Tuesday, March 31, 2009

He passed all 5 tests!!!!

Yes -- Monty passed all 5 written tests for his CDL. We studied together last night, going over all the questions and him double checking the ones he missed. He was gone all day but made it through -- thanks so much for all the prayers. He will leave very early in the morning to do some practice driving a big rig in preparation for the written test -- more prayers!

Timothy and I headed off to Lowes to get Hai's cabinet details ironed out and finalized. It took a bit of shifting but we did it and decided to stay with the oak ones that are unfinished. I will be using a light oak stain/poly combination to finish them. They should be awesome, with a bit of luck. We worked on finishing the last of the second coat painting and also second coating the window and door trim. It really looks good.

By late afternoon it was time for Hai and I to travel to Home Depot to pick up all her floor tile and everything that goes with it. It took some arranging and then rearranging by their staff but we managed to get all of it on both our trucks. From there we headed back to get it all unloaded and staged for tomorrow morning when Gregg and Pam and Phil Jr. will be joining us and starting the tile process. Monty met up with us there and by the time we finished we nearly missed dinner as it was quite late. It also helped that her neighbor, Mr Carl, came over to help us. Boxes of 16" tile are quite heavy!

Marty and Phil Jr. finished up things at Naomi's. All that remains is for the counter top she ordered to come in. We are going to do a house blessing for her on Friday morning. It will be our second one -- we're on a roll!

Gregg finished tiling at the church and Pam managed to get Benjamin's all primed. It seems they have used all their FEMA funds so we will be gathering some more information and documentation from them, getting a full estimate as to what still needs to be done and taking it to the Long Term Recovery to request funding -- more prayers are helpful! Pam got to see just how excited homeowners become when they realize there might be more help for them -- that look of hope that is priceless!

As I said, tomorrow all of us will join forces to get the tile started at Hai's. With Gregg here to do the tile and Timothy to do the cabinets we need to take full advantage of their skills and get the work done! Should be an awesome day!

Until then . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday with 10

A busy weekend it was. Our teams left all during Saturday morning. As always, it was tough to see them go. They were such an amazing blessing to so many! Thanks to all of them.
By Saturday night we had our team of 2 men come in from Washington state. Sandy had been here a few months ago and this time returned with Doug. It was good to see a familiar face.
Sunday was Family Day here at the Vineyard. After service there was a picnic right here in our front yards, we are located next to the city park! We were all thankful that the high winds had stopped during the night and the sunshine gave us perfect weather.
Around 5pm Monty and I picked up Timothy at the local airport. He flew in from Florida. He originally had a team of nearly 20 people coming and when all of them changed their plans he left his in place and came in as a team of one! Good job Timothy! He and his team had come and worked with us last summer while we were in Indiana helping with the floods. We sure do wish the rest of the team would have come along but as we always say -- no team is too small!
As we started this morning we took a head count and had our "perfect" 10!
Monty had quite the task ahead of him -- studying for his CDL testing here in Texas. He must pass a series of 5 written tests and the driving portion -- sure glad it's not me! He studied and memorized and studied and memorized all day long! This evening I read through the questions and he answered and things look good. If he can get through one more portion tomorrow he can go and take the tests. Please keep him in your prayers -- this is a tough one but he's determined to make it through.
Gregg, Pam and Diane headed to Galveston to work on the Vineyard church floor tile. It's coming along nicely and the main worship area is tiled and grouted.
Marty and Phil headed back to Naomi's and by the end of day had everything done except for the counter tops! She will be back home in a matter of days!
Sandy and Doug followed Timothy and I into San Leon where we dropped them at Terri's. She was home sick with a cold but as you can see from the photo -- she was right out there with them caulking the outside siding. They got the floor tiles all cleaned and will allow the grout to dry for the next day or two before sealing it and moving all the furniture into that room to allow the beginning of the rest of the house to start. They also started painting the siding and it really looks good!
Timothy and I (yes, I went into a home to do hands on work) ended up at Hai's house where we looked at her kitchen cabinet design in more detail and made plans to use linseed oil and polyurethane on the unfinished style to save some dollars. They will be beautiful! We also started in with the second coat of wall paint and got about 80% of it done. We will finish that tomorrow and hopefully get the trim and doors a second coat also. I admit it was quite difficult to do the hands on work, answer the incoming phone calls, check on Sandy and Doug to make sure they were okay and pick up paperwork from homeowners who are trying to get on our list of upcoming clients! Thank goodness Timothy was patient!
This evening we had our second part of orientation where we show a couple of videos of hurricane Ike. Those are always quite the site for new volunteers and we never get tired of seeing them.
As always, there just weren't enough hours in the day. It's quite late and still things to do.
We do have a special prayer request for our dear friend Cynthia, Pastor Kenny's wife. She will be undergoing surgery and we would ask for prayers for guidance from the doctors and a speedy recovery. We wish we could be there with them but . . . something about the miles between us thing!
It's only Monday and we already have a week packed with work and goals and pray God will lead us with His perfect plan. Be sure and stay tuned.
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dedication Day for Richard and Peggy

Yes, today was Richard and Peggy's Blessing of their home!

But not before a full day of work!

Monty and Neal started out early for Hai's house to tackle the electrical box problems. They were able to get a good start and Monty now knows what needs to be done. He will be working on it next week while I go in and start finishing her kitchen cabinets and put a second coat of paint on the walls. The both of us will be joined by our incoming team member from Florida, Timothy! Are you ready Timothy?

The teams went out as usual but only worked until noon. They had all decided to do a "parade of homes" throughout the afternoon so everyone could see all the jobs going on this past week.

The tour started at Marie's in Galveston, then the church, then Benjamin's and finally Naomi's before heading to San Leon where they started with Terri's, then Butch and Teresa's and then Hai's before ending up at Richard and Peggy's for the dedication. The above photo shows the guys finishing up at Terri's and the beautiful tile floor in her bathroom. I think her smile is now a permanent facial expression!

As we all packed into Richard and Peggy's home he started telling their story of before, during and after the storm. All he could talk about was how God had blessed them with all the teams that had come along side to help. He loved teaching the ones who came in and didn't think they had much construction ability, he remembered the tears of those who realized they had to leave and would love to have stayed. He continually thanked God for all their blessings and smiled when he pointed out how their new bedroom was so nicely furnished and they couldn't wait to lay down for a really good nights sleep tonight!

I had prepared a "basket of blessings" to present to them. I had seen this type of dedication done in a home while we were in Mississippi and loved it. It's a basket filled with a loaf of bread so the household will not know hunger, a candle so it will not know darkness, a box of sugar so the household will remain sweet, a bouquet of flowers so it will always be beautiful, a box of salt so it will always have flavor and finally a Bible so it will always know the Word of God. It brought tears from Richard and quite a few from the audience! God was smiling for sure!

It was the perfect ending to the day, one these teams were thankful to have participated in and sorry that all the prior teams couldn't. We asked that they represent all of you who came and added your blessings to Richard and Peggy.

The teams are departing at all hours throughout tonight and tomorrow morning. Some are driving and some are flying. We pray God's protection over all of them and thank each of them for being obedient to God's calling to come and show His love in a practical way!

Until next time . . . be a blessing to someone tomorrow and bring a smile to God's face!
Susan and Monty

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday in Galveston

I haven't had many recent photos of Marie's house so today after the weekly case management meeting that had me in Galveston I headed off to her house to check in on the team. They are priming and painting and have transformed everything to the most beautiful, peaceful, lightest tint of green I think I have ever seen. As Ms Marie said "it's so pleasing to the eyes!" She picked it out and decided to take that color throughout the house. When it's all done she will be extra glad she did.

From there it was a quick bite of lunch with Diane and off to Lowes, once again. I am there every single day and have been able to build a wonderful relationship with the team at commercial sales. I had to get Hai's cabinets paid for so they could pull them from the shelves. We are purchasing the unfinished style right off the shelves and being in a disaster zone we aren't the only ones needing them so first come, first serve. They are oak and will only need a coat of olive oil and poly and will be beautiful. The counter top is a perfect match with the walls and what we hope will be the ceramic flooring. Getting all the material is one thing, getting it in our price range is an entirely different ballgame. Thank goodness Lowes has been able to give us some discounts and coupons!

Monty was in San Leon the entire day running from job to job checking on the teams. With him there all day it allowed me to get some other things accomplished. The plan had been to meet up with Richard and check out a couple of electrical issues at Hai's. That plan didn't work very well. With the humidity up and rain falling Richard was needing to be on his oxygen nearly all the time. He was even late getting to his house this morning which had more than me worried! Monty decided tomorrow might be a better day to tackle the problem.

Hai's house has the crown trim up in the living area and door and trim being painted. It has really come together this week with all the paint, starting to really look like a home.

Terri's ceramic tile is nearly all grouted and done. They should be done by tomorrow morning. Another transformation.

Butch and Teresa's team finished the texturing of their ceilings, a neck aching job but it looks great.

Richard's is done -- he and Peggy will be moving in tomorrow -- but not before we have a dedication ceremony where we will bless the house. When I called him today to make sure that would be okay he was really surprised and already very thankful. All the teams plan on touring all the different jobs tomorrow afternoon and then end up at Richard's for the ceremony. It's something we've always felt was an important part of disaster ministry. Be sure and stay tuned and hear/see how it goes.

Our newest long term volunteer, Marty, from Greenwood, Indiana has spent the past few days working and organizing the warehouse. He is building shelves and trying to make some better sense of our tools and things. He plans on being here for a couple of weeks, heading back home for a week and then returning for who knows how long! We are thrilled to have him and know God has many a blessing in store for him.

By late this afternoon the rains came, complete with thunder and lightning. Even though there is a severe drought I still don't care for the downpours of rain. But --- it does kick the pollen count down! Blessings in every cloud!

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Closer every hour

I think we broke a record as to how quickly everyone was on their jobs this morning. Even Jeff and I were in and out of Lowes and on the job at Hai's before 8:30am.

Monty took off to see if he could help out with a couple of electrical issues at Hai's. After a meeting of the minds he will join our homeowner, Richard, tomorrow and between them they should come up with the solution.

Hai's house is getting painted, hand made crown molding stained, doors painted, shower installation happening and a multitude of other things. I was able to get our estimate for her kitchen cabinets to the organization who will be taking it to their funding sources and hopefully they will pay the bill for it all. This will be an enormous blessing for us as we are trying to stretch each dollar into ten.

Terri's team, as seen in the above photo, have nearly all of her bedroom floor tiled and even managed to get creative with her transition area between the rooms.

Richard's team finished the last bit of laminate flooring, installed the last door and wrapped up some loose ends. Their projected move in date is this Friday -- but not before we schedule a "blessing of the home" ceremony where we hope all the teams will be in attendance along with the rest of us. This is an exciting time as it will be our first "official" home dedication and always a great blessing for every single person there!

Butch and Teresa's team got even more finishing done and a great start with the kitchen area. He even started asking the team "why" they are helping him and a few more questions about church! Do I hear God knocking?

Benjamin and Rita's has the second finish coat on and the texturing of everything will begin tomorrow. Benjamin is having alot of fun feeding the team each day for lunch -- and they are fully enjoying every bite!

Naomi now has all her tile down, her appliances installed and with a bit more grout and touchup she also will be done!

The Vineyard church in Galveston is also nearly complete with tile flooring -- can you feel the word "finished" coming around the corner?

Monty and I also did another home visit today, Walter. Walter is 92 years "young", lives alone since his wife of 71 years passed away 3 years ago. Walter built his home all by himself and has been trying to do the repairs the same way. The entire back room blew completely off his home, only the slab remains. He doesn't want to rebuild it, just rebuild everything in front of it. He was very smart and held onto his FEMA money so he will be able to provide the materials while we supply the volunteers. When I told him it would probably be a couple of weeks before we could get there he was quick to tell me he had all the time in the world as he planned on celebrating his 100th birthday there in that home!!!!!!!!!!

As this week winds to a close we are so thankful for all the teams who have come and sacrificed their time and talents to bring these homes closer and closer to completion. Within days we will have homeowners returning to their homes, all of them much sooner than they ever thought possible! I know God is smiling, beaming -- from ear to ear to see His children following the example He layed for all of us!

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

Monday, March 23, 2009

Not your typical Monday

Usually Mondays are days where the new incoming volunteers start the day with the "deer in the headlights" look on their faces and spend most of the day planning for the next day. Not so today. We were able to have our usual Sunday night team leader meeting where we line out the jobs needing done and see who feels qualified to be the leader of that job. After the leader steps up we let the rest of the volunteers decide which home they feel they would like to help in. After about an hour we have our teams set up and ready to face Monday morning. This time we actually put up a dry erase board with all the information listed and I think it worked well.

With teams from North Carolina, Michigan, New York, California and South Dakota they can all be sure that they will be working with some folks they don't know. It works well and allows team members to get to know others outside of their own team.

With Monty and I leading the convoy of vehicles into San Leon we made our stops and drops to Terri's, Barney's, Butch's, Hai's and Richard's. It allows all the teams to see where all the other teams are working. In San Leon each job is less than 5 minutes from the other one so stop and drops work well.

Terri's team started with cleaning all the furniture and things from her bedroom and pulling up the plywood flooring in preparation for ceramic tiling. We were thrilled to find the under boards completely dry and ready to go. Terri made a stop at Lowes to select her tile and get everything else ready for us to pick up tomorrow morning and then head straight to her house. They even made friends with her dog, Flower, within the first few minutes! She was a stray after the storm and doesn't like men -- which is really an understatement.

Another team headed to Butch and Teresa's where they sanded and finished and sanded some more. Butch was able to concentrate on the kitchen and has a plan for them for the rest of the week.

Jason and a team of one more went back to Barney's to repair his chain link fence. I don't know how they did what they did with what they had to work with but it looks awesome! When they finished they went to Hai's where they will stay for the rest of the week.

Hai's team spent the entire day priming -- doors, door frames, incoming door trim, incoming bifold doors and whatever else needed priming. We will also be picking up materials for her tomorrow morning, more door trim and wood to create "original" crown molding throughout the house.

Richard's team helped them organize the kitchen and also stain some floor trim for his newly done laminate flooring. He and Peggy have their bedroom completely set up and are hoping to be officially moving in before too long.

The crews that headed off to Galveston worked in Marie's house with sanding and more sanding. Naomi had Gregg all to himself to finish the 6" ceramic tile flooring. Pam took her team to Benjamin's where they also sanded and finished and sanded even more. One last team spent the day at the church also installing ceramic tile.

Monty and I were blessed to run into Pastor Bob at noon and he had a couple more people and places he wanted us to see. We followed him and met one gentleman who really needs help and another home that a team started and needs completed. The homes and homeowners keep coming, we just pray the teams also keep coming!

Even though we have plenty of tools our tile saws are all out this week. We borrowed one from a couple who loves to come in and cook for our teams -- thanks Kyle!

As I said at the start -- Mondays are usually spent just planning for Tuesday. These teams aren't the usual and accomplished quite a bit for their first day! We are anxious to see what the rest of the week holds! Be sure and stay tuned!

Until then . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saying goodbye is twice as hard

How do you say goodbye to 2 teams that are family? The answer --- not easily!!!! It creates alot of tears, on both sides.

Yesterday was the "final push" day where each team tries to complete just a little bit more, go that extra mile and all the while realizing that time is ticking away and they will be forced to leave the job incomplete. It's not easy -- our society has the opinion that if we don't finish what we start we aren't doing a good job -- that is NOT true here!

Terri's house is completely primed outside. She took off work a bit early to be able to come and thank Rob and Rich and the team and was shocked when she pulled up. It is now ready for painting outside and for us to also move inside and start working there. They changed her life this week and in turn, God changed theirs!

Hai also is primed all inside and ready for paint. Her ceiling fans and lights are installed and are beautiful. All her doors are in and her plumbing has been corrected. She said she must might take the kids and do something fun this afternoon --- awesome!

Butch couldn't thank John and Naresh enough! He was so blessed by not only their expertise in construction but their joy that resonated throughtout the home and the week.

Richard only has a couple of rails to go on his deck and a few odds and ends before being ready to move in. This team also signed his homemade cross that will grace the entry of his home.

Sonny's old trailer is nothing but a pile of rubble. Jason and Scott and Jim managed to salvage so much material for Sonny -- something not planned for at all. Our local Saturday day-team is cleaning up the last of it today. Monty always jokes and says the man with the largest brimmed hat is the boss -- it's a toss up in the above photo!

Benjamin and Rita also have all their sheetrock hung and only one more tape coat is needed. They also changed lives with their love and thanks to the team.

Naomi's tile flooring only needs a bit more time and Gregg will have it done and she will be ready to move out of her bedroom upstairs and have a real house again.

Marie has nearly all her mudding done and will be ready for priming and painting. We still need to do some plumbing work in her bath and bedroom but she is getting closer and closer each week. She was thrilled to give her puppy, Rey, to Shane who is now doing what he can to arrange to fly Rey back with him to Oregon next weekend. Rey seems to be doing well in his move and will hopefully do well on the plane?!

In saying our goodbyes both last night and this morning it was so evident that lives of homeowners AND volunteers had been changed forever this week. Grown men with tears streaming down their cheeks because of the heart God has given for the people. Women who vow to come back now that they know there is plenty they can do to help. Younger ones who are still in shock at what they have seen and will need some time at home to process everything. It's God at work! It's always amazing to watch, even more amazing to watch week after week! We are the ones who are "super blessed" to be here week after week, month after month . . . just doing what we can to be the hands and feet of our Lord!

Please continue your prayers for Diane's mother and for Ken's wife, Cynthia. Also pray for protection over all our teams as some travel home and others travel here for their special week of service.

To Rob, Rich and Mark of our home church -- you just have NO idea how uplifting it is for Monty and I personally to have you here -- to feel your love and to see your smiling faces! As painful as it is to see you go -- you know the door is always open for you to return.

To our California "dream team" -- what would a disaster be without you! You are amazing, the love you have for us and the way you show that love! Same goes for you -- an open door! And a special thanks for making it possible for Jason to stay another week with us! What an amazing young man with a huge heart of service! Bless you for allowing us to borrow him for a bit longer!

Until next time . . . blessings and love to all. Susan and Monty

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Mom and Candy!!!!

The very top photo is a Happy Birthday to Candy -- from Rob (Candy is his wife)! He and the team worked away at Terri's as you can see with the guys cutting siding and Rich about to work his way to the big circular window -- it was completely sided and primed when they left today! Amazing!

David and his crew started their day at Marie's with taping and mudding and due to the intense fog the drying time was a bit extended so they packed up and headed around the bend to help the team working at Benjamin and Rita's house hanging and finishing sheetrock. You can see that their ceilings are a bit low thus making the reaching with tape and mud a real trip! They then returned to Marie's to finish up the day. Double duty!

Diane, Gregg, Pam, Phil Jr and Shirley were working away at Naomi's. Gregg was on his hands and knees all day with laying 6" tile flooring!! The rest were cleaning, painting and finishing up everything needing done. She is nearly done! And thrilled!

Sonny's trailer is now nearly 100% demolished. A bit more cleanup tomorrow and we call it done and he can start shopping for a new home!

Butch and Teresa now have a complete bathroom and are also thrilled beyond words.

Hai has doors, even a closet door! She is nearly all primed and cannot believe her eyes each time she comes inside. She wants to keep Mark, Gary and the whole team!

The work goes on and now we are looking at Friday -- the last day and a day where everyone pushes to get done. We always are sad at the thought of them leaving and I hope to focus on the miracles of the day and put that out of my mind, for atleast another 24 hours!

We do have a special prayer request -- Diane's mother is back in the hospital having fluid drained from her lungs -- she is extremely weak and needs our prayers.

Another prayer request for our dear friends Pastor Ken and his wife Cynthia. She has some deep and painful medical problems going on and really needs our prayers!

Thank you for always answering our prayer requests -- prayer has almighty power!

Happy Birthday to my Mom -- wish you were here so we could really celebrate!!!! Love you!!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

God told me it would be this way

Toward the middle of last week God kept speaking to me (in that still small voice of His) telling me that next week would be "the week." Not alot of description, not alot of detail but I just knew that this week would be special. Even in knowing that I didn't have a clue, didn't have the full picture, didn't see the depth and length of His blessings to come. And with today only being Wednesday I am certain those blessings will only continue to grow.

You can see the new walkway going in at Terri's along with an interesting view from INSIDE her home looking out! Some things have to be removed before they can be rebuilt and that's what's happening with her walls. She did call last night and tell about how she had broken down at work yesterday, started crying, which brought fellow employees to her side asking what was wrong. It was only when she told them she was crying tears of joy that they understood, sort of.

Sonny's old trailer continues being demolished and taken to the street. We pulled a couple of the team members from Richard's to come and help. Everyone there was having way too much fun taking it apart and waiting for the roof to come falling down. They will be returning there tomorrow.

Richard is nearly all complete with his laminate flooring and the team even put together his bedroom yesterday, furniture and all! The one man finished the cleaning and refurbishing of the family heirloom trunk and brought Peggy to tears with the fantastic results.

Hai now has all her sheetrock completely hung and finished. They plan on installing interior doors and priming walls tomorrow. Could we possibly see paint by the end of the week? If Mark has anything to say about it we certainly will!

Butch and Teresa's men were a bit delayed in arriving this morning. But as you take a look at them in the above photo you can see the delay turned out fine. John got 2 bites on his arm yesterday and by this morning it was evident that it was a spider, maybe a brown recluse. He took a quick trip to the ER, got a shot and some meds and was back to work nearly all better!

Naomi will get some tile flooring tomorrow and will be ever so close to returning to living in her lower level and having a real kitchen.

Marie is also gaining by leaps and bounds. My goal tomorrow is to get to Galveston and have some updated photos for all of you to see.

I also received word that Paul and Susan should be receiving kitchen cabinets tomorrow and that their home looks like something out of a magazine! They both have a permanent smile on their faces!

Even with God speaking to me about this week it still amazes me. I never want to take that amazement for granted. I never want to stop being in awe at His almighty power! He is changing the lives of the homeowners but there is something very special and very strong happening within these teams. Eyes are being opened, and some are pouring with tears of emotion and hearts are being changed --- miraculous!!! What an awesome God we serve!

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Most Tuesdays are the day when teams get a better sense of what they are doing and how they are going to get it done. This Tuesday was exceptional -- they are all working as though they have been here for weeks!

Richard only has about 2/3rds of his family room left to lay laminate flooring in. He was down on his hands and knees teaching --- God had to be smiling!

Terri now has both rooms of her house connected, both doors installed and the house standing on cement supports. She called this evening to ask me if she could keep this team?!

Butch and Teresa are also continuing to move forward. The bathroom is nearly done and they will be painting rooms by tomorrow.

A team returned to Barney's house to complete the cleaning of his shed and putting back everything he wanted. When I stopped by late afternoon they were all inside listening to Barney play his guitar and even sharing that guitar with one of the team -- quite the ministry session without anyone even realizing it! He couldn't say thank you enough!

Hai now has the second coat of finish on her walls and Mark set a goal to have it primed and maybe painted by the end of the week. They also plan on installing doors! She is also breathing a bit easier these days.

Cathy and Dwight were over their setback of yesterday and the team was busy installing the new, heavier siding inside and it looks great! They are priming both sides before putting it on the walls.

Diane and Shirley were busy doing their own finishing of Naomi's house and will hopefully be painting tomorrow -- just in time for Gregg and Pam to help out and put it all in high gear!

Marie's house also continues moving forward. Her electric is finally done and the sheetrock finishing is going well. I hope to have some photos of them tomorrow. Since they are in Galveston and I am nearly always in San Leon finding a block of time to travel can be tough but hang in there -- it will happen!

Monty spent most of his day working on our bobcat. He just brought it home from the shop and the engine itself works great but the bucket and such need more than a bit of work. He was elbow deep in it when I made it back!

The teams this week have also decided they want to work past the 4:00pm time and are either choosing to eat out later in the evening or requesting that their dinner be set aside and they'll warm it up themselves when they do get in. Amazing!!!

Tomorrow we will also be returning to Sonny's trailer and hopefully get the rest of the demolition completed. Teams always enjoy taking something apart and they have their work cut out for them on this one!

Please continue to pray for the teams this week AND for the homeowners! God has to have a smile from ear to ear as He watches His children follow His example of total service!

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

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunshine and blessings

They worked late into the evening, taking advantage of the daylight to get more done! Indiana combined with California brought smiles to Terri's face. I think it outshone the sun!

Hai has Mark and his mixture of team members starting the tape and mud coats on her walls along with correcting a couple of plumbing leaks and finishing a multitude of things. She also said she feels like she can take a breath this week with this highly skilled team working in her house.

Richard is getting laminate flooring along with trim and if you know anything about building you realize that he is getting really close to being done. They hope to get a bit more done on both his decks tomorrow since it finally stopped raining and hopefully will dry out more by tomorrow.

Butch and Teresa are really enjoying John and Naresh helping them also hang and finish even more sheetrock and get their bathroom done.

An and Tot have some major plumbing that will need done before we can do anything further. And before we get into any of that I have to get the estimate and apply for additional funding for materials. The team in there got quite a bit done today and will be relocating to Barney's house tomorrow to finish his cleanup and organizing.

Cathy and Dwight had a bit of a setback today. The siding they selected for the inside of the walls wasn't heavy enough to withstand the moisture and buckled beyond repair. Although it was quite the challenge they made the decision to remove it all and replace it with a heavier style. Things like this can happen and can be quite difficult for the homeowners. Cathy worked her way through the sadness and is glad it didn't happen later when correcting it could have been alot worse.

Naomi is getting closer and closer to having her condo done enough for her to remove her kitchen items from the bathroom (the only place with water) and return them back to a new kitchen.

Benjamin and Rita are thrilled at the progress of their sheetrock hanging and finishing. Their shorter ceilings make quicker work of the process.

Marie is getting the final electrical done along with more walls. Today they finally got the lower rotted cabinets removed. That was quite a feat as she has been quite admimate that they stay -- her daddy built them! She did realize they were damaged beyond repair and allowed us to remove the lower ones only! What a lady! David from California is heading up her team.

As you can see, Monty was able to be away from camp and tour all the homes in San Leon today. And of course this evening another camp "mishap" had him unclogging a trailers septic lines, what a mess but .... happens!!! :) He also worked an amazing deal with our vehicle maintenance company and will be picking up our newly repaired bobcat tomorrow! Thanks a bunch Austin!!! He and his company help keep us running without going broke!

It's such fun having teams here that we know so well and have worked with so many times over the years. And with all those teams there are the new volunteers -- God's working! It feels like family all around us and that is so uplifting for the both of us.

Tonight we were joined by Gregg and Pam again. They just finished the latest speed build in Mississippi, the 3rd one, and are here for the next month. I think they are glad to be out of the South Dakota winter and of course, we are blessed to have them here!

It's only Monday and yet all teams seem to be running smoothly and have amazing goals for their week. And the smiles on each homeowner tells me God is "in the house" literally!!

Stay tuned!

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

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Home comes to Texas

They started coming in on Friday and continued today. First came Rich from our home church and the rest of the team arrived shortly after noon today totaling 10. Many faces we recognized from past trips and others are new. Everyone is excited to see what jobs are in front of them and we are just excited to see "home" right here with us!

The team from Minnesota arrived yesterday afternoon. We were enjoying lunch at our assistant director's home up closer to the Houston area. Diane's daughter and 2 grandchildren were with us and even though it was raining there was a bit of swimming in their heated pool.

By the time we were heading home it was time for Diane to pick up Shirley. She flew in from Diane's home church in Wisconsin. It was so good to see her as she and her husband have volunteered with us before and we even spent a long weekend with them as guests in their home a couple of years ago.

We are awaiting our team from California. One CA team arrived on Friday afternoon. This team has also worked with us numerous times and it will be so good to see them again. I hear they are bringing some new faces also.

With both our home team and CA here this next week it will be a fantastic week. Yes, alot of work will be done but the ministry boost for Monty and I is already an added blessing. As Diane and I looked at jobs for this week we realized that there will be 8 going on in San Leon and 4 in Galveston --- what a week it will be! We just need this rain to stop and some warmer temps to help things out a bit!

Be sure and stay tuned as it will be quite the task to keep up with all that God has planned for all of us (and you) this coming week. We thank you for your prayers!

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

Friday, March 13, 2009

They flew out, he flew in

Photo memories of yesterday!

This morning brought a great deal of sadness for me, my mother and sister in law boarded the plane and went home. I had been looking forward to this week for weeks and before I could blink it was here and gone! I guess it's a good thing the airports don't allow you to park and linger when unloading passengers -- it would only make it more difficult! My next hope is that they will come back before too long!

Just as they were getting unloaded we received the phone call from Rich from our home Vineyard church -- he had just landed. We drove around the circle and picked him up on the lower level. Time to shift gears. He was quite shocked to step out into weather that isn't that much different than Indiana right now, cold with rain and temps in the mid 40's! By Monday we'll be back in the mid 70's.

A quick bite for lunch and we were on our way. Monty returned to camp to make preparations for the people to come and pick up our old shower tent and haul it to Galveston for a long weekend of use.

Rich and I headed back to San Leon to check on teams and make a home visit. We were able to get a good look at Terri's as that is where he and Rob will be working next week. He felt confident that they were up for the challenge. I have no doubts!

By the time we got back it was dinner time and then a chance for Rich to get settled in to his cot -- temporarily located in the copy room! We have to wait for the current teams to leave very early tomorrow morning before setting up for the next incoming -- a revolving door!

Diane and I put together plans for jobs for next week. I was telling her that God has been speaking to me that this next week will be a big jump for us with many jobs. I pray that is exactly what happens!

Be sure and stay tuned!

Mom and Cindy -- thank you so much for coming, for listening, for caring and for understanding what we are doing and why we are doing it! It's all about God! NOW you see and NOW you understand! I miss you already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Their last day?

She has a "severe dislike" for birds yet when we toured Galveston this morning she brought some left over bread and drew quite the crowd! Amazes me how they come from nowhere!

The weather took a different turn today, cloudy and 20 degrees cooler but all still worked as planned.

We started 2 new jobs today also, Henry and Margie. Margie now has her bedroom ready for rebuilding and also enjoyed spending time with Velda who is a fellow quilter! Another God match!

Henry got a team who started inside his house, organizing and cleaning the remainder of Ike. And when we stopped by he once again pulled out his guitar and played a couple of songs -- the team was speechless until giving him a round of applause! They all marveled at his wisdom of 88 years and learned more in one day than a lifetime of history classes.

The rest of the teams continued their blessing of the homes and homeowners. All in San Leon gathered at Teresa and Butch's for a wonderful homemade southern lunch and were done just in time for the light rains to show up.

We took a few minutes to stop in and meet and greet Marie who is patiently waiting for another team to show up and continue working next week.

This evening we welcomed our incoming team from California who will start working tomorrow and work all through next week. The rest of the teams will arrive over the weekend. We are really excited as we await our home church team due to arrive on Sunday evening.

I am sad to think about my mom and sister in law leaving tomorrow morning. I know my dad will be happy to have my mom back, especially with his facial surgery yesterday. He is doing better but will be much better when she gets back home. I feel so blessed to have had them here for the past few, short, days. I pray God has touched their hearts, as I know He has, and they will have a better understanding of how He works through the lives of others in helping others after disasters! They have seen miracles and in that they have seen God -- life changing!

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Barney's song to my mother

This was a day that had every single hour packed full!

The morning started with a trip to the auto inspection shop -- I got stopped yesterday with one of the Mercy Response trucks -- the state inspection sticker had expired. He waived the ticket which I later learned would have cost $300 -- thank you Lord!

From there Mom, Cindy and I headed back to San Leon. Our first stop was to check on Margie and get measurements of her bedroom so we can remove the damaged ceiling and carpeting. She really enjoyed showing my mother her quilts, common ground!

We then headed to check some of the jobs. Hai's tongue 'n groove ceilings are absolutely beautiful with the new stain and poly! The team also helped her clean up her yard and will be relocated to another location for tomorrow -- Hai asked for a couple days rest before the next incoming team on Monday!

An and Tot's house is now all mudded in and ready for some subflooring repairs and plumbing issues to be resolved next week. Tot was very sad to see her team leave but reassured that we will be returning.

Richard's crew is working away on his back deck and all were thankful the forecast rains did not show up.

Dwight continued working with his team at their house and was thrilled to explain to my mom and Cindy just how it looked in the beginning and what an amazing blessing all the teams have been!

Butch and Teresa are making great strides in getting their house done. They will be preparing lunch for all the teams working in San Leon tomorrow!

The team tiling the Vineyard church in Galveston are making amazing progress. God always provides the talent we need just when we need it.

After checking teams we stopped to make contact with V Families, an agency that is also working in San Leon to provide counseling and hopefully jobs for all the fisherman who are out of work. We will be checking into their listing of homes needing construction repairs -- what a list -- over 75 homes! Pray for us as we work together to meet these seemingly insurmountable needs!

Our next stop was our first home visit, Mr. Henry! Henry is nicknamed "Barney" and is 88 years young! He still plays guitar and sings, said he used to sing with George Jones as a child and has made many a recording. He spotted my mother as soon as we walked in and wasn't going to let us leave until he sang a couple of songs to her! It was quite amazing and we thought for a minute we might be there the rest of the day -- what a facinating man! He has a shed in back that is filled with you name it and it hasn't been touched since the storm. We are sending a team there tomorrow to start the process of deciding what is trash and what isn't. The team will have fun, that's for sure!

After a quick bite of lunch we headed to our second home visit. William and Francis realize their home cannot be rebuilt -- it's just too damaged and unsound. They are living inside, along with the mold and mess, ceilings all leaking and causing further damage and floors that shake when we walked on them. They are in the process of asking for a FEMA trailer and are also appealing for additional funding so hopefully we can help demolish the home and they can purchase a mobile home and live in a home that is safe, sanitary and secure! It was quite the emotional visit, one that makes us realize just how much people need help! I know it's a visit my mother will never forget!

We barely made our time limit for mom and Cindy to catch a ride back to the camp with Diane to help prepare our dinner this evening. Phil met up with me and we went to do 3 estimates so I can gather the documentation and try for additional funding for each so we can go in and make repairs and rebuilds.

By the time I returned to camp it was time for dinner and then our nightly team leader meeting to see how everyone had done throughout the day. We did some shuffling and teams will be headed to Margie's and Henry's tomorrow morning along with the usual ones for this week.

It's been an amazing blessing to have my mother and sister in law here these past couple of days, to have them also experience the miracles God performs and to have them be a part of changing lives with just a small touch of love and kindness and caring. Tomorrow is their last day and I don't even want to think about how difficult it will be to return them to the airport on Friday morning!

In the meantime, we have jobs to check and new home visits to make tomorrow. I also hope to get them into Galveston so they can see what is going on there. Just might need a couple extra hours in the day to get everything in! :)

I would ask for prayers for my father tonight -- he has been plagued with skin cancers on his face for years and had yet another one removed from his forehead area today. This one was especially rough and he isn't feeling well -- and with my mother here it's a bit tougher for him. Thank you for praying for him!

Until tomorrow . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Welcome Mom and Cindy

Yesterday my mother and sister in law flew down to spend the week with us. It's Cindy's first time to come and my mom's third. We were able to get them settled into the added 5th wheel camper next to ours. Monty just brought it back from the New Orleans camp on Friday so it has come in handy already. They are both enjoying some extra space.

This morning we were all up bright and early to start day 2 with our teams from Iowa and Tennessee. They were all busy yesterday getting a feel for the homes they are working in. They are continuing the ceiling renovations in Hai's house and they look beautiful. Another team returned to Cathy and Dwight's to help him hang the ceilings and some other work needing done. Yet another went to the Vineyard church plant in Galveston and worked on the tile flooring that was started last week. More were back working with Butch and Teresa while yet another team started work at An and Tot's house. They have been tearing out ceramic tile flooring for both yesterday and today.

Mom and Cindy decided they would go with me for the day, checking work sites, getting needed materials and attending the Long Term Recovery meeting this afternoon. Cindy made it to the first job, An and Tot's, and decided to join in the tile removal. We returned to pick her up for lunch and she decided she wanted to return to work for the rest of the day! They managed to get all the tile removed and a bit of sanding and finishing also done. Tot told Cindy that she has had troubles sleeping more than a couple of hours each night as she and her husband have been doing all the work themselves. This work has left An with medical problems with his shoulder and back and Tot with a broken hand. They were both surprised and amazed when volunteers showed up yesterday and we told them we hope to be able to continue sending them until the house is done! Tot told Cindy this afternoon, "I am so happy!" Miracle words!

So many houses being worked in and so many more needing work. We were blessed at the meeting this afternoon to have the opportunity to partner with an organization called "V Family" who works with the Vietnamese families. They are able to offer counseling services along with helping the fishermen find jobs. Nearly all of the men were shrimpers or crabbers and have absolutely no income or job since the storm destroyed their boats. V Family cannot do construction so partnering with them is an answer to prayers --- for the both of us! I will be meeting with them further tomorrow.

The entire team got an added exercise in patience this evening when they returned to camp to find the water shut off -- to the showers, sinks and toilets. The church was a bit flooded this morning when piping to a water heater broke and caused plumbers to be on site the entire day and into the evening. The showers will be running quite late into the night!

It's so nice to have family here, to see them catch the vision, to feel the feelings and see the sites and know why Monty and I continue doing what God calls us to do. They get a better understanding and in doing so have the opportunity to see the miracles for themselves! What an amazing God we serve!

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

Saturday, March 07, 2009

And then they were gone

Victor's home, in the process of being rebuilt and repainted -- the blue is his new color. You can see his crab traps in the foreground -- all of which are damaged and need repairing. Only problem is that his boat was destroyed, both of them! And now he is one of the hundreds in San Leon who have no income -- nothing!! You can't collect unemployment when you were a shrimper, crabber or oyster fisherman and worked for yourself! It's got to be one of the most difficult situations I have had to deal with yet! How do we help? We pray!

The 66 team members started leaving as early as 4 this morning. Some were flying and had early flights, some were driving. Everyone was gone by 11 and we now await the arrival of the first of 35 for this week. They are expected before midnight tonight.

One of the exciting things about the teams that just left is that 3 of them are really interested in coming back on an internship program where they would stay upwards of a couple weeks to months, depending on their time frames. We desperately need interns who will go out on jobs as supervisors and take some of the responsibility for themselves. They would be able to be involved in so many more aspects of the disaster relief and we pray they will return home and put things in motion to return!

We also heard from Timothy in Florida. He and his team came to Indiana and worked with us in the flood aftermath there. He is bringing another team here to do some more serving! It's always such an added blessing to have old friends return!

In the meantime -- I am asking for prayers for myself. Whatever kind of tree pollen that I am allergic to is back --- in full force and making me miserable! I went back on the allergy meds but they take some time to build up -- and in the meantime I will be sleeping on the couch in the sitting up position just to get some air! Thank you for praying for healing.

Hopefully all of us will be in church tomorrow -- taking the opportunity to praise our Lord for all His amazing blessings! If you don't belong to a church -- look around for one that sparks your interest and take a bold step and go! You won't be sorry!

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