This past week, the Kansas City group spent some time working in Joplin, MO helping to rebuild the city after last year’s destructive tornado. For the first half of our stay, we lived in the Abundant Life Christian Center, a church community that opened its doors to volunteers from across the United States who come to Joplin to help improve the community. We spent our first evening socializing with three hundred volunteers on mission trips from around the country. The majority of the volunteers were teenagers on week-long trips with their church communities. It was a great opportunity to meet a vast array of individuals from all different cultural backgrounds who came together to achieve a common goal.
We woke up bright and early Monday morning at 6AM (mostly early, not so much bright) to get to work for AmeriCorps. Our first day was spent cleaning a plot of land that used to be the home of low-income families prior to the tornado. Now, the government wants to replace the lost homes with new ones that will be available to families on limited budgets. We were set up to work with a group of girls on a mission trip from St. Louis, MO. After a hot morning gather rocks and pulling weeds with our new friends, we sat down to enjoy lunch in the cool shade of a nearby park that was built to be a memorial to the 161 people who lost their lives on May 22, 2011. Our new friends enjoyed hearing our tradition of saying Hamotzi before beginning a meal and found the prayer to have a message that was meaningful and relevant to their lives.
Over the remainder of the week, we constantly had interactions with people of other faiths whose purpose in coming to Joplin was the same as ours; to rebuild a city devastated by Mother Nature. Tuesday evening, we spent time at a local waterfall/swimming hole with one of the groups that was staying with us at the Abundant Life Center. We are so thankful to the Joplin community for opening its arms and hearts to us and giving us the opportunity to meet so many people from such diverse backgrounds. As we make our way to Omaha this morning, we are excited to see what new experiences are in store for us on this adventure.