I’m 40 years old. I’ve lived in the great state of Oklahoma for all of about 3 of those. I’ve seen roughly 87,000,000 tornado warnings, but never seen one tornado in person. Not only that, I’ve never known anyone personally, who lost a home in a twister. Until this week.
Stefanie is my wife’s friend. They were in a small group together a few years ago. She lives in Moore, Oklahoma. This is what was left of her house when we went to help her this week.
Life in Oklahoma is a little like The Hunger Games. You gather every Spring, you know somebody’s name is going to be called, you just hope it’s not yours.
On May 20, 2013, Stefanie, and every other home in her neighborhood, took their turn.
Thankfully, Stefanie was at work and her kids were at school. Nobody was in her home when in crumbled upon itself. Unfortunately, her next door neighbor was not as lucky. She was found that night, underneath her collapsed home. She was 40 years old. This is what was left of her home. That van on the left side is located where their dining room used to be, they’re not sure where it came from.
My wife and I joined a group to help Stefanie salvage the meaningful things left in her home, pictures, jewelry, etc. Stefanie had gone the night before and collected most of it, but we did what we could.
I can only describe it as a war zone. Destruction as far as the eye could see. This wasn’t TV or movie destruction, where you see a crushed car and you think, “Wow! That’s cool. I wonder how they did that?” No. This is real life. And it sucks.
Look at these images from her kids’ bedrooms.
Her daughter’s room, a princess castle carefully painted on that wall, now broken, and sitting outside.
Her son’s room. I’m not sure what was on these shelves, but they were important enough that he felt there needed to be a reminder to all who entered, that ye shall not touch. Now, whatever was on those shelves, that were SO important to not even touch, can’t even be found.
This is real life folks.
I guess this is just the week for me to reevaluate all the things in life we take for granted. This time, it’s everything.
I got home from helping them, and I showered. And I ate. And I relaxed on the couch. And I watched my TV. And I slept in my bed.
Not only that, I changed into something different than what I worked in. These people who lost everything, can’t do that. What they were wearing when that monster tore through town, is all they have left to wear.
You see kids wearing oversize adult T shirts, just whatever was in the donation box, or whatever a volunteer could spare.
What can we do? What can the rest of us do to help? I can’t take off work every day and go into the neighborhoods and help. In fact, these displaced people can’t even do that. They have to go back to work, in the same clothes they wore to work on Monday.
It’s easy to feel good about ourselves when we text REDCROSS to some number, or throw a can of soup in a box at the community center, and those things are great, and they help when enough people contribute.
But will you still do that 3 weeks from now? 3 months?
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Moore, Shawnee, Little Axe, Newcastle, Carney, none of them will be either.
I’m grateful that so many have contributed, and so many have shown a heart to care. I just ask that it stays near the front of your mind, if not firmly entrenched there.
Here’s one more story we encountered in Moore.
I won’t show pictures, because I don’t have their permission.
A lady, 9 months pregnant, with 2 kids under the age of 6. They’ve lived in Moore for 2 months. Two months before that, the husband committed suicide. They moved to Moore to be closer to her sister. Now, they have nothing.
These are just two stories. THOUSANDS of homes were destroyed, and with it, all the things the rest of us take for granted every day.
Thank you so much for keeping the people of Oklahoma in your prayers. This isn’t the first time we’ve needed it, and it won’t be the last. In the meantime, we just pray the odds are ever in our favor.
For more information on how you can give directly to an organization who gives 100% of proceeds directly to these Oklahomans in need, go to http://www.victorychurch.tv/disaster-relief.