The team had their last full day of work yesterday and will start their journey back to Savannah this afternoon. Please continue to pray for the team and specifically for safe travels home as they continue to grapple with all they’ve experienced this week. Here’s an update from team member Jerry Seltzer:
Today is Brandon Barrett’s 16th birthday. It is also the day that his father is having open heart surgery. During the trip out here to Moore, Brian Barrett experienced symptoms of a heart problem. Once here, we brought him to a hospital and they determined he needed surgery right away. This may sound like a tragedy but it actually demonstrates how God moves in our lives. You see, it was Brian’s plan to hike the Appalachian trail with his two sons, Brandon and Brent, during this time. Then, when Brandon saw how the church was responding to the tornado victims, he convinced his dad to bring them here instead. If they had done what Brian had planned, he would not have had easy access to medical intervention, and his sons may have had a much different memory. God used this catastrophe to save one man’s life, and to give one boy a birthday he will remember with gratitude instead of grief. Brian’s surgery was over around 6pm local time and his prognosis is excellent.
Yesterday one of our teams went to a tiny house. It was only slightly damaged by the storm but it had been destroyed by it’s occupants. There is a family of 9 living in squalor in that 800 square foot home. There was vermin, roaches, and feces on nearly every surface. Our team cleaned it out, sometimes with shovels. The awful condition that this family thought was normal, was brought out into the light through the storm. Operation Blessing has committed to changing the cycle of poverty that has plagued this family for three generations.The work is hard. It is very fortunate that the Lord sent a nurse with us because we have leaned on her constantly. We have had everything from ticks and bites, to cuts and blisters, to heat exhaustion and more. We work harder than we ever could without the Lord helping us. He is very present in our daily lives here.
There is a young man here named Justin. He is a delinquent, just ask him. He has tattoos covering his arm and prison tattoos at the corner of his eyes. His mother didn’t know what to do with him, so she brought him and his brother here to Moore to contribute. Shortly after, Mom was ready to go home. Justin stayed behind. He had found something in himself that he liked, something he knew was positive. Being surrounded by God’s warriors gave him a new sense of belonging that his gang in Chicago never could. Last night Justin was baptized. This morning I asked him if he had talked to his mom. He said “I called her last night. She was happy. She’s usually not happy when it comes to me.” Justin is the sixth volunteer to give their life to Christ since Operation Blessing has been here in Moore.
This morning we sent a team into Oklahoma City to help a very distraught woman who has lost everything. We hoped we could start getting her life back in order, but we didn’t know what we were getting into. Black mold had taken over her home and also her place of business, ten minutes away. She felt utterly abandoned by everyone she knows and by God as well. A pastor, who has opened his doors to Operation Blessing, came out to the woman’s home and began counseling her. All we could do is drive away and pray. Several team members are committed to following up with this woman as she endures this painful time.
In this, our final work day, we found our rhythm. Our teams went from job site to job site quickly and smoothly. It was a very satisfying day of hard work. Each of us have fond memories, connections we made with residents and also with each other, and a stronger relationship with the Lord. We are all tired. Very tired. A good kind of tired.