Monday, July 22, 2013

What Matters Most

According to the volunteers and residents of Moore and Oklahoma City, this is what matters most.

What matters most is Jesus Christ, who is shown and glorified in all of these good things.

What matters most is SERVICE
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
-Galatians 5:13
Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
-John 12:26

What matters most is LOVE
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
-1 John 4:7-9
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
-1 John 3:18

What matters most is FAMILY
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
-Galatians 6:10

What matters most is FRIENDS
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ  
-Romans 15: 5-6

What matters most is HOMES
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.
-Isaiah 32:18
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
-John 14:23

What matters most is SAFETY
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
-Psalm 27:5
The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
-Proverbs 18:9-11

Friday, July 19, 2013

First Day on the Job

At 7am we start our day eating breakfast and packing lunches. We meet at the church at 8am for morning devotion and then we pack into vans and trucks and head to Serve Moore.
Serve Moore is an incredible Christian organization and ministry that serves as the volunteer headquarters for Moore, Oklahoma City, and the surrounding area. Now that the Red Cross has left the area and volunteers continue to pour in to support the relief and rebuilding efforts, a few local churches  decided to create this ministry. The things that God has done through these people are absolutely wonderful! The Christian community has such an impressive presence in this region.
The Serve Moore building is filled with supplies – everything from sunscreen and bug spray to chainsaws and wheelbarrows. Every day volunteers are divided into three groups. Some scout for new work orders, a few make phone calls and pair volunteers with projects, and the majority do the physical labor. I would love to just sit for a few minutes to watch the logistics.
We began our first day clearing some brush. Our group is very special in that we have a lot of experience and expertise. Chainsaw projects are no issue for us.
After that project, we took some time to look at the surrounding area to get a better understanding of the devastation. A total of 1,025 houses in Moore alone were completely destroyed with close to 500 more in Oklahoma City.  The Moore Monthly newspaper quoted a local meteorologist who said, “This is the worst tornado, damage-wise, in the history of the world.” We only looked at one community. Too much of this at once would be terribly overwhelming, even for an outsider coming nearly two months after the damage was done. 
Our group split up after lunch. We were given a project with a request for women only to help a “recovering hoarder” clear out her house. This was far from what I had in mind as relief work, but this required even more compassion and dedication than the physical labor I did expect. Two of the women from our group were at the house making dinner, which left four of us to take on the project.

We were not the first group to help this woman. Serve Moore volunteers have been coming every few days for the past five weeks, and they have changed her life. The first group showed her more compassion than she has felt in many years. They ended their workday by joining hands in prayer and asking her to lead. She had been away from the church for quite a while, but she embraced the opportunity and with a powerfully peaceful and joyful feeling from deep within, she received the Holy Spirit! That pure joy that can only come from the everlasting, saving love of God Almighty was pouring out of this woman! We were so blessed by the opportunity to spend time with her and help her rebuild her life.
One of the men we are working with said today that he almost felt selfish by coming here to volunteer because he enjoys it so much. God is blessing us in a major way, and it is no surprise. God blesses his workers, wherever we are and whatever we do for His glory. He is great. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Blessings From Disasters

Not much more than a month ago, our pastor sent an email to the congregation to let us know that our church body was sending volunteers to Moore and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on relief missions. Our hearts broke when we heard about the horrible tornadoes that devastated the area, so Ryan and I jumped at the opportunity to take a summer vacation of service to our Lord. We put in our applications right away. A few days later, we received a call and were asked if we could commit to ten days. My wonderful boss approved my time off and we anxiously awaited the start of our new adventure! Right after church on Sunday, we packed Sassy with lunch, a suitcase, and lots of books and we hit the road.

We had a beautiful drive across Illinois and Missouri the first day.
Leaving Chicago
The beautiful Illinois countryside
St. Louis Arch
Missouri Ozarks
The beautiful sky felt like God giving us His blessing on our travels. 
Red sky at night: sailors delight
We rolled into Oklahoma City Monday afternoon and were greeted with a houseful of friendly, welcoming faces and lots of air mattresses. The local WELS church graciously allowed us all to pile into the house that they typically provide for their teachers, with the overflow of volunteers placed in the school/church gym. We had dinner, followed by two rowdy games of Oh Hell (how ironic?) and snuggled into our rows of beds in line with our newly made friends.

Ryan and I are surprised that we are the only volunteers of 17 in our twenties. The rest of the group is comprised two teenagers, a handful of middle-aged handy-men, and several retired couples. What a blessing! We have the opportunity to work alongside such an incredible group of wise, experienced, Christians. This will certainly be a wonderful, blessed ten days.