Our Mission trip To Missouri was exhausting and fun. Lessons of Faith, we did not know where or for whom (what organization) we’d be working for when we left or when we arrived. Initially we were going to work for UMC VIM, in Joplin, MO on tornado damage that occurred last May, and that’s who we’d paid our money to. But they were overrun by volunteers for the week of Spring Break, and they were going to have us walking door to door asking who needed help. But we are a working team and we come equipped with an amazing trailer full of tools to get work done. Branson had been hit by a tornado just 2 weeks before. So Jeff went to calling around finding out where we could go. We were able to stay in the FUMC in Mount Vernon, MO, which was so nice. We worked the first day for a retirement center, Ozark Methodist Manor in Marionville, MO. It was a really neat old building that had grown into a retirement home for the able and the not so able bodied. With wings of rooms and also cottages scattered around several blocks. We worked on raking leaves and weeding flower beds and raking up gum balls, from the sweet gum trees. This place had very large grounds and we almost got to it all before calling it a day. We had a really great day of bonding as a team, working together and doing the Lord’s work.
One of the members at FUMC in Mount Vernon does lots of mission work and told us Branson could use our help and he got us the paperwork needed to fill out volunteer forms and told us to go to the chamber of commerce in Branson, MO. It really is amazing how God used us and the people we would meet to get us a place to work. Since we already had our paperwork needed for the volunteers that saved us waiting several hours and we were able to get to our job site. Which was a very large house that was actually 6 apartments where there were 5 families living that was completely destroyed. All families were home, when the storm occurred at 1:30 am, they had no warning, everyone survived miraculously with minimal injuries.
Here is a picture of the destruction.
Here is a picture of what the building looked like before.
This building is a duplicate of what was destroyed and was right next door.
Our job was to sort through the rubble and put things into piles.
There was a pile for drywall which was wet and crumbly, there was a pile for siding, windows, doors and insulation. Anything that would burn we put into the burning pile, mostly wood, unless it was good and could be reused, then it was put into a different pile. There were appliances, that smelled really bad with rotten food, we put the food and clothing in the burn pile. We tried to put things that looked like mementos into a box, we didn’t find very much. Everything was covered in pink insulation that made us all itch and hurt, there was no avoiding it.
We did get to talk to one of the families that survived this storm. They were awaked by a loud BOOM which was the roof being taken off the building and they were being hit with debris. The dad ran to his daughters’ bedroom where all three slept. The oldest on a full bed in the corner, and the two younger girls were sleeping together on the bottom bunk of a bunk bed. The dad immediately noticed the out side walls of the house were GONE. He was looking outside and his oldest daughter was gone, he heard his young daughters screaming and they were pinned between the top and bottom bunk beds, because the hall/bedroom wall fell over onto the top bunk bed and the bed collapsed, squishing the girls. He was able to free them when about that time his older daughter came walking up from the back yard, back up onto the foundation and into her “room”. Her only injury was a sprained arm. She had been thrown into the back yard when the roof lifted and the outside walls fell outward, she was sucked off her bed and dumped in the yard just a few feet from where the roof landed. Behind the house, under all the rubble, we found on the ground: the CEILING drywall, then the outside walls on top of that, then the roof on top of that. Not sure how all that happened. The girl is so fortunate she wasn’t under all that. This family lost a lot of “things” but everyone was ok! When the Dad was telling us this story, Jeff said, “God is Good” the dad said, “No, God is GREAT!” Amen to that! Now I understand why they tell you to take shelter in an inside closet, it needs to not have any outside walls. Now I know, the outside walls will fall when the roof is lifted off. It was evident seeing this, the only things standing were interior walls and the bathroom fixtures.
This is a picture of the backside of the building. You can see where the roof landed. (left) Where the people are standing is where the girls bedroom was. The older girl landed outside near the first pile of whitish rubble on the right. Our group did locate a baby book in great condition. Also note the pipes bent at the ground. There were some strange things, in the upstairs closet there were empty wire hangers still hanging.I found a jar of apple butter that was smashed onto a window, the jar was shattered but the window was not.
I don’t understand how a tree can be uprooted with the dirt and roots like this.
The owner of the property was not getting treated well my his insurance. They would not pay for any cleanup. We were able to clear everything away for him on the single story areas.
The picture below is from the 2nd story, the day we left. looking down onto where the roof landed.
Taking a break. This trailer is so nice to have, it has all the tools you’d ever need and it’s a nice place to make lunch and get out of the sun and rest.
We are so glad to have this nice new bus to travel in!
We even removed the floor joists, so all was left was the foundation.
Such a great hard working team!
In this picture it is the owner, Ross Mittlestead and his employee Francisco.
Almost DONE completely clearing this side.
The girls are hard at work removing flooring, this was our last day here.
We were just getting started removing the floors on the either side when it was time for us to go, we got a lot done. Now we get to take these kids to play.
We did get to go see the Toy Museum on afternoon in Branson, Thanks to Tom and Wendy Beck for letting us in for free.
Some parts of downtown Branson didn’t escape the tornado. Below is the Branson Hilton with lots of boarded up windows.
This is the Branson Walmart.
Our team at lunch in the parking lot of the Toy Museum before going to the Go Kart track
We also went shopping at the outlet mall…..well some of us did.
We ate supper at Mel’s Hard Luck Diner. This place was a LOT of fun! The waiters all take turns singing all while they are placing orders and making drinks and waiting tables. IT was great entertainment and reasonably priced.
We had a great time working, playing and bonding. We love doing the Lord’s work.
We are so Thankful to FUMC Mount Vernon, MO for their hospitality. I may be getting too old to sleep on an air mattress especially after doing that much hard labor all day. Wow was it tiring but also energizing the spirit at the same time. Amazing how mission work does that! Each night we had a team meeting to have a brief devotional and talk about the days work and any comments anyone had and to discuss the plans for the next day. I miss getting to see “the Kony” dance before going to sleep every night.
They had such a nice church complete with a shower in the bathroom and a huge nice kitchen. They made us feel right at home. The church cooked supper for us one night and we cooked breakfast almost every morning we cooked supper some and we ate out a couple of times too. We ate sandwiches on the job site everyday, and we were so glad to have homemade cookies from our church home for a treat!
We came back through Joplin on our way home. It still has a lot of destruction. May 22, 2011 changed Joplin forever. Many lives lost. The building custodian at FUMC Mount Vernon let us look at a book called “32 Minutes in Joplin” about the tornado. It had lots of pictures and stories that make you feel so blessed. I also feel like I’ve learned a little about what tornadoes are capable of and hopefully learned how to take shelter.
Below is Joplin Hospital
We came home on March 17 and came through Shamrock.