Monday, August 31, 2009

Where we find "home"

It's been a busy past few days, busy reconnecting with family, busy making visits with special friends and just busy doing nothing!

But last night - after being here in Indiana for over a week and a half - I was home!

I went with my parents to their church yesterday morning. My niece had spent the weekend here at my parents and we all headed off to church.

During the afternoon I spent some time with Odessa, whom I refer to as my second mother.

And then came the special church service at 6pm. I saw it on their message board outside the church and read about it in the paper.

Columbus First Assembly, the church who welcomed us last summer, who made their back parking lot our home, combined with two other local churches for a special celebration service. One of the other churches was also flooded in the flood of 2008 and the other opened their doors for First Assembly to have services in their facility while First was repairing their own from the flood.

It was amazing to see three churches, all different denominations, all inside one building, all praising and worshiping the same God! Isn't that what it's all about? Isn't that what God wants? I am certain there are many Biblical references to "one body."

It was so awesome to see so many friends who became family from that summer. The hugs, the smiles and the warm hearts all made me feel like I was back home. The only problem---Monty couldn't be there to share in it all. Yes, they all asked that I give him hugs and tell him this and tell him that -- but -- it's just not the same for him. I thank them all, especially Pastor A for his kind words and loving heart as last night I knew I was home!

Until next time . . . Monty -- I miss you and love you and hope to be back before long.
Susan and Monty

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Family Reunion

The funeral was a celebration of her life. Their wasn't an empty seat in the memorial and I know she would have been happy to know how many showed up to express their sympathy and love.

As I said before, it's one thing to do a funeral and another to do the funeral for your own grandmother. God gave me the words I needed -- and took away the ones I didn't.

After the service and the trip to the cemetary our family came back to enjoy the variety of foods brought from my parents' church. So much food and we actually managed to put quite a dent in it. Thanks so much to First United Methodist of Columbus -- you were such an enormous blessing to all of us.

It is great to have my brother from Florida here with the rest of us. Two of my brothers live right here in Columbus and it's a rare occasion when we are all together.

For the next couple of days we are just visiting and resting and catching up on each others lives. The laughter rings from the rooftop as we remember this and that . . . I am so blessed to have such an amazing family.

Meanwhile Monty remains in Texas keeping up with getting power to Mariano's and any other thing that pops up. He is also working on some mechanical truck issues and doing the best he can to keep himself and both dogs fed and watered! :) If only he knew just how much I miss him!

Once again I would like to thank all of you for your prayers and kind words of support. It's at times like this that I once again know how much God has blessed us with extended family all over the United States!

Until next time . . . be blessed and appreciate your own families! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Loosing Focus?

Mission focused -- production focused? What happens when they get turned around?

Working in an area after a disaster is unlike anything anyone has done before. No matter how many jobs we have had, no matter what our experiences have been; social worker, commercial construction or residential construction . . . this is an entirely new "animal."

I received a phone call today where the focus has taken a wrong turn. It's not the kind of phone call one likes to get. The homeowner is upset, crying, hurt and not knowing where to turn. They thought things were going one way and then they turn another direction. It's a tough call to get.

When we come into disaster situations we must enter with "kit gloves." Lives are exposed, vulnerable and injured. Ministry is the number one focus! For those who think production is the focus -- they might as well turn around and head back home. It won't work.

My prayer is that this situation will right itself, that it will turn around, that homeowners will see Jesus when they see those who come to help. They will feel His heart and His love. They will know He is taking care of them in His time.

Please join me in this prayer.

On another note, tomorrow is my Grandma's funeral and I am honored to be conducting the service. As I sat yesterday and tried to get my random thoughts in some sort of order I called Monty. I felt stuck, I felt scrambled and I was afraid I would not honor her as she should be honored for her 96 years with us. And as always, he balanced me. He completed me. This isn't easy for us to be apart, we are made to be together . . . I thank him for that help and I love him for helping me put the words together. Now I just pray God will speak through me, that I will get out of the way and He will come through. Please join me in that prayer.

Until next time . . . love on your families and be blessed because of them. Susan and Monty

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Heaven is her home

At 6:25 pm this evening Grandma entered His gates! I can only imagine the celebration and quite honestly I am a bit jealous!

She lost her mother when she was only 9 years old and her husband when he was only 45 so I know the first 2 people in line to welcome her home!

It was a rather tough day, in some ways, but God had His perfect timing as usual.

We want to thank ALL of you for your prayers of peace! It was the peace that surpasses all understanding!

Funeral arrangements will now be made and we plan on celebrating her 96 years of life, of inspiration and love!

As I write this the song "We'll all see Jesus" is playing on the TV -- coincidence?? Not a chance!

Until next time . . . Happy Anniversary Monty -- sorry we weren't together but you made it possible for me to be here with my family and for that I am forever grateful! I love you!!!!

Blessings, Susan and Monty

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We wait

The flight was nice and smooth. I landed back in Indiana before noon yesterday.

My mom, sister in law and I headed to the nursing home to see my grandmother.

I thought I was prepared, I thought I had imagined right . . . not so!

We spent all day there and all day again today. We watch as she stops breathing for up to 15 seconds a couple of times a minute, we turn her from side to side in hopes of making her more comfortable. She talks, we can't understand, her thoughts and words seem to come from throughout her whole life.

They have started her on morphine to help make her more comfortable. I don't know if it's working. They also give her anti-anxiety to hopefully help with the arm movements and restlessness.

Today we realized that food is now a thing of the past, too much congestion from the heart failure, too much coughing and just not helping.

My mom and I pass the time talking of all sorts of things. We visit with some of the other residents as they come by checking to see how Grandma is doing. We also help out the nurses with a few requests from the others. Time seems to pass so slowly.

My entire family sits on edge, not making any plans, praying for a peaceful entry into heaven.

We all know God has perfect timing, we stand on His promises and know He is the Almighty!

Monty continues to care for everything back in Texas, we talk numerous times throughout the day. He misses me and I miss him. But . . . we both understand and trust!

Day by day, hour by hour -- please join us in prayer!

Until next time . . . blessings! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Changes continue

Storm clouds looming over the coast, and we caught one of the brighest rainbows I think we've ever seen as a result.

Yes, I made it to the airport this evening only to find the flights were all delayed enough that I would have been stranded through the night in Atlanta so now I will be getting up at 3 AM to make the first flight out tomorrow.

My mother reports nothing new with my grandma, still mainly incoherant and gravely ill.

I will just be glad to get there and see her and hopefully offer some much needed support to my mother!

Monty is such an amazing husband as he will be staying here, missing seeing his own family but it's his choice and I love the man so much for putting my family's needs first!

I thank you for all your prayers and ask that they continue. I will do the best I can to keep you up to date.

Meanwhile, the electric company will be coming to Mariano's tomorrow to hook up the power and then . . . here we come getting the final AC and electric issues wrapped up!!!

Hank and Cherie also got more materials this morning so they can keep working.

Art is nearing the end of his hospital stay and is doing great.

All our homeowners are doing well and are very supportive of us at times like this. I think it's a family thing and we are blessed with amazing "extended" family here -- and all over the States.

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

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Grandma!!!!

Our RV camp manger snapped this photo this evening . . . home sweet home!

Tonight I write this with quite a heavy heart; one filled with mixed emotions.

My Mother called me today to tell me my 96 year old Grandmother is failing fast. It seems her congestive heart failure is worsening along with a few other things. She is incoherant most of the time and has pretty much stopped eating.

I would love it if everyone out there would join us in praying for her. We pray God will fill her with peace -- His perfect peace -- as she "transitions" from here to heaven.

I am doing what I can to get home (at Monty's insistance) so also pray for both of us as we will be apart -- something we neither one are too fond of!

And -- I have another prayer request. One of my dear friends here, Erin, has a little 4 year old son who was diagnosed with a "virus" over a week ago and is not doing well. He (and the family) would surely be blessed by your powerful prayers.

Until next time . . . I love you Grandma 2!!!! Susan and Monty

Saturday, August 15, 2009

1,354 "Boots" comes to an end

The Last Day! They hoped for 1,000 -- the final count was 1,354 -- outstanding!!!!!
You can see by the photos that today even the kids showed up -- and they started painting the outside of my homeowners home! By the end of the day we had the last of the trim installed, all of it painted and caulked and she was moving into her new bedroom! She may not have a stove to cook on but she has a bedroom, bathroom, air conditioning and is ready to spend her first night in her new home. She doesn't care that the tile still needs installed -- she's ready!! It was awesome for this team to be a part of that move. As I left her daughter in law and I were both fighting back the tears! Tears of sheer joy! God's joy that comes from the heart!
Monty's crew finished their flooring and even made amazing progress with the installation of the shower in the bathroom. Her kitchen is complete, just awaiting appliances and she also will be ready to move in.
At the end of the day the 1,000 Boots leader had a small service in the church -- it was a great way to end the week. There were so very many lives changed this week -- not even counting the homeowners. It seemed that everywhere we looked we could see God's hand reaching in and tugging at someones heart, changing their lives. That kind of change is a forever change!
There aren't enough "thanks" to be sufficient for all the blessings this 1,354 poured out this week -- but I am certain they each have a special "gold star" awaiting them in heaven!
Until next time . . . bless someone today! Susan and Monty

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday "Boots"

Returning faces, new faces and yet they still keep going. You can see a great group photo of those working with me today. This was toward the end of the day and they are still smiling from ear to ear. We even managed to convince the homeowner to join in. She was busy checking out the newly painted front door sitting outside drying -- it turned out just as she had hoped!
With all the trimming, caulking, priming and painting going on it made for quite the busy day. By the end of tomorrow it should be nearly all wrapped up. Sounds like we might even have a team painting the outside of her home!
Monty's team were about to wrap up the laminate flooring in his home. They have all spent more time on their knees than those knees would like, I'm sure. It's tough work, especially going around corners but they rose to the challenge (with some help from Alan) and were smiling at themselves after successfully rounding some of those "special" corners.
We've had so much fun working with all the "Boots" this week and I find it hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day! Pray for all of them, pray that they were blessed even more than the homeowners they blessed!
At the end of the day I took the washer (to match yesterdays dryer) to Hank and Cherie. The package now complete and what an amazing gift from the Today Show and their donations! Once again we all nearly had tears as we looked at all the cycles and prepared to read the instruction manual to know how to use all the cycles! Another one of those moments that God shows me just why He called us to this ministry and where I find myself thanking Him for allowing us to live the dream!!!
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The "Boots" are amazing!

Some of my folks were "only going to be here Monday" and here we are Thursday and guess what -- they are still here!! More and more new faces along with the one who are now family are what it takes to accomplish all that is being done this week. We are so thankful to the 2 churches who combined their efforts and are making such a difference in so many places!

I heard a rumor today that maybe they will be scheduling to come once a month?? Wouldn't that we awesome!

Monty and his team have all the cabinets installed, counter tops on, sink mounted and are wrapping up the laminate flooring. Like worker ants, all over the place doing all sorts of things. Our electrician buddy, Glen, even got in on it today. He came to finish up some electrical issues, he said, but I think he came for the fellowship!

My team has nearly all the caulking done -- I have a caulking wizard in this group and she is amazing! They are touching up all the trim paint, painting new doors, installing the front door (what a bear of a job that is), working outside with trim . . . the list goes on and on.

A surprise came to Hank and Cherie today also! Thanks to the Today Show and all the donations that came with it! I needed a washer and dryer for them and when Erin heard about it she was happy to give them one that came with the show. When I pulled up at Hank and Cherie's and we opened the box we were all shocked -- a top of the line set that is beautiful! They were thrilled and we were all almost in tears as we looked at all the settings! Thanks Erin and the Today Show! You are making miracles happen!

Until next time . . . be blessed and share the blessing! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The "Boots" keep coming

Monty and his team of "Boots" mastered the challenge of installing kitchen cabinets without a design -- and -- installing laminate flooring! It was quite the team. The kitchen is beautiful and the flooring is nearly complete in both bedrooms.
My team continued working on trim and more trim and sheetrock and then more trim. Our hope is to have everything completely done and shined up, leaving only the tile flooring and bath showers to be done -- by the end of the week. Hey -- one can always hope! :) And I think they'll get there since many of them who planned on coming for one day only have decided to return for their third day tomorrow.
There are many more "Boots" out there, it's just that I can't get photos of all of them. I am not familiar with this church but know one thing -- there are alot of servant hearts there as we have seen soooo many with soooo many more coming before the last day of Saturday! What a blessing each and every one is!
A video crew from the church also came in today. They are putting together a video for the church and plan on sending us a copy also. They were alot of fun and really got the stories behind what their team is doing! Even though they are only driving an hour to get here they were surprised by all the work still needing done! THAT is the word that needs to get out -- and they plan on doing just that.
Until next time . . . Thanks to all the "Boots"!!! Be blessed. Susan and Monty

Monday, August 10, 2009

More "Boots"

Blue shirts as far as the eye could see, willing hands and hearts of service hit the ground running early this morning.
They did everything - floors and doors, windows and trim, sheetrock and painting, saws humming and nail guns popping. Some were quite retired and others were waiting for school to start soon. Each one with a smile, each one ready to do whatever needed done.
They sweat through everything they had on and yet they smiled. They loved it when the "snack ladies" showed up mid morning and again mid afternoon -- the fruit and snack bars kept them going and brought many a smile and thank you.
Monty stayed with one home and me with another. Between us we managed to keep them supplied with both materials and tools. When you have quite a few workers in a home the materials can really go quickly!
Tomorrow they will be back -- new faces with a few returning ones. They will pack their tools with their water and also be ready to go. We are so thankful and appreciative for each one -- each with the joy of the Lord filling their hearts to overflowing -- overflowing right on to the homeowners (and us.)
Be sure and stay tuned. . . Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Be The One

Seeing this on the back of one of the "1,000 Boots" team brought a flood of memories and thoughts.

One of the top questions I have been asked is "how did you know this is what God called you to do?"

Answer -- I knew all my life! As a child growing up, entering high school and thinking of the ever present question "what are you going to do when you graduate?" I knew! Somehow, someway -- I was going to help others. The only organization I knew of then was the Peace Corps. I sent for the information packet, read every word and thought about joining up. But, this was more than a few decades ago and that wasn't something a girl did just out of high school. (Times were different then)

Time kept moving, life happend but that "feeling" deep inside was always there.

Each time my church would talk of an upcoming mission trip (which was always overseas) my heart ached to go, to be a part, to help with whatever. And each time it wasn't the "right" time.

When "911" happened, as Monty called me at work to tell me the second plane had hit -- all I wanted to do was "go there." Again it wasn't possible so I sat literally glued to the TV. My heart physically hurt.

Then came hurricane Katrina -- and my heart hurt beyond description --no words can describe it. I can't explain it -- but I HAD to go this time - no matter what!

The rest is history -- we are still "out there" after over 4 years and plan on being out here as long as God needs us.

As for the shirt photo -- a long time ago I ran an employment agency. One of our best employees had a trouble staying out of jail. One day as I was on the phone listening to him beg me to bail him out of jail (and telling him I couldn't as he needed to learn lessons from his choices) my boss came to me and said, "Susan, don't you know you can't change the world?"

That statement went through me like a knife -- clear to my soul!

All of us feel as though we can't "change the world" - it's too large a task -- impossible!

Re-read the phrase on the shirt -- YES we can -- we can BE the change -- ONE person (or family) at a time!

I thank God for His faithfulness, for keeping His promise and for this calling!

Go out and BE the change -- for just ONE!!!! You WILL change the world -- and yourself in the process!

Until next time . . . be blessed by being the change! Susan and Monty

Saturday, August 08, 2009

1,000 Boots Week Begins

There aren't 1,000 of them on the ground --- yet!
They came in cars, in trucks and on a big church bus. From one of the Houston Methodist Churches, they came. Donuts and coffee were waiting for them along with their blue shirts and plenty of duct tape to make name tags out of. After getting signed in they headed to their appointed jobs.
I don't know the total count for today but I do know the 2 jobs we are assigned to oversee had some amazing work being done! We had about 12 on each job ( I think) and things were getting done all over the place.
One gentleman was really happy to be in the home he was assigned to as he had been part of the team that came back in March and had gutted out the home. He was thrilled to see the progress and to be a part of the rebuilding.
In both homes they were painting, caulking and trimming along with hanging entry doors and anything else that they could get their hands on.
Each day next week, Saturday included, there will be new teams coming from the church. Each day we will be making more and more progress and getting closer to having the homeowner being able to move home again. What an awesome blessing this church is and will be this week.
We thank all who are making this possible -- I heard it had been in the works for nearly 6 months! God will have some special blessings for these groups and their church!
I think we should challenge more local churches to come and do the same thing?!
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Friday, August 07, 2009

Headed to the Island

I guess everything is bigger in Texas -- what a beautiful sunflower!!!!
This morning started very early. We got a call from Alan asking us to head to the island (Galveston) to start preparations for the incoming Houston team of over 250 willing volunteers tomorrow. I thought they were only coming this Saturday and next Saturday -- that's what I get for thinking!
What a blessing -- they will be coming and going all week long next week! We are so excited! Monty and I will be overseeing 2 homes that are in the rebuilding process. A tour of both proved to be very helpful and meeting Ms Marg was awesome. She is a bit elderly but knows just how that house needs to be rebuilt! She told me she was looking forward to our return tomorrow morning and wanted to make sure we could work along side a few of her neighbors who were laying laminate flooring for her today and plan on returning tomorrow -- even if they were Catholic! :) We reassured her that we ALL work together and looked forward to the extra hands and hearts! I think I saw God smiling!
At both homes we welcomed the McCoy's truck and helped get materials unloaded. Sheetrock, flooring, subflooring, trim, cabinets, on and on . . . all in preparation for the teams. We will be hooking up the tool trailer and heading south -- for the next 7 days of work.
Each day we will have different volunteers as they will be coming and going. What an opportunity to meet new friends and thank them for being the hands and feet of Jesus!
It will require us to put our San Leon homes on hold -- but all homeowners are going forward on their own and we will just make sure they have the materials to continue doing so. Cherie already called me and has her list ready -- no surprise to me. She's always on top of things and such an enormous help to me!
Be sure and stay tuned for photos as there will be many "Kodak moments".
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Thursday, August 06, 2009

It will be paid!!!!

"Batteries included" and we are back up and running.

As you can see, Hai's house is turning blue -- literally! The dark blue "trim" is actually the tape to tape off the white metal trim. It's beautiful and she is very happy with the color.

The other photo -- click on it to enlarge it -- and look VERY closely! I guess that's what you might call a Texas size oar??!! It's a trackhoe on a barge -- using the front scoop to pull itself along -- a quite a pace too! We couldn't believe what we were seeing! Necessity is the mother of invention -- and that's quite an invention!

This afternoon we also were thrilled to see Mercy getting siding on her house. The next step will be fixing her bathtub and a few touches inside. She's waited a long time and her time has finally come!

This morning I was able to take my financial request to the weekly meeting -- the reconnect fee for Mariano's electric. The board agreed to the request and we will be able to get it paid! Praise the Lord! Maria was so excited when I told her! This means we will be able to get the final touches done to the electric and air conditioning. Blessings to that board who understood the situation!

Most of our afternoon was spent organizing tools. It's not possible to get it done with teams coming in and out back to back so today was the perfect time to get things back in order in preparation for incoming teams. When I say "perfect" it (of course) doesn't take into account the temps! There should be a new name for "dripping" tshirts!

This evening I talked with Cherie and she and Hank are ever closer. They continue working on their home all on their own, Hank is working in both the laundry and bathroom and the same time. She will be putting together a list of the last of the materials they need so we can provide them and they can continue getting things done. What an amazing couple they are and we are so pleased to call them family!

I also talked with our always loved team from Iowa today. They are scheduled to return in October and are thrilled to be coming back. I know they will also be thrilled to see the progress on Terri's house as they were the first team to do any work there! They won't believe it when they see it! They are also part of our extended family and we hope they ALL come back this time!

We have our tools loaded and Monty and I both plan on doing some "hands on" work tomorrow in Mariano's house. We both love doing so but never have the opportunity. We have set aside tomorrow and pray it will come to pass. Join us in that prayer! :)

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

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


One of those "gotcha" pictures -- we had some new ones taken for our missionary license renewals and thanks to Marie's daughter, Amy, she was able to get some good ones. Considering the subjects - she's a miracle worker! :)
The past couple of days have had us all over the place. Yesterday we were still getting electrical materials for Mariano's. Down here it's very common to have your water heater outside in a small enclosure or in Mariano's case, on the back deck area. We have to have special disconnects for that and finding them wasn't the easiest thing to do. After a couple different trips to a couple of different places, we did find them and it will now be ready when Glen returns.
We also were quite surprised to see how Maria had painted her bedroom -- beautiful. And she thought she didn't know anything about painting. I would love to show you the pictures but the batteries in my camera died and I didn't have any backups!! Sorry.
Today we were back on the road again with our weekly UMCOR meeting at 7am. All my receipts were turned in and plans for this coming Saturday are coming together. There is a very large team coming from the Houston area so we will ALL be working on the island for the day. Monty and I will be overseeing 2 different homes. Should be an awesome day.
From there we were back to Lowes and the electrical supply for more materials. I really do think we will get done, someday!
We stopped by Hai's house and were thrilled to see it turning blue --sky blue. Gregg, from South Dakota has been here the past couple of weeks and with his help she should be done, maybe by the end of the week? The color is beautiful and she is thrilled.
A stop at our storage warehouse also was in the plans. We needed to pick up a tent for Saturday's event.
There was some disturbing news today also -- one of the tool trailers on the island had the door lock crowbarred open and quite alot of tools stolen. These kind of things are really devastating as keeping tools is not the easiest thing to do under normal circumstances. Having them stolen just causes dollars to be spent unnecessarily.
I also spoke with my Mother today. Once again the floods have hit their hometown of Columbus, Indiana. We spent last summer there helping with the 3000 homes that flooded then. This time the residential areas are fine -- but my Dad and brother's crops are under water, some of the corn even has the ears on the stalks under water! This can be devastating and possibly cause alot of their crops to be a total loss! Please keep them in your prayers. It always seems like the news media forget all about the farmers in situations like these.
Tomorrow will have me headed to request dollars for the reconnect fee for Mariano's electric to be turned back on. I have almost exhausted all areas of funding and am praying for a miracle tomorrow morning -- please join me in that prayer.
Until next time . . . we keep on keepin' on . . . even with heat index levels hovering around 109!!!
Be blessed. Susan and Monty

Monday, August 03, 2009

Family Day

Today was the day they had been waiting for, the day they had been asking about for over a week -- "when can we start painting?" I had promised today -- and even though we could only get to one room - that one room transformed and we all had a blast!

Maria had the color she wanted for one wall - and it will need atleast one more coat if not two more. It is beautiful and looks amazing with the other walls, the color of vanilla ice cream. Yami learned what "cut in" was and she did fantastic. They all had a hand in it, either with a roller or brush -- but little Maria's time was limited to a few seconds as she took the new color directly to the trim -- the one place we asked her NOT to paint! That's what we get with a 4 year old!

Little Mariano helped Monty and Glen with the electric -- he fit perfectly underneath the house pulling wire. He was thrilled that he was an important part of helping -- and what little boy doesn't love crawling around in dirt!

All in all we had a great day. There wasn't a dry stitch on any of us, sweat ran from our faces, our shirts were soaked and yet we laughed and laughed as the language switched back and forth from Spanish to English and back to Spanish -- all trying to understand each other. The words didn't matter, it was heart felt fun and I know God had no trouble understanding any of it!

It's Mondays like this that are the perfect description of "relationships" and what God had in mind for all of us.

Not to mention Maria posing for all of us in her "Princess" gown!!! Priceless!

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