Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tragedy in the Heartland

Yesterday morning my heart broke for the community of Parkersburg. How much tragedy can this little town bare? I was sitting at my desk when I heard the news--a prominent leader in Parkersburg, Ed Thomas, was shot and killed.
I did not know Ed personally but I met many people that did. I heard incredible stories how this man had impacted those around him. After the tornado hit Parkersburg, Ed was on the forefront helping this town pick itself back up again. He was the one saying "this tornado is an opportunity from God for us to help one another." He was a talented football coach who valued family and teamwork over wins and loses. (Four men under his leadership play for the NFL now.) Ed was undoubtedly a man of character striving to teach people what it mean to be a part of the body of Christ.
I know if Ed had been in town when our youth were volunteering he would have been motivating, encouraging and thanking them for what was being done.
Ed, Thank you for being the person this community needed you to be!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Video created by one of our media guys... click on the link!

Last week I was in Parkersburg, IA helping lead a service trip. Memorial Day weekend 2008 a massive tornado
(aka F5) hit this little Iowa town destroying almost 300 hundred homes. It didn't just "destroy them" it ripped them apart and flew them away. I had the chance to talk to many of the locals and hear what they experienced. Dorthy was one lady in particular I felt drawn toward. She was 85 years old and had blue eyes that sparkled like a 15 year old girls would.
Dorthy's home was torn to pieces in seconds. Not once did I hear her say she was sad about the loss. She continually talked about how peaceful she felt in the midst of the storm (she was sitting on a chair in her hallway because she couldn't walk down to the basement). She watched pieces of her bed flying away yet ONE thing remained in her bedroom: a picture of Jesus she had on the wall above her bed. I heard stories of people finding debris in their locked safes, pictures being found all the way in Wisconsin days later, and a outside table piled high with styrofoam cups & plates that didn't move an inch.
I had the privilage of helping over 200 youth pour their time and energy into a community that was still healing from something that happened a year ago. In return this community showed us how their foundations of faith have not become weaker but stronger in spite of what happened. Every person I talked to said "it should have been worse." Hundreds of people should have died; there were "only" 8 fatalities.
I walked away from Parkersburg wanting to cling to the faith they had found through this storm. I want my faith to continually grow deeper. I want to fall more in love Jesus each day I wake up. I saw the community of Parkersburg changed amidst a tragedy and drawn closer together because of it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Too Long

Life has been crazy busy since arriving in Iowa. I hit the ground running and am not slowing down till August hits. I thought I'd share a few pictures from the last couple months so you can see what I've been up to and enjoy this journey with me.

Bob (my boss), Sarah (our intern), and I having a lunch picnic down by the water

In front of Sioux Falls when Jer came to visit Memorial Day weekend

At the Tulip Festival with Emma and JJ in Orange City