Monday, May 27, 2013

Tornado: Part Three

Let's just say that Wednesday brought several moments of personal encouragement for me personally.

It actually started on Tuesday evening when a friend...a mother of one of Southmoore's sophomores (he'll be in my class next year), a PTSA mom, a band mom, a wonderful substitute teacher, etc... and, unfortunately a victim of Monday's tornado, tagged me in a Facebook message linked to a picture.  The picture was of a sweet hand-written note which had been placed inside of a boxed meal which was given to her by volunteers with the disaster relief team from my home church (Crossings Community Church).  Anita knew that I attend Crossings and wanted to reach out to express thanks in the only way she knew how.  I, in turn, shared that picture and the story of the family who benefited and how they were connected to me with my church and it further inspired their work.

Wednesday morning, I reached out to my church again.  I had begun learning of another need for the families of the Southmoore community, especially from faculty members.  One of the immediate needs was to have a way to get as many personal items removed from their damaged/destroyed homes before continued rain feel and ruined more of those things which could currently be salvaged.  I simply asked the church if they had a source for moving boxes.  I actually went up to the church late morning to visit with our missions outreach pastors to make arrangements for getting the boxes into the hands of those in need.

While at Crossings I was able to witness in person the beautiful faces of volunteers who had shown up for day two of making boxed meals.  It was so well organized and brought tears to my eyes.  I began to show the various volunteers a picture on my phone of the note that had fallen into Anita's hands the day before.  I wanted them to know that their work had meaning and that so many truly families in need were benefiting from what might be seen as a simply act of love.

assembling the sandwiches

sandwiches, chips, pickle spear, and cookies into the boxes

hand writing words of encouragement and love
placing the notes into the boxes

closing up the boxes

In the mid-afternoon I, along with countless other faculty members from Moore Public Schools attended a special district-wide faculty and staff meeting hosted at Southern Hills Baptist Church.  The messages of hope, encouragement and resiliency were so meaningful to those in attendance and they helped begin the healing process for those of us with the vocational calling to educate and safe guard our children.  During the meeting I "live-tweeted" notes and so I'll re-post them here as the summary for this meaningful time:

  • At request of MPS admin, pastor of Southern Hills Bapt. opens meeting with prayer & reading of 23rd Psalm #Moore #tornado
  • Standing ovation for MPS Superintendent Susie Pierce. Such a grace-filled lady!!! #Moore #tornado
  • In prep for retirement speech Supt Piece reflected on times of struggle as they helped build the relationships which she treasures
  • Beautiful & tear filled standing ovations for Briarwood & Plaza Towers faculties. "Hugs" to rescue workers!!!
  • Introduction of admin from Joplin, MO to help provide help. #Moore #tornado
  • Briarwood & Plaza Towers destroyed. Highland East Jr High gym destroyed. ASC damaged. Tech Center destroyed but servers saved!!! TY Dell
  • Reading of names of 7 children who died at Plaza Towers. TY to Jennifer Doan for efforts to save them; prayers for recovery. #Moore
  • Information about gatherings at schools on Thursday. All 3 graduations as scheduled. TY to Stanley's Grad Service for donated robes.
  • ASC will be temporarily relocated to Moore High's media center #moore #tornado
  • Grief counseling information will be made available for all students, teachers, administration. Details coming ASAP
  • Looking for donation of 3000 t-shirts that say "We Are Moore Public Schools" for our teachers to proudly wear!! #moore #tornado
  • We stay because that's who we are. Some call us stubborn by Supt Pierce believes it is our tenacity and love of what we do.
  • Supt Pierce turned it over to new Supt Dr Robert Romines. He is glad he is "not alone" because he knows we are all a team. #moore #tornado
  • Supt Romines "Briarwood & Plaza... WE ARE GOING TO REBUILD" & then loud applause!!!
  • "Our maintenance teams are working like dogs. Thank them!" from Supt Romines
  • "Your former superintendent, Ms. Pierce, is the rock that I've needed. She's my mom at work" from Supt Romines
  • "Don't let anyone ask you to second guess your efforts at school on that day!!!" encouragement from Supt Romines #moore #tornado
  • As Supt Romines got to Plaza Towers, Principal Amy Simpson crawled out of twisted metal (gym) smiling; encouragement to discouraged admin
  • State Superintendent @JanetBarresi offering encouragement to our MPS family. @GovMaryFallin wants us at Sunday PM service 6:00 at FBC Moore
  • State Supt @JanetBarresi "Give a list of your needs, paper, pens, SmartBoards, etc, because we're going shopping!!!"
  • State Supt @Janet Barresi "Moore [Schools] is setting a standard of resilience for the whole country...your kids know they are safe with you"
  • Supt Romines in front of Supt Pierce, Supt @JanetBarresi, & MPS admin team "it takes a village, all of us"
MPS teachers gathering in Southern Hills' sanctuary

Supt. Susie Pierce (on stage in lower left; on screen in upper right)

Supt. Janet Barresi on big screen; Joplin, MO admin seated in choir loft

Supt. Robert Romines on the main floor
Supt. Pierce, Supt Barresi, Board of Education, & Administrative Team on stage

I was then able to spend about an hour visiting with Donna, the teacher at Briarwood & mother of Sarah who I mentioned texting in "Tornado: Part One".  I wanted to do everything I could to be an encouragement to her, especially as I learned true nature of the damage of her home.  I also put into her hands 20 large plastic tubs to help pack & store she and Sarah's possessions while they go through a rebuilding process.

The spiritual highlight of the evening for me was a prayer service held at Crossings.  Regular Wednesday evening activities were canceled so as to come together as a church family to pray for our community and leaders who will help guide as we go forward and rebuild.
Crossings Community Church's Senior Pastor: Marty Grubs

One of the songs during the service really spoke to me; I was not previously acquainted with this song but its powerful words are so apropos for the events connected with the tornado:

While I know that I have a long road of healing for my spirit, I know that with each passing day I am becoming more and more encouraged and better equipped to be who I need to be to help those who were more directly impacted by this disaster.

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