Monday, June 29, 2009


Another shot of Mariano and Maria's new pantry addition to their kitchen. This area had been closed in with a water heater inside. The floor had completely fallen through after the storm and after Mariano getting in there and doing his own framing it was ready for the pantry and the refrigerator. What an improvement and what a smile it brought to Maria's face!

This week we do not have a team! Seems amazing but it's turning into a week of preparation for next week and all the weeks after. After this weekend we have teams every single week for as far out as the calendar goes! And each weekend is packed with the one day teams. So we need to get materials on site at all the homes. This sounds like quite the easy task but we have to keep track of those who we have received funding for and those who have their own funds to work with. It's quite the checks and balances record keeping and I am thankful for the old pencil and paper methods!

I've been working on getting the entire estimate ready for Vicky. She sent me photos of what her kitchen cabinets looked like before the storm as she wants them back as closely as possible. Those are what I will take to Lowes and have them go from there. The rest of the estimate is nearly complete. I had to add a refrigerator and that is done. We always go "mid-range" with prices, not the lowest and not the highest. With homes like hers that needs some of this and more of that it can get quite detailed and getting all the parts and pieces together takes some doing. She did tell me how extremely happy she was when she drove up late Saturday and saw all the work the team had done! The cleanliness of her stove nearly sent her into tears! She asked that I pass on her deepest thanks and she hopes to get to meet them on their next trip!! So thanks team -- awesome job and more awesome blessings!!

Monty has been working on the tool trailer getting the shelving built and installed. When he came in this afternoon the sweat was dripping as though he'd been underneath the water hose. I know he wished that had been where he was! The thermometer read 104!!!! No end is in sight and it definitely has the locals worried as it's way too warm way too early and the waters are also way too warm way too early which all spells "hurricane" weather!!! All are talking about it and none are ready!!!

We made a visit to Hai last evening and she also mentioned the weather. Her oldest 3 children are spending the summer with her inlaws in the northeast and she has the youngest 2. She is anxious to have her house done and be able to move in. But she is also patient and continues working inside on her own. Quite the worker!

We hope all of you are doing well and are enjoying the beginnings of summer.

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

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vicky's blessed

They didn't have a dry stitch of clothing on them when they left. They were covered in dirt and had cleaned things I never dreamed they would get clean. Their clothes might never look like they did at the beginning of the day when we met at the park for our orientation. They probably have blisters on their hands from pulling weeds. And yet they were beaming, smiling from ear to ear as they wrapped up their day, loaded back into the church bus and headed home. All were talking about their upcoming return trip next month! That Joy shining throughout the entire neighborhood!

They came from about 90 minutes from here and were such an awesome blessing to Vicky. Not only did they clean the inside of the home in preparation for us to come in and finish the construction that was started by someone else months ago, they returned her flower gardens to flower gardens! The weeds had completely taken over and there would be no way Vicky would be able to bring them back herself. This team came prepared with every garden tool imaginable and got the job done. They even made the stove inside that I had thought we would have to throw out look almost like new! THAT will really bring a smile to Vicky as she loves !!! that stove!

We are deeply grateful to this team for all their hard work and look forward to their return. Their church has set aside the 4th Saturday of each month to come here and do whatever needs done. Who knows, they might even get to take part in the construction side of Vicky's home!

Yet another day of record breaking temps. Today was 104 with heat index at 110! Any way you look at it --- it's just plain hot!! I wonder if one can ever get enough water in these temps? It's the only, and I mean only, thing in our refrigerator and it seems to be constantly running out!!! And who needs even warm water in the shower!!! We humans sure are adaptable!!! :)

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

Friday, June 26, 2009

The blessing of a kitchen

Everyone realizes just how important the kitchen is in a home. For most women, and some men, it's the main room of the house and the place where all sorts of good things come from. Maria and Mariano and their family are a huge step closer to having a kitchen back in their home. Bart, from our Katy, TX team was here Monday, took measurements and headed back home where he spent 2 - 12 hour days and 1 - 18 hour day building the kitchen cabinets. He did an outstanding job as you can see in the photos. Solid wood, no partical board here. Complete with an extra large pantry for a family with 5 children! The team even took Mariano and Maria to the store to pick out their laminate for the hand made counter tops! What a blessing for everyone involved in this project! The team brought them the stain/poly they will need to finish the cabinets and we will be getting the sink and other items next week! Our heartfelt thanks to all of this team as they did come and go throughout the week and each one brought lasting memories for all of us!
We also had a team come and work for one day today. They are from the Jacksonville, Florida area. They came to Houston and decided to come here and spend a day blessing a family. Hank and Cherie were that family. We got materials for them yesterday, they were delivered and by early afternoon those materials were all used! This team made it possible for Hank to tear into their bathroom, put in a new subfloor and do all the things he's been waiting to do. They also learned how to spread roof sealant on a mobile home! We are so thankful to them for coming and blessing this wonderful family.
Even though it was Friday and we were saying both hello and goodbye to the Florida team and goodbye to Texas we are preparing for yet another local team to come and spend the day tomorrow. They will all be working in Vicky's house, cleaning inside, cleaning outside and generally preparing it for rebuilding.
The outside temps are rising, we broke all records yesterday with 104 degrees and no end in sight. The teams still come, the sweat pours down their faces and still that joy of the Lord shines through and they bless others and in turn are blessed themselves! I just love how God planned it that way!!!!
Until next time . . . Thanks Florida and thanks Katy, Texas!!!!! Susan and Monty

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Records for Today

4:00am came the sound of the alarm and we were out the door an hour later, headed to Galveston. I hadn't driven in the dark for who knows how long and found it the only time it was border line cool.
Monty and I were stationed at the check in booth where everyone had to be checked in making sure they were on the list of those invited. NBC had asked that the crowd be kept to a minimum and my guess is there was around 150 people. It was easy to see where everything was located, the streets were blocked off and the lights shown high above the homes. I know the neighbors were glad they had ring side seats.
It was amazing to see everything that goes on behind the scenes. Al Roker was kept inside an air conditioned van until just a few minutes before each time he went on the air. He told everyone this was the largest give away ever -- the first and only time where both Lowes and Home Depot were involved in something together! Ethan Allen brought furniture, tons and tons of furniture. Webber was there with more bbq supplies than imaginable. John Deere was there with a tractor . . . it was quite the scene. Al started off with the interview with Erin who started this whole thing and did a wonderful job! From there they switched between donors and ended the show on Marie's front porch with her family by her side and a beautifully decorated porch complete with food prepared by one special chef! It was beautiful and an honor to be a part of.
As soon as it was done Monty and I were asked to be interviewed by one of the local schools that has done a documentary on Ike, it was even featured on Good Morning America a couple of weeks ago. They got what they needed and Marie was the star she always is -- praising God all the way! Tomorrow we will be honored to attend the screening of the video tomorrow at Texas A&M University on the island.
Meanwhile our teams continued working away. Mariano's kitchen is being sheetrocked and finished. They are putting a subfloor in his soon to be pantry and working on siding on the back of the house. And of course, Mariano is right there with them. The team leader speaks Spanish so there's quite a bit more conversation going on!
Archie now has bedroom walls, standing up walls. He is thrilled and the team was continuing to build more. Archie said it's just too hot to do anything!!! (We agree)
Speaking of the heat --- we broke all records today. The actual thermometer reading did reach 103 and was climbing!!! No clouds, full sunshine that will scorch you clean through your clothes! And no end in sight!
Anyway, Monty and I then headed back to Donnie and Sissi's house for a special house blessing program where they both had their hands flying with sign language trying to thank everyone there and everyone involved. They were presented with some gifts and the kids were especially happy with the hand made bluebird house. We prayed over the family and the home and were sad to say goodbye but know they are now fine and ready for a new start in their newly rebuilt home!
By the time we were finished we were wet to the bone and ready to hit the shower -- cold water is also something tough to come by when your hose runs along the ground! No need to turn on the propane for the water heater!
Again I think back over the events of the day and it was one of those where God was nearly "visible" in the literal sense. I could see His "hands" all over the place, His hands of love, of peace, of joy and of verification that Monty and I are right where He wants us! I like those kind of days!
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's so hot that . . .

Yes, the heat is truly on. It's so hot that my rear view mirror fell off the window, the GPS fell off the window, Monty's rubber gloves inside his truck melted and I know I've wilted and just don't realize it because it's so dark inside the camper with the insulation at the windows and the blinds and curtains closed! :) And they say it's only going to get hotter tomorrow?
The heat didn't stop the teams from working away, just at a bit slower pace. They reminded us that they are from Texas and know that in order to get anything done you must go slow!
Mariano's siding, insulation, house wrap, electric, kitchen cleanup and you name it continue going forward. We have run into some deeper electrical issues that must be addressed but for now the team is working around it and going forward. You can see one of the women caulking the seams in the siding. She found some shade!
Archie's team had more walls framed and were bringing in the tub/shower as we pulled up. They were hoping that the framed walls looked as good standing up as they did laying on the floor! Archie has built what must be one of the largest fans I've ever seen and has it blowing through the house to help move some air. And move some air it does!
I met with Bruce and Kenny this afternoon to start getting an estimate together for Vicky. We have been working with Vicky for months just trying to get all her paperwork in order to apply for funding. The estimate and her getting current on her property taxes are the last 2 hurdles. The estimate is so widespread as she did hire a contractor who did a little of this and a little more of that and yet left so much widespread work to be done that it will take a qualified estimation program to come up with a dollar amount of the work still needing done. We are going to put our local Saturday team in and outside of her house this weekend. They will be cleaning up inside, trying to prepare for our coming in and doing work. They will also need some gloves and gardening skills to clean up outside as the weeds have nearly taken over. It should be transformed after just one day. Thank goodness for these nearby teams who come for a day and do the work of days!
Remember that tomorrow morning NBC Today Show will be here in Galveston at Marie's and we hope to have some good photos for you. We need to be out of the trailer by 5am so it might be a short night! I just know God will be smiling as he hears Marie's testimony telling everyone she was never afraid as she knew God was watching over her! She had the news crew in stitches as they tried and tried to get her to admit she was afraid -- never happened and they gave up! Be sure and stay tuned!
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Today Show

There were a few "difficulties" with blogger this evening so I'm hoping all this comes through the publishing okay?! The first writing was completely lost in never never land? Let's try it a second time!

Our local Texas team arrived bright and early for orientation at the park this morning. They are from Katy which I understand is about 90 minutes away. They are a team of 12 with more arriving during the week. It's always nice to welcome locals helping locals.

Part of the team headed off to Archie's thinking they were going to finish hanging the sheetrock on the ceiling. Seems their daughter's friends had finished that task over the weekend so they were able to start framing in the interior walls. They are putting them together, leaving them lay on the floor and will lift and set them tomorrow when they have a few more folks there to help. Looked like a smart plan to me.

The rest of the team are working both inside and outside at Mariano's. I guess the family had a rough night as their daughter wasn't doing well. She had foot surgery last week and was in quite a bit of pain throughout the night. None the less, Mariano was out and worked with the team all day long. They are putting the insulation and house wrap and siding on the last wall. One of them knows electric so he's wiring the kitchen for incoming appliances and cabinets. Bart, the cabinet maker, came and planned everything out, took his measurements and headed home to build them all. They will be plain wood and will need painted when he returns at the end of the week to install them. And . . . our incoming team for Friday has painters! God never fails!!

Now I suppose you are wondering why this entry is titled as it is. BIG news!

This Wednesday (day after tomorrow) the NBC Today Show will be have Al Roker placed at Marie's house throughout the entire 3 hour show!!! Yes, Marie was chosen to be the one to show just what has happened and is happening in Galveston County. And yes, Monty and I will be there the entire time. This has been in the planning stages for quite some time but we couldn't "let the cat out of the bag" until now. We are really excited that Marie was chosen and know she is perfect! Be sure and watch, or have someone tape it if you can't see it live. I have a strong feeling that God is about to show up for all to see!!!

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

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday TX team

Katy, Texas. I had a boss one time who was from Houston and he mentioned the city of Katy many times over the years I worked for him. Today we met this team from Katy who braved the heat, made the drive and were quite the blessing to Mariano and Maria.
Once again we used the shelter at the local park for our orientation. The picnic tables under the shelter with the winds blowing through make it almost tolerable.
We took them to Mariano's and they did great. They even needed more materials to add framing studs to the outside in order to hang the siding. Mariano was right there with them and pleased that yet another team came to help him and his family.
Monty and I ran materials and also got things we need to remodel the tool trailer we will be using for teams. It needs shelving and just a general organization and hopefully we'll get to that sometime next week.
I know most of you have been seeing the weather from here, same forecast every day; sunshine, high temp of 99 and no rain. And there is no end in sight. As I was outside this afternoon around 2pm bending over working on something I could literally feel the sun burning my back through my tshirt! There's just no way to avoid it.
We had to take some extra measures with our own camper trailer today. All these windows are really nice when you can have them open and the breeze coming through. When you sit directly out in the sun, sort of like baking in an oven, those windows aren't so great. We got some foam insulation with foil reflection on one side, cut it to the shape of the windows and installed them on the inside of the trailer. We also installed them in our portholes out the top of the trailer. It made an immediate difference. Yes, it's more than a bit dark in here but I'd rather turn on a light and keep the intense heat out!
Tomorrow is Father's Day. I want to send out a very special Happy Father's Day to my Daddy! I sure wish we were there to celebrate with you, even though I know the word celebrate isn't what you ever expect! :) I will be thinking of all of my family, sitting around the kitchen table enjoying the feast my Mom is famous for! Daddy, I love you and miss you. Bless you!
Bless ALL Father's, tomorrow and everyday!
Until next time . . . hug your daddy tomorrow! Susan and Monty

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ouch x 2 -- and their last day!

Can it really be Friday and are they really leaving us? Where did the week go? I still can't believe we had that many team members and it all went so smoothly. BUT . . . we did have 2 injuries -- in 1 day! When we arrived at Trang's house to see how the team was doing in clearing her yard and surrounding lot we saw the bandaging going on in the photo above. Seems he found out that bamboo can be quite sharp, especially when it hits the back of your head. A quick disinfecting, a bandage tied around the head and he was good to go. And her yard was incredible! Then this team reached out even farther -- to the neighbor. Seems he had lived a few blocks down the street and had been evicted due to lack of rent payments -- he's a fisherman and gone for extended periods of time and the landlord just couldn't work around that. So Trang allowed him to move his trailer onto her property, even though he's living there with no power and no water! That is hopefully coming soon. In the meantime this team agreed to go to his old location and clean things up for him -- "love thy neighbor" coming to life! At the end of today his old location was all cleaned up and a local Vietnamese association is coming to offer him help.
The other photo is Butch and Teresa's new deck at their house. The team, along with Butch, did a fantastic job and by the end of the week thought we might want to wait a week before sending another team as Butch was completely worn out!
Monty got in on the act at Archie and Nina's showing some shortcuts in handling 12' pieces of sheetrock when trying to hang them on the ceiling. Archie and Nina cooked up what sounded like the biggest barbeque in Texas for the team today! They all looked like they needed a 2 hour nap after eating! Archie also admitted to them that when they pulled up on the first day he figured they were all too young and inexperienced for any real production to get done -- and he found out he was oh so wrong! The second accident did happen here -- one of the boys was using an axe to chop down a tree and found out what happens when one axe mixes with one leg -- the axe always wins. Just 4 stitches later he was good as new and back at it again today! Oh to be young again?!
The next photo with all the people on ladders leaning up against the house is at Mariano and Maria's. Mariano and his nephew, Nelson, were both working along side the team all day yesterday and today! This is what we love to see -- enough hope coming to the homeowner that what used to seem like a job just too difficult to ever get done now changes into something they can see the end to and something they put their own sweat into! Jesus at work! There was an added blessing today for this family --- the incoming team for next week called to ask if we had a kitchen someplace that needed cabinets. Of course we do -- right here at Mariano's. The deal is this -- the team is bringing a professional cabinet maker (he does this for a living) and he will come down the first day, do the kitchen measurements, return home to north of Houston, make the cabinets in his shop, return to Mariano's and install them by the end of the week -- all as his donation to the cause!!!!!!!!!!! Did I mention seeing God's hand lately? When I told Maria about the news she immediately broke into tears, folded her hands and thanked God for answering her prayers!
The last photos are of Victor's new kitchen, cabinets and walls. This Maryland team went the extra few miles and stained the wooden walls Victor had installed, painted the trim and also stained the cabinets to match the existing ones! It transformed the dining room and kitchen and Victor had a smile from ear to ear. He had donuts waiting for them this morning and was richly blessed by the wind chimes the team hung on his front porch as a small gift for he and his family! All who enter will know the love of Jesus as it spills from the kitchen!
Art also bid farewell to the team who have been at his place all week. And he also is exhausted! They got all the plumbing roughed in, the insulation in the flooring and that insulation covered with additional supports of plywood. Art will now take next week to get the rest of the plumbing installed, the electric roughed in and then we will come along and start with interior insulation and walls. He also was amazed beyond words at what volunteers do when they come to help!
The last part of the Virginia team worked at Donnie and Sissi's today -- not doing construction or rebuilding but moving the family into their newly rebuilt home! They carried things from the FEMA trailer to the house probably a hundred times over and were that added blessing that I spoke about earlier. That wasn't in our schedule for this week -- but it was in God's schedule and as long as we are obedient to follow His -- love and joy and peace follow!
As I sit and think about this week I feel both joy and sadness; joy at the way these teams came -only to serve and do whatever needed to be done -- and more. There were no problems, no real confusion, just willingness to do and go above and beyond and to take the extra step into the unknown. The sadness comes from realizing we won't see them tomorrow.
But . . . we will be welcoming a local Texas team tomorrow morning. Once again we will adopt the local park for our morning orientation and welcome those who have also come to do whatever needs done. They are a smaller team and will all be continuing the work at Mariano's. Seeing locals helping locals -- I think God had that sort of thing in mind!
What a week! Oh, I almost forgot to mention. Last night we attended the church service that UMCOR holds every Thursday night for all volunteers in the area. We had been asked to speak and share our story quite a long time ago. It was amazing --- over 200 volunteers gathered outside, in the heat, and worshipped God! We shared our story, prayed with some, talked with more and had a wonderful evening. Lives were touched and changed forever! God at work!!!
Until next time . . . THANK YOU MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA!!! Susan and Monty

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How many homes?

Donnie and Sissi are 99% complete. The Texas team had to leave by noon today so tomorrow part of the Virginia team will return to wrap up the final small details. It is absolutely beautiful, you can see the girls painting the bookcases (which barely survived) above. We are so thankful to this team as they were completely prepared, took on the project and did what needed to be done! We hope to see them return sometime soon.

Butch and Teresa are getting help in replacing their deck that was lost in the storm. The team painted inside, cut down a tree with a sawsall ??!! and generally fell in love with Butch. He's an amazing teacher and has patience that put us all to shame!

Art has all his rough in plumbing underneath the house and is getting the insulation under the flooring (see the "muscles" on the guy above) and is ready to bring in some sheetrock to be carried up the steps and into the house to prepare for further work. The team has done wonders, and they thought they couldn't do what needed done!?

Archie is teaching his team to do things they also thought they couldn't do. When I stopped by this afternoon one of the younger guys was all bright eyed at the thought of all he was learning and that he was nailing in subflooring with a nail gun! Archie also planned ahead and this team will be learning to hang sheetrock on the ceiling tomorrow! This is where the young with strong backs really come in handy!

And yet another team that was working at Donnie's this morning headed to Trang's house to help her get some of her lot cleaned of overgrown plants and mess from the storm. They finished that up and will join the others tomorrow.

Mariano and Marie's house is changing by the hour! The old siding is coming off, the new (first time) insulation is being installed from the outside, the housewrap goes on top of the insulation and then the new cement based siding is put on. Following that the trim will go up around the windows, doors and where the siding meets at the top. This team has quite a few youth on it and I am amazed to see how each one works -- finds something that needs to be done and does it. One girl had her own trash bag and was literally on her hands and knees picking up bits of broken glass around the yard. Remember that in all the destruction and piles of debris there is glass and pieces of material that aren't normally harmful, unless they are broken! When I spoke with Maria today (her daughter interpreting for each of us) she was embarrased when I asked her what color she would like to have her house, she asked me to decide. I returned with the question as to what her favorite color was = yellow. So my next trip to Lowes will be to pick some samples and try and get Maria involved and feeling like she can make good decisions.

Last but definitely not least is our Maryland team. Yesterday they finished up the cleaning underneath Hank and Cherie's trailer (complete with mama rat running out and across the top of Cherie's foot creating a completely new dance for Cherie) and then headed about 30 minutes south to sanitize another home for us. The gutting had been done but the bleach solution needed sprayed and they got the job done. Today they headed to Victor's to start installing his new kitchen cabinets and counter top. They have been all over the place and are quite the awesome team. They will also be doing quite a bit of inside painting for Victor tomorrow - something Victor had not counted on. When I stopped by Victor had them all out under the shade tree eating freshly cooked crab and crawfish -- he loves to spoil the teams!

Now, just in case you are trying to keep count of the homes being blessed this week -- if you can do it please let me know so when I do my weekly report I'll know myself! Just trying to get to each home each day can be quite the task but we love to stop in, answer questions and just sincerely thank each team member! THEY are what makes all this work and we are so grateful to each of them. Especially with the temps touching 100 degrees, full sunshine and no rain in sight!!

Tomorrow is Thursday, the day where each team must evaluate where they are and just how much they can get done and also clean up by the end of Friday. It's the day where it starts to sink in "we won't get done" and that can be tough. What they must realize is that what they did makes it possible for the next team coming in to pick up behind them and with team after team the job will get done -- in God's timing! And that is always perfect!

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

Monday, June 15, 2009

Starting with a bang!

This Monday sure started off with a bang -- a good one!
We had our team from Virginia and our team from Maryland both come to San Leon where we had their orientation in the park shelter along the bay. It was a perfect spot and with the breeze and shade no one could have believed that the actual temperature would hit the 98 degree mark! Both teams totaled 53 people and that doesn't count our team from Texas who went back to Donnie and Sissi's first thing! Do the math -- amazing!!!
The Virginia team is divided into 4 teams. One started at Mariano and Maria's where they are removing the damaged wood siding, will be installing insulation from the outside and then putting up new siding. You can see them in an above photo. Now we all know this isn't going to happen in one week so any incoming teams that might be reading this . . . guess where some of you will be and what you will be doing!!
Another team went to Art's, also being the first team to help him. With his house being nearly 13-14 feet in the air it's a bit easier to install plumbing lines. The team will also be installing insulation under the floors and be able to stand up doing it! Art was busy trying to get the electrical materials straightened out for the days to come. He also is quite amazed at the way the volunteers work! And in this heat! You can see them digging plumbing lines and see a good picture of Art and Monty.
Another team went to work at Butch and Teresa's where Butch had a full days work lined up for them. They are getting so very close to having it all done and being able to move back in.
The last team from Virginia went to start yet another new job at Archie and Nina's house. They are the parents of Laura. Their home used to be an army barracks and after having it raised 8 inches Archie is ready to go with the rebuilding of the inside. You can see the team working on a stack of subflooring in the photo above. And yes, incoming teams, you might be here also.
There was one gentleman and his son who were an extra blessing to Donnie and Sissi and the Texas team today. This gentleman knows sign language and took his son and another team member and worked in their home. He told me late in the day that he spent most of his time talking with Donnie and Sissi and I can't imagine how awesome that must have been for them! He will be returning there tomorrow and we just might be having a house blessing before this week is over.
The Maryland team headed to Hank and Cherie's home. You can see one of the gentlemen underneath the trailer and no, he isn't taking a nap! Imagine working in this heat and having your job being cleaning out the debris and damage from underneath a mobile home! They didn't bat an eye in the least, just got to work and should be done by mid day tomorrow when they will travel to another home to spray for mold. It will then need to sit for about a week to dry thoroughly. They will have another job behind that one -- stay tuned to see who and what it is.
We also stopped in to see the another local team working on Mercy's house. She is getting a new tin roof on her home along with a brand new shed built in back. I wrote about Mercy quite some time ago, she is the single mother of 5 who has cancer and is fighting for her life. The team told us she passed out during church yesterday morning and was taken to the hospital but is fine after having some fluids. Please keep her in your prayers. This team came to the area specifically to help rebuild her home and they are doing incredible work!
We also stopped by Laura's house to see Stevo and his buddy who have returned to work with Mercy Response for the next 3 weeks. It was good to see them. They were finishing her skirting with plans to get her flooring done and hopefully have her move in real soon!
There was a nice surprise with the Virginia team --- their leader, Forrest, took a road trip to Lowes with me and purchased a handicapped size shower for Art -- where Forrest is working! Blessings like this are the visible hand of God showing up. Art's funds are really tight and having this shower gifted to him not only blesses the funds but what is shows -- the love of Christ -- is priceless! We thank all those from this Virginia team and their church who made this possible! And they gave us a hint that they aren't finished yet!
All these jobs going on along with providing materials and being offered a storage space for UMCOR to store some things . . . plus more . . . makes for a wonderfully blessed beginning to a week that will be filled with awesome wonders!
We are thankful to all of you for your prayers, Monty's step father is out of the hospital and doing much better. My daughter, Lindsay, arrived safely in Boston after traveling through 12 states to get there -- all done in 2 days! Thank you Lord!
Be sure and stay tuned this week. It's a great one and you won't want to miss a day of it!
Until next time . . . be blessed! Susan and Monty

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Texans helping Texans

Late last night the team from Homa, Texas arrived. They are staying at the Methodist church in Santa Fe and working in Donnie and Sissi's house.
This morning started with us meeting them at the church for a short orientation and then off to the job. They were thrilled to meet Donnie who told us he had fallen asleep at his computer last night and not woken up until 6:30 this morning. Both he and Sissi are deaf so we do alot of communication via a pen and paper, or anything else we can find to write on.
The team jumped in and started getting things cleaned up and organized to finish installing the flooring and doing all the other jobs needing done to be able to call this house done by the end of next week and allow Donnie and Sissi and their 3 small children to move back home!
This afternoon the Houston newspaper sent a reporter out to get a story on this family, what they have been through and how they have received help. There were 2 other women there to speak back and forth in sign language and it was quite amazing! What a blessing to be such a small part in this recovery!
We also made sure the material deliveries for next weeks jobs were on site and ready for the rest of the incoming teams. All has landed and is in waiting.
We will be traveling to Galveston tomorrow night to orientate another incoming team and then one more on Monday morning. Get ready for an amazing week!
An update on Monty's stepfather --- they thought he was doing better until this evening when the results of more testing came back showing a staff infection in his bloodstream! Please keep him in your prayers.
Also -- my 96 year old grandmother was moved to a new nursing home yesterday. The care she was receiving at her other one was terrible and my mother had enough! It's been traumatic for everyone, especially my grandmother so please keep her in your prayers also.
Blessings to all of you for a wonderful Sunday!
Until next time. . . Susan and Monty

Thursday, June 11, 2009

18? -- NO -- 8 teams of 10 each!!!

Numbers and numbers and they really climbed today!

Volunteers love it when school lets out. And this year is no different. Monty and I got our list of volunteers that we will be responsible for next week. We have 4 teams, a couple of them with 12 team members, another with 6, another with 45 and another with 18 --- or so we thought. When the phone call was made to verify arrival times, skill levels and the like we were quite surprised. Seems the 18 was really 8 teams with 10 volunteers on each team!!! That changed our numbers quite a bit! Do the math and imagine what our week next week will be like!! It means more homes will be added to the list and more homeowners receive the anticipated phone call saying their house is on our list.

I made the call to Mariano and Maria letting them know that materials to put new siding on the outside of their home and deck materials will be delivered tomorrow morning and quite a large team will be coming to use those materials on Monday morning and will remain with them all week. Even in Spanish I could hear their excitement and joy! Maria had been telling me she was praying every day that the funding would be approved and we could get them some help. Her prayers were answered!

Butch and Teresa were also thrilled when I told them their funding had been approved and we would be sending a team next week AND providing the materials they need to finish their home!

Garaldeen and Joe were also nearly beside themselves when I told them their funding had been approved and although not next week, the following week was their turn. I thought Joe was going to cry!

Art couldn't meet me fast enough when I asked him to meet me to line up a material delivery for tomorrow so we could bring in a team Monday. He had no idea it would happen so fast and was so out of breath by the time he met me he had to take a minute to let it soak in.

Hank and Cherie are a couple that has been waiting since we first met them in February. They live in a mobile home and have been doing what they can on their own until they also ran out of money. They are getting the last of their paperwork lined up and hopefully I will be able to take them to funding next week. In the meantime we will send a team to come in and clean out underneath their trailer in preparation for upcoming work. That even brought a smile to their 8 year old son who has been living in a mobile home without flooring and a bathroom that doesn't work!

As you can probably guess I wore the battery out on my phone a couple of times over today! Thank goodness for the charger in the truck! It's another of those days I love -- seeing the hand of God all over the place. Having others see His almighty hand and know that all is in His perfect timing.

As I "quickly" walked into Mccoys to get the materials lined up one of the gentlemen asked me if I always ran at that pace!!! He's just getting to know me! :) And when one of the UMCOR folks told me I would be able to slow down now and concentrate on just the construction and teams Monty laughed --- "bigger men than you have tried to slow her down, good luck." And I guess I have to agree. God built me with this drive to help others, to see what needs to be done and make a way to get it done. That's why He called me into this line of "work" and just one of the reasons I love Him so!

An update on Monty's step father, Tony. He is still seriously ill and is now in the VA hospital in Indianapolis. So far they cannot find the problem -- other than his while blood cell count is plumetting! Please keep him in your prayers. We all know the mighty healing power of Jesus and some of that power is needed now!

Until next time . . . do what you can to keep up with us . . . and . . . good luck!! :)
Susan and Monty

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Yes, I suppose when we receive tshirts, truck magnets and name tags we are official!!! And we are thrilled. The yellow shirts are quite bright and remind me of the sunshine of the Lord shining down.

I think I once again met myself coming and going over the past couple of days. Why is it that I find myself only being able to blog every couple of days? I don't really want more hours to the days but I must need them?!

Yesterday took us to downtown Houston to the UMCOR headquarters for a bit of paperwork. We actually made it in and out without getting lost -- thanks to our faithful GPS. From there it was back here where I spent the entire rest of the day and night preparing cases to bring to the long term recovery to request additional funding. Getting all the documentation prepared and lined up properly takes quite alot of time and I am working on about 7-8 cases that need presented. I will have 2 of them ready for tomorrow so please pray for the clients.

This morning started very early with our weekly meeting with UMCOR folks. We reviewed all the homes that are being worked on and those "in the hopper" waiting for us. We also reviewed the list of the incoming volunteers. Monty and I will be responsible for nearly 90 volunteers next week --- did I mention needing more hours in the days! Maybe not??!! We also got some other details lined up to prepare for next week. Along with those we are managing there are another 130 scheduled for the other construction coordinator, Sandy, to manage. Praise the Lord!

Monty spent his morning rounding up paperwork for me for homeowners. He loves to also use that time to minister to and pray with those homeowners -- God taking those giftings and putting them to His use.

I did receive word that the 4 cases I presented last week were all approved and the checks are ready to be picked up --- and spent! We will be ordering materials for Mariano and Maria's home and sending a team there Monday morning. Victor's kitchen cabinets will follow and Butch and Teresa will also be able to purchase the materials they need to complete their home. Praise the Lord and order the materials!!

Late this afternoon we headed out to meet the folks at McCoy's. This is the supply store that we will be dealing with through UMCOR. It's so very important to make the trip and meet the managers and staff to let them know what we are doing and why they are such an important piece to the entire puzzle. They were thrilled and will be there for us to not only come to the homeowner's home to do an estimate but can also take our home measurements and turn them into product to be used to apply for funding and then make the purchase to do the work. Like we've said before --- it's all about relationships!

Speaking of relationships --- a couple of really important prayer requests for Monty's family. His niece gave birth to a wonderful and healthy baby girl -- please say a prayer of thanks. And Tony, Monty's step father is seriously ill. He had a kidney removed a few years ago and is having problems with the existing one. He has been running a high fever and has the doctors watching him closely. He and Monty's mother, Judy, can use all the prayers they can get and we thank you ahead of time for them.

I also have one for my Aunt Miriam -- a bit overdue. Seems she and her daughter caught some sort of bug while on a short vacation. Her bug turned into a nasty kidney infection which has caused her to be quite sick also. Please include her in your prayers. (what is it with the kidneys?)

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

Monday, June 08, 2009

Heating up in the south

Yes, the temps are rising here in the good ole' south. Today hit 95 with each day this week climbing! And what would those temps be without some humidity mixed in just to keep it interesting!

Yesteday we had quite the experience at church. We decided to try another one locally and even though we arrived only 5 minutes early it was us and 11 more --- total!!! And I guess the Pastor thought no one else was going to show up so he just started early --- we don't know how early but he was into things when we walked in! Quite interesting!!

Most of our afternoon was spent getting the usual laundry done and getting a short rest. With the pain in my hip still screaming it was a big help having Monty carry things back and forth for me!

I was looking forward to today because I knew the chiropractor would be open! Praise the Lord! I called first thing and we got in this afternoon. Even he cringed when he saw the bruise on my hip -- and it's only getting started! I would put a picture on here but . . . :)
Anyway, he found my neck so tight that it wouldn't move so we'll try again in a couple of days! Like I said, I'm 55 years old and way past the age of doing flips!!!!

We also stopped by Paul and Linda's to check on the condition of their roof. There is a team of roofers coming in for one day and we thought that might be the thing for them -- but there's just too much soffit damage and other repairs that must be made first so we'll wait for a team of roofers that plan on staying for a full week! Paul and Linda understand and are more than patient.

We also spoke with Laura and will be finally sending her parents some volunteers by the end of the week! They have a house that used to be a military barracks -- very unique. They did have to raise it about 3 inches so it's taken some time before they could be ready for some extra helping hands. Now is the time and we are ready! They are thrilled. Laura is also getting ever so close to being able to return home also. Just a little bit more flooring and some window air conditioners and she will be back!

Monty and I are very excited that we have volunteers on a constant basis. We are also awaiting the arrival of the tool trailer that we will be using for the volunteers we are in charge of. Things are coming together quickly and it's going to be great! The more the volunteers the more the homes we can work in and the more homeowners that will be able to return home!

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

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Crash Landing

I fully meant to blog last night but plans changed . . .

We started off very early heading to Galveston to check on our team that was going to work in AJ's house installing trim, boxing windows and casing them out and painting outside. They showed up full of energy and were doing a fantastic job when we stopped by again late in the morning.

While there I received a call from Erin with Help4Galveston. There was a young mother at the local Ronald McDonald house whose newborn was well enough to be released from the hospital but she didn't have an infant carseat to take her home. Erin asked me to run and pick one up at Walmart and deliver it to the House. What a blessing this was -- the mother and baby were able to go home and start their lives together. Praise God for agencies who are able to do things like this for those in need!

Right after lunch we headed to Clear Lake which is on the south side of Houston. This church stepped up and took on 7 homes after CORE relief effort left the area. The church and it's members are not only doing the labor but they are providing the materials for these homes. They are down to the final 4 and we needed to get an update as to where they are. It was great to get to meet and know the people in charge of these projects. They are amazing and are blessing these homeowners so much! What we need to do is go to the Un met needs table and request funds to purchase appliances for each home -- should be an easy project as this is what those funds are set aside for!

After making a couple more stops in San Leon to check on a couple of projects and pick up a couple of documents from homeowners we were home. We had about an hour before needing to head out again to get a couple of evening things done.

That is when the crash landing occurred . . .

I had both our dogs on leashes, the stretchy kind, and we were headed out the trailer door. Samson saw a neighbor dog that I did not see and before I could get both feet on the first of our 4 trailer steps he bolted out the door and to the right --- and I continued to hold onto the leashes!!! Within a split second I had crashed from that top step, fallen to the right, landed on top of both our lawn chairs (broke both of them into pieces), hit the ground with my head, turned a complete flip (no kidding) and landed on my side. I knew I must have broken both or either my hip or head as the pain was severe and I couldn't even figure out where I was! Monty had been outside and saw the whole thing and couldn't believe what he saw! Nothing is broken but my body is turning colors that shouldn't even be seen on a human body! My hip is beyond belief and the pain equals that but nothing broken. My head has not one but two large golf ball size bumps on it and I finally picked all the gravel out of it. Both arms and both legs are scraped but together. Samson . . . well . . . lets just say he was intent on catching that dog and had no idea what had just happened! Bitty knew in a flash and would not leave my side!

So now you know why I didn't get to the computer last night!

This morning we headed out for another morning appointment. Our team continued working away at AJ's, today was their last day!

This afternoon we met with an incoming team that will number over 100 when they all arrive. They are from churches all over the southeastern side of Texas and do outreaches each summer with their youth. They have a multitude of projects lined up and were looking at the demo of a horse barn that was destroyed in the storm. They will evaluate all the skills of those coming in and then let us know. What a week they will have and many folks will be blessed by their efforts.

From there we headed to Jerry's house to do an assessment. We met Jerry at Walmart. He and the gentleman he cares for go to Walmart each day -- just to sit on the bench and watch the people! Jerry hasn't had anything but a bit of gutting done to his house. He doesn't know what to do with it and after our visit we must break the news to him that it is definitely NOT rebuildable! It's beyond repair. Ceilings and floors falling through, walls coming in and the entire house has literally fallen from it's short piers and is sitting on the ground. It is our hope that Jerry will continue to keep the FEMA money he received and we will entertain the thought of getting the old home torn down and build a new one, a smaller one, for him. Pray for Jerry as he is elderly and this is a difficult situation and time for him. He told Monty on the phone that he knew God directed us to him that morning in Walmart! We agreed! God does that sort of thing all the time.

Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of the flooding that happened in my hometown of Columbus, Indiana and the reason we spent last summer there helping them get rebuilt. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as most churches will be marking the anniversary tomorrow. We send our blessings to Columbus First Assembly, the church that so graciously allowed us to live in their parking lot all summer. They are now completely rebuilt and will have quite the celebration tomorrow! We pray God's blessings on them and will be thinking of you all day and wishing we could be there with you to help celebrate the blessings of God!

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

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Sold ?? Not so!!

What a couple of days it has been.

Each day my phone battery has died before mid afternoon, each day registering nearly 100 incoming calls! I had to get a charger to plug into my truck today so I could charge it while on the go! What in the world did we do before cell phones!? I don't think I can remember!

The first phone call I received was a bit of a shock -- the couple that had planned on buying our home in Indiana called to say they couldn't raise the downpayment and would not be buying it!!! And this is after they had a garage sale, sold our couch, chair and both beds! Oh well -- we were't using them anyway. Guess we'll get an air mattress or something if we get back home for any time at all! I admit I was greatly disappointed but I also know God has it all under His perfect timing and this wasn't in His timing! Doesn't He have quite the sense of humor!?

As I finished that call I arrived at the meeting with our new UMCOR team! Did you catch that amazing word -- team!! And what a team it is! Our duties are shifting from the case management and construction to just focusing on the construction -- a great shift for us! We received our schedule of teams that will be assigned to work with us and as I looked at the schedule I realized teams are booked clear to the end of October!!!!!!!!!! Is that awesome or what! We have homes ready and more going onto the books daily! We are so excited!

From that meeting it was driving back and forth with errands to prepare for case management review this morning -- getting all the paperwork lined up and each piece copied for the review team. Yes, I have about 11 cases that I will still manage through the process but any new ones will be referred to Lee, the UMCOR case manager. I've already been sending them! But I had 4 cases to prepare and it took me until bedtime but they got done.

Monty spent his day also running to and fro. He was picking up paperwork for me, checking on some ongoing jobs and enjoying all of it. It's so great for the both of us to be working together as a team again -- it's what God put us together to do!

This morning started early with Monty visiting even more homeowners getting some estimates from them to help get them lined up for the funding process. I headed off to the case review meeting where everything went very well. I just have to get a couple documents from a couple of homeowners, proof that their property taxes are paid. The approval is done and all I need do is fax over those documents and the checks will be prepared.

Speaking of checks, the funding came through for Benjamin and Rita so their progress with speed up. Laura is getting her big deck built and her skirting on her trailer is complete. Hai continues moving forward and inching closer and closer to having only the outside siding to be done and pronounce her "home."

After my meeting I was invited to a luncheon hosted by the Houston Christian radio station. They are planning a community wide event where they will offer 3 different weekends where the public can sign up and come and volunteer for a day. We will offer one weekend of working on churches, one working on a school and another working in homes. They do some sort of community project each year and have wonderful turnouts. This should be fun, it will just take a bit of organizing on the ground first.

From there it was off the the lumber yard to get materials for AJ's house. The team will be arriving there tomorrow morning and be unloading the materials we packed into the van and then doing trim and framing and anything else they can get done in the 2 days they are here. I also learned how blessed I am to have the relationship with Lowes that I have, I was not at Lowes and it took nearly 2 hours to just load some trim things!!!

It was after 5pm before I got back to the trailer, loaded down with papers and files. With what Monty had picked up I had some of them complete. He talked about his visits with Art, a veteran that has alot on his plate also. Monty was able to minister to him and I think it was a great help. Monty has a gift of being able to do that with homeowners, they seem to sense that gift and love opening up to them -- and he spends as much time as is needed with them!

As we were eating dinner I received a call from my youngest daughter who currently lives in Ft Lauderdale. She has been offered a job in Boston, has accepted and will be making the move in about a week! Talk about a temperature change --- she's really excited but will need to make the drive alone. Please keep her in your prayers that her trip will be uneventful and safe. It makes a mother worry!

Tomorrow is a new day -- a new team arrives -- a new homeowner will get to experience the blessing of that team -- and the team will get to experience the blessing of the homeowner -- it's what makes the disaster relief work! We serve such an amazing God!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It runs -- again!

Yes, Monty has my truck up and running. It actually purrs!!! Bless his heart for being able to sit and read instruction manuals and then retain what he reads and apply it! It's just one of the areas where God matched us perfectly -- I really don't like reading manuals!!! The radiator needed replaced along with the thermostat and a couple of other things I don't even recognize. The important thing is that it runs and doesn't overheat and will hopefully continue to get me up and down the roads!

Yesterday was spent right here while he worked on the truck. We did have a couple of trips for parts and even managed to get in a home visit with a new client.

Regina lost everything in the storm and was fortunate to have some insurance on her home. She lives there with her 2 children and has done what she can thus far. She has quite a bit of materials on site but no one to continue working. Some of her framing has been done incorrectly and needs redone. Her inspector won't pass anything further until that has been taken care of. Her insurance funds are being dispersed in increments and she has to get that inspection before any more funding will be released. We hope to be able to bring in volunteers to get the work done that needs done for the inspection and then continue working from there to get her in.

Today we also made a trip for truck parts and by noon it was done --- just in time for me to get to the Long Term Recovery meeting. Each meeting we learn a bit more about how to get things done. This meeting I was able to "officially" introduce myself as being a part of UMCOR --- The United Methodist relief effort! It's very exciting for us as they are the oldest effort out there and the ones who teach everyone else how to do things. They are the ones we all get our forms and paperwork from! It's an honor for the both of us to be a part of their wonderful organization!

After that meeting we were off to Lowes to pick up an estimate and drop off 2 more. These guys do such an amazing job for us, they truly go the extra mile. Now I just need to put the figures into an estimate format and present them for the funding needed to get the job done. This week I will be presenting 4 new cases!

Near the end of the day we were able to stop by Hai's and Laura's to see the work being done there this week. Hai now has her air conditioning and her bathroom has sheetrock and the trim is complete! Laura has about half of her trailer skirting on and the base of her new deck started. Both women are thrilled as each day brings them closer to home, to their new normal!

I was also reminded today that we were supposed to be taking some time off, some time to get a bit of rest and just some time for ourselves --- I guess we needed the reminder!

But . . . I have 2 meetings tomorrow and am excited about the progress each will bring!

I want to thank all of you for the extra prayers after my blog on Sunday! Yes, Aunt Miriam --- I am human and sooooo much like you in soooo many ways!!! God has a wonderful sense of humor! Seriously -- I am so thankful to have such prayer warriors out there, so many people who care and thank you for reminding me of both!

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