I remember it like it was yesterday. It was Sunday evening and it was raining. Not like a little bit of rain either, like shake the floor and windows of your house thunder and lightening kind of rain.
That was the first night I heard tornado sirens.
I was home alone.
As a girl born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, the only kind of natural disaster drills I had ever experienced was for earthquakes. I had a feeling crawling under the kitchen table and grabbing my neck wasn’t going to cut in this time. So I did the only thing I could think of, I put on my tennis shoes, grabbed a couple bottles of water, a blanket and my phone and then I called my roommate who was across town. She told me not to worry. I said ok.
I was terrified.
I turned on the television and watched as the tornado tore through Joplin and traveled towards my house. News reports and pictures of its devastation were quick to air on the news. I wondered what to do next.
Luckily, the only thing I got that night was a pretty wicked rainstorm. I went to bed thankful to have a house and my life, yet wondering what was to come of Joplin.
Day two of Convoy of Hope’s Joplin response, I was asked to join the team on the ground to help orchestrate volunteer efforts. Driving into Joplin was devastating. Houses were in shambles, trees were stripped and the land looked baron. I even saw a row boat wrapped around the top of a tree.
That all paled in comparison to the way my heart broke when I met the people. Everybody had a story. Everyone’s life had been effected in one way or another. Hope seemed scarce.
I remember one afternoon I was greeting people as they drove through the mobile distribution line and I noticed a car holding up the line. I walked over to greet our guests and to see if I could offer some assistance when I noticed the driver staring off into the distance. As I approached her car, she turned to me with tears in her eyes and whispered, “You have trees. Aren’t they lovely? I’m sorry, it’s just that everything is gone. When I see the trees, I see hope.” Tears in my eyes, I grabbed her had and softly answered yes. I had nothing else to say.
I often think of that moment. It’s as if it will be forever burned into my brain. When the world around me seems baron and lifeless, life and hope remains if we simply look for it. My experiences amidst the wreckage and the destruction are intertwined with stories and experiences of new life, of restoration.
I will be forever grateful to Jesus for the people He brought into my life during that time. The friendships developed through my time in Joplin are among some of the most honest and sincere, Jesus inspiring relationships I have.
Hope springs when we only see despair. The ashes at times seemed overwhelming, but out of them beauty was birthed. That is the God I serve. He holds power over death, able to make the possible out of the impossible. I love that.
What are the ways God has breathed new life into you?