Visiting Joplin

Remember back in May, when Kyle and I had just gotten to our new Arkansas home, and a tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri? That tornado was about 3/4 of a mile wide, and destroyed a good majority of the city. It was an awful disaster for the people of the city, and it’s even more awful to recover from something like that. A non-profit organization has been there since the disaster and asked companies like Walmart to send representatives to help. Since Kyle works for Walmart, and since Fayetteville is only a half an hour south of Joplin, we decided to go up last week.

We were accompanied by Matt and Rowena Moses. A little back story, Matt is doing an IT internship with Walmart, and Rowena tagged along with her husband, like I did. (She is such a sweetheart. She made me delicious cheesecake brownies for my birthday.) They are from BYU, too, over which we instantly bonded. I love spending time with them, because it is always filled with lots of laughing. Including our adventure in Joplin.

After driving through town, we were all shocked to see the extent of the destruction. It went on for miles, with piles of rubble, and flattened and gutted houses.  I can’t imagine being one of the people who had to go through that. I’m so grateful that I only had to help someone else repair their house. But from what I’ve seen and heard, the people who are rebuilding and trying to get their lives back in order are some of the strongest people around.

The non-profit organization is trying to rebuild one house per neighborhood to help people to see that they can rebuild and start again. They have also chosen two houses to do an extreme makeover where they will fully furnish the inside of the house for the resident. We were put to work on a house that is an extreme makeover. It belongs to a single dad of four boys, who recently lost his job, has no insurance, and no resources of his own to rebuild. The big reveal was the next day, so the rush was on to complete the house.

While we were there, we saw almost all the rock, siding, painting, and some flooring get completed. There were also about 50 people working at various places in and out of the house. We were placed at first working on chiseling out old mortar from the remaining rock-work and then spend the rest of the day scraping off paint from windows then priming them. It was exhausting, dirty and incredibly hot. By the end of the day, we were covered in dirt and sweat, and a bit sunburned but it was worth it.

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