Monday, March 29, 2010

Thank you Sam and Ethel

Surprise -- we don't have any teams this week! Monday morning without orientation and all new faces -- felt a bit odd to say the least!

But --- the work continues! That's Monty underneath Brian and Carol's FEMA trailer. They had the option to purchase it (for a more than reasonable amount) but it had to be raised to the base flood elevation which amounted to 2 cement blocks. Monty, Brian, Sam and another helper got out the jacks and worked all day long and accomplised the raising. It's not an easy task but one that Monty has done all his life -- God preparing him! And no one even got a spider bite --which can happen quite easily when you are underneath a trailer. Just quite a few sore muscles!

After lunch together we said goodbye to Sam and Ethel who will be heading home to northern Louisiana tomorrow morning. They have been here for the past 3 months and have been working with us for nearly 2 of those months. It's sad to see them go but we know they have alot of family awaiting them. Thanks Sam and Ethel -- we love you!!!!

I spent the entire day ripping the carpeting out of our camper trailer! It's something we've wanted to do for a long time but just didn't have the time. It took every muscle I had, and then some, but I got 'er done. The vinyl flooring in these goes all through the main level and is just covered with carpeting in the living area. It's impossible to keep clean and now all we'll need is a broom and dustpan. We don't even need a mop as baby wipes will do the job! :) We also heard from the manufacturer of this trailer about them possibly replacing the roof. As soon as I hear back from the insurance company we will know which direction to take.

Whenever Monty and I come into an area we try to leave it better than when we arrived. This small RV park is no different. The picnic area is something we put together over the past few evenings and yesterday. The picnic table was built by volunteers on the island quite some time ago and we brought a couple of them here to the park. Monty staked off the area you see and brought in some donated rock and then we used scrap lumber to build and paint the 4 flower boxes. Even the flowers were donated -- all it took was our time and we both had a blast putting it all together. I haven't planted flowers in years and have missed doing so. It was great therapy and is hopefully an area that everyone in the park can enjoy on these beautiful days and evenings. Who knows, we might even have an orientation here if the team is a small one!
Even though we don't have teams this week both our "to do" lists are quite long so let's see just how much we can get done!?
Until next time . . . remember this is Holy Week! Let's all remember the love God has for all of us --enough to send His Son to die for us. WOW !!!! What awesome love! Susan and Monty

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fabulous Friday

First of all -- Joyce is still in the hospital but they did get a diagnosis. She had a mild stroke with no noticable side effects. Praise the Lord! I went to visit with her today and she is feeling fine. The doctors are trying to lower her blood pressure and maintain it before releasing her. No news as to when that might be. Joyce was so thankful to Ruth from the team who stayed with her at the house and at the hospital and says she doesn't even want to think about how it might have been if the team had not been there. God always sends us who we need when we need them and this time He outdid Himself!
This morning started off with our House Blessing for Brian and Carol. It was great as we literally packed the house. The staff from the PDA camp all came along with Eddie, our supervisor from UMCOR. All the volunteer teams came, even the college students from Michigan who were leaving today but wanted to be here to help bless the house and Brian and Carol. Sam and Ethel had a plaque for them and PDA had a specially made cross. Brian and Carol were so thankful to everyone who has come and left their heart and soul in the rebuilding of not only their house but their lives!
From there they were off to work for the final push of getting it done on Friday! You can see the start of the kitchen cabinets at Mel and Billie's and the floor is also going down. Lights are going up, paint is being touched up, trim is going in and people are in every room in every corner trying to get as much done as time will allow them.
Jocelyn's did get completed along with the exterior of Martha and Steven's. What a great week it's been! Thresa's flooring is also going in along with Rosaland's house completely textured and painted -- 2 coats! Rosaland found some time to leave work and come and meet and thank the team and it meant alot to them.
A week of so many things happening, so many blessings flying from city to city, house to house, homeowner to homeowner and volunteer to volunteer! It's always tough to say goodbye. Each team changed lives this week -- the homeowners and their own!
What an awesome God we serve!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Until next time . . . be a blessing everywhere you go! Susan and Monty

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Monday on Thursday?

I had no more than finished the blog last evening when the phone rang telling me Joyce had been taken to the hospital via ambulance! She suffered a series of convulsions and is still hospitalized undergoing tests to determine what caused them. I did talk with her over the phone and she is in good spirits and says this has never happened before and all she wants to do is go home. I'll keep you updated -- please keep her in your prayers.
This morning started quite early with phone call after phone call and I ended up with a Monday on a Thursday. I wondered why Monday seemed to go so smoothly and now I know! God has quite the sense of humor!
The thunderstorms rolled through in the middle of the night with more high winds but this morning was full sunshine and a bit breezy but you can see the college students from Michigan were enjoying lunch in the park next to the bay!
All teams were rolling full steam ahead with only the slightest change of plans taking the team from Joyce's back to Thresa's. All others were still painting, texturing, painting some more, finishing sheetrock, installing flooring, still painting some more and on and on.
A slight glitch at Brian and Carol's as we prepare for their house blessing in the morning -- one of the men slipped while running some wire in the attic and managed to put a foot through the ceiling right above the stove in the kitchen! Some repair work was underway and thankfully no one was hurt!
This evening we will be heading to the PDA camp for their family night and to meet the newest member of the camp, the gentleman who will be responsible for running tools and materials to his teams while they work with us. He called me today and was already in a tail spin with all the different jobs in all different areas and all different cities! He'll get the hang of it in no time!
We are also holding our breath as the estimate for our camper was faxed to the insurance company today so now we wait . . .
Until next time . . . be a blessing! Susan and Monty

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Texturing 101

The houses are turning beautiful gulf coast colors and teams are learning the art of texturing interior walls!
Jocelyn's house is now a beautiful yellow and brings a smile to your face when you see it. She is so thrilled.
Martha and Steven's is a soft green with white trim and Martha herself got creative with her front door! Their team also enjoyed some homemade spring rolls at Hai's house today for lunch! If this drippy rain will stop they will have the house completely finished tomorrow.
Rosaland's team really mastered the art of texturing! They got themselves a sprayer and did a wonderful job! They had pieces of sheetrock out in the back yard where they practiced and when they "had it down" they went to work -- ceilings and walls.
Mel and Billie's team are also spending part of their time texturing. They are using the special texture rollers and are learning that doing ceilings that require you to hold the rollers up overhead are a bit tough on the neck muscles but they are doing a great job.
Kim's team is busy painting the interior walls and what a beautiful color of grayish blue! The college kids admitted today that painting is what they love to do so but we'll see how much they still love it after doing it for 5 straight days!
Joyce's team is also texturing ceilings and walls and tomorrow will learn how to do the popcorn style texture! And they will be applying glitter to the ceilings -- as per Joyce's request as she had glittered ceilings before and they were amazing!
Brian and Carol's team are working fast and furious as their house blessing is scheduled for Friday morning! The new roof is on, the carpeting was being stretched and installed and the final painting touch ups were being applied. The outside will need some cleaning and some steps built to the entry but I have no doubt they will get 'er done in time.
At the end of the day I had to say goodbye to Ben from PDA and it wasn't easy! He has the long journey back home to Michigan but will be stopping part way to visit with some friends and taking his time as he goes. We will miss him so very much and pray for safe travel and a wonderful reunion with his wife whom he has not seen over the past 3 months!
On a personal note -- the damage estimate for the roof of our camper trailer did come back and it appears it is more than the value of the trailer so now we wait . . . for a response from insurance and then for the next step after that response! I know God is teaching us something through this but I admit that it is quite the painful lesson! This camper trailer is our home and the thought of loosing it is tough. We thank all of you for your prayers and will try and keep you as updated as possible.
Until next time . . . thanks for being a blessing to us! Susan and Monty

Monday, March 22, 2010

Connecticut, Michigan and Virginia

Once again we filled the local Baptist church with Methodists, Presbyterians, Church of Christ, Vineyard and who knows how many other "labels." All with the heart to serve, all wondering just what their exact project would be.
Rich and Jack are finishing the last of their 4 weeks with us and already had their game plan lined out. They are continuing in some of the homes and picked up Mel and Billie's to add to their list. It will be tough saying goodbye to them at the end of the week but Rich is already on my schedule for a week in April and we are happy about that.
Our Michigan team is from Grand Rapids, Calvin College. They chose to do this over their spring break and even though they are relaxing on the beach I am certain they will go home with some sun as they are doing exterior painting all week and the sun is about as bright as it can get! They are thrilled! They are painting Jocelyn's and Martha and Steven's and a few of them are also working on painting the inside of Kim's house. If they don't know how to paint they will be masters at it by the end of the week!
Our team from Virginia flew in amid the high wind warnings we had over the weekend! They said it was a bit bumpy and I think that was an understatement as our trailer actually shifted on Saturday night with the wind gusts who knows how strong! A bit creepy! They are all working together in Rosaland's house where they are mastering the art of texturing -- the entire house! By the end of the week they will be professionals for sure!
Even though Matt returned for his third orientation this morning we had to bid him farewell as he headed to the airport to go home. He was such a blessing here -- not only with his professional sheetrock finishing skills but with the ministry that took place between he and Joyce! She had the adoption papers ready!! We sent him off covered in prayer and know God will bless him for all he did to bless others while he was here! Thanks so much Matt -- we love you!
We are also nearing the end of our time with Ben at the PDA camp. His boss is here to transition Jane into the camp management position and the new construction assistant is to arrive tomorrow evening. It's always tough to see folks leave but it's a bit tougher for those we have had the privilege of spending months with and grown so fond of! Ben will be blessed for all he has done for so many teams and homeowners while he has been here!
Another Monday, a smooth Monday, a sunshiney Monday and another day to thank God for His calling He has placed on our lives!
Be sure and stay tuned for what looks like another incredible week -- 2 house blessings on the schedule also!
Until next time . . . bless someone else today! Susan and Monty
PS Dee Dee -- for an answer to your question please email me!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Robert and Olga's House Blessed

The past 2 days have been packed with things going on and I only hope I can relay part of it to you and that it makes some sort of sense!
Thursday once again brought perfect weather and all teams took full advantage!
Brian and Carol's flooring is now in with only the carpeting remaining. Today we learned we will be able to put on a new roof, something really needed and funds were approved today so the kids took advantage of some free weight lifting and carried them to the top of the roof to be ready for next weeks team.
Carol now has her drainage ditches complete, her house painted and guttering on the corner to lead the water directly to the ditch. Her House Blessing will be next week and we are thrilled to have her complete.
Mel and Billie are dealing with the sudden illness of Billie's sister and we would ask for prayers as Billie will be traveling to spend time with her sister and with everything going on in their kitchen she will be missing seeing it all come together. They have the walls in and are taping and mudding and will be ready to continue with them and the flooring and then cabinets next week. Transforming right before our eyes.
The plumber was determined to make it back to Martha and Steven's to work on their problem and was leaving to get started very late this afternoon. He realized just how valuable plumbers are for us and if only we could keep him longer!
Thresa is also getting final painting and flooring in her home. She was cooking up quite the feast of home made gumbo and the works for all of their lunches today! Spoiling them for sure!
Jocelyn was beside herself with joy at seeing her kitchen walls getting painted and tile finished on her floor trim.
Rosaland's has 2 of the 3 coats of tape and mud on the entire house and they were working on the exterior painting of her porch late this afternoon. Again and "structure" looking more and more like a house.
Joyce also has her tub/shower installed and working and all walls now in. The kitchen ones are even primed and will be textured and painted next week. Her kitchen flooring was also delivered today in preparation for next week.
Allan and Rosemary also have a working shower and bath walls along with lower level trim.
And yesterday at the end of the work day we all gathered in Robert and Olga's house for their House Blessing! Every single volunteer came and to say the house was packed is an understatement! It was awesome and such an honor for the teams to come and represent all those teams who left their hearts inside and outside of their home.
Dinner was a very special occasion also as we were all invited to the PDA camp for their weekly Family Night dinner feast! They do this each week -- their volunteers invite the homeowners to come to dinner and share their thanks to everyone. Last night was exceptional! The most profound was Jocelyn -- she could barely get the words out but finally the tears cleared long enough to tell everyone how she was on the verge of suicide when we first found her and how she is now filled with hope and a new lease on life! THAT is why we do what we do and THAT is God!
There was a sad note to the evening -- the PDA camp manager, Ben will be leaving us all next week and heading back home. He's been with us for the past 3 months and the gift of hospitality unlike I've seen before! He has become dear family to both Monty and I and it was tough to think that in one week he will be gone. Jane is the new manager for a few months and it will be a joy to get to know her.
As we all filled the building last night, nearly 75 of us in all -- it was so awesome to once again be in a room filled with people who took time from their own lives, from their own families and from everything comfortable to them to come and do whatever God had for them! The love in the room was enough to blow up the building! The joy was combined with tears -- tears of joy -- and lives were being touched all over the place. Volunteers who don't want to go home and homeowners who don't want them to go home! Strangers who became family -- in only 4 short days! That has to be God -- and Monty and I are blessed and humbled to be able to see it happen over and over again week by week! Thank YOU for making that possible!
Until next time we thank all those who came and made a difference this week! God will bless you in return so get ready!!!
Blessings and love to all, Susan and Monty

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Iowa students add their blessings

They came 42 in total, all the way from Iowa! A week of blessing others, each day in a different city -- today was in Baytown which is about 45 minutes north of us here in San Leon. They came in the biggest and brightest red bus I think I've ever seen and I thought they would never stop coming out the door!
Stephanie was thrilled and nearly overwhelmed when she saw all of them. They started in immediately, spreading throughout her entire house helping sort through everything -- and I mean everything! They even positioned a couple of themselves inside the dumpster just to continually compact things as much as possible!
Sorting through a familys personal lives isn't easy and making the decisions as to what goes and what stays is even more difficult but these students rose to the challenge and handled every detail with grace and integrity! If only they could have stayed longer than just today!
Stephanie called later to thank me but the thanks goes to the students who will be traveling to Dallas later today to meet up with around 7 more bus loads of students to do one final project before heading back north to end their spring break. What hearts! Taking their entire week of spring break just to bless others! We all could learn a valuable lesson and I know each one of these students did just that today and will be going home with a new perspective on wants verses needs!
Until next time . . . Go Iowa!!!!!! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Put to the test

The rains came, and they continued all day long! In doing what we are doing we would be fine if it never rained! I know, I grew up on a farm and this statement would not bring a smile to either of my parents faces but . . .
All of our teams were hard at it and the main ones fighting the weather were those trying to get through the pavement to dig the drainage ditch for Carol. They even rented equipment to make it a bit easier but then the equipment had a breakdown and once again they found a water line -- the hard way! A couple of repairs and they ended their day at noon -- a much needed break and hopefully the weatherman is correct with his forecast of sunshine tomorrow and through the end of the week.
Thresa's team was continuing their trim work and painting and preparing for flooring in the next couple of days.
Rosaland's team of nearly all women have mastered the art of taping and floating and were thankful for Matt's expertise and teaching.
Joyce was getting her new tub installed and the ceiling and walls in her kitchen are nearly ready for texture and then priming and painting. She's getting more excited by the day.
Jocelyn now has a brand new garage door to replace the broken one and both doors have new trim around them to make them safe. This team also braved the weather to complete their task but also found work inside to keep them a bit drier.
Mel and Billie now have new subflooring underneath where their new kitchen cabinets will be installed and the plumber made his way to their bath vanity so they are exchanging their kitchen sink for a vanity sink -- in the meantime. Mel had built the cabinets by hand, board by board and the team said it was quite the job removing them.
Brian and Carol's crown molding is complete and beautiful. Their bathroom is also coming together and will be ready for the plumber with his finishing touches tomorrow. Their flooring is also being installed and we are getting so very close!
Allan and Rosemary were also getting their new 60 inch shower installed. It wasn't without its challenges since the shower was made with a center drain and their old tub had a right side drain but the team rose to the challenge and mastered it! The rest of the team is doing a great job with trim downstairs.
Tomorrow morning I will be greeting our team of 42 college students from Iowa. They will be a great blessing to Stephanie and her family and will hopefully have their entire household of this and that organized and turned into something workable.
On a personal note -- we are facing some major work on our camper trailer. A few weeks ago we had a windwarning issued during the dead of the night -- so we missed the warning -- and realized our antenna was still raised high in the air on our roof. Come morning we cranked it back down and knew it had sustained damage. Not until the last rains did we realize the extent of the damage and the leaks. We did turn it in to our insurance and with the most recent estimate we might be faced with the damage being more than 80% of the value of the camper and we would have to total it out! We are praying this will not be the case. This is our home and although it must be repaired we hope the repair company will understand our circumstances and give us a break and the insurance will agree to have it repaired and we will be good as new. Please join us in this prayer!
Until next time . . . thank you for all your prayers, love and support! Susan and Monty

Monday, March 15, 2010

They are 50 strong

Monday morning orientation back at the park -- even if it was a bit foggy. By the afternoon the sun was out and all 50 of our volunteers were enjoying every minute.
This week they came from Connecticut, Kansas and Pennsylvania along with a couple from Canada who stayed for another week.
We have them divided into 10 different homes so both Monty and I are running around like crazy but considering everything it's been a great day.
They are painting and installing crown molding at Brian and Carol's, digging more drainage ditches at Carol's, installling bath flooring and gutting Mel and Billie's kitchen, putting together a plan to unclog Martha and Steven's washer, painting at Thresa's, installing garage doors at Jocelyn's, taping and mudding sheetrock at Rosaland's, installing a tub and hanging more sheetrock at Joyce's and also installing a shower at Allan and Rosemary's. Try keeping up with all that! But they are and it's awesome!
Can't wait to see what Tuesday brings as they are planning on starting to paint the exterior of some of those homes! That's when the color comes alive and so does the homeowner!
Until next time . . . Oh yea --- we found out "our" cat who has truly been enjoying her house both day and night -- actually belongs to the neighbors 2 trailers down! We did the right thing and took the cat house, complete with all her food to them this evening and hope they will take much better care of her than they have been doing! Breaks our hearts but you gotta do what you gotta do -- still stinks!!!!!!!!!!!! Atleast she has a great home to have her babies in!
Until next time . . . be a blessing to someone you know (or don't know) Susan and Monty

Friday, March 12, 2010

Whatever it takes!

Youth -- they never cease to amaze me!
Carol's french drainage system got underway yesterday -- no matter what the weather or how wet the ground was! They dug and dug and laughed and laughed and managed to make sense of it all. A couple of them put the finishing touches on the inside and so today was spent entirely outside - the entire group! And then the phone call came -- they "found something" that had a lid on it but the lid wasn't on it -- and it really did stink! Yep -- they found the old septic tank so Monty was off and running with our pump to get it cleared out and into the local drain before we take the next step of filling it up with either dirt or rock! Good thing today had wonderful sunshine with low humidity and quite the breeze! Like it made any difference to the kids!
The group at Thresa's were also putting some finishing touches with interior painting and making preparations for the incoming team to return next week. She has actual furniture in the family room complete with pictures on the walls and it really looks like home -- finally!
More of that same group was also finishing texturing and painting in Mel and Billie's. We are down to the flooring in the bathroom and then we will start tearing out their kitchen and putting in a brand new one -- it all arrives on the delivery truck Monday morning! When I left the team they were also busy outside -- crawling underneath the house cleaning out debris while they literally were waiting for paint to dry!
And the last portion of their group was transforming Brian and Carol's home with paint inside and outside! The two toned walls really stand out with the chair railing going around the room! I can't wait to see the final thing and do one whale of a house blessing!
Our PDA teams kept pushing forward in Rosaland's and Joyce's house. Both now have real walls as the sheetrock is up and the taping and floating underway at Joyce's. Sounds like a couple of the men are staying an extra week so guess who will be the team leaders in both those homes next week! Rosaland even made it back from a long week of work to meet and thank the team for all they have done! If only we could keep the whole team!!!
And then there was the miracle that God pulled off yesterday -- another example of His perfect timing. I had to drive way up north, nearly into Houston, to Baytown to do an assessment of Stephanie's home. Poor thing -- she lost everything -- and I mean everything in their rather large and beautiful home! She and her husband starting putting back walls and such only to find out they needed to have all the electric, plumbing and heating system redone -- and they all must be done by licensed contractors! Their funding is gone and their house stands -- falling apart more and more each week. All of their belongings and who knows what is still stacked all over the house, in every room. It's one of those cases where they don't know where to begin so they don't begin. After my assessment and hearing her pleas for help and seeing her tears as we went from room to room all I could do was let her know I would pass on my assessment and see where it goes from there. She was thrilled just to have me come -- that single ray of hope.
And then less than a couple of hours later the phone rings. A college team of 42 students would like to come to the area for a one day project. They are taking their spring break and doing a service project a day -- each day in a different city. They plan on being in the area next Wednesday and only work that one day. Did I have a project they could do? I almost had to pull off the road as I talked to my supervisor, Alan as I realized just how God had put the plan together. A phone call to Stephanie to let her know a dumpster would be arriving Monday and to tell her the news that all 42 students would be at her home Wednesday morning to spend the day helping her sort through her entire house! She was nearly speechless and I could hear the tears stream down her face as she tried to find the words to say thank you! Isn't God amazing! Next Wednesday is going to do way more than get her house cleaned out -- lives will be changed and God will be present in a big way! Be sure and stay tuned.
And now we are at the end of yet another week that has been truly awesome. As I have said many times before -- Monty and I are living the dream as we see houses transform back into homes and lives changed right before our eyes -- the homeowners and the volunteers!
Next week we get to do it all over again and it will be just as brand new then as it was this week and all those weeks past that now add up to nearly 5 years! Thanks to all of YOU who make it possible for us to live this dream of showing God's love to those who are in desperate need!
Until next time . . . be a blessing -- change a life -- yours! Susan and Monty

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Through the roof -- no -- ceiling!

Yep, insulating in one's attic can be tricky. The team asked for (and received) a light for Mel and Billie's attic at the beginning of the week but it seems a certain "someone" missed stepping on one of the rafters and put "his" foot through the bedroom ceiling! Oops! No matter, he was the one who was "chosen" to make the repairs. Still smiling and not hurt = a good day!
I didn't even begin to make it around to all the jobs today. Our morning UMCOR meeting along with a couple of material deliveries and then a couple of trips to pick up additional materials and it was into the afternoon. They are making great progress at both Rosaland's and Joyce's with insulation and were even hanging sheetrock! Getting all of that unloaded and inside the homes was quite the job! What a way to start the morning!
Each day is bringing each homeowner closer and closer. Some will be just around the corner and others will be a bit longer but each will reach that day of "done" and with a house blessing to follow.
In fact, Robert and Olga will be receiving their house blessing next Thursday and they are really excited. It's always a great way to officially welcome the family home.
I can't wait to see what surprises tomorrow brings! Some of the teams are only working part of the day so they can take some time and head to the beaches in Galveston. Others will be hard at it with barely a break for lunch.
It will be another awesome day!
Until then . . . bless someone tomorrow. Susan and Monty