Last week I joined a group of 13 teens and 5 adults on a mission trip to Joplin to help the community recover from last year’s devastating tornado. This wasn’t the first time our family traveled to Joplin to help with the recover and relief efforts. Within a month of the initial disaster my children along with the help of the Northland Rolladium collected three vehicle loads of donations to help those who had lost everything. What we saw felt like a punch in the stomach. The landscape looked as if it had been wiped clean; everything that had covered it placed into a blender and unceremoniously dumped back onto the landscape. However, as horrible as it looked there were glimmers of hope written on the devastated homes.
It is this hope which I think defines the spirit of Joplin. They knew that they were delivered a massive blow, but they also understood that they had to dust off themselves off and proceed with strength. Thankfully they do not have to go it alone.
Instead, they have organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse, Billy Graham’s Rapid Response Team, Humane Society of Missouri Response Team, as well as IDES to help with the recovery and rebuilding process. During our first three trips our family dropped off donated items at several designated drop points; however, during this trip we were fortunate enough to team up with IDES to help build 2 houses and 1 church garage.
It was rewarding and exhausting. During our five day stay in Joplin the teens were split into three teams. One team worked to install three garage doors, another team helped build a back deck, and the other team painted the exterior of a house.
While the teams were out working I stayed behind the first three days of our mission trip to complete a literature thesis outline, two other graduate assignments, clean our host church, and cook for the entire volunteer crew. Thankfully I was able to help paint a house during the last two days of our trip. Although I regret not being able to go out into the community more often I was thankful to be able to help in a small way. I was also thankful to have an opportunity to see the progress made within this community.
However, most of all I was inspired to see how much Joplin has united around the theme of hope and recovery. Their strength inspired me to look deep within myself to see what I needed to recover, restore, and reflect. Thank you Joplin for your strength your community makes the rest of us a little stronger.