Monday, November 30, 2009

Beautiful "After"

What a shock -- not the new color of the blog -- the weather when we woke up this morning! Temps dropped into the low 50s overnight with strong winds and rain -- for a minute I almost forgot I was in Texas!
The photos above are awesome! Hopefully you remember Cathy and Dwight. We had volunteers in their home last year. They live right on the coast and had a beautiful home - until Ike came ashore and blew the entire lower level away! I will never forget the first time I saw it, the mess underneath and the sadness in Cathy's eyes. Our first team came in like gang busters, framed, plumbed and ran wiring. From there it was a week by week task and when we left them they were going to finish up the details on their own. Finish they did!
Last Friday night I just happened to be on their street and decided to just stop by and take a look. It was just what I needed to see at the end of a busy week! It actually took my breath away! Cathy was outside putting finishing touches on Christmas decorating and was thrilled to take me on a complete tour. Breathless! Beautiful! Beyond imagination! And the sadness that I had seen in her eyes that first day we met . . . way gone!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just thought you might like to see some beauty for a change and for those of you who worked on their home -- wow! If only you could see it with your own eyes! THANK YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Most of our day was spent running back and forth, but what else is new. We don't have volunteers until next week but that doesn't mean the work stops. We spent most of the afternoon at Rosalind's helping the dumpster company remove the full one and bring in another empty one. We also met our UMCOR supervisor, Alan, there for him to take a look see at the results and structure of the home after the gutting was complete. He agrees with us that structurally it is sound and we will need to bring in a few miracles to get it rebuilt with the budget we have but then God is in the business of miracles so here we go . . . another of those leaps of faith!
The rest of the day was spent with "truck" issues. The box truck needs an inspection but has some "issues" that need worked out before that can happen. Monty's truck has developed a problem that has yet to be determined and with all the rain it's still undetermined at this time. He has some ideas and none sound good . . . but God and His miracles are always around the corner.
An update on Logan and Janey -- Logan remains in the rehab area of the hospital and is still on the ventilator. They hope to try and wean him off but haven't been successful to date. He has a high fever and they aren't sure if it's an infection or pneumonia. It's been 18 days and Janey is worn out. Please keep both of them in your prayers.
Until next time . . . don't forget those prayers! They work miracles! Susan and Monty

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday of "finishing"

The day ended just as it started -- filled with laughter! You can see by the car photo that she thought for sure she could make it through that water -- it wasn't that deep?! A little muscle in front, pushing backward and she was out. No damage, just a bit of mud and alot of laughing!
The had more volunteers with them Saturday morning, more ready to serve in whatever was needed. We had them all over the place.
Monty took 4 with him to continue hauling the trash. This time they headed to Martha and Steven's and made 2 loads. They were huge loads and even these young and strong guys were worn out by the end of the day. Getting it into the trailer is one thing, getting it out of that trailer and into the dumpster is tough! They managed to get about two thirds of Martha's hauled away and made a major impact!
The rest of the team made a convoy and followed me to our first stop -- finishing the gutting of Rosalind's house. They not only gutted but they cleaned up all around the house making the siding accessible for rebuilding. They also cut off the back side that had been torn off from the storm. They also were quite "pooped" by the end of the day and deservingly so.
From there we took 2 more teams and headed to Hitchcock to paint the exterior of 2 homes. The homes were only 3 blocks apart so they split themselves into teams and got started. By the end of the day they were all primed and painted and we stamped them "done." They told us before they got here that they could paint and they weren't kidding!
They were so excited about all they were doing and were also quite surprised as they all live in Houston and from what they thought "it was all okay here." They don't think that anymore!
Their plan is to return to their church and try and raise some awareness and come back with more teams. We pray they are successful! They talked of all the skill in their church and it would be awesome to have some of that skill come and serve and rebuild some lives!
This morning Monty and I returned our borrowed trailer back to the island so the rest of the UMCOR teams would have use of it. The waves were crashing in anticipation of the front coming in later today. The surfers were giving it their best shot but none looked too successful!
We thank our all Spanish team for coming and serving and blessing on a holiday weekend that they could have been spending with their families! They were only here for 2 days but they touched 4 cities and countless lives! Blessings will flow right back to them -- God promises and He always follows through with His Word!
Until next time . . . be blessed and bless another! Susan and Monty

Friday, November 27, 2009

One Home -- One Day

They arrived from Houston and were ready to work. The temps for orientation were a bit on the chilly side but they just shivered and waited to see where they would be working and what they would be doing. Most of them are college students who have the weekend off -- and they chose to come and serve! If only more kids . . .
We had 2 jobs for them to get started with. Monty took 3 guys with him and headed off to Walter's to clean up all the debris in front of his home. They made trip after trip, chopped and chopped, loaded and loaded and then unloaded and unloaded into the dumpster. By the end of the day the dumpster was full, the guys were worn out and Monty had decided we need another chain saw! Tomorrow they will be doing the same thing at Martha and Steven's. Maybe not the same guys -- we'll know tomorrow morning when we meet again before going out to all new jobs.
The rest of the team followed me to Ralph and Laura's. We met this couple nearly a year ago and they have done all the work in their home. We had a team help get them gutted out and they took it from there. This team came in to paint the interior of the home. While taking with their team leader prior to their arrival she told me "they can paint" and she wasn't kidding! There were 7 of them and they painted the entire house in one day! Each room is a different color and Laura did an amazing job of coordinating colors. It made it fun for the team to do. I was amazed each time I stopped in to check on them. They were all smiles and all work! Ralph and Laura were thrilled!
As I stopped at Hsilda's to drop off bags of concrete for George to build the platform for their air conditioning unit I saw the finished deck! He did a great job and is ready to continue and take the house to completion! Keeping them in materials will be a full time job as they are workers! Now the baby won't step off the deck and fall!
Monty said that his team prayed with Walter before they ended their day and Walter was in tears as he remembered all the teams who have come and helped him! I know how much each team touched his heart and kept him company. Being 92 and living alone he spends most of his time keeping the parrots fed and wishing another team was coming - for the companionship! Relationships!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There will be more team members joining the ones already here. We will have another orientation for the group tomorrow morning and off we will head -- many different directions but all will result in laughter, work and blessings all around! God is smiling!
Until then . . . bless someone and feel the joy! Susan and Monty

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Extended Family Blessings

I should have taken my camera just to show you all the food!

Hopefully all of you are not only stuffed full of all the goodies of Thanksgiving but you are also remembering and thinking about all your blessings. It's the one day of the year set aside to do just that -- and if you're like me you realize that if you counted all your blessings it would take every day to list them all and you would still not have enough time!

Monty and I did spend our morning preparing for the incoming team tomorrow morning. Getting tools and such ready takes some time and organization but we are loaded and ready for tomorrows orientation and to meet some new servant hearts.

Then it was time for our Thanksgiving feast! Yes, Hank and Cherie had invited us to share in their family day -- what an honor for us! It felt like home when we walked in the door. It also brought back memories of the first day I walked in their door, saw how they were trying to live after the storm and prayed God would show us the way to help. And now . . . it's absolutely beautiful -- thanks to all of you who came to crawl underneath to clean out the muck and mire and critters, to those who climbed on ladders to paint, to those who put the finishing touches of the skirting around the trailer and to those who shared their love with Hank, Cherie and Blake and made a lasting impression in their hearts!

It was a wonderful afternoon of sharing, laughing and loving. That's one of the most amazing things for Monty and I -- to meet strangers who become family! Sitting around the table together, praying together, laughing together, remembering together . . . priceless blessings!

Our deepest thanks to Hank, Cherie and Blake for their loving hearts, their trusting hearts and their sharing of a true Thanksgiving with the both of us! We love you all and are blessed to be a part of your family!

To our families back home -- we miss you all -- especially on days like this! Please don't worry about us -- God extends your love to us through others right here!

Until next time . . . We thank You, Lord, for allowing us to serve You every day!
Susan and Monty

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

working on their own

The rain drops continued falling on and off throughout the day but all that managed to do was dampen us on the outside as we went about our day. Atleast I had my good ole rubber boots to keep my feet dry and it made it a bit fun to tromp through the mud puddles - the farm girl coming out I think!

We started out early to meet Al, our HVAC contractor who is installing the system for Hsilda's family. He layed out the plan for building the platform to hold the unit. These platforms must be built high off the ground in case of another flood. Hsilda's will be 8 feet in the air. Her husband, George, will do the building. He will also be working on their home all during the holidays. He has done amazing work on his own and as long as we can provide them with the materials they will keep going. He was working on finishing the deck railing this afternoon while Hsilda was painting bedroom ceilings. They both do all this work with 4 children at home!

From there we headed to the island (Galveston) to pick up a trailer that Monty will be using with our incoming team on Friday. A few weeks ago we cleared brush and trees at Martha's and at Walter's. The disaster trash trucks are no longer picking up debris so we will be utilizing some of the youth on this incoming team to load this trailer with the debris and haul it to our local dumpster located at Mel and Billie's. We hope to keep the dumpster there and have it at our disposal all during their rebuilding also.

Making a trip to the island is never quick. Once we got there we had light issues with the trailer and finally had to give up and drive it back without lights. Thank you, Lord, for diverting the policemen to other folks as we made the trip! :)

We also ran into Pat and Chester who worked at the Presbytarian camp. They are no longer with the camp but hope to remain in the area volunteering. When I saw them Saturday Chester said he didn't feel well. Turns out they ended up in the emergency room later that day and discovered Chester has a very nasty case of pneumonia. They did run the test for the swine flu and he is clear. Please keep him in your prayers as he is quite weak and not well yet.

Our island construction coordinator, Sandy, sent us back with a couple of picnic tables to donate to the RV park where we stay. With each of them 8' in length it was quite a feat to get them loaded and unloaded but Tom, our park manager was thrilled to have them. He hopes to put them to use with a possible Christmas cookout for the park residents!

A special thank you to our dear friend, Gary from Illinois who phoned us today to wish us a blessed Thanksgiving and to send his love. He and his team came and worked with us years ago while we were in Gautier, Mississippi and he has covered us with love and prayers ever since! It's nice to have "family" all over the states! Blessed Thanksgiving to you too Gary!!!

And now the evening has come and I am putting together the material list for Hsilda and George to continue the work on their home. With our weekly UMCOR meeting tomorrow morning I will stop at Lowes on the way back and have a truck full by the time I pull out and into their drive. It's great to see homeowners working on their own and a blessing to be able to provide them with the materials they need to get done and get home!

Until next time . . . have you blessed someone today? Susan and Monty

Planning ahead

With our team for this week not arriving until Friday we are spending these couple of days before the holiday preparing for their arrival.

This morning had us heading to Lowes bright and early to get some materials lined up for a couple of houses. Robert now has a new front and back door awaiting installation along with the hardware to secure the home properly.

Hsilda has the molding that will be installed on the ceiling where it meets the walls. She also has some subflooring that will be delivered on Friday. This is needed to secure the trailer side flooring and then we can put in the final flooring knowing that all is sturdy and level. We have yet to make a decision on the permanent flooring but have plenty of time.

Logan and Janey will have a delivery of sheetrock also delivered Friday in preparation for the completion of their home. Janey was looking at a long term recovery organization for Logan to be moved to when he has improved a bit more.

We also contacted our electrician buddy, Glen and he will be returning to fix a "wrinkle" that showed up at Mariano and Maria's. It was good to hear from him and we look forward to seeing him.

It was also a pleasure to reconnect with Richard and Peggy this afternoon. If you remember we spent quite a bit of time helping them rebuild their home last winter and spring. Richard is able to lead his own volunteers with all his construction experience. The outside of their home still needs some work along with their deck. They will be putting together the documentation we need to see about getting some funding to finish them up. Richard's health is not good but we know God is the ultimate healer and we turn Richard over to him. Please do the same with your prayers.

Our incoming team leader called this afternoon to say their number is around 20 with quite a few of them college students. We will have them lined up in quite a few jobs, one of which will be using the UMCOR trailer to haul away the tree and shrub debris from both Martha's and Walter's. We have a dumpster at Mel and Billie's and will be using it as our "staging" dumpster. It can be changed out easily and makes for a great project for this team along with a great blessing to the homeowner to have things finally cleared away from in front of their homes.

And then we came to the end of the day with not nearly all of my "to do" items cleared from my list. Oh well, there's always tomorrow! I add todays things to tomorrow and pray I can make it through them in time for . . . Tuesday? Gotta love those lists!

Let's see how tomorrow ends up! :)

Until then . . . love and blessings to all. Susan and Monty

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Working through the rains

Once again the winds blew and the rains poured - the weatherman saying by afternoon the sun would shine - and he was wrong!!!
It made no difference to Bob's team -- they modified, they changed plans and they worked and they blessed!
We started at both Martha's and Hsilda's and ended up all at Hsilda's. The plan was to finish the flooring in Martha's but . . . the glue to hold the tiles in place was not going to dry in enough time for them to lay the tiles. So they finished the polyurethane on the cabinets, cleaned up and headed to Hsilda's where they combined with the rest of the team who was determined to get their deck finished - rain or no rain! One man came prepared with a poncho and so he was the one working under the roof overhang of the house - where the water was pouring off and directly onto his blessed poncho! Hey man -- whatever it takes! :)
We have had the blessing of working with some of this team before and it's always good to see returning faces and smiles. They continued working and got 80% of the deck complete. Atleast we don't have to be quite so worried when baby David comes out and makes a mad dash toward the deck!
They also worked inside finishing the painting of the kitchen cabinets and did some real cleaning and organizing of materials. This kind of work is priceless -- for both the homeowner and the next incoming team. One of the things we "preach" at orientation is that "a clean job is a safe job" and Monty's famous line of "I can teach a monkey to build something but I can't teach a contractor to clean up after themselves" always brings laughs but also the reality of truth! This home is clean and ready for our next incoming team to get to work and actually be able to find materials.
An added blessing on this team was the Grandfather and Grandson team. I watched as the grandson was being taught to paint, taught to handle a nail gun -- I watched the growth and the love between them and it warmed my heart and I know put a smile on God's face!
We look forward to this team coming back to work with us again. They said it would be after the first of the year -- awesome!
Until next time . . . bless someone with your smile today! Susan and Monty

Friday, November 20, 2009

Finish with a bang -- and a flood!

They arrived on Monday morning for orientation -- in a downpouring of rain.
They arrived today for our closing -- in another downpouring of rain!
It made no difference to them -- they didn't care -- they just poured it on for their last day! It has been a great week and as usual, we are sad to see them go. They took the opportunity to thank us and we wanted to really "hit home" with the fact that we could be here for . . . BUT without volunteers like them - and all the others who have come - all would be useless!
The gutting of Rosalind's home is all done except one room. Amazing work on a really tough job.
Hsilda and family are nearly all painted inside, have a railing at their deck steps, have kitchen cabinets painted and door hardware installed. The team even put together a punch list of what still needs done for me! Wow!
Robert has 99.9% of all his flooring in. The last bit will come after we install 2 new exterior doors. The team even went ahead and cut the tile pieces we will need - and marked them! They also marked all the electrical outlets so we know which ones need further attention by an electrician! Talk about going the extra mile for the homeowner!
Martha and Steven are still spellbound! They not only have a kitchen with a working sink, they have a pantry and flooring in all but the laundry area. The incoming team for tomorrow will take care of that room. As I brought materials in for tomorrow both of them were still in amazement at how beautiful everything is. Martha told me she didn't think it had ever looked so nice! She was busy cleaning and cleaning and also really enjoying all the food donations that the team blessed her with this morning. They had boxes and boxes of things for them and Martha was so excited she started eating before even putting things away! Oh the things we all take for granted!!!!!!!!!!!!
Janey was also smiling - through tears - at the progress on their home. The tears are due to the fact that even though Logan has shown some slight improvement the physicians want him to go into some health rehab for the next 25 days and Janey knows all he will want to do is come home! Please pray for both of them. The team installed all the insulation and has it cleaned and ready for the next team to hang sheetrock.
If you have kept up with this week you realize just how awesome it has been! Homes improving by leaps and bounds and lives being changed daily. Homeowners crying because they don't want the teams to leave and teams also shedding a tear at the same thought! Hearts of service reaching out - not sure what they will be doing or even if they will know how - yet it makes no difference. They learn and they do. Homeowners who have no idea who is coming, just strangers that they open their doors to welcome -- not only into their homes but into their lives. Add a few days and see the miracles of relationships and know why God says the world revolves around relationships! Funny how He is always "right on."
And we prepare for our Saturday team coming tomorrow morning!
Until next time . . . cherish relationships! Susan and Monty

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Community Day in Houston

I never did get a complete count but it was somewhere between 100 and 150 of them -- they all took a day from their office type jobs to come out and bless families who needed help in getting rebuilt from Ike's damage. We sometimes forget that Ike caused a sizable amount of damage inland and Houston was without power for 3 weeks in some places!
Ms Eddie was quick to remind us of the above fact. She has lived there for 27 years and says she will not stay if another storm comes toward Texas. She watched the water flood into part of her room and come through her roof. Since then she has a newly shingled roof and we spent the day working on the ceiling in her family and dining rooms.
We started with a group of 8, "officially" known as Team 8! Team 8 was joined by more members after lunch who all seemed thrilled to become a part. They spent time outside pulling up weeds, cutting out overgrown plants (causing Ms Eddie to have some azaleas to be trimmed that she hadn't planned on) :) and planted a new flower garden area for her, complete with mulch.
Inside they learned about the process of putting ceiling tiles on top of an existing ceiling. They worked as a team like no other, cheering from inside could be heard down the street. It kept those working outside in smiles.
They had the bus come and deliver lunches for all of us and were quite organized with plenty of media coverage that will bring much hope to all who watch. And bringing hope is what it's all about.
The rest of our teams did great today. They knew we would only be accessible by phone and so they were planned ahead and did completely fine without us! I'm anxious to see the results tomorrow.
I made it back just in time for Monty and I to go to the surprise birthday party for Mel, Billie's Mel. Our UMCOR team worked so very hard cleaning their place a couple of weeks ago and we were thrilled to be a part of the evening. Mel was equally surprised to receive some pretty awesome gifts, one being a digital camera. Now he can keep photos of the process of rebuilding their home! It felt nice to be included in a family event! What an amazing group of friends that we just "happened" to run into at the local Mexican restaurant months ago. Who would have known? I'm pretty sure God knew this plan all along and we are excited to see what else He has in His Almighty plan book!
Until next time . . . bless someone else and warm your own heart! Susan and Monty
PS A special thanks to Pastor Dave from home! You know what for!!! We sure do miss you!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A new kitchen

Janey and Logan's kitty had fun posing for this!

Wednesday is the day where teams are working away, feeling comfortable in what they are doing and knowing they have a couple more days to work. Today was just that, and more.

Rosalind's has a bedroom and bathroom gutted which exposed some pretty major termite damage along with the roofing falling in due to the trees landing on it. The team was ready to remove the bathtub as I left and we hoped the flooring underneath would hold up. There were a few places where there is no flooring at all and the team will board up those places to keep critters and such from entering. They completely filled the dumpster and were awaiting a change to an empty one.

Hsilda was also in waiting - waiting for her cabinets to be delivered. The team had the kitchen area all cleaned and ready to begin painting them and installing them. They were also working on the deck steps railing and finishing up painting doors. One man was laughing as he told me he had become the king of door painting and would be glad when they were done. The HVAC contractor will be coming on Friday to install their heating and air unit and hopes to be completed before Thanksgiving day.

Robert has 99% of his flooring installed and they were working on the trim. As soon as we get the word "go" we will also be installing his heating and air. I still need to get a new front entry and back entry door along with doing some patching of his exterior siding. He's getting so very close and it's awesome.

Logan and Janey are all gutted out and sprayed for disinfecting. The insulation will be installed tomorrow and Janey reports they are going to try and wean Logan off of life support tomorrow. She said she felt like he knew she was there last night, even if he couldn't communicate it. Please continue praying.

Steven and Martha got to see the beginnings of their new flooring today and the volunteers said they would have a working kitchen and finished cabinets by the end of the day! It all looks so beautiful and Martha is nearly speechless as she watches all the changes. She did pick out the color yellow for the exterior siding, if we can afford to paint it.

With the clear blue skies and temps around 70 everyone was thrilled to be able to work both inside and outside and enjoy the beauty of God's creation all around them. I love to pull up to each job and stay out of sight for a minute or two. It's always fun to hear the laughter that comes from each job. It never fails, laughing and working - all together!

Tomorrow I will be traveling up to Houston to work a special project for UMCOR. I will have a team of 8 volunteers who are coming to work for the day. We are installing ceiling tiles so it should be interesting. I'll try and get some good photos.

Our incoming teams are calling to check on what they might be doing and more are scheduling each week. That is what we need -- more and more volunteers! I've said it before and will continue to say it -- the volunteers are KEY!! If they stop coming the rebuilding of lives will stop!

If you have been thinking of coming south to get out of the cold, how about coming here and not only feeling the warmth outside but also feeling the warmth inside, the warmth of helping someone who thought they would never get help, someone who is reaching, who is holding on to their last bit of hope that they might be the next ones . . . come make a dream come true and have your lives changed forever!

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Working in 64 degrees is N-I-C-E!

See for yourself -- they are everywhere, they are doing everything!
Hsilda's team is nearly finished with all her painting, both wall and trim. They are installing ceiling trim and preparing for the delivery of her kitchen tomorrow when they will be painting cabinets and constructing counter tops and a bar area for her. They also worked on the railing for her outside steps.
Janey continues to keep a close eye on Logan who has improved ever so slightly but is still heavily sedated. Her team has nearly all of the second half of their home gutted and will be ready to spray for sanitation tomorrow and maybe start with installing insulation. They were working diligently pulling nails and staples that stick out from the walls and flooring.
Martha and Steven got most of their kitchen installed today, complete with their new pantry. The electrician continues his quest to finish their electrical and seems to be doing quite well. If only I would have gotten him the correct circuit breaker . . . :)
Robert's flooring is nearly done and his counter top is done! It looks beautiful and while I was talking with his wife, Olga this morning she completely fell apart in my arms -- those tears of joy again. She couldn't believe all that has been done for them and as we talked about building the stairs on the back of their home and possibly painting the exterior she was overcome with emotion and couldn't hold back. Her tears became contagious and we were both in need of a tissue! I love this work!!
Allan's team finished their day and a half with flying colors. They accomplished a weeks worth of work in that short amount of time. They also were an added blessing to Art -- he needed help in getting his new kitchen cabinets and counter tops unloaded and into his house. Not a small task when your house is about 14 feet off the ground! The team had it all done in about 10minutes and were then headed home! Thanks for some great work team! We look forward to seeing you again - soon!
Rosalind's team started with the gutting and were doing the best they could to keep her doors and door framing and trim in tact. They are solid wood doors and in pretty good shape, something we would pay a small fortune for today. With some cleaning and new paint they can look awesome. The team was awaiting the much anticipated arrival of the dumpster as I drove off. The pile they had been creating was ready to be relocated inside the dumpster.
And my daily trip to Lowes brought back even more requested materials for various jobs. They are getting good at creating a list and then letting me know what they need when I stop by. Going into Lowes with that list and getting things checked out job by job can be quite the juggling act! Today I just called everything in ahead of time and it was at the door waiting for me! What great guys!
This weather has been just what we've been waiting for -- waiting for the last 7 months for!!!! I am still shocked that we have windows open in the day and are forced to close them at night!! If we could just keep these days for . . . oh well, even the Bible says there is a time for every season!
We do have a note of sad news this evening. Some of you might remember a homeowner we helped back in February and March, Barney. Today we learned he passed away of a heart attack last week. I will always remember him playing the guitar for my Mother when she and my sister in law visited us. He would have played that guitar for my Mother forever if we would have let him! We know he's got a special place in God's orchestra now and forever. We'll miss you Barney and were blessed to know you and love you!
Until next time . . . bless someone else and feel the joy! Susan and Monty

Monday, November 16, 2009

Through Wind and Rain and Sun

Yes, once again I went through the entire day and didn't take a single photo -- guess just how busy I was! Still no excuse so I'll do better tomorrow.

This mornings orientation started at the same time the big cold front, complete with pouring sideways rain and high winds. Never fail - we just used the other side of the park shelter. A little bit of rain and wind wasn't enough to stop these 3 teams!

Our UMCOR team consists of 10. We have them divided between Steven and Martha, Robert and Logan and Janey. A side note, Logan has been transfered to a Houston hospital and isn't doing well, still in ICU.

Steven and Martha have an electrician working on some more work along with kitchen cabinets being installed and finished with polyurethane for a finishing touch. They also have the flooring in case they run out of work! :)

Robert's flooring is continuing to go down along with the base trim. They just might get that done this week?! Ever closer to being done! The back deck stair material will be delivered tomorrow -- to keep them busy!

Logan and Janey are getting the other half of their home gutted. Most of their household items are now relocated into the newly rebuilt side to make room to get the final gutting and rebuilding done.

We have 2 Presbytarian teams. One team consists of 10 folks who worked today and half of tomorrow. They are beginning the transformation of Allan's home. He called me late afternoon to say how shocked he was to see the progress they made and that he was heading off to get more materials for tomorrow!! Go team!

Our other Presb team are working at Hsilda's and Rosalind's. Hsilda is getting her interior doors painted, more walls painted and materials for the deck stairs also arrived today. They are looking forward to the arrival of the kitchen cabinets and counter tops tomorrow. Job security!

Rosalind was getting started with the process of going through all her household and personal items, trying to make the difficult decision of throwing it away or keeping it. This is so very difficult for homeowners as they didn't choose the storm or the loss of their things so getting rid of them is extremely hard to do. She is doing fine, the team is walking her - praying her - through the process. Each day will get better and the result will be an entirely gutted house and a clean slate to start the rebuilding with. This home is in Texas City and we have a totally different set of inspections and regulations to work by. The windstorm (insurance) inspector was very helpful and made an immediate trip to her house to talk with me and lay out some plans. We won't have a definite plan until we see what we have to work with.

And then I had my daily trip to Lowes to plan out 3 homes worth of materials for delivery. It took a couple of hours and then some but it's all done and lined out and now we hope to make sense of everything when it arrives! :)

Once again it's a week with 6 different homes being blessed, volunteers in every direction and amazing results coming from both. I love to see everyone come together, dropping their denominational "names" and just doing what God has called them to do -- help others! Their smiles and their tears combine to create true joy --not based on circumstances but based on the love of Jesus living inside them!

What an awesome God we serve!!!!

Until next time (with photos) . . . bless someone, feel the joy! Susan and Monty
PS We are supposed to have lows in the 40s tonight!!!!!!!!!!! Praise the Lord!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

They came . . . they floored

They arrived late Thursday night and were raring to go come Friday morning. This team was led by Tom and Jeannie who are NOMADS. This is a Methodist group who travel around the country blessing others -- and this team they led was from their church and they continued the blessing of others.
We had planned on having them continue the work at Janey and Logan's but Janey called very early Friday morning saying Logan was in ICU in the hospital having trouble breathing. For those of you who don't know, Logan is on oxygen all the time so this is quite serious. I have not heard an update from Janey yet today so I apologize for not knowing anything more than that.
So we shifted into Plan B and called Robert to open up his door and in we came. This team was amazing as they started on the flooring and did a wonderful job. They also touched up some electrical issues as much as possible and left plenty of notes for the next incoming team Monday. The floor looks great and Robert is very happy! He was upset that he had to be out of town today for some job related training and was not able to say goodbye to the team. They got to visit with him yesterday and understood how important it is to keep ones job, especially these days!
I also made a visit to yet another home this afternoon. Rosalind hasn't even been able to get all of her household belongings out of her home to prepare for gutting! That will all change come Monday! She kept telling me how we were "an answer to prayer" and fought back tears each time she said it! Prayer does work -- and God is always on time! We will have quite a job ahead of us as this home must be completely gutted along with a new roof put on and siding outside. It has not one shred of insulation in it -- and of course we will be changing that! She is excited about the teams coming and will be able to work right along side of them since she is layed off from NASA.
Yesterday also had me visiting with Martha when the Lowes truck pulled up with her kitchen cabinets, counter top, pantry, flooring and kitchen sink. She was so shocked and excited at the thought of having a real, working kitchen by the end of next week! It's a very small house and it will have volunteers working on top of volunteers but we hope to have it all installed next week so volunteers that are coming --- get ready!!!!!
We also learned that the roofing estimator will be paying a visit to Mel and Billie's -- hopefully this next week. The sooner that gets done the sooner we can get started with the rest. I did talk with Alan today, our UMCOR supervisor, who was in Houston at a "Re-store" where folks can bring in construction supplies that they did not need but are still useful. Looks like we he will be bringing back all the windows we will need to install in Mel and Billie's house!! They don't even know that bit of great news yet!!!
Piece by piece, part by part, bit by bit --- the blessings are around every corner. All we ALL have to do is keep our eyes open to see them and our hearts ready to receive them. They may not come in the package we thought but guaranteed they will be better than we could have possibly imagined!
Tomorrow is Sunday -- how about attending church and saying a prayer of thanks for all your blessings!!!!
Until then . . . be blessed! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

5 Tons of Blessings

For the first part of this week we find ourselves "teamless." It happens. There were two teams on the schedule, one from the Presbytarian camp and one from UMCOR, both of which ran into complications and cancelled.

So this is the week where I play catch up and also plan for next week at the same time.

Yesterday started with a phone call that was literally 5 tons of blessings. Sandy, the construction coordinator for UMCOR who runs volunteers on the island of Galveston, called saying he had a donated AC unit, a 5 ton one! And then the question I was hoping for, "do you have a home for it?" Do I have a home???????

We headed off to the island, got some help from some guys in the parking lot to load it into my truck and away we went. We knew "the" home would be Hsilda's home. We already had the bid from our HVAC man, he planned on a 4 ton unit so this would be great. When I called him to discuss what we had he said "free is always good." A man who knows the reality of working in disaster recovery!

We had the help we needed to get it into the truck and now we needed to get it out of the truck. All it took was one call to Mariano - they live around the corner from Hsilda and he and Maria, along with Hsilda's husband and a friend of theirs got it unloaded and up on the deck. Not an easy job but they made it! Now our HVAC man will come and take a look at it and rewrite the bid. And we will have a substantial savings to go along with the amazing blessing!

The unit is only 3 years old and still under warranty! Thanks for the awesome answer to prayer Lord!

Today was our monthly Long Term Recovery meeting. One of the main focuses is always funding. There is more coming down the pipe line but that pipe is a long one so we all keep going with what we have, pinching every penny when we can and pray for the pipe to shorten -- someday! It's always good to hear the uplifting stories from the other organizations "in the trenches." As the UMCOR main case manager, Lee, and I talked we realized that UMCOR itself has nearly 100 homes in process!!!!! Amazing!!!!

I had to stop at Lowes to finalize the order of cabinets and flooring for Martha and Steven. It's that planning for next week thing. I have a sample of the flooring, a peel and stick tile, to take to Martha and Steven to make sure they like it. We use the peel and stick as it makes it easier for volunteers and looks great when it's completed.

Monty continues working in the box truck, both repairing and rebuilding the box portion so it can be used in all sorts of ways. We can haul things, we can store things, we can help move families . . . you name it and we can put it to use! Another of those surprise blessings.

We thank all of you for reading, for supporting, for volunteering, for praying!!!

Until next time . . . be blessed and bless someone else! Susan and Monty

Saturday, November 07, 2009

My oh my - did they paint!

They worked till dark last night and were back at it early this morning! They came to prime and paint and did more than that. Yes, they got the outside of the house painted, two coats. And the inside is completely done, including the ceilings.
But they also came to minister and that is exactly what they did when Ms Doris came to pay them a visit and thank them for their work. She spent some time with them, telling them her story and admiring all the work they had done and were continuing to do. Ms Doris is 87 years "young" and more than ready to return home. After this team, all she needs is flooring and cabinets and she will be able to do exactly that - come home!
Many thanks to this team as they joined together for a common cause, to represent Jesus in everything they did. Smiles were abundant, one lady even celebrated her birthday yesterday! She came to serve on her birthday! What a heart for Jesus! She even got a home made carrot cake for her birthday!!!!!!
It was the perfect way to end a fantastic week of volunteers coming, work getting done and folks being blessed from all directions!
Thanks to all the teams who worked so hard this past week! Bless you!!! And come back soon!
Until next time . . . bless someone else and get the blessing in return! Susan and Monty