A Quote to Start Things Off

Somebody told me there was no such thing as truth. I said if that's the case then why should I believe you" -Lecrae - Gravity

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Pictures of Memories I

Pictures of Memories I
Snow kidding! These "kids" now range from 17 to 23

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's been a while . . .

I love this blog and for the next few months I will be too busy to give it the time it needs to be good. I hope to be back writng 4-5 posts a week by November. Until then I will be busy with more tangible real world stuff.

Hope to see you when I get back.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Joplin Day 4: Dave and Lloyd

I would like to focus on two people who our team worked with in Joplin.

The first is Dave, the Ice guy. I have talked a lot about the ministry at Joplin Family Worship Center. To me, Dave is the face of this ministry. Here he is in action. . .

Dave is the ice guy. He makes sure that the buckets of water bottles all around the facility stay cold. He and his staff are in charge of keeping all the volunteers hydrated in the 110 degree heat. As the hydration specialist, self appointed, of our team, I had a natural affinity for anyone in a similar position. And the thing is, Dave rocked at it.

Not only did he keep us refreshed with cool water, he kept us refreshed with his servant's heart and his larger than life personality. His scratchy voice always was ready with a kind word of thanks.

The second person I want to talk about is a man named Lloyd. I mentioned him back on day 3.

Lloyd was an older gentleman whose entire house was blown away. He lost a number of family members, including his wife, prior to the tornado. A family from our group had spent the past several evenings removing debris from his property. Thursday evening was an opportunity for almost our entire team to spend the last few hours of daylight on his property, raking up debris and rocks, and hauling wheelbarrows of it to the road where it would be hauled away.

This was the closest we came to working as an entire team on a project. Even the young children got involved. Here they are showing off their hats, gloves and masks that we needed on the job.

I was so busy working in the cool of the evening that I failed to get any pictures of us clearing the place. We all got a lot done in a short time. We did take short water breaks, as it was still hard hot work but we were all very focused on helping Lloyd. As it got too dark to work safely anymore, we gathered together and prayed for Lloyd. As I mentioned, one of the boys wanted to give Lloyd a bible and was able to do that. Lloyd seemed really encouraged and touched that people were willing to work beside him amidst the rubble (probably literally and figuratively) all around him. Even though I did not get to say any more to him than my name, I was so glad to be part of a group effort to tangibly present the love God has for him.

Next Time: Rooftops and Poolbottoms

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Joplin Day 4

Wednesday night/Thursday Morning let's call it 3ish, I was woken up to a major major storm. In the area I was sleeping there were no windows, but it sure sounded like a major major storm. With how hot it had been, a storm would generally be welcomed. My main concern was the team member on the cot next to me. I don't want to name names, but let's just call him Spider droid. Before the trip he told me his only concern about going was that he did not want to be caught in another tornado. I guess from a 9 year old perspective that makes sense. So, while some other team members went downstairs to watch the storm, I just watched my son sleep for about 30 minutes as the storm went on until I fell back asleep.

A few hours later, it was time for showers, breakfast devotionals those sort of things. The team went off in many different directions with a number of us going back to Joplin Family Worship Center for various assignments. I wanted to volunteer inside for the day at their distribution center. The rain had not really cooled down things all that much and I didn't want SD in the 110 degree heat again. Especially since Friday we hoped to be doing some outside work and I thought a day in the AC would be just the thing.

When we got there the distribution center was filled up so it looked like another day in the clothing tent. I am usually not the don't take no for an answer guy. But, I really felt like going in and see if they could make room for 2 more. Hey, 1 of them is pretty small. I finally found someone who knew who the person in charge was. She said that they were trying to help a guy who might have heat stroke and could I sit down for a minute while they sort that out.

It turns out I was sitting next to the heat stroke guy. His name was Taylor , a guy working at the center, who had heat stroke a few weeks before and was not recuperating well. I asked him if I could pray for him and I did. After a few minutes I walked into the hallway and saw the supervisor trying to figure out who would drive Taylor to Urgent Care which they figured would only take a couple hours. I thought to my self that Urgent Care would be a good enough place to be for a few hours, it would have AC and we would be helping someone in need. So I offered for SD and I to accompany Taylor to Urgent Care. They took me up on my offer and then something strange happened. SD did not want to go.

Spider Droid and quite enjoyed helping in the clothing tent with the other kids the day before and wanted to do that again. Providentially the group we worked with the day prior, was working again at the clothing tent. They were very willing to let Spider work with them while I was helping Taylor.

On a missions trip it is easy to spiritualize everything. However, I really feel that God put on my heart to keep SD in the AC so that I could
So, I drove Taylor, in his car (the people at JFWC did not want him driving alone), and SD sorted shoes with his new friends. Taylor and I talked in the car how his own house was affected in the tornado. The house was able to be fixed and his home owners insurance was enough to fix it.

Cutting to the chase I was at Urgent Care for more like 5 hours than 2, Taylor and I waited for about an hour and a half before he was seen. Then it seemed like all the people waiting after him were released before he was. While I waited I watched the View, and then countless hours of CNN. At the time the big story was the plummeting stock market (This was right after the debt ceiling was raised and right before the Country's credit rating was downgraded.) The whole Joplin trip had affected me in a way, that the news was not so important to me.

After Taylor was seen, I kept waiting for him to come out. I didn't want to say anything because the people at the desk were so very busy. I just watched and checked in with the people working with SD every hour or so. After 4 0r 5 people who came in after Taylor were released I checked at the desk. They had just started an IV to help hydrate him. They let me go see him and he advised me that his wife was coming by to see him and to drive me back as he would be there a few more hours.

About an hour after that Taylor's wife drove me home. She told me how Taylor was not taking it easy after the heat stroke. After she took me back to JFWC, I prayed for her and then went to see Spider Droid. He was still working at the shoes and didn't even really miss me. He told me about his experiences and was very pleased with how he had helped a boy try on roller skates and shoes and find pairs in his size. .

On a missions trip it is easy to spiritualize everything. However, I really feel that God put on my heart to keep SD in the AC so that I could take Taylor to Urgent Care and that SD could minister in the clothing tent. He was confident that God had sent him to Joplin to help that boy get shoes. I am inclined to agree with him.

There is still a bunch of Day 4 beyond Urgent Care and shoe shopping. So come back tomorrow for Ice Buckets and Wheel Barrows.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Good Thing Going

Carnival of Homeschooling is having a back to school edition at Faithful Homeschool. I have decided to participate this week and will return to my Joplin rememberings soon. Here is what's on my mind . . .
Amy had her first full day back at school today. Mondays are often a work day for us and since we are not starting school for at least another week, I decided to maintain that on our schedule. Amy made a list of what needed doing and we started on it.

The first thing on the list was to get a plumber to call in to get our bathtub working properly again (it hadn't been working in weeks.) After we dispatched one, we got working on the rest of the list. I would like to say that everything got done without any yelling, screaming or other mayhem. The truth is I blew my stack pretty quick into the list, and had to apologize to both the bigs for my words.

Soon better attitudes emerged and we were 1/2 way through the list when the plumber came. We continued to work as the plumber diagnosed the problem was a drum trap that they don't even use anymore. He did a thorough and professional job at what I hope was a fair price. After a while I had Bunny watch the other kids at the park around the corner from our house. When they came back I started making mac and cheese with Puppy's help. I had Pandora in the background playing a nice mix of Christian and 70/80's rock/pop while lunch was being made. 

The plumber finished his work at about the same time lunch was ready to serve. As I was walking him out of the house, he told me "You've got a good thing going." I thanked him and ate lunch with the kids.
The truth is the plumber was right on a myriad of levels. 

Yes, for the few hours the plumber was in the house my children were well behaved and got along with each other. Yes,  for the same few hours I was kind and understanding and productive. These things aren't always true. Even so, I do have a few good things going.

I am able to spend the majority of my waking hours with my children.
In July of 2008 Amy and I made the big switcheroo. She began to work full time and I began home educating the children. This is not always something I always do well, willingly, or happily. But the result is that I have spent much more time with my children than many parents Dads or Moms, get the opportunity to. And after 3 years, I can tell you that I would not trade that time for anything. At some point, I would love to return to the work force to give Amy the blessing of homeschooling her children again. Until God opens that door, I know I need to cherish every moment.

I get my family and they get me.
Not a lot of people I know get me. Some don't even take the time to. My wife and kids get me. They know who I am and they like me any way. I think home education helps you to get your kids and help them get you because you spend so much time together doing a wide variety of things.

All good things come from above.
I agree with my plumber that I have a good thing going. I just want to say that I have very little to do with that. God has given me my life, my health, my family. I have absolutely nothing without him and when people recognize the good things in my life, I have no choice but to point upward and say thanks.

I have chosen to share these thoughts in this week's carnival of home schooling. The plumber's comments probably had nothing to do with home education. But home education permeates through our life. Home education is a good thing going.

For more COH click here.

Next Time: Joplin Day 4

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Joplin Trip Day 3 Part II

This is the ususal time of the week that I participate in the meme Friday Fragments hosted at Half Past Kissin's Time. I have decided to recount Joplin Day 3, Part II in fragment form.

A blog fragment is a piece of info that usually doesn't make it into a traditional post. But if you weave a bunch of these fragments together you can get some pretty interesting stuff. Here we go.

Fragment 1: Church Name Symmetry

While I was waiting at Joplin Family Worship Center between the closing of the clothing tent and the beginning of meals and wheels, I began talking with some people from a church who were distributing Bibles to anyone who wanted them. They had a small table set up right next to where those affected by the tornado signed up to get the kind of materials I mentioned in the last post. The people from that church agreed to give us a bunch of New Testaments that we could offer when we delivered meals. I thought it was really cool because their church was a Bible Chapel and the church that I go to is also a Bible Chapel. This was not the only church name symmetry as the church that lent our team a bus and provided one member to the team is called The Lighthouse. First Christian Church of Carthage who was housing us is also called, wait for it, The Lighthouse.

Fragment 2: Meals on Wheels.

JFWC has a Meals on Wheels ministry. Everyday at 4 p.m they prepare meals for 4 blocks in the tornado area that people are living in and that are accesible by car. They go door to door handing out meals and water. We prepared 40 meals and distributed them.

Fragment 3: There's one in every disaster.

I mentioned yesterday, that all the people I saw being ministered to were receptive to the help. Until we came to the door of an elderly lady who just yelled and yelled at us. I was walking with a bunch of kids and when we came to her door, she knew the drill. Before she even answered she started shouting that she didn't want any food. I asked her very nicely if she wanted some water. She said something like she only used water to wash with, she never drank the stuff. I backed the kids away from her door and she continued to yell at us. She was saying that it was too hot for us to be out (it was 110 degrees) with the kids and we should get them inside. I thanked her and started walking with the kids to the next door. She very loudly said "Fine! Don't listen to me!"

Fragment 4: Who's serving who?

At the same time this heated monologue was taking place, something else was heating up. The vehicle we were in started overheating. We drove it a few more houses and realized what happened. We were running it in 110 degree heat stopping at every house with the AC on. Since there wasn't anthing else for the kids and I to do, we kept walking down the block offering food and water. Many of the houses had no one in them, and often the neighbors would tell us that. We were walking up to one house when the across the street neighbors told us no one was there. I asked them if they wanted any food. They said no but they would gladly take 6 bottles of water.

As we tried to figure out what to do about our vehicle, the family with the six waters came up to us and offered to help us. There was a 91 year old mechanic who lived at that house. He came up to the car which we were able to inch over to their house, and started cooling the radiator down with a hose. We took that job over for him and as we waited, they let the children that were with us cool down in the small pool that some of their children were in. Come on guys, we're here to help you!

We cooled down the car and were able to drive back to Carthage without any problem. We did not have any problem with that car for the rest of the trip,

Fragment 5: An Opportunity

When we got back to the church, the teens on our trip were attending the church youth group. We were told about how the family with the grandchildren were ministering to a man who needed to get his property cleared. His house has been destroyed and he had many family members including his wife pass away shortly before the tornado. We decided that as a team on Thursday night we would work together to get this man's field cleared. One of our elder's grandsons felt compelled to give that man a Bible. I remembered about the Bible Chapel giving Bibles away and said I would get one for him tomorrow.

Fragment 6: This Place is Hopping

I don't remember noticing it Tuesday night when we arrived but on Wednesday night around 9 p.m. all the kids started noticing that the streets and parking lots were teeming with flying grasshoppers, crickets, cicadias and the occasional praying mantis. The kids spent about an hour each night on grasshopper patrol.

At about 10 pm, it was still hot. But probably 100 degrees, rather than 110. So Spider Droid and I walked a few blocks up to the town square. This town square had a clock tower like the one in Back to the Future. After a nice walk, it was time for bed.

For more Friday Fragments, click here. For more Joplin stories, tune in tomorrow.

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!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Joplin Trip Day 2

When we last left our intrepid Joplineers, they were horsing around on the Illinois/Missouri border.

To recap, car troubles kept us from making Joplin on Day 1. A good friend of mine whose family runs a ministry at a place called Cornerstone Farms, put us up for the night. In the morning of Day 2 some helped with the chores before breakfast.

After breakfast and a short devotional, we prayer walked around the property asking God to continue to use this place and people for His kingdom.

After that, we hit the road once again hoping to reach Joplin by day's end. The thing is, this time we actually did.

Just a little sidebar about delays: Delays are what we call them, I am not sure that God calls them that. When we left Faith Ares on Monday, few of us had heard about Cornerstone Farms, and none of us planned to stay there. We planned to travel 1 day, work 4, and return on Saturday. I think God wanted us to experience being helped when we were in need just prior to helping others in need.

Perhaps you feel like you should be doing something different in your life and God is somehow got you on a holding pattern. As many of you know, I would rather not be the one home schooling my kids. Amy is more suited to it, but I have been unable to find a job that would allow her to stay at home and do the job she loves. So often I feel like our family is in a holding pattern.

After we took off from Cornerstone Farms we came to the Missouri/Illinois border. This of course brings two things to mind: the gateway arch and marshmallows. Well maybe not marshmallows. We have a family tradition of shouting marshmallow as we cross state lines. We made the other vehicles aware of this "fun" little eccentricity and marshmallow was yelled by many.

The rest of the trip there was relatively uneventful except that we were driving in 110 degree heat and the bus AC decided to break down. Windows, it turns out, are more than just a computer platform. You can open windows up in a vehicle, and a cool breeze will circulate in said vehicle. I guess they do have an app for that.

We arrived at our destination late on Tuesday afternoon. Lighthouse First Christian Church in Carthage, MO. Carthage is a neighboring town of Joplin. FCC housed us and fed us breakfast and dinner on the trip.

After using amenities like showers and ping pong tables, we had dinner. Then the pastor's wife took many of us to see the tornado affected areas of Joplin.

Team members who were there in June attested to how much had changed since they had last been there. The devastation was still palpable. We drove by the Joplin High School that had been hit hard by the tornado. You may have already heard this story but it is still worth repeating. The sign on the high school was ripped apart and the O and the P were all that remained in Joplin. After the storm someone duct taped an H before the O and an E after the P, so the sign now read HOPE HIGH SCHOOL.

I did not get a clear picture of that sign but did get one of this.

One of many signs encouraging faith in the midst of disaster.

We stopped our car and saw a team just finishing work for the day.

Then we visited a church that had major damage done in the tornado. Here is a video of me explaining the damage . . .

While we were there we discovered 1 banner and several hymnals including the pianist's hymnal that were just sitting there outside in what was once the inside of the church. While we were there, a family who attends the church came over. They told our team a little more of what happened that night. There were people in the church that night but no one was killed or I believe injured. We gave the hymnal to that family, who said they would give it to the pianist.

As we drove back to our home for the week, I had a feeling of being both overwhelmed and inspired by what I saw. I debriefed with Spider Droid on the way back to see how he was feeling by what he saw. The church we saw had made an impact on him as had many of the other sights. He tried to describe it to his sister on the telephone but the words didn't do justice to what he had seen. Tomorrow,I thought, we could start putting some of those words into actions.

Next Time: Perception and Reality

Monday, August 8, 2011

Joplin Trip Day 1

Last year, when our familywent to Washington D.C. I ran a daily journal entry one week after we returned. I am going to attempt that here, for the Joplin trip Spider Droid and I just finished. The main difference, is going to be that on the D.C. trip, I actually had/made time to journal each day. So, when I came back, I was just typing in what I had already written. Due to a number of circumstances, including but not limited to being absolutely wiped out at the end of each day, I did not journal on the trip.

I did take some pictures and videos. So, I will try to incorporate those here.

August 1, 2011 DAY ONE

Early A.M. wake up and head to Faith Acres. I had packed the truck the night before so Spider Droid and I just got in the truck and headed off. 15 of the 19 of our team members met at Faith Acres, the organization that was sending us to Joplin. Faith Acres is run by a family that attends the same church as my family. They are an organization dedicated to meeting the spiritual and physical needs in McHenry County and all over the world. This trip to Joplin, Mo was their second such trip since the Tornado hit. Several of the team members including our team leaders went just weeks after the tornado hit. The remaining 4 members of our team had left a few days earlier.

As the 15 travelers got to Faith Acres we packed, prayed and parted for JMO.

The first few hours went wonderfully. We were all excited about the trip that we thought would bring us to Joplin sometime that night. Many of us did not know each other well, or at all, and we took the opportunity to become acquainted. Before you knew it we were taking the first of many scheduled gas and bathroom stops. Soon after near Bloomington, Illinois we had the first of many unscheduled stops.

One of our 3 vehicles, a bus lent to us by a local church, had a tire basically fall off. Because of God's great mercy, the driver got us safely to the side of the road. This was around 9:30 a.m. and we did not get back on to the road for almost 6 hours. The majority of our team spent most of that time at a nearby McDonald's.

We had 3 children on the team driving with us under the age of 10. They were such a blessing to us, because instead of being whiny, complainy and downright miserable they showed remarkable patience and understanding. Yes one was my son, but the two others were younger than him, and behaved just as well as SD.

In fact one had this experience of joy while we waited . . .

So after the bus was fixed we got back on the road and calculated that if nothing else occurred we could possibly make it into Joplin late that night, early the next morning. It was hot out, we were tired, but we were ready to roll.

Of course this was not the end of our trials. Another one of the vehicles began to overheat a little, we were cussed out by a mechanic, who we were told would rotate our lugnuts. Not long after that the tire we thought was fixed started smoking. So there we were, not even yet in Missouri, maybe 5 -6 hours away from Joplin, stranded, and it was past 7 p.m. We had been on the road in the plus 100 degree temps for more than 12 hours. Some of the team members had gotten little to no sleep the night before in anticipation of the trip.

To use clothing metaphors: No towels had been thrown in, but the other shoe had certainly dropped. What we needed, was to be blanketed in the grace of God.

That blanket turned out to be a horse blanket.

A man I lived and ministered with in Russia, nows lives in the Illinois side of the St. Louis area and we "happened" to break down on the Illinois side of the St. Louis area so I called him up and told him of our troubles. Soon after that, he and 3 of his children drove up to the truck stop we were at. He offered for us to stay at his home which houses a horse ministry. Also, the people who had fixed the bus the first time drove several hours to my friend's house and corrected their work at no additional charge.

Horse Lessons were still going on in the darkness as we rolled/limped in.Everyone went from beleagured to refreshed as they experienced the calmness of a horse farm. It was especially great for me to spend time with my dear friend. Their home/faciility easily housed all 15 of us. SD and I stayed in one of the familie's rooms and Droid was down before I could finish 2 pages of the Star Wars book I was reading him. I fell asleep shortly after that.

Next Time: One journey ends, Another begins.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Where have you been?

I have been in Joplin Missouri for the past week. I will be Joplin intensive for the next week or so. Spider Droid and I came to help. But in the end, we were as greatly changed as those we came to help.

Here is a video of the actual tornado.

Much more later!

A to Z 2023 Road Trip

#AtoZChallenge 2023 RoadTrip