Last Sunday, my choir and I took a trip that would impact our lives. We were headed to tornado alley in Tuscaloosa, Alabama where a tornado had struck a multigenerational community. Prior to the trip, I had been facing family problems, which I felt were tornados ripping through my household. These burdens I brought with me as I boarded that charter bus that afternoon. I could not help but think as we rode for four hours in that charter bus, how cold it was. The air condition always seems to be ridiculously freezing whenever I ride a charter bus with my youth choir. My bones chilled and my body longed for warmth. As a result of the wound I carried on the inside and the cutting coldness in the bus, warmth felt so long gone. All I could do was try to sleep my way through it. My pink fluffy pillow was a friend to me as I curled up into a fetal position in bus seats. However, the occasional conversation with the other students on the bus lightened the load and distracted me from my thoughts of my suffering. One girl in particular made me smile as her cheery personality radiated through my soul like sunrays through a pitcher of sun-brewed tea. Warmth was then almost tangible as she would giggle and gleam. I thank God for her. I finally stepped off the bus, and it felt so amazing to thaw my joints and feel my feet again. The sun toasted my numb skin. It was exciting to arrive at a new destination, so that warmed my insides. Little did I know that this was the foreshadowing of what would be a trip of healing for me.
One of the main activities the choir did while on the trip was run mini day camps for multiple neighborhoods in the Tuscaloosa area. This was when my problems started to come to nothing. The other students in the choir and I played games with the community children, fed them cookies and crackers, sang to them, did crafts with them and taught them about the love of God. I was told while in Alabama that after the tornado, families whose houses were destroyed were displaced. Some of the children we ministered to may not have originally lived in the place we found them. Yet, they still smiled. That encouraged me. They could still see the positive in things even when they had lost so much. One boy from the community had lost his father in the tornado. He still played with the other children, laughed and had fun. He put his struggles aside and actually was a help to the other choir members and I as we led the children.
The heat of Alabama was all the more noticeable as the choir and I pulled out weeds in empty property lots. House were once on the lots, but were blown away in the tornado. Just imagine seeing a mailbox, but no house behind it. The work was rigorous and sometimes felt as if it would never end. However, up the street from where we worked, new beautiful houses were built. I was hopeful to know that every weed we pulled was a step closer to a new house for a needy family.
I realized during that trip, that my problems were nothing compared to losing a house or a family member. Reaching out and helping others was also healing me. I knew that my tornados at home were nothing to complain about. The love of God could make light of any situation.
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