Have you ever put an entire house on a curb? Like putting the trash out for weekly pick up? I have…3 times. It’s a strange feeling. It doesn’t really fit on the curb.
When we arrived at the first house the guy in charge said “We have been authorized to clean this family’s house”. He pointed to a driveway that lead to a very large heap of stuff, “If we put the debris on the curb it will be picked up and disposed of”.
The 3rd house I worked on I call the blender house. Because that’s what it looked like; like it was put into a blender. We were all overwhelmed with this house. We watched our fearless leader attempt to scoop up some of the large pile we made, with the bobcat he was driving. The whole yard was muddy and rutted from the monstrosity that tore through the week before. We made a makeshift bridge with fencing. As he took what the machine grabbed toward the “curb” half of it fell out of the scooper…over and over.
I looked around at all the workers. The hopeless feeling was palpable. Like we were all trying, and getting nowhere. I turned around to see my friend on her knees praying for God to help with the effort. Disheartened, I grabbed a board (the only large piece of debris in sight) and headed toward the “curb”. Someone said “that goes to the other house”. I looked at her and shook my head…..saddened…heartbroken.
Did it matter? Who’s to say that some of the stuff we were scooping up with shovels and sifting through with rakes belonged to any house in the area. The entire neighborhood was leveled. You could barely tell we were in a densely populated housing area. It just looked like stacks of rubble for miles; complete and utter destruction. One family we were told owned 2 vehicles. There was only 1 accounted for. The whereabouts of the other was unknown, and they had searched for it.
My church sent 4 of us to go and help. The drive took us 21 hours each way, so we were only there for 3 days. We arrived in the afternoon last Tuesday so we sorted and labeled and boxed the many clothing donations. It was awesome to see how much apparel was donated. By the time we got there, most organizations stopped accepting items because of the wonderful response from Americans everywhere.
Wednesday, after a devotional and a little bit of worship time, we headed out to our first home cleanup. We met the pregnant owner of the first house and her young son. They were full of hope and excited to have the few things we salvaged (including the family safe that contained all of their important documents, other miscellaneous items and even a couple family photos).
We picked up the next door neighbor’s house as well. Their battered truck laid upside-down in their driveway at first. It was astounding how fast things went as we all worked together. That day, if you started to feel useless and overwhelmed with what was in front of you all you had to do was look at what had been cleared behind you.
By 5 pm we had put 2 houses on the curb and we headed back for much needed showers, dinner, some evening worship and bed.
When we got to the blender house the next morning we were blessed by the story of the family who lived there. I was blessed to meet them as well.
If you have any question about where God was that day, ask the mom and daughter who were in the blender house. There was one room standing in the middle of the rubble: the roofless bathroom, where the girls huddled together in motorcycle helmets in a tub, praying (the dad and son were not home at the time). Or you can ask the lady down the road that didn’t make it to the shelter in time and had to lay down in the hallway…the only area left in the house. Or how about the guy who laid down in his bed with his poodle….the only remaining part of his demolished house.
I know where He was. He was pretty busy that day.
We might not understand God and His methods and we can be angry and blame Him for allowing these things to happen; but if you remember, there were only 24 (at first they counted everyone twice) who were killed by the enormous tornado in Moore. The fatalities were minimal, even in Shawnee (which is right up the highway from Moore) that also got hit.
I saw a post on Facebook that said God should pay for His sins with all the terrible things He allows: shootings, deaths, nature, bombings, etc. He lets us to make choices and use our free will. There would be no point to life if we were all little robots. What would He benefit from us? We would essentially be forced to love Him. As for natural disasters, I know that God can stop or reroute them (and how many times has He? That’s impossible to know). But what if there
was a reason for taking those people home early? What if they were in for something awful later in life and they were being saved? Who’s to say that all the stuff we are doing to the world with toxic waste and garbage and pollutants hasn’t made the earth a little bit more unstable and volatile with each passing year? Are we the ones causing excessive reactions from the earth? The bible says that we were supposed to be letting the earth have its Sabbath every 7 years. Is it now fighting back?
I wouldn’t change a moment of the time I spent in Oklahoma. I learned a lot about myself and saw hope in humanity and the love we show each other in times of need.
Last week, I met the most amazing, hard-working, giving, self-sacrificing, loving people. They blessed me beyond what I could have imagined. The group I worked with is called Christ in Action (CIA). Check them out on Facebook. There are links to donate as well. They are amazing people who are truly out there spreading the love of Christ. You can check out what other projects they have worked with (including Hurricane Sandy relief efforts and a lot more). There is still a ton to do there, especially since the new tornados hit on Friday. Even if all you can do is pray, they can use that too.