A destroyed school in Joplin, MO

It’s horrible. Those are the only words I can use to describe Joplin, and it’s just not an adequate description. You look around at the houses that are now a pile of a sticks, bricks, and mangled mess and the only thing that goes through your mind is, “WHY?”

There’s no answer. But the Joplin residents have painted amazing signs of hope in different places by the rubble like, “God saved us,” “Pray for Joplin,” “We will rebuild,” and “Volunteers, we love you.”

On Friday, August 13, and Saturday, August 14, a team of 23 men and women mostly from the Kansas City, MO area traveled to Joplin, MO, for a quick missions trip to assist Joplin tornado victims. The majority of the team members were from EchoChurch.tv. Our daughter Heather and I were with the team. Some of the work the team did this weekend included:

  • Hauling debris from a demolished house to the curb for Joplin’s debris clean-up crew to pick up;
  • Unloading a truckful of books for Irving elementary school, which relocated to another building after the original school building was devastated from the tornado;
  • Hanging blinds for large windows at Irving elementary school at the new location;
  • Assisting teachers with a variety of chores to get their rooms ready at Cecil Floyd elementary school, that is preparing to open this Tuesday (this school’s roof was severely damaged from the tornado);
  • Assembling bookshelves for teachers at Cecil Floyd elementary;
  • Replacing siding on a house that was badly damaged from the tornado.

Echo Church’s staff has been to Joplin twice since the tornado to do manual labor, working with a church there. On this trip we had planned to do manual labor, too, when we arrived yesterday, including roofing and hauling debris. But we found out when we got there that we wouldn’t be doing the roofing job. We were able to haul debris at one house for Joplin’s debris clean-up crew to pick up.

I was extremely impressed with how Echo Church’s staff took fast, decisive action right away and quickly found another relief aid organization for the team to work with, since the majority of the team members were giving their own time and expense to make this trip. The relief aid organization put us to work right away at the schools and at the house needing the new siding. The principle of Irving Elementary and the teachers at Cecil Floyd Elementary were extremely thankful and expressed great appreciation for our help.

I was also very impressed with the unity of our team, and how there was a unified spirit of love for God and fellow man, as well as the joy of the Lord – we laughed a lot as a team as we did the work. Even though we were not doing the job(s) we originally thought we would be (like the roofing), we were making a difference in Joplin. This spoke to my heart that no job is “little” or “unimportant” in God’s sight. “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” ~ Luke 16:10, NLT

One of the things which impacted me the most, other than the horror of it all, was seeing children’s toys in the huge piles of debris. It was a poignant reminder of how satan wants to kill, steal, and destroy our children and their lives. I found a blue plastic Lego™ and a couple of other toys buried in the debris at the first house where we hauled debris, and saved one – it was a little toy ambulance buried in the mound of dirt, wood, and metal. It also reminded me how important it is to hold and love our precious children every day.

We were able to relax at the end of yesterday with a dinner at Chicken Annie’s. We had put in a long day and were all tired and really hungry – it tasted so delicious! Then we all crashed to sleep and woke up this morning to do some more work.

When we traveled back home today, we remembered that the victims had no home to go to, many are hungry, and many are living in temporary shelters – a majority of those homes were under insured from the disaster. Lives have been lost, hundreds were injured, and so many homes, property, and businesses were totally destroyed.

Me & Heather, Joplin

You really have to see Joplin first-hand to get how devastating it is. What is so crazy is that there are some homes still standing right next door to a house that was totally destroyed, and the same with businesses.

Please continue to pray for the residents of Joplin and for God to restore the city. I am so thankful to God that I had this opportunity to serve Him and that we are all safely back home.

Thank you so much for praying for us. Below is a video showing some of the damage in Joplin, including the hospital. I will try to post more videos tomorrow or Monday.

Video, Joplin tornado damage

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