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“Angels in a Storm”

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…by Kitties-with-Sigs

Sharing without permission… edited to remove  the dot com 


Posted: Yesterday 11:44:38 PM MST 
When it comes to religion, I am the most jaded of Xxxxxx. members.  (This matters later in the story.)

Tonight, the town I call home is devastated.   A lot of people are dead.

A lot of people who are not dead, suddenly have nothing left except their lives, and in some cases, their children.  They’re taking shelter in school gyms.

Last night I sat up in bed, terrified, with the wind alternately howling and dead silent, with warnings blaring on my phone every few minutes, while I watched Shane Holinde, the local WBKO weather guy (who deserves some kind of serious award), interpret the radar, switching back and forth to camera view that let us see the tornado approaching.   He kept reporting, kept interpreting, kept telling people to take cover, while we could HEAR the doors of the news station rattling on their hinges. 

A massive tornado was approaching Bowling Green, KY, and as it approached, it passed less than four miles to the north of our home. 
TAKE COVER! they said.

Yeah, it’s not like we had a place to go.  We don’t have a basement. 
Interior closets? 

Yeah, right.  Our house was built in 1849.  There are NO interior closets.  It’s a restoration project. We have five really big rooms, ten foot ceilings, and three-foot-by-five-foot windows in every one of the rooms.  If we get hit, we are toast.  And we understand that.

I’d been through this before, when I was a little girl.  The April 3rd tornados changed who I was as a person.  It was the first time I ever stayed up all night, with my parents, watching tv.  It’s the first time some of my classmates got picked up and hung in trees.  The first time people I knew died in a weather event. It scared the hell out of me back then. Here I was last night, 50-some years later, facing the same fears.  

If it’s our time, it’s our time.  I kept telling myself that last night, but yeah,  I was tense.  And praying.

Then the local news feed went down.   Best guess?  The station was gone.   
For all we knew, the next tornado was headed straight for us. 
I opened my twitter feed for the first time in four years.  I tuned into the Nashville, TN radar, because it was still up.  My husband, beside me, kept watching the Xxxcom thread about the storm.
THANK YOU to those Xxxxcom members from far away, who provided, and interpreted, your own radar as long as you could. You are a gift to us all, and you were our angels last night.

We woke up this morning, whole and well.  The city was largely without power. There was no real news, though the national media were flying their f****** helicopters back and forth all day long, getting their footage to sell their stories.  All they will do is use our pain to talk about climate change.  That's already started, and they don't care about the people in our town. 

Today, uxb and I went into town, to check on the house I’m renovating. 

It’s a 1940s Craftsman, wrapped in local stone, and surrounded by giant maples and towering black walnuts, all between 80 and 100 years old.  The whole neighborhood was like this.  And it was only two blocks off the path of last night’s massive tornado. I’d gutted this home.  I’d jacked up the walls. I’d leveled the floors. I’d started putting it back together.  I’d even made a thread about it here on Arfcom.  As I turned onto the street, I was afraid it was gone.

I drove over downed power lines and telephone lines, dodging bent and broken telephone poles and chunks of trees lying in the street.  Every house had a tree on it, or *in* it.  Some houses were cut in half by the force of the huge old trees falling on them.  These are not modern-day houses made of soft pine.  These homes are built of hardwood.  To collapse a roof made of hardwood, nailed together by hand, takes a lot of force.
Finally at the house, I shoved my truck into the tree branches protruding into the street. Scratches be damned, there was just no room to park.  Power lines and the remnants of big trees hung across the driveway like a 15-foot-tall fence. I hauled out my tools and picked my way through the wreckage, then started to cut pieces of plywood and screw them onto the window frames, covering the openings blown out by pressure from the F4 tornado that had passed one block away.

I did all this with a background of chainsaws.  They were all over the neighborhood.
I didn’t look at the people running those saws. Not at first, anyway.

But once the house was boarded up, I went to check on the neighbors, who had become friends during the renovations.  The chainsaw gang was working in their front yard.  Their house was intact, miraculously.  The lady was bringing out sandwiches and cookies for the chainsaw operators, who, I finally noticed, were teenagers.

What the hell kind of voodoo was this?

I walked by one kid changing the blade on his saw, right by the front porch.

“How do you like that Echo?” I asked.

“It’s okay,” he said, and kept working on the saw.

Took me a beat to realize, “that’s the only saw he’s ever run.”  The kid looked to be 15.

Finally a lady came up to the food bench on the neighbor’s porch.  Pretty woman with clear, ivory skin. Camouflage coat, heavy gloves, and brown hair barely turning gray at the roots.  She took off one glove to grab a cookie and I asked, “what is this group?” 

“They’re the kids from Antioch Baptist Reformed Church down in Portland,” she said.

Portland, TN, she meant. Forty miles to the south.  She was their leader, but she was giving the credit to them. I can’t even guess who had taught those teenagers to use chainsaws safely.  We watched them. They were safe.  And effective.  Their parents are not helicopter parents, I guess.  Maybe their parents are more like my mom and dad were.

They had brought their saws and  come up here, the morning after the storm, and were clearing driveways for people because they knew there was a need.  And apparently, for No. Other. Reason.

I watched as they finished cutting up the tree in the driveway, tossing the pieces into a big pile, and moved to the next driveway (the house I’m renovating).  They swarmed on that enormous tree like the Amish swarming on a barn build.  Ten minutes later, it was cut up and in piles. 
They asked for nothing.  They worked with purpose and without one tiny bit of whine.

And when I got into my truck to leave, they were walking, as a loose group, up the hill, chainsaws hanging in hand at their sides, toward the rest of the neighborhood, looking for more driveways to clear. 

Like warriors from another dimension.

As I watched them walking into the awful wreckage that had once been a glorious old neighborhood, I thought for just a minute that they were angels. 
Angels with chainsaws instead of swords.

There was no bus emblazoned with the church name.

They didn’t have any literature to leave with the residents.

This was not marketing. It was ministry.

It was one of the purest, most powerful instances of true ministry I have witnessed, in a lifetime of observing churches do their “work,” which more often than not, includes some kind of advertisement for their particular congregation. Some kind of marketing for their particular church.
You will not find a person of deeper faith than I have, on the planet.  I have been a follower of Jesus since I was three years old.  And we could have lots of conversations about pagans and witches and Christians and everything in between.  

But churches?  Yeah, I don’t have much use for the way they do things.  That’s about religion. About one human telling another human what he/she should do.

These kids?  They weren’t pushing religion. They were doing the work of God.

And they asked nothing for it. Not one bit of recognition. Not one visit to their church. Not one donation.
They didn’t even say who they WERE until I asked.

These kids were the hands of God on this earth, and in a very bad time in my city, and in our country, they have given me hope for our world.

As to the Antioch Reformed Baptist Church of Portland, TN….I don’t agree with all of their stated doctrine.  But I can say that I do know something about the people.  

They are growing the kind of kids I want to be the future of my country.

And once we get through this horrible thing, their youth group is getting a donation from me. 

Screw what the media paints. This is what our country IS.  And THESE kids will save it.



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