Next came this one: I was waiting in a very long line of people, all waiting patiently. I turned to ask someone why we were all waiting. "To see God" was the reply. I figured I better stay in line as I also would like to see Him. When my turn came I was looking up a set of wooden stairs going up -- high but not too high. As I got to the top I looked toward the place I knew God was but didn't actually see His face. I remember not being upset at not seeing Him, I just knew He was there. As I looked at Him He spoke these words, "look at the immorality all around you." As I turned and looked all around me, making a complete circle on my platform, all I could see was people in couples, all sleeping with one another. There were no buildings or rooms covering them, all were completely exposed and as I looked I also realized that none of them were with who they should be with. That was all I could see -- nothing else. As I turned back to God He spoke once again, " Two Timothy." Not second Timothy but the actual word "two." Those two words rang inside my head like cymbals next to my ears, echoing and echoing the rest of the night. No chapter or verse, just "two Timothy." Needless to say I read through the entire book the next morning and have read through it many many times since then. What does it all mean? Am I supposed to be doing something, learning something, finding something in that book? I have no idea. I have shared this dream with our home Pastor and the Pastor here, both tell me to pray for clarity. That is my prayer.

My most recent dream was a couple of nights ago. In all my life I've only had a dream where I could fly once. In that one I only had to put my arms out at my sides and I would take off and fly and fly, with my youngest daughter riding on my back. It was awesome, we could see everything and I made sure to fly over our house so she could see it from the air.

A couple of nights ago I flew again. This time I had to keep my arms back behind me and down at my sides or it didn't work. As I flew I kept wanting to go faster as it seemed I was going way too slow. Just as I was thinking of going faster I started to go higher and felt as though I was more than high enough and wanted to get back to the ground. At that time I once again heard God say, "it's okay, come on up higher." And immediately I soared nearly straight up through the sky. As I sort of reached the top I looked down and could see the entire world! What a sight it was!

Now either I am going completely nuts -- not enough sleep, too many hours of working, hearing too many disaster survivor stories, meeting too many new faces, missing my children and grandchildren and parents and any other family member, the list could go on and on . . . or God is telling me something and I DO need prayer for clarity.

God speaks to all of us in various ways and I can for certain tell you that I know the sound of His voice, I would recognize it anywhere, and love hearing it. What does it all mean? In God's perfect timing!

In the meantime we welcome 3 more incoming teams today and look forward to the many, many homes they will be working in this week. Bless them Lord, bless all of us!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lives changed!

Friday --- what a week and what a way to end that week!

Our team of 45 decided to come together and work on Cathy's house -- all 43 of them! It looked like rats under the building and trying to keep up with all that was going on was impossible. They were putting up walls, installing plumbing, replacing support beams, pouring footers with wheel barrows, installing electric and anything and everything else needed! What an amazing work!

Meanwhile there were 2 of them still wrapping up the last details of the electric at Hai's house. She is now ready for the last of the water lines, insulation and sheetrock. We brought over ceiling fans and lights from our Convoy donations so she will have lighting when ready. She called me this afternoon to try and say thank you and laugh at the thought of how all these "big men" came in on Monday and had her nearly scared to death and by today she was in tears because they were leaving. She also told us how her brother Paul wants to become a full time volunteer with us as soon as her house is done! He's an automatic team leader!

Our Iowa team continued working at Terri's house. You can see from the photo that they are re-installing her circular window that fell out during the storm. You can also see the new siding that went up and her new kitchen (large kitchen) window that brought a permanent smile to her face! Even though the team had planned on only working till noon and then taking a tour of Galveston they were still working at 4pm and made a very quick trip through Galveston! As we were sitting around dinner this evening we found out about the miracle of the day. It seems John was up on 2 2x6 boards that covered the expanse of the kitchen area. If you go back a couple of days you can see Mike on those boards -- working on the ceiling. Well, today those boards decided to break -- both of them -- with John over 10 feet in the air! Yes, he fell to the floor of the house, lay there for a minute trying to decide what was broken and then realized he only cut his hand and elbow and bruised some ribs! I KNOW there was an angel underneath as he fell! He thought is was a really great praise report --- we agree!

Our team from Greenwood, Indiana had quite the experience today. They were sent to Vicky's house to clean her yard. Vicky is our client that had extreme issues with a contractor "friend" and is now penniless and with no receipts for the work done. She also has an unfinished house and health issues that need addressed. When the team arrived she was literally standing in the street not even knowing how to go about picking up the trash around her home! It only took a short meeting with the team to explain some of the situation and they stepped in! They spent the entire day working there -- Vicky right along side of them the whole day -- and saw a completely different woman when they left than the one they saw when they arrived! The entire team is sunburned but I tend to think it's more of the light of Jesus showing through them!

The team that had been working at Richard's house were working on another today but that didn't stop them from stopping by his home on their way out of the city to say goodbye and pray with him. His wife returned to the doctor today and for now it looks like she will not lose her leg! The team and Richard were in tears as the team left!

This week has been one like no other. The team of 45 came in like gang busters, wanting to be certain that we had enough work for them to do. They knew what they were capable of -- construction wise -- and they did accomplish just what they set out to accomplish. But --- as always -- God steps in and makes certain everyone gets the true picture. He takes over their hearts and it's an amazing miracle to see and be a part of. Faces change -- they don't look like they did when they arrived and the homeowners where they have been working also change -- smiles come where there were only frowns; tears of sorrow turn into tears of joy; miracles!

The Bible tells us and we like to quote it "with God nothing is impossible" but I wonder . . . just how many of us really believe it??!! Those of us who have been here this week -- we believe it --- we've seen it --- we've experienced it --- and we will never be the same! Thank you Lord -- You are an amazing God and we are so thankful you chose us --- all of us --- to be extensions of Your hands and feet!

God bless all of these teams! Our doors are always open and we look forward to seeing you next time.

Until then . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Hump" day is big with 75

I don't have alot of photos this evening, just so much going on.

The ones you do see are of Terri's house. I wanted to capture the uniqueness of her home, the paintings done by her late husband and the team working on her new roof. You can see Mike perched up at the top making some repairs. The not only worked on the roof but they started with some of the siding and worked right through the on and off rain showers all day to accomplish just what they set out to do!

Hai's house had people all over, looked like a bunch of ants everywhere. But those ants were worker ants, digging the sewer line, installing all the rough in electric, continuing the framing changes and installing windows. They are an organized team who have their minds and goals set and are somehow ministering to both Hai and her brother, Paul at the same time!

Cathy and Dwight's framing and windows continue. Their rough in plumbing is also coming along great. The electric can't start until the framing gets done, which is probably tomorrow.

Richard wasn't at the house until later today. He had to take Peggy to the doctor and he came back with some disturbing news that really needs some strong prayers from all of us. It seems Peggy has an infection in her foot and if it doesn't stop growing they will be forced to amputate her leg! All this with Richard also fighting for each breath of air! It had the team pretty upset and they are doing what they can with getting their home rebuilt and also ministering to and praying for them.

Marie didn't have anyone working in her home today. Amy is getting some electrical bids for the finishing of the job. We hope to take those and use them as a "map" for what we need to complete -- with the free labor of volunteers!

Naomi's house is coming together. The couple that were working there today got a kick out of telling Naomi that they were doing work for her that they paid someone else to do in their own home! They set a goal to return home, pay off their bills and go into the mission field full time! I think I hear God calling!

Diane and the Convoy team spent the day at Pastor Ken's church getting the final coat of mud on the sheetrock. Before we know it he will be ready for primer and paint and then a real church will appear!

Pastor Nathan also moved one step closer to having a new roof on his home. It's been a bit challenging due to the structural design but they are getting there. They also worked right through some of the showers circling around.

I do have a special side note prayer request this evening. I know you have read about a dear Pastor friend of ours in Mississippi, Pastor Lavoy. He and his wife adopted an infant daughter from Guatamala a couple of years ago. This week they are in the hospital helping her fight a blood born illness she contracted from her biological mother. This illness must be gotten under control immediately as it is destroying the organs in her small little body. PLEASE cover this family, and this little girl, Josylin, with prayers of healing and strength!

As our "hump" day draws to a close we are amazed at the progress of all the homes and blessings poured on so many families this week and also know God isn't finished yet!

Be sure and stay tuned for tomorrow.

Until then . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And the blessings roll !!!

Hai's house is getting new windows, the concrete was jack hammered to prepare for the new plumbing plan, the electric will begin tomorrow as all supplies are now on site and the structural changes are nearly complete. You can see from one of the photos the by-hand digging that had to take place on the outside of her home --not a fun job but the team seemed to love it! Boys and mud!

Terri was thrilled to meet the Iowa team and see that one half of her roof is brand new, sheeting and all. There was nothing to salvage from the old one so literally everything is new. She even loved the color we picked out, a brown but not too dark and not too light. She couldn't believe all the work that had been done in only 2 days! Wait until tomorrow. Even though the skies were threatening and the forecast was for rain, the day was perfect for roofing and working outside. You can also see the "critter" that was found under some destroyed cabinets inside her home!

Cathy is getting walls underneath her home and will soon have her bedroom and bathroom back. The windows were going in along with the new patio doors. The winds right along the water were so strong today that the team was happy when that first wall went up as a wind breaker for them. When I went upstairs to check in with Cathy, who was painting walls, she broke into uncontrollable tears in thanks for all the team is doing. And it's only Tuesday!

Richard was having such a tough day that he needed to go home and get some oxygen but was enjoying the team branching into sheetrocking that he stayed put and stayed seated as much as possible. The team had one room completely done and another well on its way. Peggy was just too ill to make the trip today. Please keep the both of them in your prayers.

Teress now has her home completely gutted and will be waiting a couple of weeks to allow it to dry out before we come in and assess the structure of it. She, and we, realize that most likely it will not be able to be rebuilt and it's going to take her some time to deal with that decision when it does become final. She also needs prayer. She got quite attached to the team over the past two days and already talked of feeling lonely when they don't return tomorrow.

Nareen now has her house completely sided on the outside and was speechless at the thought of how much was accomplished over the past few days. Bethany finished with the first coat of mud on the family room walls and now Nareen and Clint will do a few things on their own and call back to us when they are ready for more help. This Convoy of Hope team has changed this couples life and in doing that -- changed their own. Part of this team heads home tomorrow morning while the others stay back for a couple more days. We will miss them greatly and feel blessed to have spent so much time with them. Pray for protection while they travel back to Missouri.

Randy's house got all the electric checked out today and will be ready for he and his bride to move in to this Saturday after their wedding. The electricians will return for a short time tomorrow to deal with a couple of lights and call it done until we can get more labor over to reattached the gutters that blew down in the storm. The gutters will not keep them from moving in so it's okay to back burner them for awhile.

Marie is now able to use a real toilet for the first time in 3 years -- yes --- 3 years! Plumbing issues were "unclogable" and required completely new lines to be dug and run. Something unaffordable for her and only made possible by the blessing of having a master plumber on this Georgia team! I can just picture her sitting there -- reading and enjoying the view -- just because she can!

Naomi's house is also coming back together and looking more and more like a home rather than a trashed and destroyed mess. She too will be back to a new normal before long.

Trying to keep up with all these jobs is quite interesting and completely awesome! I spent my entire day in San Leon either getting materials, checking on teams or relocating team members from one place to another. Monty managed to break away and come for a short time and was thrilled to have his picture taken with Hai!!! Then it was back to the camp.

Diane and Pastor and Phil spent their morning in a meeting in Houston making some outreach plans for the upcoming Vineyard national conference being held in Galveston this coming May. They are expecting around 2,000 Pastors and that takes quite a large amount of planning!

I just wish each of you could be here to truly experience all that is going on -- to see and feel the presence of God, to see how he is bonding teams with teams and homeowners with teams. Those bonds stretch across the cities and hopefully show the love God has for all of us! It is one of those things that MUST be experienced. I know my words are simple and can't bring you the emotion and feeling like being here does. But . . . it's all I've got and hopefully it warms your heart and brings a smile, and maybe a tear, as you read and come along with us on these missions of our lives!

Until next time . . . be blessed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

God's Monday

Amazing faces of amazing volunteers from all over this United States. All came here with one agenda -- help the people. And help the people is exactly what they did.

It was a typical Monday morning with 75 people needing to eat breakfast, get refreshed on the job they are going to, get their prepared lunches and drinks ready, gather the needed tools from the warehouse, program their GPS units and head off down the road -- chaos at its finest!

Here is a short update for each and every job that was going on today (see if you can keep them straight) A quick note -- Diane had Galveston and I had San Leon --- and it worked! :)

Hai has a complete new design for her house, the materials were picked up, exterior doors, framing materials, her roof getting some extra support, new windows being framed, a new kitchen layout being drawn up, rough in electrical and rough in plumbing in the beginning stages and a smile on her and her brother's faces that would light the dark skies. The fears and unknowns of yesterday are turning into dreams come true -- isn't God's love miraculous! The master carpenter running this job has been able to not only see the construction side but also see and feel the heart -- priceless!

Terri was working all day and didn't get the chance to meet the Iowa team working on her home. Tomorrow she will take off early to meet the folks who have captured her vision, understand her past and want to incorporate all into her home. When Iowa does meet her they will meet another lady besides the one we met -- the one with no hope and unable to smile. They cleaned out inside and started the prep for new roofing tomorrow.

Cathy and Dwight now have the underneath living space of their home cleaned out and a plan to start the reconstruction of new tomorrow. Dwight was right in there working with the team all day and also had one of those smiles that can't be wiped off. Cathy is learning first hand what all is involved in rebuilding and what it's like to have people come and help with no agenda. This will help her in her crisis counseling of hurricane survivors -- something about walking in anothers shoes?!

Ralph and Laura had enough people work on their home that the remainder of the gutting was done shortly after lunch. That team called the other part of their team and traveled the few blocks to join them at Richard and Peggy's with their gutting and beginning stages of rebuilding. Richard's emphasema was getting the best of him today and Peggy couldn't even come to the house with her arthritis pain. I bet both of them are doing better this evening, just thinking about everything that was done today and the fact that they will be returning tomorrow. This team consists of some of the oldest and youngest volunteers and watching them all work together was amazing.

Teress now has about half of her home mudded and gutted. Rebuilding is questionable at this time, the structure has to be evaluated when everything is done. She is being walked and prayed through the process by the team, the women have spent alot of time with her and shown her God's love through their actions!

Nareen continues to be blessed by the Convoy of Hope team. They have the siding on the outside and she even surprised them by showing them the fire engine red paint she bought for the color. The weather will determine whether the painting will be started tomorrow or not. The team did get together and surprise her with a pot of tulips -- bright red! This gave them the opportunity to talk about red being the symbol for new life, a new start -- after Nareen dried the tears from her eyes. I made a surprise request to this team before noon -- I needed 4 of them to relocate to another job site to help with tearing off a roof --- and just as I knew, they were more than happy to go and spent the rest of the day picking up the shingles torn off the house! Pure service! They also were the ones cleaning up the entire kitchen after breakfast this morning and dinner this evening -- and preparing the sandwiches for tomorrow!

Marie's electrical work and rebuilding continues. Part of a team stopped by this morning to try and dig up the sewer line to see what the plumbing problem is. Her daughter, Amy, was also successful in pulling the needed permits for both electrical and plumbing. This means we do not have to try and hire those contractors, we can utilize the skilled volunteers we have in those trades and thus save dollars! Marie was also surprised with a small check from FEMA labeled "Other Needs Assistance." They have reevaluated her home, seeing that we have been working there and Marie is doing all she can to rebuild, and tapped into another source of funding they have. When she called and asked me what she should do with it I told her to "sing praises to the Lord all the way to the bank" and I think I heard those praises shortly after we hung up.

Naomi's rebuilding also started today. They are insulating and sheetrocking and soon she will be able to live somewhere besides her bedroom upstairs. She had done very well in her shopping for all the supplies -- it was a learning experience in construction, one she won't forget!

As you can see, what a Monday! And there are 4 more days of these teams working, serving, changing lives and showing God's love in real and practical ways! I only wish each one of you could ride in the truck with me -- actually seeing, feeling and experiencing the joy of the Lord! The lives of the homeowners aren't the only ones being changed -- many !!! of these volunteers are here on their very first mission trip!! They are already talking in amazement about all the things that happened --- and it's only their first day! Just wait until tomorrow!

Until then . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Was this Sunday???

As I sit here and look at the clock telling me I should have been in bed nearly 2 hours ago if I wanted anything near 8 hours before getting up and starting all over again I have to think back over this entire day!

We started with church service this morning -- a packed house with 53 volunteers in attendance! They had to set up extra chairs -- surely God was smiling!

From there Monty and I immediately headed out to the local airport to pick up the 4 members of our incoming Iowa team. The rest of them (6) were already on their way -- driving. We did manage to stop along the way for some lunch -- a real treat -- especially since this team feels like family. I think they have come and worked with us who knows how many times!

When we headed to one airport Diane was heading to another. She was picking up our one volunteer coming from Oregon. He plans on being with us for 6 weeks. Each week he will be working with whatever teams we have at the time. He will have a huge!! family when he returns home!

We returned with the Iowa partial team, got them settled in Diane's trailer where they could get a bit of rest. This church has another service in the evening and so teams are not allowed inside the church building from 3:30 to 8:30pm on Sundays, unless they are attending the service.

As soon as that was done Diane was back, along with our 45 from Georgia. She took 5 of the team leaders and I took another 5 -- this is a very highly skilled team! She headed to Galveston to preview some of the jobs for this week and I headed to San Leon to do the same. Looks like both Marie's and Hai's are going to see tremendous transformation by the end of this week!

These tours took nearly 3 hours. By the time we returned the rest of the Iowa team had arrived. After visiting with them for a few minutes we realized that it was nearing the 8pm hour and we had not eaten any dinner. Diane, Monty and I walked the block to the Mexican restaurant, woofed down some tacos and headed back to meet the Indiana team who would be the last to arrive. They are from the Greenwood Vineyard and have made quite a few trips here. This time all but 1 of them are new!

Getting cots and rooms and things set up for 75 volunteers is quite the feat! We have filled every single kids Sunday school rooms, all the youth rooms upstairs and any other room that could be found but we made it. The room with 20 men is the most crowded but all they requested was another box fan to keep the air circulating a bit more!

Diane stayed and waited for the 45 Georgia to return from their dinner to go over a few details from our tours. When I returned to our trailer at 9:30 pm they weren't back yet!

Yes, we hit the floor doing 90 mph all day and are more than worn out. Even at this hour Monty is outside trying to get the propane tanks working on the separate shower trailer so we will have 4 more showers in addition to the 4 we already have. YES -- do the numbers --- 4 showers for 75 people! And you thought the lines for Christmas shopping were long!!!>???

This week is our largest team week and we are really excited to see what God has in store for all of us. We pray for our kitchen workers --- one already called and said she couldn't make it tomorrow morning! And just as we thought -- Convoy of Hope team to the rescue!!! The girls said they would get up and be in the kitchen before 5:30 AM!!!! to help! Isn't God amazing how He sends us just who we need just when we need them!

Be sure and stay tuned this week. I promise to do my best to blog each night -- but -- if I do miss a night you'll know why! Please keep all of these teams -- and homeowners -- in your prayers. We pray for a safe week, not only for us but for the family members who are staying home to allow their folks to come here. To all of you ----------we thank you for sharing your precious ones with us and the county of Galveston!

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

Sunday, February 15, 2009

They just keep coming!

As you can see -- our camp here has grown! We have camper trailers and vehicles and tool trailers all over the place -- a great sign of growth and the ability to help those needed!

The photos you see here are of the Convoy of Hope team working at Nareen and Clint's house. They have managed to get siding on 3 of the 4 sides of their home, complete the gutting of their bathroom and kitchen, clean up the garden area, help clean the shed to prepare to use it to store their household things and lift up the homeowners like you wouldn't believe! She visually looks like a new person and when I stopped by on Friday she gave me a hug like never before and I thought for a minute she wasn't going to let go! This is the perfect example of disaster ministry!

Friday afternoon one of the Convoy men, Nick, joined me for 2 home visits. Monty was back at the warehouse working on getting power to the incoming trailers, repairing one of the tool trailers and trying to get through a list a mile long. Nick said he would go with me as I never make a home visit alone. We first met Garaldeen who used her FEMA funds (and more) to purchase a mobile home after finding nothing left of her home. From there we went to visit Lewis and his family. They are in the process of buying their home and thus are not classified as homeowners so getting a roof for him will take some "doing". It was a great afternoon and I thank Nick for taking the time to go with me and also get a better idea of what goes on behind the scenes.

Yesterday the Convoy team worked here around camp all day. They cleaned the inside of the church, cleaned vehicles, cleaned the chuck wagon so it can be used for the 75 people here this week, repaired what needed repaired, helped set up rooms for incoming teams and got way deep in the kitchen with helping Diane and I prepare dinner. With it being Valentine's day we let the kitchen staff have a night off and even though it was quite the task -- we got it done and it was great.

By dinner time we were joined by the 45 members of the Georgia team. After dinner we sat down and had a meeting with their highly skilled team members to try and lay out a plan for the upcoming week. This afternoon Diane will be taking part of that team to Galveston while I take the other part to San Leon to check out some of their work sites before tomorrow morning.

Monty and I will also be running to the airport directly from church to pick up part of the incoming Iowa team. The remainder of them are driving and will arrive tonight. Diane will head to another airport and pick up a "team" of one coming in from Washington.

As you can see, it's been more than busy and will get even more than more as the week goes on. We are so excited to see soooo many people who just want to come and help and bless the people. Be sure and stay tuned as we also have an Indiana (yea -- home state!!!) coming in tonight!

Having trouble keeping up??? Welcome to our world!!! But we know God is smiling and has incredible miracles and plans for this week and each and everyone here. Don't miss it!

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

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

They're on their way

Another couple of days spent with home visits. Today was one of those days where we love being outside, warm sunshine and temps in the 70's. We are keeping our home folks in our prayers as they were under severe wind warnings today and our Pastor said the church had just lost power.

The photos show a couple of the homes we have been in. Imagine if that was your kitchen, the one you were just making dinner in a few months ago and now it looks like this? The cabinets need removed and cleanup must begin before and reconstruction can get started.

What if that was your family room, now filled with tools and such to try and put life back together.

We met Nareen, James and Naomi today. All of them are trying to do just that -- get their lives back together. Nareen broke into tears when I called her back this evening to let her know volunteers would be at her home tomorrow morning to start the process of helping!

That's what it's been like for the past couple of days, for the past couple of months -- and will be for who knows how long. We had the biweekly long term recovery meeting yesterday and although there are some funds to apply for to help with the rebuilding, they are trying every day to bring in more and more funding.

I had to toss in the photo of "Tank." He is part pitbull and part bulldog -- priceless and was soaking up all the attention he could get. Seeing all the pets is a really fun part of home visits for both Monty and I. Our own dogs really give us the once over when we get back home!

I have a couple of prayer requests this evening. The first is for our dear friend and mentor, Pastor Ken and his wife Cynthia. They are in the process of relocating to southern Mississippi and building a church. We thank God for opening this next chapter of their lives and pray for peace and guidance and strength to make the move as smoothly as possible!

Another request is for my youngest daughter, Lindsay. She went in to work yesterday only to be informed that the company is downsizing and her position had been eliminated. This is a first for her, really scary and alot of unknowns. Please pray for peace, for God's guidance and direction.

We also ask for prayers to cover Diane's brother and sister in law as they leave us tomorrow morning and begin the journey back to Michigan. They will be taking their time and we pray for safety and rest as they go. We will miss them more than they can possibly know and pray God will bless them a hundred fold in thanks for all the blessings they have bestowed while here.

We also pray for our incoming team from Convoy of Hope in Missouri. One of the administrators is bringing a team of their interns to allow them to experience what it's like out in the field. They have taken a detour through Oklahoma to assess the damage sustained in last nights tornados and will not arrive here until very late. Convoy deploys emergency supplies to nearly every disaster situation around the states and even around the world! Their trucks are out and running almost before the tornado can lift back into the skies! Bless them for how they serve!

Until next time . . . be blessed.

Monday, February 09, 2009

This and That; Here and There

Sorry for not having photos but I'm using another computer and they're not on this one!

What a Monday! We were awaken in the night with the foreign sound of rain! It's been so dry here and it was a welcome sound. It didn't last long but did bring the pollen count down a bit.

Our morning started off with a home visit back in San Leon. We met Laura and her husband at their home. They were able to purchase a small camper trailer to have something to live in on their property. They had managed to get the home gutted out and a new roof that was just finished up yesterday. They did receive some funding and once again we plan on coming along side with team labor and make every dollar stretch farther than humanly possible. Laura was telling me about the work injury her husband suffered back in 2004. He had the same spinal injury as Christopher Reeves and was also told he would never walk. God intervened and he is walking freely on his own. He does wobble a bit and has no feeling in his legs or feet but he is able to get around on his own. She told me how he had been working in the house a few days ago and came inside for something. She looked down and noticed his boot completely covered in blood. When he took off his boot they discovered he had stepped on a nail and had been walking around on it without feeling a thing! He wants so desperately to be actively working on his own rebuilding but needs help. We plan on bringing him that help. Since he is an experienced contractor he can be his own job supervisor! Stay tuned for miracles!

From there we stopped by Pastor Bob's church to say hello to him. He happened to have the Stanley tool representative there and we came away with another load of free stuff -- toolboxes to be specific! He said he would be in touch with us over the next couple of days about the truckloads of tools that they want to donate to the relief efforts! We'll be ready!

Once we returned to camp Monty went to work with Phil, Jim and Diane. They moved the latest shower trailer (with 4 shower units) over next to our trailer so it can be usable for the 50 - 75 team members coming in week after week over the next couple of months. All that's needed now is some power and it's ready to go --- after a few shower curtains and such!

They also moved the mobile chuck wagon kitchen next to the church where the cooks can now have a huge oven to work with when preparing meals. Jim finished it off with a special set of steps and it's also ready to go to work.

The special tool room in the warehouse is completely built and painted. Diane got most of the tools organized and also ready to be put to work.

Connie spent the day in the church kitchen preparing "brown bags" for team lunches. They contain things like chips, granola bars, cookies, napkins, hand wipes and etcs. The teams pick them up each morning after breakfast, combine them with premade sandwiches and a cooler filled with ice and water and are off to work. She spent the entire day there and made over 500 bags -- yes -- 500! What a help that is!

I spent my afternoon inside on the computer putting all our work orders on the computer and getting them emailed to Phil's office. So much behind the scenes work and playing "catch up" isn't fun but sometimes necessary.

We also spoke with Rob from our home church. He is bringing a team next month and we were working on a few details to hopefully help them plan easier. We are so excited to see home family --- they just have no idea!

This evening we were surprised and treated to dinner by Diane's brother and sister in law, Jim and Connie. They will be leaving us on Wednesday and although we have done everything we could think of to keep them here with us, they have families and must go! Life just won't be the same without them here! And it was a wonderful evening with all of us sitting down to dinner together, the laughter never ending! Isn't God amazing how He constantly adds to our families!

One more phone call this evening and I will be ready to call it a day. Mike from our incoming Iowa team will be calling soon for a heads up on the home they will be working in. We plan on putting them in Terri's home. If you look back a few days you will see it -- the one nearly all wrapped in blue tarp, roof and sides. They are just the team for Terri and her unique home! They will be arriving this Sunday and we are also so excited to see them! More family coming to spend time blessing others!!

All of this --- and it's only Monday!? What a week it will be! Be sure and stay tuned!

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

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Allergies at this age?

I realize it's been a few days since I've let you know what's going on. It's been a few days since my head has been clear. We keep hearing about the extremely high tree pollen down here, it hasn't rained in quite some time. But no way did I think I was allergic to that tree pollen --- until now! The coughing until you can't breathe, the congestion and eyes that burn like fire --- welcome to Texas! And since I'm not the only one suffering, I got some advice on allergy medicine and it seems to be working. They say it takes about a week to build up so I'm counting the days!

Wednesday was a day spent in San Leon, Hitchcock and back to San Leon with home visits. Our last visit brought us to a lady who was at the end of her rope and thankfully she agreed to allow us to call in some professional help. The loss of hope is more than devastating and we see it more times than we would like. And each day, each week brings more and more to that point.

Thursday started with the weekly case management meeting. They are every week but alternate between a location on Galveston Island and the mainland. This week they had put together a manual with every form known to disaster relief. FEMA took all of the forms and put them in binder form--absorbing the cost to do so. These forms are especially helpful to those relief organizations who are rather new to everything. We also heard from an SBA representative who explained the SBA loan. That thing can confuse the best of us and even though I've heard the explanation so many times it's always helpful to hear it again.

From there I headed back here to meet up with Monty and head back into San Leon for home visits. The list continues to grow and we are thankful that the volunteers keep going online and signing up to come and help.

Yesterday I headed to San Leon to Pastor Bob's food outreach where I met even more who need help. Monty was taking care of servicing one of the Mercy Response trucks, a full time job in itself. Phil headed to the camp for the afternoon giving us time to go over things that are happening.

Over the past couple of days Diane, her brother and sister in law have been putting up a fence for a woman in Galveston. Her home was rebuilt by a church up north who "adopted" her but her fence was still gone. After they finished last evening she now has a beautiful fence!

We thank all of you who continue making it possible for us to be here, to be reaching out and to be bringing any small ray of hope we can. God is amazing and it's more than amazing to see His hands at work, to hear His voice of direction and to see hope come to life!

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

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Covering San Leon

Another day of home visits in San Leon and another day of coming along side of those who aren't sure what step to take next or even if they can take a step.
In the photos you will see Mercy's mobile home where the siding blew completely off of one side and has left her with leaky ceilings in the laundry room, bathroom and a son's closet. The insulation under the trailer is gone, so much so you can see the light of the outside through the bottom of her bath tub. Mercy is the mother of 4 children and is in remission from her latest cancer diagnosis.
Archie and Nina's home is the one completely gutted on the inside. The home used to be an army barracks and is one of the most square we have seen. The couple gutted it themselves and have done a great job. He has a plan as to how they want it rebuilt and have kept most of their FEMA funds to purchase materials with. Our volunteer labor will be the match they need in order to have a home again.
The cabinets belong to Teress. Her home has not been gutted yet, most of her belongings are still inside. Her husband divorced her in December and she hasn't been able to emotionally handle anything. We will get a team in and help her go through her things, store what is salvagable and toss what isn't. Then we can gut the walls and floors and check the structure of the home.
The pinkish color home belongs to Cathy. She is a counselor with the local mental health association and working off of a FEMA grant. This has them working with Ike survivors who need some crisis counseling. We work hand in hand with those folks as they can't do construction and we can't do counseling. We refer clients to each other and it works well. Their home of 18 years is literally right on the water and what had been living space underneath is now rubble. We will also come along side of them with labor and hopefully be able to stretch the funds they have left. They have done all the work in the upper levels all by themselves. She is the counselor and he an artist so construction is quite far from their areas of expertise but they jumped in and learned and did it.
Tomorrow morning I will be speaking at the mental health center, to all the crisis counselors, helping them understand what we do and how we can all benefit from working together. It's all about relationships!
Diane, Jim and Connie continued the sheetrock finishing in Pastor Ken's church in Galveston and it's nearly done. Good job team!
Tomorrow will be a day long staff meeting. We are preparing to head into the rebuilding phase full steam ahead and need to do as much preparation as possible --- although --- disaster relief is an ever changing book and just when you think you've got it -- you need to change it! We'll give it our best shot anyway!
Until then . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Monday, February 02, 2009

Plans and more plans

These are the 2 homes we looked at on Saturday in our latest home visits.

The light blue one belongs to Richard and Peggy. Their home was completely destroyed by the storm and they were left with nothing but rubble. The church donated this home to them, a home that had been damaged in the storm but was rebuildable. Richard suffers from extreme emphasema and is unable to work for more than a few minutes without sitting down. We hope to be able to come along side them and offer some labor. With Richard also being a contractor he knows what needs to be done but just needs some help.

The other home that is nearly covered with blue tarp belongs to Ms Terri. Her husband just passed away a few weeks ago and she is feeling more than overwhelmed. They had built this home together, piece by piece. It is filled with the history of their lives together and she wants to preserve as much of its originality as possible. I admit that this one will be a challenge and will take volunteers who can see her history, understand it and help her pull her life back together. She also suffers from a couple of diseases and her health is sort of hanging in the balance.

From there we checked on our Houston Vineyard team who had come for the day. Part of them were at Alonzo and Wilma's helping them sort through all of their possessions that had been in the lower area of their home. They were all smiles at the progress the team had made. The other part of the team was gutting a home in the Galveston area. All returned late in the evening and said they had a wonderful day and would definitely be back.

Last evening Diane's son in law who is currently working in the Houston area came down and we helped him celebrate his birthday a day early! We even did a cookout and managed to watch most of the football game!

Today was a day where Monty found himself underneath both the shower trailer and one of our camper trailers getting it "hard piped" into the sewer lines. This involves PVC pipe and making sure the angles are correct so everything flows downhill and doesn't leak. He was soaked to the skin by the end of the day and will let things sit for a couple of days to check for leaks.

Diane, along with her brother and sister in law headed out to Marie's to see if they could get the plumbing clog issue worked out. Snaking it didn't work and so we will be forced to call in a plumber and have them work through the problem. From there they headed to Pastor Ken's church where they continued with the taping and mudding of the sheetrock. It's really coming together and Pastor is thrilled.

I spent my morning being checked out at the clinic as I have another cough - sore throat thing going. All checked out fine, nothing requiring medicine -- just a "virus" that will have to run its course. Pray for a quick course!!

From there our director came down and we headed off to Hai's house to see the roof -- which looks fantastic -- and put together the details to get an estimate for the completion of the home. Hai was thrilled to learn Phil has been in the construction business since he was 14. Once again we left her feeling less stressed than when we arrived.

We then headed to Marie's to meet the mechanical men. We are getting a bid from them to complete that process. Pray it's a really low one so we can continue to stretch dollars to the breaking point.

Tomorrow Monty and I will be doing more home visits in the San Leon area. We start very early in the morning and go through the afternoon. It's quite the challenge to keep everyone and their details straight when we look at so many in one day -- but they need the help and that's what we intend to do.

It took having communion in church yesterday morning for me to realize that another month had flown by! Seems like I just turned that page?

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