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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Joplin Trip Day 3 Part 1

Before I get too far in the daily recaps of our Joplin trip, let me introduce you to the 4 members of our team that didn't go on the series of adventures recounted in my last 2 installments. They were an elder emeritus (not sure if that is his official title) of our church, his wife and 2 of his grandsons. They traveled up earlier than us and were volunteering prior to our arrival. They figure in to some really good stories coming up. In the radio business, we call that a tease. So keep your dial right here for future installments.

On Wednesday morning we woke up to a very warm day that would be 110 degrees for most of the day. We were served breakfast and then we had devotions. People were excited, but most of us still did not know what we were going to do for the day. Many of the team members had considerable skills in construction and knew exactly what they were best suited for. Others were so moved by the needs, they wanted to get to work right away. I can't speak for all the people who brought children on the trip, but the prevailing mood among them seemed to be to get them in a place where they could serve along side their children and keep them safe. Did I mention that it was 110 degrees out? The team drove to a church in Joplin called Joplin Family Worship Center. We filled out some paperwork for each team member and were then given our daily assignment. Many of the workers would go from JFWC to homes that needed work and some of the workers would volunteer at the center itself.

We were also told of an opportunity to do meals on wheels later that day which seemed like it would be a good place for the children to volunteer.

Since this is my trip log, I will concern myself with what Spider Droid and I did. Before I do, I should mention that all volunteers had to sign in and out every day. This is because the City of Joplin receives money from government disaster relief agencies for every man hour worked.

Spider Droid, myself, and a few other members of our team worked at a clothing distribution tent at JFWC. Spider Droid got to work immediately matching women's shoes with other children. He really enjoyed this task. I got to work putting men's shirts and pants on hangars and helping the customers, those affected by the tornado find what they need. Although I have very little experience in clothing retail, I took to it very well. As a customer service guru, I just love helping people.

We worked with volunteers from many states and situations. There was a team from Walmart in Benton, Arkansas. The individual employees came there about once a month and got paid by Walmart to volunteer. There were church groups from Indianapolis, day trippers from Kansas City and that was just the tip of the iceberg. Some of the workers were Joplin residents affected by the tornado. Our customers would come and go but they were priority one.

As I worked, I heard many people comment about how disorganized things were. But as I watched the customers, all their needs were being met and they never commented on any disorganization. It is natural when working in a disaster area to think that you should be knowing more, but all I saw that day was God meeting peoples' needs.

I am going to finish day 3 tomorrow because I want to spend some time on the meals on wheels ministry we participated in. So, I will finish with one story that I think shows how peoples' needs were being met even when the person meeting those needs didn't get to see the impact she made.

It was so hot, that the volunteers would often leave the tent and go inside the air conditioned church building. I of course mandated this for Spider Droid who was having the time of his life serving with other children. On one such time out, I encountered a Joplin woman who was getting a little frustrated. She had brought a small bag of things to donate and was getting the unintentional run-a-round. People suggested that she go to the clothing tent to donate it. She said she had just been to a tent and was told it was not needed. (There were at least 4 outside stations and one inside station giving all manners of things from furniture to housewares besides the clothing.) I told her that I would take her bag and get it to the right place. She had donated 4 pairs of jeans and 3 alarm clocks. The people at the clothing tent reassured me that they were taking donations and were not aware that anyone had been turned away. I brought the alarm clocks to another tent and chatted with one of our team members who was working there for a minute. When I came back to the clothing tent, I was asked to help a customer who was having trouble finding jeans in his size. We looked and could not find any in his size. I realized I had the bag of jeans from that lady. Guess what, all 4 pair were his size! He took all 4. This woman probably will never know the immediate impact of her gift. But it was a reminder to me of God's providence.

To those who are regular readers of this blog. You know it's usually not all about Joplin and journals. For a little return to what passes for normal on these pages, I have decided to participate in a meme called Two Questions Thursday over at Self Sagacity at the end of this post.

My two questions are Joplin related.

1) reread this post and the previous two. What have I told you that has had the most impact on you?

2) What would you like to hear more about?

For those who have never played before go ahead and answer my questions as a comment here and then go back to Self Sagacity and look at the other questions out there.

Next Time: Warm Dinners, Hot Cars, Cool God!


  1. I love that you are posting about your trip. I was thinking about your adventure last week and wondered how things were going.

    I think what amazed me is the amount of donations received. It just goes to show how many wonderful people there are in this world. I am so very glad to be able to see the photos.

    I like to hear more about your duties, what you liked best and what was the most awful thing you had to do, it doesn't have to mean that it was yucky, but could be emotional or how ever it had effected you.

  2. great) liked everything very much) keep it up and dont stop)


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