I’m sitting this morning, back in the warmth of my North Idaho home. A heap of emotions running through my heart and mind. The past 8 days in Oklahoma City still crisp in my mind. As I sit here with the hubs, I cry while drinking our morning cup of coffee together. “What was the most emotional and physical part of your OK trip?” he asked. The tears flow freely, as they do so easily when talking to him. He sat patiently as I gave him a recap of the week that we had.
My body is worn down by emotion and physical labor. The normal feeling, post mission work. It happens, and I am grateful for that. If I came home ready to hit the ground running, I may have to think twice about my mission journeys. Anyone who has done the work, knows what I’m talking about. Spending time with people, hearing their tragedies, seeing their tears, desperation, despair. Seeing their discomfort and heartache, would take a tole on anyone with compassion in their heart.
I sit here this morning still in complete awe of what we saw this week. The devastation caused by an F-5 tornado is something, until now, I could not wrap my mind around. Gorgeous neighborhoods, flattened into unrecognizable, rubble. Walking through a neighborhood once populated with families and children; I imagined kids riding bikes, running through sprinklers, dogs chasing balls. Now, those balls are gone. Along with their bedrooms, toys, their entire home. Stuffed animals lie, twisted, muddy, where sleeping babies should be. Families completely displaced. In a moments notice….nothing. Looking into their underground storm shelters, I think about how it would be down under the ground, waiting out the storm. 297 mph winds hit this community. TWO HUDRED NINETY SEVEN! I considered that moment of resurfacing to see what the wickedness of the tronado left behind. Seeing your home, twisted, distorted, or not there at all, like most. We spoke to so many people about this day; heard their stories. I held hands, wrapped arms around and whispered silent prayers for so many.
Another chapter in my book has been filled with the treasured stories of so many others. When someone pours out their heart to you, you are not too soon to forget it. They become a part of you. The families our team worked with are a component of our hearts now. We wept tears with them; shared smiles of hope with them. And they are hopeful. Many of them sharing the blessing of this storm on their families and community.
All of the emotional and physical exhaustion that we came home with was heavenly. As we rode the bus home at midnight last night, we all agreed that if we had to turn around and go right back, we would, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Immediately!
I am remarkably grateful that we were used. That we were the hands and feet of Jesus. That we could in some small, tangible way, share the love of God with these people. Their needs are limitless but our God is unlimited! He is bigger than any need, larger than any storm, greater than any affliction.
The lives of these families will never be the same. The lives of those coming back home to Idaho will never be the same. Both changed forever… by faith, hope and kindness.