There are really no words to describe what I witnessed yesterday. It’s one of those things, you almost have to see it to really believe it.
Katie & I started our day at Wildwood Baptist Church, which was set up as a triage medical unit & supply storage. ( Jay went on down to the heart of the area where the tornado hit). She & I helped unload & sort supplies. Families & individuals started to come in, needing different things.
The first mom that came in, with her 2 daughters (ages 7 & 5), was in sort of a daze. She had left the baby with a neighbor. I asked, “Do you need diapers?” and she said, after a pause, and hesitantly, “If you have enough…” I asked about toothpaste & brushes, and she said, again, hesitantly, “If you have enough…” After a few times, it hit me, she said they lost everything which means they need everything. I began then, to just pack a box with everything I could think of that they would need. Katie was helping the girls pick out some clothes. I offered the girls a drink & snack, and they loved drinking those Capri Sun drinks. The older girl went to pick out her snack, and the younger girl kind of hung back & I asked her what she wanted, and she looked up at me with these big blue eyes & said, “I just want my birthday cake.” I asked her where it was & she said, “It’s at WalMart, but they can’t find it.” Her birthday was Monday. Her mom had explained it the best way the little girl could understand. My heart broke. Her little world has been flipped upside down.
A little later a lady came in & she looked like she had been beat up, so so bruised. She had been at WalMart when the storm hit, had covered her step-daughter with her own body, and they both survived. They were pulled out hours later. See picture of WalMart below.
Harmony Heights Baptist Church – they were having service there when the storm hit. Several people died there. Jay was there yesterday, and a couple pulled up in their car. He was visiting with them & they told him that they were there Sunday night, and someone had pulled them out of the rubble (Ican’t think of a better word). The man went on to tell Jay that he really wanted to find his Bible. Here’s a picture of what the church looks like now:
Jay was thinking, “There is no way we are going to find this guy’s Bible in all this.” The man showed Jay where he had been pulled from the rubble, and Jay started looking. The man described what the case looked like. Jay found it. He took it over to the man. The case was wet & covered with mess. The man unzipped the cover & inside, his Bible was in perfect condition. Here are a few more pictures of the church.
The trees were stripped of their bark. All that area behind the church was previously houses.
A few more pictures – Academy Sports store
This picture below was amazing to me – you can see the stairs inside someone’s house, and their microwave.
Another family Jay visited with, were in their neighborhood, sifting through the debris of what had been their home, and they were talking with Jay & he told them that he would like to pray for them but honestly didn’t even know where to start & asked what would they want him to pray for. The lady said, to pray that it would stop raining, to find someone they couldn’t find, and then she said, “Just that something good would happen today. I need something good to happen.” A few minutes later, she saw the mailman & was completely surprised that the mail was running. She rushed over to the mailman & took her mail, and she had a big smile on her face. Something good had happened. Her prescriptions had come in the mail.
Christie, the girl we were working with at the church was so perfect for the “job” she was doing. When people came in, she just stood there & listened as long as they wanted to talk. She just listened. I was rushing around, trying to fill their boxes, and when I mentioned this to her, how I noticed that she just let them take their time, she said, “Well, they don’t have anywhere to go. And people have listened to my story, so now it’s my turn to listen to theirs.” She went on to tell me about something that happened Monday morning. An elderly lady was pulled from the rubble of her house & brought to the triage unit there at the church. She was bloody & bruised & the nurse was checking her out. She asked the lady if she was on any medication. The lady thought about it & then said, “Well, just Coumadin.” The nurse thought, “Just Coumadin” (blood thinner). The lady went on & said, “I had just fixed a glass of water & put my medicine on the counter when the storm hit.” Two men who heard all this decided to go over to the lady’s house & try to find her medicine. They got there, looked at each other & one just wept, after seeing what was left of her house, amazed that she was alive. They dug through & found what they thought was the kitchen area. Huge mess, as you can imagine. Cabinets crushed, stove gone, etc. It was just scattered debris – splintered & crushed wood & concrete – except for one thing…right in the middle of all that mess was one part of the counter still standing, and on that part of the counter top was the glass of water and bottle of medicine, still standing there, side by side.
Jay summed it up when he said the day was sobering and encouraging at the same time. It was heartbreaking – words cannot even describe the destruction that we witnessed. At the same time, hearing these stories, of how God is working, and seeing so many people come together for the same purpose, to serve others, was encouraging. We ended up at the command center for the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief effort, and as I spooned corn onto people’s plates, I read their shirts. They came from all over Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Georgia. The chainsaw & childcare teams are functioning now, and next week, the feeding, laundry, and shower units will be up & going. Volunteers will be needed after all these get going. Supply centers have been established in Springfield & Kansas City. Once the supplies that have already been delivered to Joplin begin to be disbursed, more can be funneled in through these other cities.
Last picture of the day – we were heading home, tired, still processing the day, talking a little, but mostly quiet in the truck, and we were driving into what looked like a storm up ahead – dark clouds, etc. I looked out my window, and this is what I saw. What a glorious sight & reminder of His presence, His peace & His promises.