May 22, 2011

It's a date no one will forget. Okay, well, not a date most people I love will forget. I will admit, I can't tell you the date of Hurricane Katrina. I didn't know anyone in Hurricane Katrina. The recent Joplin Tornado is an ENTIRELY different story for me.

If you're new to my little corner of the world, I will tell you that I spent eleven years of my life as an educator in the Joplin Public Schools. By all accounts, it is honestly what I still consider home, even as I'm carving out a new home in L.S. I lived there, worked there, and went to church there. (I also attended church in a small community right outside of Joplin for the last few years prior to my move here.)

I know that out of situations like the tornado in Joplin there are thousands of stories. I don't know that I have a story, so much as ramblings in my head, and prayers to God.

On Sunday Night I was surfing the internet, and was enjoying some time on Facebook when I saw a friend post that she & her family had lost their house, but everyone was okay. It was actually the mother of a former student of the school I taught at. I said a prayer and moved on. Before I knew it, I realized it wasn't a small thing, it was HUGE. My prayers continued to increase. My heart leapt for those in need...for homes destroyed. Then it hit me...are my loved ones okay?

I spent A LOT of time Sunday Night watching FB just to see who posted status updates to see who was okay. One former student (THANKS NICK!) didn't just return my text, he called me to tell me he was okay. I watched and prayed. I talked on the phone to a couple friends, turned on THE WEATHER CHANNEL and saw the beginning of the current footage we see on TV.

Throughout the night, I was thankful to find out that my family members were okay. Slowly but surely, former students were posting they were okay too. I was giving thanks to God at the same time praying for those who were still missing...those I didn't even know.

Yesterday afternoon I hadn't heard back from two people, and they hadn't posted on FB, and that was the only real time that God wasn't giving me peace in the midst of it. I sat in my classroom after school and stopped and prayed. I started to wonder about one of my friends specifically. I started to realize how much everyone there means to me. So, I sent a text to another teacher friend who took a while to respond. I will admit, I let my mind go to the worst in those few minutes, so I logged into Facebook from my phone. (Shhhhh, don't tell anyone, that's a no-no at work!) Sure enough, on my friend's wall was a post from his daughter saying they were fine. I stopped and thanked God. About 30 minutes later my phone rang. It was him! I don't think that I've ever been so excited to hear a voice in my entire life! I heard his story and thanked God again for saving his life!

This post isn't about me, but then again it is, I guess. I mean, in the midst of wondering about Mr. C., as well as everyone else, I can only imagine what the people living there have gone through. I keep watching footage, and looking at the community that I know, and it breaks my heart.

I have more in my head that I want to say, but as I have written this, I have realized who I HAVEN'T heard from on FB. I'm going to put on my detective hat and see what I can find.

By the way, May 22, that's my Birthday.

For me it will have a whole new meaning, for the rest of my life.