The group left well before the ‘crack of dawn’ on January 11, on the heels of the latest winter storm which left the roads (and parking lots) coated with a sheen of ice. Packed into two vehicles, eight folks set out on a week long trip to Oklahoma to respond to the ongoing needs in the wake of a devastating series of tornadoes that struck the area in the late spring of 2013. Christine and Cal Popp, Rick and Kathy Behlke, Matt Duley and Pastor Brian Hastings participated from Memorial Baptist Church, and RoseMary Buelow and Mary Miller-Wenzel from Whiting Community Church.
The team stayed at one of the campuses of the Church of the Harvest in OK city, which has hosted and coordinated large numbers of volunteers from around the country and even internationally. Much of our work over the week was at Immanuel Baptist Church just south of Shawnee, OK. This congregation had been praying for direction on how to serve when the first series of tornadoes hit the area, one of them less than a mile from the church building. The church immediately responded by offering free food and water to residents and relief workers, and before long they had found themselves one of the major focal points for relief efforts in the area. To this day, they continue to operate a food bank specifically for persons affected by the tornado, as part of an effort to help residents get back on their feet. Our work was largely to help organize, consolidate and relocate some of the massive amounts of food, hygiene items and cleaning supplies that they are disbursing.
One of the ‘secrets’ of these kind of mission trips is that while participants paid to take their own time to travel halfway across the country, the real blessing is how God uses the experience to change and bless us. We heard so many stories of faith and examples of God’s provision that we were reminded of God’s mercy and miracles even in the midst of very difficult times. While we were glad to be able to serve and share our time and energy, we also received abundantly more in the process.
We were even featured in the local paper! Check out the article, a video with Christine, our team leader, and other pictures here
You can find more pictures on our church Facebook Page here as well