This post comes from a really good friend of ours, he sums up the visit to Joplin, Missouri board members Sandra Jurado and Yoana Ayala made. READ ON….
by Edward Sánchez on Sunday, May 29, 2011 at 9:06pm
I’m writing this note on the way back to Dallas from Joplin, Missouri, where last week, an EF5 category tornado touched down in this town and destroyed many homes and businesses, and taking the lives of many.
Upon entering Joplin, we were deeply moved. Entire trees were unearthed, as if yanked from the ground by a giant. Signs mangled. Billboards tumbled. Homes completely dissolved, some broken into pieces like a LEGO set after seeing the wrath of an agry child. This is just, however, my point of view — my perception.
We entered a church where we underwent the registration process for volunteering. The entire church served as a gigantic shopping mall, of sorts, with stations ranging from toiletries, canned food, drinks, and (what impressed me the most), toys… lots and lots of toys. How can you explain to a child that an unstoppable force has destroyed what she once called home? You cannot. Instead, you try to replace the only things that keep her apeace in this type of situation - a distraction from reality as psychologically complex, yet as simple, as a toy.
We didn’t stay there long. We were redirected to the warehouse just a few miles up the road. This shipping and receiving center handled all of the donations that came in by the truckload from all over the United States. Our job: unpack the clutter of donations, and sort them into categories for distribution. It’s simply amazing to see the kindness of strangers nationwide. Opening and sorting those packages was almost as self-fulfilling as accepting the donation from a person face-to-face. People sent everything you could think of. Toilet paper, paper towels, towels, blankets, pillows, food, water, batteries, flashlights, books! People sent books! Bibles! A reminder that every step of the way, even through the hardest of times, God is there to hold our hand. Of course, there was a great deal of clothes, but my favorite? That’s right - toys!
We moved back to the church to grab a quick bite, and then, it was off to “ground zero.” The community that was completely torn apart by this spinning monster of Mother Nature’s most basic element: air.
This is where hearts sank. These weren’t houses, but homes. Collections of life’s memories scattered throughout yards, cars with bashed in windows. Clothes, parts of roofs, and other miscellaneous items caught in gigantic tree limbs. I cannot express what I felt, other than sympathy and sadness. Sure, a house can be rebuilt, and a car replaced by an insurance agent, but what about the memories, the laughter, and yes, even the hardships, built inside those four walls?
As we partook on the task of sorting the rubble into three piles (metals, woods, neither of the two), we could see collections of life’s most precious moments. Photo albums, dresses, collections of wine bottles, Easter eggs, and golf balls. You could tell the owner of the home where I was cleaning was a golfer. I found well over 50 golf balls of different colors scattered throughout what was once the foundation of the home. Lord knows how many more were picked up by the deadly twister and are now spread miles around Joplin.
We all observed a moment of silence at 5:41 P.M., the time when the tornado made touchdown. We then heard a beautiful song composed just for the city of Joplin. I don’t know the lyrics off the top of my head, but it explained that [we] have nothing but the future ahead of us, and “by the grace of God, you’ll sing again.”
I am glad to have helped today. I hope that the work we did will give someone hope, and show them that even in times like these, no one is on their own. I don’t know who the homeowner was. I hope once this is all over, he takes his bucket of golf balls and goes out for a few strokes on the back 9 and just relaxes — clearing his (or her) mind of the disaster, and prepares for what’s ahead. The cleanup is underway. Next stop: reconstruction. We cannot replace the memories lost in the disaster, but only extend a helping hand, giving hope and building new memories in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
-Edward Sanchez | LNESC Dallas, TX | Good Friend of the LULAC Youth
-Photo Credit to Soraya Ronco & Sandra Jurado