Roads to to Beaver Crossing are beginning to look somewhat normal, but access to the town is still being closely monitored by the National Guard as the 8 p.m. curfew is still in effect. Streets are lined with debris. Just behind the United Methodist parsonage there is an ever-growing pile that is now taller than a two-story house. Fatigue is evident on the faces of everyone after a long week of shock, sorting, grieving what was lost -- loss of privacy and comfort, and the sheer effort of digging out of the destruction.
One of the families who we’ve helped by providing clean-up services, sheets, blankets, towels and hygiene kit, had a very difficult day on Friday. Their house could not be salvaged and it was in the process of being bulldozed when the woman homeowner came into the church. She was overcome with emotions as she described having to turn away, unable to watch the bulldozer plow through the remains of her home; of what had once been a safe haven, a place of joy and comfort. In the midst of tears she also shared that she knows God is with her and anticipates God will lead her family through this day by day.
She called her insurance agent the Friday before the tornado to get insurance on their home, but the agent suggested it would be a good idea for him to first send her a couple of quotes to review; unfortunately, the tornado struck the following Sunday night before their home was insured. Our Great Plains Disaster Response Fund will be helping this family secure an apartment and purchase some of their necessities. What a joy and privilege to share these gifts, which have been given by so many throughout our faith community called “Great Plains United Methodists,” to bless the lives of this family at a time they most need help.
Another woman who came into the church today had a different purpose. She shared how she felt compelled to come into the church because the church had saved her life. She was one of the 20 people who took shelter in the church basement the night of the tornado and found comfort again today in the quiet of the sanctuary. I praise God for the congregation of Beaver Crossing who has made a choice to open their doors to the community, to be a church that care about helping to protect people from storms.
When we offer help, support, compassion, unselfish service, open arms of comfort and open doors, we are the church engaged in mission, doing Christ’s work in the world. We are the church when our actions demonstrate love through our gifts of time, talent, prayers and financial support. We are the church when we feed the hungry and care for the wounded.
When others leave
The Red Cross has concluded their work and the Salvation Army is also leaving Tuesday. We are grateful for the contributions they have made, for the many meals they have served, and for the nourishment it has provided this past week. With the power not expected to be available throughout the area until late next week, our conference Hot Foods Trailer and Team will be arriving this weekend as another mission outreach to Beaver Crossing. They will be cooking and serving 1,000 meals a day next Wednesday through Friday. Please pray for those serving through this ministry of food and fellowship to be an additional blessing to the people of Beaver Crossing and to be blessed by their service.
Our volunteer early response teams have already completed 18 jobs, have provided referral service for completion of another seven jobs, and have another 17 jobs lined up and ready for volunteers. A special thanks to Steve Burnett, chair of the Great Plains Disaster Response Team and the Rev. Buck Linton-Hendrick, Central Region Disaster Response coordinator, for their leadership this past week as they have gone the extra mile in serving to help get the disaster response operations up and running.
Office to be set up
An office for the disaster response operations is being set up at the First United Methodist Church in Beaver Crossing and will be fully functioning once electricity is back on. A phone number for the office will be available and published soon for volunteers and donations. Your financial and volunteer support over the coming months are greatly needed.
Saturday (photo above)
The town is abuzz today but the buzz is coming from generators and chain saws. Thanks be to God for the equipment and servants from The Church of the Resurrection (COR) in Kansas City as they are trimming trees in front of the church. As I was leaving to get supplies, members of Waco, Neb., UMC showed up with a trunk load of tarps. Both gifts offer a powerful reminder of how the Lord works through people.
Rev. Linda Stewart
Disaster Response Coordinator
(Photo above: The trained COR Chainsaw Team at work on trees.)
A request from Lyn Seiser
The Rev. Lyn Seiser, the Blue River District Disaster Response coordinator (DRC), 402-840-3464, has been assisting the Rev. Buck Linton-Hendrick, Nebraska's Regional DRC, in fielding phone calls of people interested in volunteering for the Beaver Crossing Response. To support the Conference Hot Foods Trailer and Team, individuals and congregations can contribute with extras that make volunteer workers' days seem a little better. Groups are being asked to provide (for 500 per sitting) whole fruit (apples, bananas, etc.) and individual desserts (cookies and cupcakes).
"Homemade cookies are always more cheerful and tasteul than store bought," said Seiser. They are also willing to receive large #10-size canned goods and other bulk foods. Some churches have been asking their local stores for donations to bring along because the local grocery stores are liking the business but being tapped by the 1000 meals being served each day. Please contact Seiser if you would like to be assigned a day or meal, or would like more information on how you or your group can help.