Hello brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s Lance Harlan writing to you all the way from Morgantown, WV. This year I was blessed enough to be a part of a very amazing CSF mission trip to Joplin, MO where we encountered many really amazing people and followers of Christ who live it out every day.
During our second day in Joplin, half of our group was dry walling a house (and each other) and the other half of us went to a site to sort clothes for the Salvation Army. During that day we met several really awesome people, but there was one person we were really blessed to connect with during our time folding and sorting clothes. Carol Brockman was her name. She is a resident of Joplin and a member of St. Paul United Methodist Church. As we spent some time throughout the day hearing her story about the tornado and how she lost some close friends in the disaster, she began to ask us about what led us to Joplin.
As we connected more, we mentioned that we were going to be without a place to stay for a few hours Wednesday evening due to scheduled events at Carterville Christian Church, where we were staying. Immediately, Carol mentioned to a few local businesses that were more than happy to provide some discounts for food and the likewise. We were ready to go with that plan, when Carol realized that her congregation was gathering for dinner and Bible study Wednesday evening. Carol quickly called the lady that was organizing dinner for the evening and, without hesitation, they welcomed us to join them.
After another good workday the next day, we gathered together and proceeded to the church to meet Carol for dinner. When we arrived, we were quickly introduced to the kitchen staff and the lady responsible for dinner preparations, Becky. She was excited to hear our story about why we were here and to introduce us to the rest of the kitchen staff. We continued to a smorgasbord of burgers, fries, and strawberry shortcake. It was amazing how these folks, who knew very little about our group, were anxious to welcome us to join them for food and fellowship.
As we were having dinner, we were introduced to a couple who were originally from Beckley, WV. How awesome is it to travel 16 hours to Joplin, MO and meet people who were from West Virginia??? Come on, that’s pretty awesome!!! After dinner Carol and Becky showed us the parts of the building that were damaged and Becky recounted how she was at St. Paul’s during the tornado. It was amazing to hear that, while their sanctuary was damaged, the glass windows on the nursery were untouched. That undamaged area allowed St. Paul’s to perform triage and to serve as a refuge for the surrounding community immediately following the tornado. As we continued into the evening, Carol showed us a park dedicated to the volunteers and some of the houses built by Extreme Home Makeover.
The next day, we were continuing about our morning working when Carol contacted Julie and Matt. It turns out that after hearing our story about the car that was out for the trip, some of the members of St. Paul’s United Methodist wanted to help our group with expenses. Our brothers and sisters in Christ gave us some gift cards to Pizza Hut and Wal-Mart. Without knowing much about us, this pretty cool group of Christ followers just helped provide dinner for us and cut our expenses even more. God really does provide!!! You’d better believe He did for us!!! Just to wrap things up a bit, it is truly amazing how Christians from different walks of life came together and showed God’s love through all different ways during our trip. Take care and God bless you all!!!
[Written by Lance Harlan]