Recovery is under way. Moore High School graduation went on as planned, where the teachers were honored, a hurting community celebrated success, and the Oklahoma Strong deliberately moved forward while still giving tribute to those who suffered loss. It’s as though we were born to see each other through.
The Oklahoma Strong memorial was beautiful. A teacher told the story of her class singing Jesus Loves Me louder and louder as the storm came closer and closer… then she brought that class up and they sang Jesus Loves Me at the Memorial. If you got through that without crying, you were made of stone. One teacher was there in a back brace. Her back and sternum were broken when she covered and protected her students, shielding them with her body. Dennis Jernigan led worship. He is a Christian artist/ worship leader who has an amazing testimony, and has a gift of making you forget where you are, as you enter the presence of God.
The churches have converted themselves into missions, connecting volunteers with supplies, meeting needs immediately for those who suffered loss and those who came to rescue. Sam’s and Walmart look like Christmas, with many carts full of supplies to donate. Mary Kay consultants are donating makeup and sunscreen… There are miracles, large and small happening everywhere!
Yesterday, I went with my daughter’s church, Antioch in Norman, to help hands-on at the site. We got to go help some wonderful folks clear debris and move it to the curb for pick-up. The Willis family is precious. Someone found a bottle of merlot, which had been given to them by their son years ago. The son had passed away 7 years ago. They plan to open the wine and take communion to bless their new home whenever that new chapter begins. Oklahoma Strong.
It is very strange to be hiking across what looks like a war zone, and then you suddenly realize you’re actually on carpet. Just a few days before, a family was probably sitting there watching their favorite TV show, or sleeping peacefully in their bedroom. There is a beautiful pool just beyond, now filled with lumber and fiberglass, some twisted metal. I wonder how many neighbors who sat together around pools or kitchen tables will lose touch.
Here is where the salt and the light come in, where goodness = brilliance! There were people, cars, trucks, machines, food and water stations on wheels everywhere! People have come from far and wide to pitch in. It was like a state fair on a mission. There were medical personnel making rounds, offering bandages, tetanus shots, any kind of first aid, all free of charge. There were insurance companies, not only there to appraise and write checks, but one idea for Operation BBQ Relief was born out of the Farmers’ Insurance annual BBQ cook-off. Companies and people are giving enormous gifts of time and money. OU head coach Bob Stoops snuck in and cleared debris for a good 30 minutes before being discovered. (Successful football coach = Rock Star in OK).
Just across from the home where we worked, there was an enormous dump truck, parked upside down precariously in a tree…stopped just before it hit the house a few feet away. That was probably their favorite tree.
Tomorrow I’ll go pack some boxes with my other daughter. I will thank God for all that I have, and I will give away a few boxes of things I don’t need. Maybe we should plan a block party soon. Praise the Lord for the good memories made in those homes, in those neighborhoods. It’s a solemn reminder to make good use of your time, and love one another.
If you don’t mind, please pray for the Midwest. There are more storm warnings this week.
Mrs. Willis with her treasures
Operation BBQ Relief
The memorial corner of Plaza Towers Elementary school
The marquis in front of Plaza Towers Elementary. I know I haven’t written about the schools. I could not find the words. Maybe someday.
One house cleared!
A volunteer crew serving our volunteer crew some cold water or juice.
A long way to go…