Joplin Relief Update – Wednesday

Day… What Day Is It?  Oh Yea.  Four.

Today we worked on the lot we are clearing.  We are helping out an 80-year-old man named Danny.  We are helping him clear his lot because he had no insurance (his home has been obliterated).  The city will clear it for you (like it or not) in 30-60 days.  Only problem is, they will put a lien on your property for the cost of the debris removal.

With that in mind, we rented a skid-steer today.  We knew we needed some heavier equipment to get the job done before we leave on Thursday.  So, we searched around and found one we could use for two days.  It has really accelerated the pace of work and (perhaps more importantly) it is FUN to drive and has air conditioning!  We would wrap ropes and chains around the walls of the house and… pull!  Once a wall is down we will move it to the road.  If you can get it within teen feet of the curb, the city will pick it up for free.

While we were out there, the home owner showed up.  You should have seen his face.  His eyes were glassy and all he could do was give the thumbs up.  He came over and gave hugs.  We asked if we could pray for him and he said, HE wanted to pray for US (see pic).  He told us his story and the story of how his family has been affected by the tornado.  His story is just like so many we have heard.  Heart breaking.

We also sent a team to the hospital to sit with an elderly lady who was severely injured in the tornado.  She also lost her husband in the tornado.  When she wakes up she panics and is confused.  We had some people who went over and sat with her today in the hospital.

I also sent a couple of smaller teams to do jobs on the outskirts of “ground zero.”  This is where people’s homes were salvageable but needed some TLC.  We cut up trees and removed debris and met some amazing people.  Including a 75-year-old man who invited our team into his garage to see his collectables.  People, American Pickers would have LOVED this man.  His stuff was just AMAZING.  He had almost a dozen full size church bells, WWII jackets and a TON of other stuff that was worth a mint.  He tried to make our team take something before they left.  He felt like it was the only way he could pay for their help.  Of course, they refused.  An opportunity to see his collection was payment enough.

The town of Joplin has a very post 9/11 feel to it.  Remember what the first few weeks felt like after that terrible day?  The since of unity and pride?  Well, that is what it is like here everyday.  Flags everywhere!  Even on top of toppled homes that have their roofs missing.  Somebody climbed up there and placed a flag.  Messages spray painted on their condemned homes saying things like, “Thank you volunteers,” and “Our family is thankful you are here.”  People honk and wave as you go down the road.  We ducked into the Starbucks at Target today for a coffee.  The lady asked if we were here for the relief work.  We said, “yes” and she said, “Then, it’s free.”  While we are working on the job site, people just show up from the community giving you gatorade and water.  It is just amazing.

This trip has been amazing.  In ten short days, GOD worked out housing at Ozark Christian College, vehicles, trailers, money ($12,000+), tools, 25 amazing people, meals for the week (breakfast, lunch, dinner) for free, amazing lodging on the way home (will tell you about that later) and sooooo much more.  I say God because I truly believe His hand has been in this from the beginning.  There is no way WE could have pulled this off.

For me, this is what my relationship with Christ is all about.  If you could put the “essence” of the Church in a bottle, this is what I believe it would look and smell like.  Not like Sunday morning, not like a fancy church building or a gym, not like traditional or modern music, not like dress clothes or flip flops.  Just people who believe in a God who cares, mirroring that love and care to others.  If only it was always that simple.  Leave it to us to mess it up.

Sorry.  Got a little preachy there.  Off to bed.  Sleep comes very easy these days.

Unexpectedly the home owner showed up. You should have seen his smile. We asked to pray with him. He said no and prayed for us.


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