by Michelle Negron Bueno
Most everyone has heard of or seen the devastation that hit Joplin, Missouri on May 22 when an F5 tornado tore through on a Sunday night, taking with it a third of the town. Two of my sisters, Elizabeth Baldwin and Priscilla McKinney, live just minutes from there in Galena, Kansas. Priscilla, who is also an ENLACE board member, has a business in Joplin proper. Everyone in their families are safe and the business building was not damaged.
The hardest news for them has been the loss of life. For those of us listening for news from the television or radio, the numbers were astounding as they climbed from the teens to past a hundred and beyond. But for everyone near Joplin the numbers represented faces of friends and family members. For Elizabeth and Priscilla and their home church, Riverton Friends Church, it meant a volunteer and friend named Dee Ann as well as many neighbors and clients who lost a loved one.
Last Sunday, May 29, Ron, our kids and I were able to travel down to Joplin from our furlough home in Kansas City. We had the chance to attend Riverton’s Sunday morning service where people were gathering to mark what had happened just one week ago. As I looked around, I saw many people who have been a part of ministering to El Salvador and my family over the years. Some had opened their homes to us, some had sent funds and medical supplies to El Salvador, some had offered a listening ear and pastoral care as we walked through the traumas of our own natural disasters.
On this morning, Pastor Wes Davis gave a sermon that cared for those reeling from their own disaster. The sermon mourned the loss of friends and neighbors but also gave the congregation hope and encouragement as they waded into the months and years of grief and recovery that will come. (Once his wonderful sermon is available online, we’ll post a link.)
Rebuilding efforts will be the stuff of daily life for those in and surrounding Joplin for the next year and beyond. Rebuilding homes, businesses, routines is something with which we in El Salvador and at ENLACE are all too familiar. We are extending our hands toward you in prayer and support, friends and family in Joplin, just as you have done for us in hard times past.