Thursday, December 31, 2009


They came to work and weren't going to let the weather get in their way of finishing the job!

Yes, Tuesday night brought flooding rains and although the forecast was for it to stop yesterday morning -- it just didn't happen until nearly evening.

The team at Robert's is the one featured in the photo. No matter if they had rain gear to wear or not, when we stopped by they were determined to finish the building of his back deck and steps and they did just that! They were soaked to the skin, shoes covered with so much mud they may never come clean and all they could do was smile!!! What a team!!!

The rest of the continued the work on Allan's sheetrock, the flooring at Hsilda's and some of them were working in Galveston in one of the parsonages. All over the place doing whatever needed done with their smiles lighting the way!

It was sad to bid them farewell at the end of the day. For a group of 40, 30 of them youth -- an amazing team that did amazing work in only 3 days! We hope they come back soon.

In the meantime Monty and I were out jumping through all the "hoops" to get a building permit for Rosaland. With her home in Texas City they have certain criteria that must be met and getting that criteria properly lined up took all afternoon but we got 'er done. We now have the pink paper to put in the window -- facing outside of course -- that will allow us to get started with the leveling of the structure. Our plan is to start on her home with our incoming teams on January 11. We will have 3 teams that week and alot of skill -- what a great way to start the New Year!

Today is one of those days where the fog just will not give way to sunshine. Yes, it's tough to see the other end of your vehicle while driving but none the less we headed to Lowes to meet Ralph and Laura so they could get some materials to keep them working during this weekend and until those next teams come in.

I also have an update on Richard -- he's not doing well. He called me yesterday morning and said they were running a battery of tests. His emphasema is combined with stomach cancer and each of them giving him a rough go of it. He did sound a bit better mentally. He said he could tell there were people out there praying for him and how much better that made him feel. Peggy is having a tough time and is wearing herself out going to and from the hospital. They both need prayers continued and I'll do what I can to keep you updated.

And now we look at the end of another year. Many people are sad at this time of year and others are overjoyed that it's finally over and they have a new start coming. We should all be thankful for all the blessings that we have been given over this past year. Not one of them were deserved and yet God poured them out in all directions. Yes, there were tough times and yes, there will be tough times in the New Year. BUT -- the promise of God always being there with us is all we need!

We thank all of you for your prayers, your love and your support this past year. We hope they will all continue with the New Year as we know God has alot in store for us. We're not in the habit of making resolutions but we do pray that God will continue to lead us in the direction He has for us and that we are obedient to His calling.

Be safe out there, be blessed and let's look forward to the New Year with our hearts ready to serve!!

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

They beat the rains

The weather threatened all day. The forecast was for wet, very wet. Doesn't make any difference to a team of youth - they were ready to go and bundled up a bit more than yesterday since the clouds kept the temps in the 40s.
Jose' was so thrilled to see the final pieces of deck railing going up and his dead trees coming down. He told me Blanca had been in the hospital last week and was home but in bed. He must have thanked me a dozen times -- the thanks goes to the teams!
Robert also stopped by as we were getting to his house. He also was happy to see the back landing and steps going in and got a kick out of the recycling done to get them built. This team also recycled a bit more today -- we had about 13 bags of Quickcrete that was on another site where we had it covered with tarps and such. With the terrible rains the water came in from the bottom and all the bags were solid concrete. We didn't know exactly how we were going to use them but this team did. They used them to build a wall for Robert's back steps and so what we thought was waste God turned into use -- kind of sounds like us personally doesn't it?!
Allan was anxious for lunchtime to come with his team as he and his wife had cooked up some homemade vegetable soup with the works. And once again the fireplace was keeping things warm. I asked the team if they had told the other groups about their fireplace and they admitted they had to tell -- the glouting was too good to pass up!
Hsilda's flooring is going in well with a second team working in the family room while the others finished the hall and 2 of the 3 bedrooms. We also used some of the youth and their strength to move in the base trim to her house so we can be ready for the next team or George will start himself when the flooring is complete.
Another day that had us running back and forth and thankful that all of these jobs are literally blocks apart. Thank goodness for small towns! And with only 2 trips for supplies we were able to spend more time on each job which is always great for us.
You saw I said "us" -- when you all pray you just don't know the power you have! Monty was up before me this morning and ready to go and check jobs with me!!! He is feeling much better and as far as I can tell every single cell in my body is fighting to stay healthy so thanks for the powerful prayers and don't stop now!
Until next time . . . bless someone secretly today! Susan and Monty

Monday, December 28, 2009

The blessings of Garland

They came in with the winds -- very cold winds very early this morning. Some thought to bring coats, others are teens and "weather proof" in their own minds!
First United Methodist Church of Garland, Texas sent us 40 of their best! Today was proof!
Ralph and Laura have some really big, really bad trees completely gone and subflooring in their living area in preparation for their vinyl flooring. Their smiles to the team as they pulled away at the end of the day spoke volumes.
Hsilda is getting her wood flooring installed and the kids are amazing! They told me they had done it before and they weren't kidding. Look at their smiles!
Allan and Rosemary are getting sheetrock both hung and taped and mudded in preparation for priming. They even had a fire in their fireplace roaring hot for the team! OOOPPPSSSS -- I wasn't supposed to let the other team members know!! :)
Jose' and Blanca also got some dead trees taken down and preparations for the back steps to be built tomorrow. Their ramp railing will also be completed with the last of the side rails. Jose' came out this morning and just sat and watched the team -- complete with a very broad smile.
Robert is also getting some back steps built. As I drove by Mariano and Maria's this morning I noticed that their FEMA trailer had been removed ---- yea!!!! And when FEMA removes them they leave the decks and steps they build for them. This team made a bee line there, dismantled that deck and steps and moved them to Robert's to cut cost on lumber needed! Quite the crew! And now their shoes are good and muddy in preparation for tomorrow!
I also made a stop to check on Martha and she was still in the Christmas spirit just thinking of the gifting of the washer and dryer coming from one of the teams past! She did tell me that the ambulance had made a visit to them last night -- she is epileptic and had a very severe seizure during the night. It was bad enough to scare Steven and he called 911. She is fine today but rather tired and getting some much needed rest. Please pray for her.
Speaking of prayers -- if you remember (or read back last year about this time) Richard and Peggy? We did alot of work in their home and had a wonderful house blessing for them. Richard suffers from lung problems and has only gotten worse this fall and winter. He just called me a few minutes ago and is in the hospital quite ill. He is also quite scared but felt better when I told him I would be putting a prayer request out through the blog -- he and Peggy both need our prayers. He said she is scared at all the testing they are putting him through. It's a tough situation and they will greatly appreciate your intense prayers!
And a personal request -- Monty has been quite sick with a cold that has also found its way to his lungs. It started on Christmas evening and isn't getting much better. Today he has slept most all day and hopes tomorrow will show some improvement. With your prayers he will improve and I will escape the whole thing.
Garland is here for 3 days so be sure and stay tuned for the next 2.
Until next time . . . bless someone today! Susan and Monty

Saturday, December 26, 2009

United --- it fell

As many of you know, the summer of 2008 brought record breaking flooding to my hometown of Columbus, Indiana and Monty and I spent the summer there helping the long term recovery reach out and help others. That is where we were when hurricane Ike struck here.

The long term recovery organizations that are formed after a disaster are the life blood of the recovery. They are the ones who do the fundraising, who handle the money and who look for more. Without them there could not be a recovery.

Just as it was in Columbus it is here -- that long term recovery is headed up by the United Way organization.

On Christmas Eve I received one of those late night phone calls that you know isn't going to be good!

"The United Way is burning to the ground" said Eric, one of the case managers I had in Columbus. Yes, to the ground!

To see and read about it you can go to where there is video and story after story. You can also do a google search and read even more.

The thing about the Columbus United Way building --- it housed nearly 40 other community service organizations!! Everyone there doing what they can to help others, from the children to the elderly and everyone in between. And now all that's left is smoke, flames that refuse to be put out and dashed hopes!

Not a way to spend Christmas!

I would ask that you search your hearts and see if there is anything -- anything at all --- that you might be able to do to help in this situation? Think hard, pray about it and then act!

My heart goes out to Doug, the president, and the entire "family" that welcomed us and loved on us that entire summer! I know they will come through this even stronger and even closer but the journey is painful and they all need our help and prayers.

God bless them . . . and you! Susan and Monty

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!
God bless each and every one! Susan, Monty, Samson & Bitty

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thunderous Return

It's Christmas Eve -- a beautiful church we found on our trip. A reminder of where our hearts should be this evening.
We returned home yesterday very late afternoon, just in time to find out our water into the camper trailer was leaking at the outlet and at the trailer itself. Monty tried and tried to patch and repair but it just wasn't going to happen. A trip to Walmart, a new hose and some fittings and we were back in working order late that evening.
Along with that water problem came the weather forecast -- heavy rains with storms! They weren't kidding. We tried to get to bed early knowing that living in a trailer makes each raindrop sound like eighteen. And sure enough, at 4 am the thunder rolled, the lightning struck and the winds rocked this trailer like never before! It was one of those times when we wonder if we should leave or stay and then realize we can't even get out the door! The winds were whipping so hard from the north, the way the front door faces, that we couldn't have gotten out if we tried. Within 30 minutes the storm had passed, leaving who knows how much water behind! The yard next door is now a swimming pool! And the winds have now died down to around 35 - 40 miles per hour! Yes -- that is died down!!!!
Most of the rest of the morning was spent getting things ready for our incoming volunteers Monday morning. There are to be around 38 of them so quite a few homeowners will be getting some help right after Christmas. We plan on working in Allan's, Robert's, Hsilda's, Martha's, Janey's, Ralph and Laura's and Jose' and Blanca's. All sorts of things will be getting done and we are thankful to this team for taking their holiday vacation time to come and bless others.
Tonight we are heading to one of our favorite churches for their late candlelight and communion service. As a young adult we went to the late services like that and they were always special to me. If only we could be in our home church . . .
We pray all of you have a wonderful day tomorrow, a day filled with more blessings that you could have possibly imagined -- not just in tangible gifts -- but in ways you never dreamed of!
We thank God for this awesome and holy night!!
Until next time . . . have the merriest of Christmases! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Are you ready?

On our travels here around Boerne, Texas we made a visit to this little Methodist church. It sits on family owned property that has been in that family for 8 generations! It was very moving to be able to walk inside and see the culture, see the history and feel God's presence. There has always been something special about old churches -- I have traveled all over the world and going into the old churches has always been the highlight for me.

It also made me think of what the churches must have looked like in the past, when Jesus was born . . . what must it have been like then . . . riding horseback the other day brought those same thoughts to mind . . .

Was Christmas back then all about the shopping, all about the decorations, all about the sugary foods, all about having the latest and greatest . . .

Or was it about Jesus, the one who came and saved us all. Not the kind of saving that we think of; saving our child from being hurt . . .

How many of us have literally been facing death and had someone tap us on the shoulder and tell us that they will take our place and we can continue living? We might snicker at the idea, but think about that for a minute . . .

It is my hope that everyone is as touched by Jesus as was the person who called me first thing this morning. Vicky was so excited and so thrilled and so happy and feeling so blessed she could not contain herself. The joy in her voice, the joy that streamed down her face in the way of tears . . . her house is 99% complete and she just couldn't go another minute without calling to say thank you! It's that joy that should be the center of Christmas . . . that joy that fills us to overflowing . . . that joy that causes us to "need" to tell someone else about it! Vicky was filled with that joy and was filled with even more joy when I told her we would be doing a house blessing very soon!

Let's all think about a different kind of joy this season. Not everyone has lost their home in a storm this past year, not everyone has even lost a family member . . . but all of us should feel a sense of loss . . . the loss of our sins . . . the loss of our condemnation . . . the loss of our guilt and shame . . . the list could go on and on.

Let's all focus on the joy . . . the joy of forgiveness . . . the joy of sinlessness and the joy of having our name on our door in heaven.

I think of my Grandma who is spending her first Christmas in heaven . . .what an amazing Christmas!

Until next time . . . many thanks to Al and his wife, Judy, for dinner last night! What a Christmas blessing that was for us!

Be blessed and be Joyful!!!!!!!!!!! Susan and Monty

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas All Around

There's just no better way to see the countryside than on horseback!
Yesterday was one of those days where God showed me that Christmas is all around, no matter where we are or what we are doing!
We received word that our Las Vegas team is coming back in a couple of weeks to spread more blessings through their work. Some will fly in and some others are driving and bringing their own camper. I can't believe it's been a year since we've seen them.
Another call came -- one of the team members that helped put in Steven and Martha's kitchen and flooring said he has some Christmas money left over and wants to purchase a washer and dryer for them!!! He has to be Santa Claus! He already had a set picked out and because they are within driving distance he will pick them up and deliver them directly to their home -- like I said -- an angel for sure!
Still another call comes in saying the additional funding we needed to purchase the flooring for Hsilda and George was approved. This means that our team coming in directly after Christmas will be installing flooring and Hsilda will be close to finished and moving back home! Hopefully we can get it ordered and delivered right on time.
Ralph and Laura also called saying they would be ready for those same volunteers to come and install their flooring. They are using peel and stick vinyl tiles and it's getting to their knees. The team will be an amazing blessing to Ralph and Laura also.
While we are away Mel and Billie are getting their brand new roof -- the start of their rebuilding process! Not only are the 4 layers of shingles coming off and the broken ridge beam being replaced and repaired, they are getting the structural changes needed to make their home and safe home. This starts the process and means we will be getting volunteers in to reframe for new windows, new exterior siding and then move inside! Hold on Mel and Billie -- God is about to open the windows of heaven just for you!!!
And then I hear from my mother telling me that one of my dear childhood friends who I haven't seen in I can't (and won't) tell you how many years has her own horse ranch about an hour from where we are working in San Leon!! She and I used to dream big dreams when we were little girls, both of us loved horses and she took her dream and made it reality and I am so excited to get in touch with her after the holidays and hopefully do some making of our dreams come true very soon!
Today is also a day where my heart is truly home -- our church gift wrap day is today! Our Vineyard church has for nearly 20 years now chosen a Saturday near Christmas and set up camp at the local mall and wrapped gifts for free -- no donations allowed -- totally free! Each year our total number of gifts wrapped nears the 1,000 mark -- all in 14 hours! I have spent the past years ordering the materials and getting the volunteers signed up, some take multiple shifts and some stay nearly all day, which becomes my Christmas day. To see the smiles, the faces of unbelief that it's really free, to see the tears when they realize it is free, to feel their love and thanks IS Christmas! Last year we were here and unable to be there and the same this year. Both years Pastor Dave's daughter, Susie, has stepped up and done an amazing job. This year is going to be tough for her as she is in early stages of pregnancy and not feeling well at all. Oh do I wish I could be there today -- but -- God has other plans and we are blessed in so many ways it's impossible to count.
We are so thankful for all our blessings -- and also thankful that home still tugs at our hearts!
Blessings flowing in all directions, in all states and in all cities, in all forms, shapes and sizes -- some anticipated and still others a complete surprise. All orchestrated by God -- the Almighty and Perfect planner!
We all hear and see the "slogan" this time of year -- "Jesus is the Reason for the season" -- be aware this season and look for Him all around you!
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mission San Jose'

It might have been cloudy and cold and drizzling but we headed out and went to both the Alamo and Mission San Jose'. Both were amazing and filled with such history!
The Alamo had a narrator who told the story and it was facinating! We get used to the history of where we live and hearing about someplace else is always interesting.
From there we were off to one of the 5 missions still remaining here. Mission San Jose' was awesome! We were able to see where they all lived, surrounded by walls and the church being the center of life. A lesson we could all live by?! They still hold church services in the sanctuary and are having a true live nativity program over the weekend. It really touches my heart to see how people lived, how they fought for not only their freedom but our own!
If time would have permitted we would have gone to another mission but with the clouds the darkness came early, along with traffic. Maybe in a couple of days we can return. There's always been something moving about entering old churches -- I can literally "feel" the presence of the Lord!
And at this time of year it's even more special and moving.
Until next time . . . bless someone else today! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where are we?

It took an entire day for us to even get outside -- we slept most all of yesterday and my oh my was that needed! If any of you know me you know that's just not me -- but it was yesterday and we both felt much better today.
Although we weren't awake in time for the breakfast served here we did get up and out for lunch and took a trip to a nearby cave that Monty had found a brochure on. It was quite the trip! Where we are from in Indiana we have numerous caves and we even took a trip many years ago to Cave City in Kentucky where Mammoth Cave is. This one was not a disappointment at all!
If you click on the larger photo you might see what we saw - and the guide said everyone sees it -- the Nativity scene! It's absolutely amazing and beautiful way beyond what this photo can show. With Christmas only 10 days away it was very moving. Hope you can see the fine details also.
Until next time . . . remember the real reason for this season! Susan and Monty

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Time Off

Yes, the title is correct --we are taking some time away from working this week. One thing we heard over and over again while we were in missions training school was that we should be taking time away -- time away from the work and the area we are working in. Some say we should be taking a break every 3 months -- I just want to know how that is possible?

This week is our time away and next week UMCOR is closed -- yes, closed for the holiday! What a fantastic idea -- not only for us working but mostly for the homeowners. They need some sort of "normalcy" in life, even if it's far from what they are used to.

Since the only thing we've seen in Texas was where we have been for the past 14 months we have ventured out a bit and will hopefully have some photos of where we are -- maybe you can try and guess where it is?

We would have loved to have gone home for the holidays, home to families and friends. But traveling for 2 days in my small truck with both dogs is more than difficult. If only we had a bigger and more reliable truck . . .?

As the song says, we'll be home in spirit and hope all our families understand.

In the meantime -- we hope to see some sights, get some rest, eat a bit and rest a bit more.

Be sure and stay tuned to see how well that plan works out! :)

Until next time . . . bless someone you don't really know . . . as a surprise!
Susan and Monty

Friday, December 11, 2009

They did it!

Our UMCOR team at our Christmas luncheon -- what a crew -- what a family!!
Jack and his team got 'er done! Well, almost. The next incoming team right after Christmas will only have a couple of rails to do and the deck and handicapped ramp will be complete! They did an amazing job of working with the existing, reinforcing what was and rebuilding what needed to be rebuilt. Jose' even made it to the house today (they have been staying with family this week) and as he walked up and down the ramp he couldn't stop smiling! It is finally safe, no more fears of falling through or falling off as they push both he and Blanca up and down. And now it's even extended so all they need to do is pull the van up in the drive and the ramp is right there waiting for them next to the van.
Our deepest thanks to all of Jack's team. There were team members who came and went all week and we are grateful to them for taking time from their own busy schedules, especially this holiday season, to come and be such a great blessing to Jose', Blanca and their family! We hope they will be back to do it again sometime soon.
This morning Monty and I met Ms Rosaland at the building inspection office to make sure we are following all their codes and rules. It gave us the opportunity to meet those in charge and to introduce ourselves. Since we are a non profit organization we will not be charged for the building permit. We look forward to working with them as each location has its own set of rules and getting familiar with them is always a learning experience.
We also are thrilled to let all of you know that Mel and Billie will be getting an entirely new roof on their home starting Monday morning, weather permitting! Matt and his crew fit the bill and will start by tearing off the existing 4 layers, yes - 4, and then doing quite a bit of structural work before laying new decking and tar paper and shingles. It's the first step in their transformation and we are excited to be starting!
Another week has passed and another homeowner and their family blessed and thankful! And it's not even Christmas yet!
Until next time . . . bless someone else and feel the love! Susan and Monty

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pushing Forward

It took some bundling up this morning! The north winds kicked up and the clouds moved in to make it a quite brisk day to work. Atleast it wasn't 98 degrees!
The men were hard at it when we arrived to check in. They were laying the deck boards across the ramp and making plans for the hand rails. They sent us back to Lowes to get some bracing to sturdy up the existing deck area. By the time we returned they had made great progress and that continued through the day and into the early evening. With the threat of rain for tomorrow they worked until it was too dark to see. We are praying the rains will hold off so they can finish it all tomorrow.
We also met Art at Lowes this morning for him to get more materials. He is really close to finishing and needed some final items. He thinks the last thing will be some guttering, which is a good idea since he is quite high in the air. He laughed when he told of going up the stairs in a pouring rain! Guttering will take care of the extra shower he gets as he walks up!
Another trip to Lowes was needed mid afternoon to get more bracing. Like I said, they are doing a wonderful job and making sure it will be "safe, sanitary and secure" - the guidelines straight from FEMA.
I also talked with one of our incoming teams, the ones coming in the week after Christmas. They have increased their numbers to 38 volunteers!! It is our hope to get alot of the remainder of things completed on quite a few homes over the 3 days they are here.
The schedule of volunteers looks good starting in January and running through the spring -- but -- remember -- we always need more! The more work that needs done the more volunteers we need to get it done. So as you look closer to the new year knocking on our door ... we'd love to have you come and share some life changing blessings!
Until next time . . . be blessed to be a blessing! Susan and Monty
PS Also a wonderful note in regard to our disaster recovery work we did while in Columbus, Indiana during the summer of 2008---one of the case managers has written a book about his experience and it looks to be awesome. Eric met with Monty and I very early on and felt God was directing him to write about his experiences he was about to have. Eric wasn't sure how to go about doing such and thing and Monty's advice touched his heart and he went with it "just write about your personal experience, from your heart" and it can't fail. Eric called today to say the book is now complete and he has it for sale in some local stores and will be doing book signings within the next weeks. I hope to have a link to his website very soon so you too can take a look at it and maybe purchase one for yourself? Very early on Eric vowed that a percentage of his sales would be donated to our ministry so let's all support both Eric and this ministry of disaster recovery! Stay tuned for more info. Good Job Eric!!! We love you and we miss you!!!!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas Luncheon

With temps a bit cooler, the sun shining and a northerly breeze the team was up and out and fed and ready to work.

I was faxing and delivering materials early also and then both Monty and I headed off north for our weekly UMCOR meeting. We had it later than usual this week so we could take care of business and then have our Christmas lunch together. Eddie chose a wonderful place and we all had a really good time. The desserts sent us all over the edge but each of us loved the fall! We just can't tell you how blessed we are to be a part of such a family!

After the lunch it was time to head out and check on Jack and the team. They have done this work many times and know Alan quite well so he decided to stop by and visit with all of them. When we stopped by the laughter could be heard down the street! Again -- family!!!

The deck and ramp is coming along very well. They are even reinforcing the existing deck! I have a few materials to pick up in the morning for them for that bracing and then they will be starting on the flooring and railing. Jose' and Blanca are getting closer each day to being safe in their own home! Something we all take for granted.

Lowes also delivered flooring and a variety of materials to Ralph and Laura's this morning so they can keep going on their own until the next group of volunteers.

Tomorrow we will meet up with Art who will be doing the same thing.

Our plan for this evening is to play "Santa" to Mariano, Maria and the kids. When we were there a few days ago they had their tree up but nothing underneath it. Thanks to some funding and a special gift from Pastor Bob to little Mariano we have quite a truck load of things to take to them -- all a surprise. I hope to have photos for tomorrow.

On a sadder note, early this morning there was a huge explosion at one of the chemical plants near us. All of the sudden we heard a very loud bang, the trailer shook and the smoke looked like a mushroom cloud overhead. From the news reports there were only a couple of people slightly injured and they are still gathering details. I haven't seen smoke like that - ever!

A day of variety -- a day of family in all sorts of ways and a day to be reminded of our blessings!

Until next time . . . bless someone else and feel the love! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

He Really Is Happy

With the fog so dense one could hardly see this morning the team decided they wanted to finish what they started with painting the rooms at the church housing them this week. When we stopped to see them the once black walls were anything but black! Not only were they painting but they were also assembling the new bunk beds and were ready to help with the delivery of a new hot water heater so they would have hot showers!
As I took the pictures I asked Jack to turn and smile and "look like you're happy" to which he responded that he truly WAS happy - thus the title of tonights blog! :)
Tomorrow they will be returning to Jose's deck and ramp and they will be joined with some new arrivals of team members. Yes, the ground is more than muddy, water standing all over the place - but - they have their plan and they are on a mission. It will be fun to watch the progress tomorrow.
Monty and I spent the morning with another roof estimator who looked at both Rosalind's and Mel and Billie's homes. We hope to have his results in a day or two and then will be able to make a selection and start moving forward.
Before we went to Rosalind's we stopped by the professional engineers office to pick up the official paperwork we need to take and get her building permit. Hopefully we will be doing that Thursday. There are alot of criteria that we must follow to the letter with her home in order for her to be able to purchase insurance after the rebuilding is complete. It is always our goal to be above and beyond the recommended codes and having the offer of assistance from this professional engineer is priceless. Rosalind was quite sad though. She just received word that her brother out in California was found dead this morning. She did manage a smile when we told her the engineer had changed his mind and would allow us to keep her original exterior siding and just replace the damaged areas. She wants so badly to maintain the integrity of her home and this change is a great relief and blessing -- just when she needed to hear it! God's perfect timing!
And by this evening Monty's truck is back in the shop. The water heater did get replaced and that is fine. This time it's the clutch bearings -- when it rains it pours??
Until next time . . . remember the real reason for this season! Susan and Monty

Monday, December 07, 2009

Jose's turn

Thanks to Jack and his team this week it became Jose' and Blanca's turn to receive blessings. Jack and part of his team arrived for orientation this morning, once again during some nasty rain. A little water didn't stop them. Each day there will be more team members arriving, sort of like a revolving door this week. Sounds great to us!
The task before this team is to build and rebuild a deck and handicapped ramp for Jose' and Blanca. You can see by the photos that their mobile home is quite a ways off the ground thanks to the new flood elevations that any new buildings must meet. They had another mobile home on their property but the hurricane took care of removing it for them. They very wisely decided to use their FEMA funds and purchase another mobile home. They met the proper elevations and then had to find a way in and out of their home. They are both handicapped and need wheelchairs. Blanca is also blind. For the past year they have been struggling to enter and leave their home with a homemade ramp sort of thing that made my own knees shake when I walked on it, let alone go up and down in a wheelchair!
Jack and his team are dismantling the ramp, using what parts and pieces they can combined with new and will completely rebuild the ramp and redesign the deck and utilize the existing steps. It's not an easy task by any means. It took us all quite some time to come up with a plan that would even work. But once that plan was set they went to work and had it taken apart in hours.
And then the rains set in -- once again lasting the rest of the day. Yards and fields around here look like lakes -- water is everywhere!
So plan B went into effect. The church that is housing the team called and needed some help in preparing some new rooms for incoming volunteers. We provided them with primer, paint and all the supplies to get the job done. So the team headed back to the church after a late lunch and were going to get to work on those rooms.
Tomorrow is in the hands of the weather and we won't know until morning if the team will return to Jose's or finish up at the church. After tomorrow the weather is supposed to be good for the rest of the week. Let's hope the weatherman is right?
Our afternoon had us planning for a couple more roof estimates that will be done tomorrow. We also had to head out and get more Methodist Disaster Recovery yard signs. Each home we are working in has a yard sign posted so the teams know where to go to work if we cannot directly escort them and it's to also bring hope to the neighbors that they might be next. We now have alot more and will be ready as more new homes come our way.
Now if we can just get the rains to stop . . .
Monty and I want to send out a very Happy Birthday to his sister, Shelley today! Sorry we can't be there to tell you in person but glad you are doing so well and enjoying your new granddaughter! Love you!
Until next time . . . be blessed and bless someone else. Susan and Monty

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Record Low Temp

Yes, when the temps dip to a record low of 22 degrees even Samson had to have on a shirt to keep warm! He's a Chinese Crested Hairless anyway so he really !! doesn't like the cold.

And then there was morning, the sun shone brightly all day and it was beautiful, temps nearing 50. Yea God!

Yesterday we were all told to not travel and do any work that would take us out on the roads. The rain was an icy rain most of the day and yes -- we disobeyed and got out on the roads. I have 4 wheel drive and yes -- I know that doesn't help in ice but we were fine. Most of the real snow was up around Houston and north of them. We were in before dark when the roads did freeze and cause total chaos this morning for those traveling.

Last evening we received a call from Mariano's that they weren't able to keep warm, even with their new heating and air unit. The problem? There is no insulation in their ceilings! We have been waiting for the company who would blow in insulation for free but when I called them for this family I was informed that they are out of funds for the time being. So off to Lowes we went and returned with a couple of ceramic heaters until the ceiling insulation can be delivered on Monday and Mariano will put it in. We were able to get a real deal on the thicker, 10 1/2 inches thick, so they should be great in a couple of days. Lets just pray it doesn't get that cold here again as the heaters were flying off the shelves. Most people down here don't even have heat!

Bright and early our Lowes delivery truck was on the road and had our materials for Jose's deck building team come Monday. Now if the weather will hold we will have a great deck and ramp going real soon.

Monty's truck came out of the shop today. He had thought he was going to tackle the rebuild himself but with no tools and no place to work and then add the weather it just wasn't possible. They did a good job and we thank them for putting it as a priority.

I have been working on our Christmas newsletter the past couple of days. For those of you who have donated funds to us at one time or another, you are already on my list and should be receiving one soon. For the rest of you, if you would like one please leave your mailing info in the comments here. I won't post the comments with personal information so it will be fine. But if you keep up with the blog you already know everything that is going on anyway.

I also have been working on getting gifts ready to mail to my kids and grandkids. No, we won't be home for the holidays so I need to get things lined up and mailed in enough time to be there on time. It's really tough to think about not being there, not sharing the holiday meal, the laughter and the love but it's just the way it has to be. It's just too far to travel for only a few days to be there.

We hope all of you are doing well with your gifts and planning. Let's all do the best we can to keep focused on the real reason for the season -- it's Jesus's birthday -- remember?

Until next time . . . bless someone tomorrow. Susan and Monty

Thursday, December 03, 2009

You're kidding?!

This photo was taken December of last year -- you are not imagining anything -- that IS snow!!

The forecast for tonight and tomorrow is also snow?

Are we sure we are in southern Texas?

The past couple of days have been oh so busy, even though we do not have a team of volunteers. Where does the time go?

Yesterday we had our weekly UMCOR meeting first thing in the morning. It was followed by another meeting and preparations for a Christmas lunch next week for all of us! It's so awesome to be a part of a team that is also family!

It was then off to Lowes with 5 orders to place and keep straight and line up for deliveries! It takes alot of notes and a sense of humor to get it all done and then alot of prayer that it will all land on the ground the correct way.

The Methodist church in a nearby city is remodeling some of their classrooms to better house our volunteers so we are donating some paint and a water heater to help them out. The next incoming team (next week) will be housed there so they will be doing some painting after they get back each evening! They are being so awesome about accomodating the teams that it's the least we can do to give back.

Today we made another return trip to get items lined out for delivery to Ralph and Laura's. They are continuing to do their own work and we are doing our best to keep them supplied with the needed materials. Hsilda and George are doing the same thing. We picked up another kitchen cabinet for them and a piece of guttering to install above the steps to their deck to keep them from getting soaking wet when it rains.

We also had our second meeting with our "Tony" team. They are doing a couple of roofing bids for us, Rosalind and Mel and Billie's. We contract out roofing as it's too difficult for volunteer teams and we have to follow very strict guidelines for inspection. We met the "Tonys" at Walters. They were working there and we were impressed with their work. We will await their bids to see if they are in the ballpark.

The materials are also ordered and scheduled for delivery to Jose' and Blanca's house for their deck and handicapped ramp to be constructed with next weeks team. This ramp is about 45 feet in length and the team will be seeing what they can salvage from the dilapidated one already there and what they will need to tear out and start anew. It will be quite the challenge but will be an amazing blessing as they are both disabled, she is blind and they are unable to get in and out of their own home right now!

Speaking of dilapidated . . . we've run into a couple of major problems of our own. I don't usually go into things like this that are happening with us personally but someone told me I should. So I will follow that advice and let you all know . . . not only is our camper trailer leaking in numerous places we also have damage to the entire roofing that needs work that we are unable to do ourselves. In order to fix the problem we would need to literally "peel" the roof completely off, removing the guttering and overhead vents but then replace the roof itself and then reattach it all -- impossible for us and impossible for us to pay to have done. What will we do? We are praying for a miracle and believing God has one up His sleeve.

Hopefully He has more than one miracle for us as Monty's 1995 Ford diesel has major problems under the hood. He had planned on trying to take it all apart and do the work himself but doing so while living in a campground and not having proper tools makes this also impossible. We were able to find a recommended mechanic shop nearby and brought it into him today. The cost of the parts alone was outrageous when we priced them to do the work ourselves so who knows what the mechanic will charge. But . . . we cannot be without this truck doing what we do so we pray . . . and ask you to do the same.

Like I said, I do not like sharing these "woes" but they are part of our life and I guess they should be made known.

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