Sunday, June 12, 2011

Every Tear Counted

Psalm 56:8(MSG)
You've kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights,  each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.

Walking the halls of the Joplin Middle School brought the reality of the destructive forces of the tornado occurring on  May 22nd, '11 up close and personal.  From the shards of glass scattered throughout my feet to the thick layer of a muddy grass mixture that was plastered on the lockers and walls up and down the halls, there was no escaping the realization of the force of this beast.  When I rounded a corner and found myself front and center staring at the remains of what used to be the gym of this well constructed brick building, I breathed out a praise to God that this had not happened when school was in session.  To go there in my mind brought tears to my eyes.  Visualizing the gym full of children during a normal school day, took what little breath I had in my lungs completely away. 

Slowly proceeding to the next room....the gathering room and cafeteria.... I saw more of the same...and one step further took me to the kitchen....or so that is what I was told used to be there.  There was nothing there now, not even a roof!  We continued down each hall, respectfully envisioning the order of yesterday and thoughtfully trying to process what was left now.  The library, the science lab, the administrative offices, the choir room, the locker rooms, and the classrooms had all been invaded by the horrific intruder.  Again, I fought back the tears of joy at the realization that these halls and rooms could have been full of children on a normal afternoon, but they were empty on that particular day.

Our job for today was to work with the Principal and Vice Principal to remove anything that was still in reasonable shape and load it on the truck to move to an awaiting warehouse, where we would unload, clean and store the items.  The school itself was a total loss, as was the Joplin High School, which appeared to have taken an even greater hit.  One by one, we found items that were salvageable and one by one...through dark halls filled with the smell of wet insulation, we carried them out.  Arriving at the truck with a treasure, we would carefully lift and place each item in the awaiting line of moving vans.  The sun beat down and the task went on, but we were not deterred from our mission. 

What's the mission?  Simply stated, it is to lessen the burden for the people of Joplin.  To come alongside them and lift them up through prayer, financial assistance, and physical presence until they have their feet solidly planted on the ground again.

Sitting in the "cafeteria" drinking my water and eating my sandwich on our quick lunch break, I listened to the school leadership courageously tell us that they would start school on time in a mere 68 days!  What tenacity!  What incredible resilience being displayed in this small community!  I believe they will do it too...because they are determined. 

At one point, I heard a noise above and glanced up during the talk to see a bird flying lost throughout the school.  It was at that instant, that my eye fell on the open sky light that had once adorned the beautiful Student Center.  Quickly, my mind raced back once again to the blessing of the nightmare....that there were no children in the school when the tornado hit!  I stared in disbelief looking at a huge board that had been drilled into the opening that used to be the glassed in sky light.      
Sky Light in the Cafeteria/Student Center.
Yes!!  Yes, I thought these are a tough and determined people.  They are standing at the very pit of despair and looking up.  When they look up...this is what they see...but they are choosing to look beyond it to a brighter tomorrow....a "clear sky" so to speak.  Have they experienced great loss?  Yes, they most certainly have!  Does the Lord see?  Yes.  He most assuredly fact today's verse tells me that God has recorded every one of their tears!  That is a great comfort to me.  

Meanwhile, we can help.  First and foremost, we can continue to pray for restoration and healing.  I am understanding that we should no longer be sending random items to them, but instead, donating monetarily to organizations for the relief work.  (ie....Convoy of Hope, Red Cross, local Churches etc.)  We can also help by going there, not on an individual basis, but with an organization, so that order is kept and thereby projects completed by the direction of those that are in authority. 

I'm thanking God today for the lives that were spared on the night of May 22, 2011.  I am asking Him to continue to bring comfort to the families of those who lost loved ones.  I am also praying that God will bring miraculous healing to the injured that continue to battle with each passing day for their very life.  Finally, I am praying for the new foundations to be laid and the walls to be raised on every one of the homes, schools, and businesses that were destroyed.


  1. Great words Karen. I completely agree. When we went, I was struck by how little we seemed to make a difference in the whole scheme of things but how much of a difference we made to the individual we were helping. I could see the MS from where we were cleaning that day and I too had that pit-of-your-stomach feeling.

  2. Only~A~Little~WhileJune 14, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    Board by board.....brick by will be restored! It was so amazing to see that "can do" spirit amongst the people. The whole experience was extremely humbling and opened my eyes even wider to the preciousness of life