You smell smoke in the air. You hear metal scraping against metal as the wind blows against debris. You see miles of broken homes, torn trees, and devastated businesses. You feel your heart sink when everything comes into focus. It seems never ending, and impossible. Where do you start? I found this thick chunk of plastic with the letter "H" in my yard. So I will start with putting my hope in the one who can heal. My hope is with Jesus.
Seeing it on the computer and in the news does nothing to prepare you for the experience of witnessing the disaster area for the first time. Yesterday evening, after Kael was asleep and our house was quiet, I asked Sam if he could watch Caleb so I could take a little run. I felt nervous energy that needed to be worked out. He understood completely and happily volunteered. I headed West on 13th and you can’t avoid the damage path. It starts about 100 feet from our house where our neighbors have blue tarp covering their roof. You see the roofs and the collapsed garages, an overturned storage building. Garbage everywhere, tree limbs and trees upturned. The further down 13th I got the worse the damage.
I headed toward Range Line and prepared myself for what I would see…that is silly now, because how do you prepare for this? I don’t think you can. I cried as I ran, I tried not to because I didn’t want to alarm anyone. But I think most people understood. Bent metal, twisted wreckage, shattered wood, broken plastic, shredded insulation, torn paper, socks, shoes, toys, everything everywhere. Everything everywhere…so much, everywhere.
When my house gets really messy I like to start cleaning in one corner of the room so I don’t get distracted. I like to clean as efficiently as possible so as not to waste time by losing focus. I start in the corner and work my way out until it is done. I work quickly and deliberately…I look at this place and realize this is not a quick fix. This is going to take years.
Today I accounted for the last of my customers. I drove to their home because I knew that their home was located in an area that would have been directly affected. I found their street thank you to the small new street signs that are placed at each corner. I drove up to their house which was a mangled mess and George, my customer, was standing in his driveway making a list. He showed me around his house…what was left of it. They had just paid $250 to open their pool. You can’t see the pool from under the mounds of junk. Well, not junk, junk now, but it is people’s stuff, people’s houses, belongings, treasures. He told me how he was famous because he took refuge in his truck under the drive through “pick up" zone at Home Depot. “Not too smart,” he told me. The tornado was trying to pick his truck up but a metal pole fell across it and held it down. The windows broke out and debris pelted his head and body. He held his head and ears trying to protect himself. His arms are all beat up with cuts and scratches. But George is grateful, grateful to be alive.
I stood there with him when his wife Carolyn came home. She was on the phone with the insurance agent and you could tell it was a very frustrating conversation. She covered her face with her hand several times and did her best to hold it together as she got the run around. They are so confused and are being told different things. First they were told to save everything they could. So they filled up three storage units with their belongings. Carolyn told me now that she is thinking straight everything was wet, and she told them it was wet, and it is hot, so now she is concerned with mold. They have to make lists of everything they owned, the date they purchased it, and how much they purchased it for. Shirts, lamps, dishes, chairs, you name it, they lost it! They survived and now they have to go to work piecing their lives back together. They don’t get to grieve, they don’t get to recover, and they have to work. Nothing will ever be the same; some things you can’t replace.
I gave sweet Carolyn a hug. I didn’t want to leave them there. The insurance adjustor arrived just as I was leaving. Please pray for them that God will give them tremendous favor and bless them beyond their imagination.
When I was walking through my yard a piece of paper caught my eye. It was small about 3 by 4 inches, but it stood out amongst the debris. It was three pages of Luke chapters 6-8 from a pocket Bible.
Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:30-38
I encourage you to read Luke chapters 6-8. I feel blessed to have found this and will save it.
I feel so blessed, and so sad, all at the same time. I was on the phone with my boss today when I drove down Range Line and I burst into sobs. He didn’t know what to do about this, so he did his best to console me. It breaks your heart. It is awful and incredible. Pray for Joplin and its Joplers.
If you feel led to send support our church is supporting over a hundred volunteers, feeding them three meals a day and providing a place to sleep and shower. They are also supporting the community with food and necessities through our We Care facility. They are doing so much it makes me so grateful to be a part of their body. You can mail any offerings to Abundant Life Christian Center 6863 E Newman Road, Joplin, MO 64801. Or find them on the web at:
Much love and blessings!