Saturday, June 4, 2011

Always Humbling To See

The news of all the tornadoes recently has been heartbreaking. It seemed like everyday or every few days, there was another tornado and more death and destruction in the mid-west. The recent tornado in Joplin, Missouri was particularly devastating.
I saw this picture in the Church News this morning. It's a picture of 550 men and boys in those familiar yellow Mormon Helping Hands t-shirts assembled and ready to assist the community of Joplin. The Church News said, "More than 550 Church members wearing "Helping Hands" T-shirts volunteered time and labor to help families whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the aftermath of a tornado that devastated much of Joplin, Mo., on May 22... Members of stakes in Arkansas and Missouri completed 7,400 work orders. In addition to the 27 member homes that were destroyed, 41 Latter-day Saint homes received significant damage, and 35 cars were demolished. In total, the storm left 42 Church members homeless...We are not making distinctions between those of our faith and those of other faiths, said President Montague...There is an energetic and motivated effort to move forward and rebuild our lives and our community."
I suppose behind every man and boy who helped that day was a woman somewhere who saw them off for a weekend encouraging them to go help their neighbors.
I guess this was a makeshift meeting hall for the Sunday LDS services because the Joplin Stake Center was destroyed. Jim has always taught my boys that the priesthood is all about service. This picture certainly puts real words behind that very real sentiment.
I was particularly touched by this photo of a teenager wearing the Mormon Helping hands t-shirt. He will know the rest of his life how to serve others.

Salt Lake has been bracing for possible flooding this spring because of record snowfall this past winter in the mountains and record rains this spring. Jim told me that he and Seth will be on call to help in the community if the flooding causes concerns enough that volunteers are needed.

This article reminded me of another story: Years ago I had to have my appendix out. I had four small children at that time. Ian was still a toddler. The abdominal pain started for me early one morning but Jim went to work because I figured it was nothing. I finally asked him to come home about 4:00 that afternoon because the pain was pretty bad. He knew something was seriously wrong when he found me in a chair in the front room unable to get up from the chair. It was early January and there was a snow storm. We went to the emergency room and sure enough, I was diagnosed with appendicitis. The snow storm complicated everything. The surgeon had small children himself. While he was in the emergency room with me, his children were outside in the parking lot waiting for him. He told me later that the oldest girl was asking a few people she saw if they knew where her Dad was. She was worried about the snow. He had to take them home before he could do my surgery. He was the doctor on call and it was a bad snowstorm. He finally made it back and I had the surgery at 8:00 p.m. that evening. The doctor said I had a "red-hot" appendix and it was good he got it when he did.

I remember nurses not making it to work the next morning because of the bad snow. Jim managed to come get me and I went home the following early afternoon. The ride home was difficult because of all the snow. The snow continued on for a few days. There was so much snow that roofs started to collapse. This is from a 1993 year end newspaper clipping: "Snow: Record January and February snowfall causes traffic snarls, collapsing roofs and causing government budget overruns. The Utah National Guard is called out to clear the drifts in downtown Salt Lake City." " And from another one about a roof snow removal tool: "Salt Lake City, UT received over 4 feet of snow during the first 10 days in 1993. Residents were out in mass, shoveling the heavy accumulations of snow from roofs, in anticipation of more storms to come. In many cases, the danger of falling from slippery roofs proved to be greater than the risk of collapsing roofs. By January 10th, fall injuries had flooded emergency rooms. The Salt Lake Tribune warned Clearing Snow From Roofs Is Pitched With Dangers.This snow removal tool is a product of that crisis. It was developed to provide a way for removing roof snow without having to climb on the roof."
 This was a picture that accompanied that article.

By the third day of my recovery, Jim left me home with the kids to go out with a neighbor and shovel off a few roofs in the neighborhood that looked tenuous. He was out giving service as was his nature even though I remember being quite concerned that he was leaving me when I didn't think I was up to it yet. He wouldn't do it any differently however, that's just Jim. He and a neighbor devised a snow removal tool of their own as I remember and that saved them from having to climb up on the roofs.

I guess the moral of the story is that if there is a disaster somewhere due to mother nature, somewhere not far behind will be the LDS men and teenager boys serving and helping where they can and wives and mothers supporting them from afar regardless of their own concerns.

“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” Mosiah 2:17 (Book of Mormon)

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