By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Storm-stricken residents demonstrated their Show-Me spirit Wednesday night by celebrating their blessings and their Missouri determination instead of mourning their losses.
An event dubbed “Community Prayer Gathering” at the Joplin Family Worship Center, 5290 E. Seventh St., focused on the encouragement that could be found within a city intent on rebounding and rebuilding.
“This community is going to be OK,” said Chris Dunn, who lost his home on 18th Street near Range Line Road on Sunday afternoon in the half-mile-wide twister that tore through six miles of the city’s center. “This community is pulling together like never before. This little bitty F-5 isn’t going to stop us.”
He said his faith in God will get him through and that he sees it to be his duty to help get others through it too. He and his wife, Lisa, are transplants here, he said, but the community’s spirit keeps them here, and they intend to rebuild and not move away. “I know this is where we’re supposed to be,” he told the congregation of Pastors Dan and Cindy Wermuth and their visitors.
Lisa Dunn said she is overwhelmed by the generosity she has found from those determined to recover from devastation. “The love and compassion in this area — wow, it’s unbelievable,” she said.
The Dunns were in Carthage when the storm hit and did not know the extent of the damage until they got near their home. They said their faith and their desire to focus on others has helped them and their daughter, Makenzie, a sixth-grader, contribute to the relief effort.
The girl has spent every day since the storm doing volunteer work at the church’s storm relief and resource operation. “She’s lost it all, but she’s going to be OK,” her mother said.
Makenzie told the crowd that her pets have disappeared. She left her little Jack Russell terrier crated when the family left home that day, and the dog knows how to open the crate. Makenzie believes the dog escaped and could be in an animal shelter. Her guinea pig is missing too.
She would like to see the remains of the family’s home. Her parents said they had been counseled to allow her a visit, but they are not ready yet.
Cindy Wermuth said the Dunns’ feelings are a testimony to “the peace of God.”
Makenzie’s optimism is an example of why volunteering is important work even when people face grievous situations.
“Volunteering takes your mind off what you don’t have,” she said.
Church members have pitched in this week to receive and distribute truckloads of donations of storm relief goods from organizations ranging from the Professional Bull Riders Association to the Pentecostal Holiness Association of Oklahoma City. A shipment from Feed the Children is expected within a few days, Cindy Wermuth said.
She said, “What we are trying to do is take aid to where the media is not,” finding neighborhoods where supplies have not yet been delivered. Supplies, food and water also are available at the worship center.