I’ve been back home from West, Texas, for three days. That’s given my mind three days to simmer the lessons learned.
First, I learned that people love a team. Once you declare (in your inwardly-fearful, and outwardly-bold voice) that you are headed to do a project, others jump up and join in. Sparkles in the other corner of our country jumped in with a friendship bracelet, to be worn each day that I was away from home, to remind her to pray for our team and our effort. Then, she sent a bracelet to several friends around the country. They got a bracelet, they prayed, and they sent me e-mails. And then, surprise! Mr. Sparkles (aka Mr. Right) wore a bracelet. Thank you, brother-in-law. So the first lesson is that We Are Not Alone.
The second lesson is that people are all the same. The folks in West Texas are good folks and they love their children and they reach out to help when they see a need. The same as the folks in Gainesville Florida, Fort Wayne Indiana, Spanaway Washington, and Accra Ghana. Folks is folks. They call you ma’am, and their daughters bake you cookies, and they thank you for working on their house by showing up at your next house and nailing plywood in place. Lesson two: there are some really good people in this world.
This is the camp twhere our team stayed. The people who run it, Larry & Lori, read George Mueller’s biography 17 years ago, and decided to run the camp the same way Mueller ran his orphanage: by relying on God to provide all of their needs. It’s still up and running; we had comfortable beds, hot showers, and a complete stocked kitchen to use!
There are many houses that look like this in West. The big X indicates it has been damaged, possibly totally. The family is living somewhere else. They are waiting for insurance money to kick in. Or, possibly, they have no insurance, and they are regrouping, wondering how they will repair or rebuild. Also, since four buildings were totally destroyed (a nursing home, the plant, etc), lots of people have had to find someplace else to work.
The empty path leads to where there was a home 5 months ago. Behind that lot, someone is rebuilding their home.
Children from another town got involved by making these stars to tell the children in West that they care. At least 100 stars were posted all over town as visual reminders.
This is the football field at the high school where they triaged the folks who were wounded in that blast. It happened at 7:00 in the evening. More than 200 people were injured, and 15 killed.
I took this picture through a chain link fence. It shows two trucks that were damaged in the explosion.
The third lesson is that some folks are just plain bad. They are the vultures who circle in the thermals overhead, and come down to feast off the road kill. They show up at disaster sites and claim to be a contractor, accept a large down payment, and then fly off to the next disaster/opportunity. Vultures smell an opportunity and get themselves a meal.
Did you know you can find really cool things no matter where you are? Me too. Here’s what I found: a richness of Kolaches. Kolache: a meat-filled yeast dough made fresh each morning in the Czech tradition. Everyone along I-35 knows about it, and stops in little West for a handful of them to eat on their commute on the way from or on the way to Dallas.I found some beauty, too:
Thanks for reading my report, and thanks for praying the team safely home.