Many of you heard about the powerful tornado that ripped a 6 mile path through Joplin, Missouri on May 22. Three days after the storm hit, I was in the van with my mother, sisters, and best friend Courtney...headed down to volunteer.
We worked with the Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team (DRT), an organization that I have worked with before while doing hurricane relief work in Bridge City, Texas. The first two days I stayed at the church building to help with the organization and distribution of donations. I loved working in distribution; I got to fill donation orders for victims (then hug them and pray with them and cry with them), I got to meet and work with lots of wonderful people (including a couple that I may end up going to church with in Searcy), and I got to work inside where the fans were blowing and I wasn't sunburned and covered in a layer of dirt and grime when the day was over :) Hours were spent sorting boxes of canned goods, toothpaste, shampoo, granola bars, sheets, etc. My favorite thing that I found while working in distributions: a bottle of Brut.
I sniffed it and sniffed it and sniffed it.
My grandpa wears it on Sundays.
On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, however, I was able to head out with "the team" (people from various area congregations...Rolla, Owensville, Houston, Iberia) and work out in the field. We raked yards clean of stray shingles and crumbled drywall and pieces of insulation. We sifted through piles of debris, looking for anything salvageable. We made huge piles of debris on the curb to be later picked up by FEMA. We met families who, just one week earlier, still had a house, a car, all their belongings. Now, their houses are gone. Their cars are smashed. Their belongings are strewn over their property, mixed together with chunks of drywall, insulation, broken glass, and twisted metal. We prayed with them, sang with them, cried with them, laughed with them, hugged them, and cried some more. While we were working at different homes, I was amazed at how many times during the day pickup trucks with a bed full of volunteers and coolers would pull up to the house where we were working and holler, "Cold water and snacks!" Many of the folks wouldn't take no for an answer, so even if we told them that we weren't hungry or thirsty, somehow you would find yourself with a bottle of powerade in one hand and a candy bar in the other.
That impressed me. All of the people in Joplin, both citizens and volunteers, gave.
Everyone was giving.
For a while the traffic lights were out, so policemen directed the traffic. Several times, while waiting at an intersection, I saw folks riding in the bed of a truck reach out and hand a bottle of water to the traffic-directing cop. It made me smile.
On Saturday, a crew of medical folks came by where we were working offering free tetanus shots. Several of our team took advantage of them...I was thankful that I had mine a couple years ago ;)
What made this trip different from the other disaster relief trips I've been on was that, to me, it was all about Him. I loved the fact that we showered in tent showers with lukewarm water, shaved our legs in the sink, and had tight sleeping arrangements...it reminded me, constantly, "This isn't about you."
This is way bigger than you.
This is about the people...
It's about loving them.
It's about glorifying Him.
That is why I didn't want to leave Joplin and my family at Mount Hope. While I was there, it wasn't about me. It was all about Him. When I got home, it's so incredibly easy to be all about me. If I want to watch a movie, I can. If I want to eat this or that, I can. If I want a hot shower, I can have one. If I want to be lazy, I'll be lazy.
At Mount Hope, it was about Him first, and others second.
If you have an opportunity to go work in Joplin, do it.
Be His hands and His feet.
Hug His children who are hurting.
Feed His lambs that are hungry.
Love His people.
It's the most amazing thing in the world.