Monday, May 30, 2011

A Gloriously Long Weekend!

As I think back over the past few days, I honestly don't know if I could have asked for a better Memorial Day Weekend. Most of the time it seems that we have tons of stuff planned or obligations to attend during this weekend...but not this year. Anything that was planned was of our own doing, and it was absolutely glorious!

We kicked things off Friday night with a dinner celebration for my dad's birthday. We met up with my parents and my brother & sister-in-law for dinner and then finished off the night with cake, ice cream, and presents at our house. We don't all get together that often with just the 6 of us, so it was great to hangout and just be together for the night.

My couldn't-be-any-better family!

Dad's birthday cake...chocolate cake with homemade cream cheese icing...a family favorite!

Saturday was literally a day with no plans. Hubby woke up fairly early for a run and then went out to get donuts for breakfast. We literally spent most of the morning laying in bed watching tv, reading, and just relaxing. I cannot tell you the last time this happened. At least one of us ALWAYS have somewhere we need to be on Saturday. It was wonderful. We spent Saturday afternoon doing odds and ends around the house and then headed out for the evening. We did a little nursery furniture shopping (I think we have it narrowed down to two styles) and then we met up with a couple from church for dinner and dessert. I wish I could have a Saturday like that at least once a month!

Sunday we went to church, had a quick lunch and then went down to my parents' house to spend the afternoon hanging out at the pool. We also wanted to give Bogey a chance to showcase his abilities at our very own "Dock Dogs" ramp!

Wait for it....wait for it....

...and a flying leap into the air...

and the SPLASHDOWN!!!

We had a very relaxing afternoon and finished off the evening with a huge meal of ribs, green beans, potatoes, bread and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Thankfully we also headed out for a quick walk on my family's land to burn off all those calories! I am so incredibly blessed to have my family so nearby and have them so open to us coming down and enjoying the peace and quiet of the country anytime we want. It's such a great getaway for all of us!

Last night when we went to bed we really hadn't decided what today was going to look like, several options were discussed but my phone rang at 6:45 this morning and I knew the decision had been made. Along with my parents, we headed down to Joplin to volunteer a few hours of our time in order to serve in anyway we could.

We headed to one of the major volunteer centers, College Heights Baptist Church, and tried to be the hands and feet of Jesus for a few hours. Nick & my dad headed out with another friend to do some work outside and mom & I stayed at the church to help with sorting and organization of all the donations. They had huge tents set up all around the parking lot that were organized into a variety of goods that had been donated. Food, hygiene items, paper goods, baby goods, medical needs, pet supplies, cleaning products, etc., etc., etc. They had an incredible organized way of doing things and we really just helped to make sure the tent was presentable for those in need to come "shop" from everything that had been donated. In addition to the tents, pallets of water were everywhere all over the parking lot. I honestly wouldn't even be able to guess how many volunteers were in this area alone.

Mom & I both got assigned to the baby goods tent, so I have plenty of experience now with sorting all kinds of baby food, diapers, wipes, and a huge variety of other baby products. It was truly incredible to see the quantity of items that were available to those in need. Personal shoppers were assigned to each family came through and they guided them through the tents helping them to determine their needs. The church is in the process of fully moving the "store" outside from inside the church so we didn't get to help a ton of customers....but the area is now ready for the coming weeks when so many families will be visiting to collect necessities for survival.

One row of tent city

One side of our tent...diapers to the ceiling

After a few hours of volunteering, we headed out. We did drive around for a little while just to witness the devastation firsthand and I honestly can't say enough how indescribable it is. It honestly looks like a bomb went off...there truly is NOTHING left. The group leader for my dad & Hubby's group said that in a few weeks they will literally be bulldozing city blocks and hauling away dump trucks full of debris. The quantity of debris is just unbelieveable and I can't imagine how long it will take.

I certainly took some photos, but nothing really that you haven't seen. I honestly just took them for my own memories, the pictures don't do the devastation any sort of justice at all.

So I leave you with this, the flag flying from a crane located in the center of it of only so many signs to show you that hope does exist in this city and that God is certainly showing his love in the face of utter devastation.

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