Today was over 100 degrees in Joplin. Yet we had three teams in various parts of the city: building a shed, putting on a roof, and tearing out floors. We drank cases of water, used countless tools, and obtained a couple sunburns. Our groups worked with dedication, yet still had several great opportunities to interact with the people who have lost so much. We met amazing people who have triumphed over their difficulties.
Outside of the hard labor, we took some time to travel through the area most affected by the tornado. Trees are stripped bare; homes demolished, and streets are void of any signs. I was most surprised when I saw Irving Elementary School totally gutted. I spent two years working at Irving for the Joplin YMCA’s afterschool program. Once familiar places now look foreign; I find myself getting lost even though I lived here for four years.
Our group was also struck by the people. The aches of the tragedy are seen clearly on their faces. We see the pain and hear their stories, giving them an opportunity to process what they’ve survived. Seeing homeless moms with their little ones or elderly who will have to rebuild their life after 60 years. Every person has a story, and every story is a life.
Your prayers and encouragement are so appreciated, tomorrow we’ll be returning to our sites and working another full day.