Reflecting on Joplin Relief

Standing in the middle of rubble, ankle deep in 2x4s and debris, like a ton of bricks, I am slapped in the face by reality.

Childhood memories come flooding back, the aftermath of the storm smells exactly like my grandparents house used to. All of a sudden, the displaced couches, the broken glass, the roofless and wall-less houses aren’t just a mess, they’ve got personality. I stood there, shocked and numb; imagining what it would be like to live though the storm, and to crawl out of remains of my house to the sight of destruction.  How would I feel if this was my house, how would I have reacted if this was the home of my family, if this was my stuff?

Heartbroken.

Over the past week, I have found myself reliving moments and seriously evaluating, and re-evaluating the way I greet, speak, and respond to people.  So often, I half-heartedly greet someone, asking them how they are, and move on without really caring, without giving them a chance to share a bit of their lives with me. Lately, I have been finding myself approaching people with more of a heart to love them, to serve them, and to treat them how Christ would. We are all His beloveds.

Walking up to a car in our mobile distribution line, I introduce myself to a woman in her mid thirties who seems to be staring off into space. After asking her name, she turns her head, looking flustered she apologizes and quickly introduces herself to me.  She explains she had gotten caught admiring the trees in the distance. As she describes their beauty, she begins to cry.  “Where I’m from, there’s nothing,” she tells me, “No houses, no grass, no trees. We have nothing.” Saddened and speechless, I reach out and grab her hand and let her cry with me.

A woman walks onto our site after close. She approaches me and begins to share with me her story. Part of her house had been blown away and she was housing about twenty of her neighbors and friends who had no where to go. They were without running water and electricity. They had all been sharing a single flashlight, and the batteries had just given out. She didn’t seem to need or want any food or water, simply another flashlight to share with those who were staying with her. We talk as I dig through boxes looking for something to send her home with. As I pull out a new flashlight and extra batteries for her flashlight at home, she begins to cry. As she whispered thank you, I received one of the most heartfelt hugs of my life.

Humbled.

I have been home for almost a week, yet the stories, the faces, the rubble, and the smells are still so fresh in my mind. I find myself praying for those I’ve come in contact with, and for my friends who are still on the ground lending a hand and being Jesus to those whose loss is beyond my imagination.

It’s times like this I’m so grateful for the love and restoration of my Jesus. It’s in these hours I am honored to watch and be apart of the church that is rising up and being the hands of Jesus extended. The tragedy is great, but thankfully, there’s a hope that’s even greater.

2 thoughts on “Reflecting on Joplin Relief

  1. We loved Your post and your heart. I’m sure everything will remain with you always. Thanks for going & helping in Joplin & all the othe places you have gone to. Keep tender, loving, & giving to thoes around you. We miss your Grandparent, too. We think of them often & talk about them. Erick & I send our love to your family, too.

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