Susie, pictured at right in the camo shirt, tugged at my heart today. Her and her husband have been long time Missouri residents, currently living in Carthage, but calling Joplin home. It is where they grew up and spent many years with the family business. It is home for Susie, and her father still resides there running the business. She came when she heard the news from her father who had taken shelter with others in their basement during the tornado.
Susie’s father runs a mobile home park, and apartment complexes. They did at least. They did until the tornado tore through everything they had worked on for so long. It took everything they had prided themselves on, it took their income, their security, their emotions, and even some of the residents in their area.
Even with losing everything except her family, I have never met someone so full of joy as Susie was. She walked those streets for years. She grew up in that house. With all of that gone, she said she still feels so blessed to be alive and live to tell. She is hopeful of what the future brings. I have never seen so much love in such a time of desperation and despair. Amidst everything that the past had and the journey into the future has, she finds great strength and joy. What an incredible testimony of the Lord’s love for his people. Her treasures aren’t stored in Joplin. She takes great joy in knowing her real home. At one point, her father even said something along the lines of how much of a “riot” the tornado going over was and how we missed out by not being a part of it. They are a true testimony of picking up the pieces and moving forward.
(On a side note…she was stoked about receiving diapers, wipes, water and socks for her kids! What a joyous smile came on her face…She gave the most wonderful, heartfelt hug after.)
As we walked the path of the tornado, it became more and more real. You would see a syrup bottle open as if someone was eating pancakes when it happened, kids toys everywhere, family pictures scattered…everything destroyed in a heartbeat.
Throughout the day, we were able to pass out some of the bags and a ton of other items that were donated. (We can’t say enough how thankful we are for a community who is so willing to give and serve together.)
Susie’s story and strength will forever be etched in my mind and heart.
BUT. As if Susie’s story isn’t a glimmer of hope enough. Meet Jordynn.
This girl was a rockstar. She was early 20’s and in charge of one of the shelters at a church right in the center of the disaster. A church that remained untouched. Amazing. Nothing around it made it. Now they are a triage center (which her dad is running), a medical center, a donation drop-off point, volunteer coordination center, and a shelter…simply incredible.
We were trying to figure out where to take the rest of the items we had. We were trying to go to the area that had the least amount of relief so far. I believe we may have found it at that shelter. I could not have asked for a better or more perfect place to drop off the donations. Something about it seemed so right. We were right where we were supposed to be.
Jordynn said quite possibly my favorite quote I have ever heard in my 20 years….she said,
“People’s compassion helps us to forget about the tragedy and move forward.”
What we saw today was horrific, and the journey will be difficult, but there is so much hope for the future. Despite the devastation, there will be renewal. Despite the despair, the Lord makes everything beautiful and perfect in His time.
With hope for the future of Joplin and it’s residents,