Dad has his 60th surprise birthday party today. Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure. 🙂
Jorgen, Jarrett, Phillip, Thomas
Keely, Eilie, Jarrett, Jorgen
Dad opening presents
Dad and Ginnie
Dad and Sam
Cheesey Grandpa Grin
Jen, these are for you. 🙂 My hair.
We had a good time with lots of friends and good food. 🙂 Happy Birthday Dad! I love you.
Hey All! We have returned to Michigan, and I am writing my final post about the Mississippi trip. It makes me sad; it was such an awesome experience and I wish, as the rest of the team does, that there was more that we could do and accomplish while we were there. It seems like we did so little, but I know that what we did do made a small dent. We have aided the healing process for the community. Praise God for giving us all the strength to help out and make a difference.
Here is a group photo we took on the last day in front of Billy’s house. Billy is a 14 year old who touched the heart of one of our team members, Tim, by just being Billy. He took it upon himself to gut his house out and took out all the appliances without the aid of his parents; he just did what needed to be done, and thus it has become to all there “Billy’s House”. What a special kid; he is the blond with longish hair in the front row.
Going to Mississippi was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. Meeting the folks whose homes were destroyed and working alongside of others who wanted nothing more than to help is truly a wondrous thing. It restores a bit of faith in humanity. This post would not be complete without mentioning the leaders who coordinate the operation. Rev. Jones, who has opened his church to aid in relief. Sam and Richard who help to lead. And Bro. Benny, who is living a sacrificial life. His personality is as big as his voice, and he is truly a man living for God, unafraid to bare his soul and unashamed of who he is; humbled because of where he has been. What a wonderful man:
This last photo really holds the spirit of those affected by Katrina. Weather worn, yes, but not beaten. I like the symbolism of this photo.
Here are a few more pics from Mississippi. This is a schoolteachers house. Diana and I ripped out all the windows. Woohoo!
And this is how, apparently, you remove vents from the rafters. Of course, you have to be part monkey to want to do that on cathedral ceilings….
And here is the garage at that house:
Here is the house across the street. I don’t think it is salvageable.
Here is another schoolteachers house where a bunch of our team was working.
Working on a wall in that same house:
This is a vacation cottage that we are working on. It is being given to a family whose house was completely destroyed. The owner has been in MS helping with rebuilding and is allowing use to a family they met here. Wow.
Overall here, it is overwhelming. There is so much damage and destruction that it seems more like a war zone than a community. It doesn’t seem like we are doing much, but when the owner comes to the house and sees the progress that we’ve made, it is truly powerful. One person said it so well when they said that we are turning their homes from hopeless disaster areas to hopeful construction sites.
One thing we learned is that FEMA charges the communities for the trailers (Tin Castles to the locals) and the cleanup. One good thing is that the city can claim from between $7-10 per hour for the volunteers who come down and do work as part of their repayment. So we are making an impact there too.
What an experience we all are having.
So we’ve made it to Mississippi in one piece. 🙂 It took a while, but we are here. We spent the day in New Orleans after getting settled in. We arrived very late last night. The team here prefer takes Sundays off as their day of rest, so we again took to the road. Here is a pic of our team in New Orleans:
Here are some pictures of the damage. We will be spending most of our time doing repair work and reconstructing: drywalling, roofing, painting, subfloors, etc. We don’t have internet access at the church, so I don’t know when the next update will be.
Pray for our team!
Keith and Martha
Oops, I lied. We do have internet access at the church. Check out our site for updates and more pics.
This Friday, March 3, Keith and I will be heading off to the bright sunny south for Spring Break. We are going with a team from our church to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and are helping out with Hurricane Katrina relief. Once we get down there, we will be staying at the Presbytarian church in their tent community. Then we will get “assignments” of work to be done. It ought to be very interesting and hard work. We are excited to go down there and just help out. We will return on March 11, probably fairly late in the evening.
I think this is a great testimony to the faith, that we just go and work side by side with other people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, whatever. We just go and work and love people. 🙂
We ask that you pray for us and our mission team as we travel down there and work. If you’d like to support our mission in other ways too, please contact us.
Keith and Martha
Matt & Jen Simerson » Ol’ Charlie
Check this out if you are interested in a good discussion. 🙂 Happy typing.
It’s been awhile since we’ve posted anything. We’re a bit behind, I think, but are catching up everything. 🙂 My January just flew by, and I cannot believe that it is already mid-February.
Officially, I have been admitted to the Teacher Education program at CMU. Yippee. I hope to finish in two years; I don’t know if that is realistic or not, because classes I need may not be offered in the summer sessions to finish on time. 🙁 But two years is my goal as of now.
I finished my CNA certification process and the hours of training. I did well, and now have to take the state certification test. Since the hours are done though, it leaves a bit more time for meto catch up everything that I have let slide by. Like laundry; got lots of that done today. Have been plugging away at my homework too, and have a bit of that accomplished as well.
Keith has been steadily working on his airplane. He put the seats in it today, and got to sit inside of it. Of course, he had to make noises to make it sound realistic. 😉 He had to move the seat a full eight inches forward from the original plans to accomodate his body so that he could reach the rudder pedals. Apparently phone books are not an option in airplanes. He promises that there will be pictures soon.
We are taking a class together at the local Baptist church about Bible Study Skills. It’s nice to take the class together. At the beginning of March, we will be accompanying a team from our church (www.eriv.net) to help demolish, clean, or rebuild houses from Hurricane Katrina damage. We will leave March 3rd and return March 11th and will be in the Bay St. Louis area in Mississippi.
I think that about covers everything and catches us up, at least somewhat.
I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year’s celebration! Keith and I’s resolution for this year is for both of us to obtain private pilot certification by the end of the summer. Anyone have any that they want to share?
In spite of not having school right now, I seem to be keeping really busy. I have taken on a couple of odd jobs to earn some extra cash. I’ve started tutoring a classmate in math, and I altered and hemmed some curtains for one of Keith’s friends. His friend then told one of his friends, and now I have another curtain making job – these ones from scratch. Who would have thought?
I have also joined a community volleyball team at the proddings of one of their members. I went on Sunday night and had a lot of fun.
In other news, Keith has moved his airplane downstairs in the barn. It makes it easier for him to work on and it’s also not as hard to keep the weather out as it was in the loft. Smaller area to work in, but easier to heat too. 🙂
Happy New Year!
Keith and Martha
Fall grades were posted yesterday, and I did 4.0 all my classes.
Yay! My classes are all done. Final grades have not been posted yet, but unofficially I four-pointed all my classes. Yippee! It’s such a relief to have this semester behind me. I resume classes on the ninth of January at CMU. I have 18 credit hours, so it promises to be a very hectic semester. In addition, I will be doing some sub teaching if I have the time.
In other news, Keith and I will attend the Christmas Eve service at our church (www.eriv.net) for the first time since we’ve started going. Although it means we miss the big family celebration with his Grandma, we are excited about going. In addition, my bestest brother and his family are joining us, so it will be a very special evening.
Keith is moving his airplane project to the ground level in the barn. Unfortunately, he can’t keep the snow out of the loft where his plane is currently sitting. So he is clearing out one of the stanchions, resupporting some of the rotted timbers, and weatherproofing the area. It is not as big of an area, but it should be easier to weatherproof. It puts him behind schedule a bit, but we are both working on it now that I am out of school.
We took Christmas photos with our digital camera. They turned out really good on screen, but we are having some difficulties with the printing out. The first ones came out way too dark, the second ones too grainy (I think I played with the coloring too much). Keith is taking them in today to see what he can do about a third set. 🙂
I wish all of you a joyous Christmas and a blessed New Year. Have a wonderful holiday and for those of you traveling, DRIVE SAFELY.
Martha and Keith