Today in church one of the speakers spoke of Service and how vital it is that we stand willing and ready to help any of our brothers and sisters in need. He then told of his experience of going to Joplin, MO just hours after the terrible tornado hit. He was heading there for business, but ended up doing a whole different type of work...service. His voice broke as he related heart wrenching stories and experiences that he witnessed while in Joplin, MO
He ended, reading a letter that had been broadcast over the air ways in Joplin. It was from a professor who had been through such an experience himself, and knew first hand what they were up against. This was his service to them. It was amazing, profound and truly a gift. Please take time to read it and be grateful for the many blessings in your life, and please continue to keep the people in Joplin, MO in your thoughts and prayers.
A letter to Joplin, from a Tuscaloosa Professor May 26, 2011
To the good people of Joplin, Missouri:
This will get worse before it gets better. I know this only because of what I’ve observed from my own firsthand experiences in Tuscaloosa, Ala., a city much like yours that was ravaged a month prior to your own disaster.
Likely, you watched from afar, which is precisely what we do now; our cities forever wedded by our shared season of misfortune.
Allow me to share with you a difficult truth:
In the coming hours and days your death count is likely to rise. Cell phone reception will return — which, on the surface, seems like a good thing — though this increased communication will bring mostly bad news.
People will begin to understand who was lost and how and as their stories sift from the rubble, it will soon become clear that everybody knows somebody now gone. You will begin hearing stories, though unlike the phone calls, not all of them will end badly. Like the one where the bathtub blows away but the family remains safely inside.
A dog will be pulled unscathed from the rubble, or even more unbelievable (though true) will survive two full weeks on broken legs until reunited with his family. Be sure to take your comfort where you can.
If your city is like our city, then soon, people will begin to endow the storm with a conscience. They will talk about how the tornado leveled one house but left another, how it made that choice. You will begin fitting nature’s lunacy into some strange logic, bring God into the equation and speak of “master plans” not yet revealed to His flock. This is a good technique, and one that we have found to be quite useful in Tuscaloosa. The fitting together of pieces offers the same distraction as any good puzzle — providing an outlet to busy oneself when the mind is in need of a rest.
I should warn you, also, that you will soon be inundated with a storm of another sort. Everyone will want to help you, and even those of you who were spared the worst of it will receive a knock on your door, someone pleading with you to take a bottle of water.
This is a small gift from a person who feels as helpless as you do, and even if the good you are doing feels not good enough, just remember you’re helping by taking it.
I write to you today in the hopes that my recent experiences here might offer you a momentary glimpse into your future.
One month from today, you will not be healed, but healing.
The scrap will be piled like bunkers alongside the roads, and eventually, even the choir of sirens will dissipate. One day soon, cars will once again outnumber ambulances, and in a few weeks time, you’ll see a child throw a Frisbee and for a moment, forget that anything more treacherous ever collected in the wind.
I knew our cities were linked when I watched the on-site meteorologist from the Weather Channel choke up while on the air.
He was describing your world turned inside out, your people stumbling, when he broke from his narrative to admit that Joplin “looks very reminiscent of what we saw last month in (pause) Tuscaloosa.”
His pause seems to say everything that we could not, reminding me of one final piece of advice I humbly bestow upon you today: You will find, I think, that the inexplicable nature of nature is another hard-earned side effect of your troubles. For a month now, I have been trying to write my way out of disaster, but it is still here, and it will be with us until all the words run out.
Yet words can provide comfort as well, and if, in the future, you find that your own experiences might prove useful for another storm-torn town, I encourage you to write to them as I have written to you.
Remind them that while today appears dreary, all forecasts point to sunnier days ahead.
"Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier." ~Author Unknown