Day18- Thankful For Moore, Oklahoma

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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.

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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.  photo 2

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.  photo 1 copy

The rebuild effort is ongoing.  Asking about their time frame, it is estimated to be about 2 more years before this area is back to “normal.”  TWO YEARS! photo 3We will be ready to go back soon.

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.  photo 2 copy

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!photo 3 copy

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Murrah Federal Building Memorial

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Written on the Wall at the Murrah Building

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.

For more information on Moore, Oklahoma and Hoperaiser.

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Day 13-Thankful For My Broken Heart

Not understood by some, but today I am grateful for my broken heart.

Tough day today in Oklahoma, as we finished up our job with our dad and daughter. Saying goodbye, seeing their tears is bittersweet. They were so grateful and it was like saying goodbye to family. They are now a part of our story. The Psalms verse I posted yesterday was intentional. During our floor laying, I asked the man of the house if it would be alright for me to write a scripture verse under the floor, on the subfloor. He said ONLY if we would write it again so he could see it everyday. He chose a cut off board from his flooring for us to write it. When we arrived the next day to finish the job, it was hung on his wall. A blessing and promise of safety for this tornado stricken home.

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Today we visited the biggest area hit along with the school site that was destroyed completely. They lost children in this storm. I couldn’t help but think if it were my own children lost. We walked around the memorial area, elementary school chairs from the classroom all in a row, crosses, stuffed animals, a football, American flags; I can’t fathom such loss. We read about each of these children on memorial boards, saw photos of their young faces, saw family photos. As I walked I prayed for each family. I prayed that God would bring peace and healing upon each of them. I prayed Romans 8:28- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

God has once again broken my heart for the families of Oklahoma. We have been immersed in loss since Sunday, but feel God’s presence everywhere. I see this community pushing forward. Rebuilding. We’ve seen His grace. Witnessed His love and compassion. Seen Him use us to give hope to these people. We have been His hands and feet.

As the days wear on, and our bodies are fatigued we continue to remember the sacrifice that was given for us. This in comparison is nothing. We are grateful to be here, grateful for our tired bodies, grateful for our heightened emotions, and grateful for our broken hearts. Without them, none of us would be here.

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