Another muddy day in Joplin, both inside and out. We continued mudding all drywall seams in our home, and it poured rain outside all morning. But someone is looking out for us and cleared the rain clouds away after lunch. The highlight of our day was getting to know members from our host church, South Joplin Chritian Church who served us a hearty ‘church lady’ meal. During this time of fellowship we heard many of their tornado stories both stories of strength, survival, loss and resiliency.
We learned a few important tips on tornado readiness and response.
1. When a tornado is approaching, put your shoes on, grab your cell phone and your wallet.
2. Following a tornado please bring your tractor, backhoe, or tow truck.
3. Do not send the bag of old clothes that has been sitting in your basement for the past 3 years. Including your ’80s prom dress, anything with shoulder pads, or your father’s seersucker suit.
4. Do send 6 packs of underwear and socks, and t-shirts (no, not the one you mow the lawn in).
5. Gift cards are like gold, send a lot and send ’em often.
6. Apparently wherever you seek coverage in your home is the only part left standing. A woman spoke about looking up and down her block after crawling out of the crawl space to see just parts of her neighbor’s homes. There was a closet with the clothing rod still hanging but both the door and back wall gone with the rest of the house. That was were her neighbor sat through the storm with her dog. Or the home with just the back of the garage where the family hid near the deep freeze. Or the laundry room where 10 year-old girl got into her mother’s hope chest to ride out the storm. These were often the only pieces remaining of these homes. That’s a God thing.
7.The most memorable of the stories we heard was told about an elderly couple who had lived in their home for 60 years and had accumulated 60 years worth of stuff. Her children wanted them to move closer, but they ‘needed to go through their stuff first’. Fortunately during the tornado, they were safe out of town visiting family. Their home didn’t fare as well. It was destroyed. Everything was gone. The woman’s comment: “Well now we don’t have to go thought all that stuff.”
That statement is reflective of many here in Joplin. Often we hear ‘Its just stuff.’ In the end it’s not the stuff that matters.
I would like to think that, faced with adversity, I would have the strength and resiliency of the people I have met here in Joplin. My dinner hosts assured me that God would give me the strength and they would be in KC to lend a hand to their ‘neighbors to the north’.