Last week, Josiah, Joy, Keith and I traveled with Greentree Christian Church to Joplin to help with the tornado recovery. Joy and I were sent with 8 other wonderful people to help clean up Jack's Barbershop on Main Street. This is our before picture . . .
. . . and this is a 1991 newspaper clipping about Jack and his barbershop that we found among the debris. Jack is 76 years old and has been in this same location as a barber for 50 years. He is a Korean war veteran and a past member of the Missouri National Guard. He is quite a character. You can read more about him in a different newspaper article from 2006 here.
This is the work team with Jack, who very much appreciated being able to recover many of his belongings, including medals and photos of his grandparents and parents.
This is the view across Main Street from Jack's Barbershop (which was next door to a donut shop, which still smelled of donuts even though there was absolutely nothing left of the building.) Joplin is an overwhelming place, both in terms of the extreme destruction, and also in terms of the beautiful spirit of the people. I was struck by the gratitude, thanksgiving, kindness, teamwork and resourcefulness of everyone we came across. I was also utterly amazed after seeing acres and acres of landscape like the picture above, in which NOTHING is still intact, that only 153 people perished. Keith spoke with several men at the lumber yard, and what he heard matched the stories I heard. Families were huddled together in a closet or a bathtub and when it was all over, only the wall they were next to was remaining. They each attributed it to the protecting hand of God and nothing short of that could have prevented this from being a much greater tragedy.