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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.