One hurricane enough
MONESSEN - The Winskie family believes that God works in mysterious ways.
They moved this week from Mississippi to Monessen - strictly on faith.
After Hurricane Katrina ravaged their neighborhood in 2005, Mike Winskie, an Apostolic preacher, and his wife of 10 years, Della, decided that they would move the family if another major storm hit.
Della Winskie suffers from lung problems, and the humid Mississippi climate was difficult for her to endure.
So, when evacuations were ordered because of Hurricane Gustav, the Winskies picked up and moved out.
The family crammed into its crowded pick-up truck - along with its four dogs - Sunday afternoon and began a nonstop drive to Monessen.
"We packed some dishes, some clothes, personal paperwork, brought our microwave, two crock pots and our washer and dryer because they were pretty well new," Mike Winskie said. "We tied it all onto the truck with the tailgate down."
The Winskies' 19-year-old-daughter, Heather, had met her boyfriend, Aaron Sinsley, of Belle Vernon, through the Internet community Pentecost Zone.
During the three months they talked online and on the telephone, Heather Winskie and Sinsley discussed her family's plans to move.
When Hurricane Gustav drew near, Sinsley began searching for a home for the Winskies.
He found a house for rent at 44 Reed Ave. in Monessen.
The Winskies' journey ended there Monday night.
While the family has little in terms of personal possessions, it is especially grateful to the Monessen Salvation Army and Capt. Michael Jung.
Mike Winskie said the organization provided his family with a $500 voucher used to buy furniture.
The Winskies have two daughters: Heather, and Erica, 20, both of whom are home-schooled.
Mike Winskie was employed with the Blue Bell ice cream delivery service and is looking for a job in the Valley.
He has been a preacher for 11 years and wants to minister locally.
Mike Winskie was an assistant pastor at a church near his home in Nicholson, Miss., one mile from the Louisiana state line.
He said leaving the congregation of about 50 people behind was difficult but was glad to say his family has been well-received in Monessen.
"This is the first time I've ever been here in my life," he said of Pennsylvania. "We like it. The people have been great."
The move was not difficult for the Winskies.
Mike Winskie said they have moved several times because of his job or assignments as a minister.
"We've had to get up and go several times when God told us to, so we've learned to go, 'OK, Lord, whatever you want,'" he said.
Sinsley said he was overjoyed when his prayers were answered and the Winskies had found a new home.
"I knew that God was going to make a way, but how, I had no idea," he said. "The way us Apostolics are is we pray to God to direct us. We pray to God where he wants us before we do anything."
The recent storm threat had the family reminiscing about Hurricane Katrina.
Della Winskie said her family's mobile home was mysteriously spared from the catastrophe after she blessed the main doorway with holy oil.
"I said, 'Lord, if you're not done with us down here then you will let it be all right and my rocking chair will be on my front porch when I get back,'" she said.
The family returned and found all of the homes in their neighborhood destroyed - except theirs.
Mike Winskie said he did not want to put his family through a similar experience.
"It can be pretty rough," he said. "You go weeks without power and hot water. The only way of getting food, water and ice is what they bring out to you and you pick up."
To help the family with donations, call Mike Winskie at (601) 569-3831.