Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Which way do we go?

For days and days on end we have been trying to decide whether or not Don's home can be rebuilt.  It was hit by the tornado back in late May and as you can see -- the tarps are long gone along with the entire back of the home.  The alternative plan has been to turn his detached 2 car garage into a home.

Some have said it cannot be rebuilt, a few in fact.  Yesterday I brought in our local expert -- Rob.  He took a good look around, climbed on top, looked below and said he thought it could be rebuilt.  He gave his suggestions and his opinions and I forwarded those on to Jane at Catholic Charities.  She has been handling all these cases and is turning over the ones still needing work to us.  She and I spent a few more hours talking about which direction do we go?

Late afternoon had both she and I at the local long term recovery meeting, or a form of such.  Every state has an organization called VOAD -- Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster.  They literally wrote the manual for disaster response and relief.  A new organization is springing up all over called COAD; Community Organizations Active in Disaster.  There has been a local COAD here in Monroe County since January of this year . . . but they have no experience in disasters.  They met yesterday and invited Jane and I to come and shed some light on things since we both have over 6 years of "boots on the ground" experience.  It was a good meeting, alot was said and alot was learned and hopefully I will be getting some volunteer connections from those in attendance.

This morning I headed out for my weekly Bible study and had no more than landed in my seat when my phone rang.  Normally I would not answer but I had made a call to Monroe, our expert Amish contractor and volunteer team leader who led teams for us in Texas for over 2 months.  He lives in Illinois near the Indiana border and is actually working on a project about an hour from here.  I asked him to come and give us his opinion on Don's home.  He was able to arrive earlier than he had anticipated so I left Bible study and headed back home.  He arrived about noon and after a quick bite we were off to Don's where we spent hours looking at every single area of the house.  It was also his opinion that the house could be rebuilt and he was headed home to finish up the materials list and start gathering his volunteers. 

After meeting with Monroe I had yet another meeting with a local pastor to see about housing prospective volunteers at their church and to try and raise funding and volunteers for both this project and Michael's.  It was a good meeting and he was able to give me some good connections to follow up with.

Before I could even get home Jane had called me saying that yet another contractor (I think this was the 5th or 6th one) had visited Don's this afternoon and it was his opinion that the home cannot be rebuilt.  He had a list of 3 main reasons why not and so the final decision was to not rebuild the home and to turn the garage into a home.

I had to get ahold of Monroe and stop his plans for the house and ask about building the garage into a home.  He and I once again spent alot of time discussing this and that.  He will still see about gathering his team but with a different direction in mind.  He will be waiting for me to get final information from the building department commissioner tomorrow afternoon.

I was also able to schedule a volunteer team of students coming from here at IU for a work day this Friday.  They will be going to Don's to do major cleanup work.  The leader tells me there could be 35 to 45 people so we should really be able to make a difference there.  They will also be traveling down the road to remove the damaged ceiling in Billy's home to prepare for a new ceiling to be installed.  I'm excited for these volunteers and know both Don and Billy will be blessed by their help.

By the time all the phone calls were made and notes were written and emails with details printed out it was past dinner time!  Monty came dragging in soaking wet as he had been working on water pumps all day which required him to keep his arms in armpit high water -- and it was cloudy and rather cool today so this wasn't a fun job!  A quick bite and it's blog time.

I want to thank both Rob and Monroe for taking the time from their busy schedules and come to share their expertise in this difficult decision.  I value their thoughts, their experience and their hearts of service so very much.  For Monroe to make the trip was such a blessing to all of us.  I haven't seen him since Texas and have missed him and his teams of workers.  Don has also been so appreciative of all those who have taken time to try and help him get back home -- wherever that might be!

It just goes to show that there are people out there who care, who will go the extra mile for someone else -- for a complete stranger -- because they have the gift of a servant heart and know that when the Bible says to "love your neighbor" it doesn't just mean the folks next door!

God once again filled my heart with joy today.  The joy of seeing Monroe.  The joy of having Rob as our friend, our brother.  The joy of having a pastor of another church understand what we do and to try and help us out.  The joy of having another pastor care enough to pray over me even when I couldn't stay for Bible study.  The joy of seeing the smile on Don's face -- just because he felt cared for.  The joy of knowing that not only did God place this calling on my life -- He has and always will give me what I need to fulfill that calling!

Yes, I am very tired in the physical sense.  In my heart and soul I am revived!

What an awesome God I serve!!!

Until next time . . . we're blessed to be a blessing.  Jump in . . . the water's fine!
Susan and Monty

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