A New Normal: Another Day in Joplin

 By Danni R. Eickenhorst, Content Specialist, Midland Division

It’s funny the ways in which your habits change after spending just a few days in a disaster. Today, I found myself driving through a neighborhood in, over and around precariously placed electric wires. These wires had long since died, and were relatively harmless, but after 36 hours in a war zone, your sense of normal begins to shift. As I went out into the public to hear the stories of those we’ve helped, I found that my perspective is far from the only one changing these days.

Vicki and Anthony Rupprecht soldier on each day in their badly battered home, finding alternate methods of transportation; adjusting to life without their son, who is staying with grandparents in Kansas as they work to recover; relying on the Salvation Army’s static canteen at Main and 20th for personal items, spiritual support and food, and feeling like a bundle of exposed nerves each time they hear the thunder clap. Yet, the hope they had as they sat at our canteen planning their next steps was palpable. This is their new normal.

Valletta Tsangaris, an incredibly heroic storm survivor I have come to know in the days since this event, has adjusted to her new normal – eating breakfast, lunch and dinner from a Salvation Army canteen stationed two blocks from her house, and having her regular medical checkups in the open air under a tent. “I’m so incredibly lucky,” she says. “Everything happens for a reason.”

Lloyd Tennison and Kristen Chorn were uninsured and lost everything in the storm, and they woke up this morning and came to a Salvation Army canteen for breakfast, unsure of where to go from here, but accepting their future and hopeful for direction. We spoke, and prayed and they became connected with The Salvation Army, and were thankful that there was an organization that could help them coordinate and empower them to move on.

The Salvation Army’s Joplin corps is no different. The Salvation Army lost its primary source of income in the storm, a thrift store located at 26th and Main, the funds from which were used to support ministry outreach and community programs. Its gym has served as a make-shift shelter for volunteers and church members. Its facility is overrun with staff from four states coordinating to meet the ever-increasing needs of the general Joplin public.

Though this is The Salvation Army of Joplin’s new normal, some things never change. God is still doing great things through this corps, its officers, lay people and volunteers. The Salvation Army’s presence in the hardest hit areas is impressive. Canteens are providing coverage in all major affected areas. A new EDS store opens tomorrow that will allow people to get more substantial food and personal item supplies. We launch the Oasis tent at 26th and Main tomorrow as well, in an effort to provide people from all areas a central gathering location for prayer, rest, resources and food.

Salvation Army Lietenant Katie Harris-Smith once said in a sermon that she imagines life as a road that Jesus has walked down before us. The things in our lives that seem unbearable, and as if they may do us in no longer have the power to destroy us, because He has already encountered them and paid that price. I have shared that message with anyone who will listen.

Keep the rescue workers, victims, volunteers and donors in your prayers tonight. Pray for healing for those who need it, continued generosity, and help for those adapting to their new normal.

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