Disaster calls: Helping the people of Oaklawn

By Taylor Walsh – Horizon Guest Writer

On Wednesday, many Hesston students answered the call to assist a young Hesston family who experienced damage to buildings and trees during Saturday’s tornado.  Taylor Walsh, a freshman, helped with relief efforts in the Oaklawn neighborhood of Wichita, another area hit especially hard. Taylor shared her reflection with the Horizon:

One minute, it was all there; the next minute, it was gone. This is what many Oaklawn residents had to say after the tornado swept through their Wichita neighborhood, destroying their homes, vehicles, and many of their possessions. When I watched this on the news, I was heartbroken. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like. While admit I I felt thankful that it hadn’t been me or my neighborhood, I quickly realized how often I take things for granted. I immediately felt God telling me to go to Oaklawn. I wanted to help in any way I could.

Early Monday morning, I went to Oaklawn with a team from my church. It was 100 times worse than it looked on TV. The devastation was unreal. Homes were torn in half, cars were flipped and smashed, personal belongings were thrown about, pets wandered up and down streets, and people were outside, still in a daze. We met up with a daughter who needed help preparing her elderly parents’ mobile home for demolition – searching through debris, removing all her parents’ remaining possessions, packing it all, and moving it to a temporary storage unit.

As I worked, I would look down and see a sweet birthday card, delicate pieces of clothing, and old photos and keepsakes. They were among smashed cars, upside down homes, broken glass, bathtubs, and insulation. It was such a strange thing, something I had never before experienced. It just seemed wrong. I know many people felt as I did, and I think that’s the reason so many people from churches, organizations, and communities joined together to help.

Disasters are a terrible, but they also provide an opportunity for unity and for God’s love to be shown. Nobody is able to get through something like this alone or even with a small support group; they need the help of many people, in many forms. They need food and water, they need a place to live, they need money, they need emotional and spiritual support, they need hands to help, they need everything.

I encourage you to jump on opportunities like these and give in some way – whether it be with your money, your time, your hands, your friendship. Pray for God to show you opportunities to help and that He would teach you something through those opportunities. I promise that you will not regret giving, and in fact, you will probably have a different outlook on life. You come out knowing that you really have made a meaningful impact on someone’s life. Imagine having to start life all over again…with nothing, and with no choice. They did. So make a difference!

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