Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Man, it sure has been a long time since I've blogged :) Here I sit at McDonald's soaking up the free WiFi. You see I've been on medical leave for 3 weeks and am getting sick of seeing the walls of my own house so I'll just prop my leg up on a booth seat :) Other than a small blood clot I'm recovering rather quickly.
I can't believe how fast this summer has gone! I've had the good fortune to spend time with family and friends, have a vacation in Arizona, was in a wedding in July (gosh, I looked pretty stellar), worked on my tan, and simply enjoyed the summer; however, the best and most fortunate experience I can say that I had was helping with the disaster relief in Joplin.
My big brother and myself packed up on a Friday night not knowing what we were going to do but knew we were going to help somewhere. My Dad has gone down several days before us but due to our work schedules were were unable to get off work. Our old youth pastor and his family lead a ministry at their church to assist those in need. The first night we arrived we simply organized tables of donated items. All sorts of things! The sanctuary was packed of items and we organized the tables so families could quickly come in and obtain the items they needed. It was so amazing to me with so much sadness and despair that people were so friendly when it was evident they were aching, it was so nice to be a part of this ministry. It also amazed me how different men and women's minds are organized. I had to work at a different table from my brother because his organization techniques weren't the same as mine. Call this control or whatever you have but I just couldn't handle it!
The next day we ventured back to the church to determine how they could use us. We met up with some people that had driven in from Wisconsin, Kentucky, all over the U.S. to show their support-truly amazing! We got our waters and dirty clothes on and were off to find an adventure. The people we rode with let us know that it would be an emotional day and that things really look worse in person than TV. They told us to be ready that we would probably cry throughout the day at times and to open yourself and allow yourself to know that's okay (I couldn't cry, I was with my big bro). It's true, words can't explain the total destruction that Joplin residences faced and continue to face. There were too many people helping at the nursing home so we randomly went up to a house and asked if they needed our help. Here's where the adventure begins!
We met an 80 year old man that was on medicine, walked with a cane, and has lost his wife a month prior to the tornado. Losing a wife and then totally losing a house the next month-wow! His two daughters had come in town one from Oklahoma and one from Washington in order to help their father find items they needed. His house had literally been flipped upside, spun into a few jumping jacks, and then laid randomly in the backyard. There's just no other way to explain it. The only thing the man wanted was paperwork about his wife (I assume social security paperwork), his medicine, his steel canes, and trophies. Not many things at all considering he'd lived in the house over 30 years.
We used chain saws, cleaned out rooms, removed layers of debri, and literally sawed into the house to find these items. It was amazing to find pictures of himself and his wife left untouched while somethings were completely destroyed. His daughters found join in small things such as a picture left untouched which they had drawn in middle school and a stain glassed creation one of the made.
We were at this house for the entire day, probably over 6 hours, trying to help him find these items. Many of the people we were with were ready to stop but there was one man that was determined to continue in order to find these few things the 80 year old man wanted. This good Samaritan continued to dig, put himself under items that could easily fall, and was filthy while doing so but was determined to help this man-what a good guy. He communicated several times, "This is the only thing the man wants and I want to help him find it."
Not going to lie, I was ready to go. I had to pee so bad! After being out in the field for 6+ hours, I'm pretty certain my eyes were yellow. This good samaritan just wouldn't stop. My sensation to urinate finally depleted, as I started helping again (Okay, I hid in a garage and used the restroom!). It was neat to see items finally being found piece by piece and the smile on the 80 year old man when seeing the things we brought him was priceless as he told us many memories (he was very unsteady, used a cane, and watched from the road while sitting in his car because he wasn't healthy enough to be assisting) of the items we obtained.
We heard all about his past with his wife, his two daughters, about his gas company he used to run, and many other fun things. Once we found both the canes he wanted, his will/wife's paperwork, some medicine (not all of it unfortunately), and the trophies he wanted it was time to depart. This man was ever so thankful for complete strangers showing up to his house and especially thankful for the good Samaritan that didn't quit and marched forward in finding the items he wanted. When it was time to depart it was an emotional moment as the 80 year old gentleman thanked us for our help.
I have no doubt in my mind we were lead to this man. His name is Douglas and that just happens to be my brothers name. He had a dog that was stuck in the house for two days and was finally rescued with minor damage. My dog's name is Jazzy which is exactly what this special creatures name is as well! Some may think it's crazy but there's no doubt in my mind God sent us to this man.
As we told our new friend "Doug" good bye, I looked at the good Samaritan as he said his goodbye's while holding back tears and almost sounded like a teenager going through puberty with his cracky voice! Yes, I made fun of the good Samaritan because it was evident he was trying to hold back his tears and emotions. If you haven't determined the good Samaritan is my brother, Douglas, I know it sounds better that I made fun of him now, huh?
Although I made fun of my brother (and continue to do so), I have to admit I was proud to call him my brother and was proud of the accomplishments he helped the team make. Without Douglas, this man may never have seen his trophies, will, and most importantly his two canes ever again. I would like to think we all made a difference in this man's life but nothing compared to my big bro, Douglas! To this day, I think of how thankful I am for my brother as he comes to me in times of need (helping me house hunt, giving me a lawn mower, visiting me while in the hospital, and buying me diet pepsi when a girl's in real need) and although I am not good at expressing how proud I am to be his little sister, I hope he knows.
*The American flag picture above is of the man's house we assisted with cleaning up and finding items. The only thing remaining in his house standing was the stairwell behind the flag.
*Below is my brother, Douglas, searching for items in the man's house. He's actually in the kitchen in this picture which landed up in the backyard.