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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Joplin, Missouri

I spent Tuesday in Joplin with one of the work groups First MB organized this week. When I heard they were going, I tossed the idea out of my head because I thought, "What would I do with the kids all day?" Thankfully, Angie E. called me up last week and offered to swap babysitting so she could go one day and I could go one day.
I got back home that night and posted a Facebook note on my page because I couldn't sleep. I'm sharing that note with you today, because I believe the church will be planning more trips this summer to Joplin. It would be so great if more moms could pair up like Angie & I did to fill the buses when they make the trips again! - Tiffany

It’s midnight. I’ve been up since 4:30 this morning. Spent the day with 25 other First MBer’s in Joplin. The devastation is incredible. Mile after mile. Block after block. Home after home.

I was in Greensburg, KS the day after that F5 tornado nearly destroyed the entire town. Just one day, and it’s been so long ago that I have a hard time remembering details of the town. But this seemed worse, only because Joplin had more blocks consumed. But is that even fair to say? When I zoom in, it’s still one family after another who is standing in their front yard…or at what used to be their front porch looking at so much of their lives reduced to rubble. And that impact remains the same whether it’s one home destroyed or 5000 homes destroyed.

Our day was spent at just one property. Nearly all of us for 7 hours. Walls that remained were demolished. Huge trees cut into pieces. Fences torn out. One wheel barrow full at a time. Trip after trip to the curb. Everything to the curb. When we left, only the floor joists and foundation remained of the place this family called home. The place they found comfort. Safety. Peace. Everyday convience.

I expected to arrive at the home and see groups of people or homeowners working at other properties, but we didn’t. Can’t say anyone else was working on our entire block. Then I realized that it’s been a month since this tornado hit and I imagine those that have jobs to return to are back to work. How do they manage the stress of all of this and still try to carry on day to day living?

We sweep up the cement slab where the garage used to be. One sweet, little corner that’s clean. Yet I look up and scan the downward slope of homes in front of me and I see so many piles of debris as long as semi’s and as tall as basketball goals. I see hundreds of homes that have to be hauled to the curb one load at a time and I have a feeling of hopelessness. Inadequacy. Insignificance. The work left to be done is overwhelming. How long will this take these people? It took us over 250 man-hours to clean up this little house. That times how many?

But, then I remember the difference this is making in the life of one family. One mom who is back to work but when she drives to her property tonight…I’m convinced a huge weight will be lifted off her shoulders. No worries about how she’s going to clean up everything or find the means to pay for it to be done. It’s done. One day. I know there are dozens more worries for her, but at least we were able to come alongside her for a few moments and lighten her load. Carry her burden. Bring a ray of hope for a better day in the midst of this.

And yet, I still can’t help but think, “What about all those other people?”

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