We are three days into our work projects. One thing that has struck several of us has been the beauty in the midst of the chaos. We’ve seen flowers growing in wreckage, and crosses standing amongst the remnants of homes. The fact that despite the tremendous tragedy beauty is thriving has stuck out in our mind. Sure there have been people arrested for trying to steal from those who are left with so little, yet that’s been the exception, not the rule. I’ve seen aid workers sharing water with other organizations, friendly waves between volunteers and contractors. Despite the physical environment, it feels like being amongst family.

Our teams have continued our work building sheds, working on roofs, and anything else we get asked to do. But we’ve also had the chance to sit and listen. Listen to stories over a glass of sweet tea, listen to a couple older men sing hymns from long ago, listen to people as they struggle over losing everything. We’ve listened and worked, and listened and worked. We’ve heard stories of people who are having the last of their possessions stolen from their front yard, from people who finally have a shed to begin rebuilding their lives. Every person has a story, and every story matters.

Despite the struggles that many in Joplin are facing, there are many that are still clinging to God. Despite having to start fresh, many are trusting. It’s in these lives, that we see the real beauty.