You probably remember where you were Friday night on May 31. That was the night St. Charles, St. Louis and several Illinois towns had nine tornadoes visit. Despite some serious structure damage, no one was seriously injured or killed in either storm. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for other cities in our neighboring states.
Interestingly, the Gathering prepared for that Sunday was focused on how we respond when we hear news of natural disasters as well as community problems like crime. Taking time in our day to proactively pray for the safety of our homes and neighborhoods is a great way to start. When we hear of disasters on the news, extending that prayer to include the people affected is important too. It does make a difference!
When a major storm destroys a city, it takes years to recover and “get back to normal.” Long after the media has moved on to other stories, people are cleaning up and rebuilding. Without the help of volunteers, it would take them much, much longer.
The southern side of the city of Berkeley, Missouri, just east of Lambert Airport, was hit two years ago by the Good Friday tornado. This year one hit the northern neighborhoods. They suffered significant tree damage with some homes lost as well. This time our members had the opportunity to spend a morning clearing tree debris arose, I signed up through Americorp St. Louis and the United Way .
About 20 Fellowship Members worked in 3 groups in neighborhoods clearing tree debris that was stacked on the curbs. Using a wood chipper, rakes and lots of water bottles (it was about 85° that morning.) The group cleared about half of a long block and filled a dump truck. The city recycles the chips.
Leah lives on the street and came out when she heard the wood chipper (hard to miss!) As a former city employee, she knew the street department workers and the mayor (who was coordinating the on-site activities.) It didn’t take her long to change clothes and start shredding the wood!
When the truck got full, they took a break. Leah, Monica, a woman from the Ukraine, and Mindy from the Fellowship walked down to see a house that had a huge tree land on it. She’s a single mom with two grade-school aged daughters and her rescue dog, Miles (great story there too.) Mindy met them all, hugged them all and received her gratitude. She thanked them all for coming to help, and praised God for all of His great blessings (more than once!) It was really sweet. This is church in action.
When they finished their time with the wood chipper, the Mayor bought them lunch from KFC.
This is one way to volunteer. So many of you help in quiet ways – like offering to get groceries for an elderly neighbor or reading to people in Peace Haven and especially praying when you see an immediate need. Thanks to all of YOU!