Four weeks ago today, tornados ripped through southern Indiana leaving a trail of devastation and changing the course of lives. I stand amazed and humbly awed by those who quickly and selflessly came to the aid of people in need. While coordinating spiritual and emotional care in the Marysville and Henryville area, it was my pleasure to have a team of responders from Hope Force International dispatched to work with The Salvation Army.
Chuck Duby, Hope Force Chaplain, served as team leader for the Hope Force group. After working with another international ministry for 17 years in multiple capacities, Chuck joined the Hope Force staff nearly 6 years ago.
Phil Fenn, a businessman from Nashville, Tennessee, was in California with his wife on business when the tornados hit. He postponed his business activities and quickly returned to the Midwest so he could serve people in need in Indiana.
Jess, an ER nurse, and Davey Anderson, a personal trainer, are 28 & 29 years old and have been married two years. Following missions training and an outreach to Cambodia, they felt led to leave their home in California to join the Hope Force Staff in Tennessee. They arrived in Nashville Friday evening, March 2, trailing the storms that hit Alabama and Indiana. They were deployed the next day into Alabama, then to Indiana the following Tuesday. By the time I returned to Lafayette, Jess and Davey had spent more time with me than they had in their new home in Nashville.
Stu and Carla Raynor chose to spend their first wedding anniversary serving the needs of the community in Marysville. Taylor and Marie Perez left their vacation in Florida to specifically to assist with the work in Marysville.
Lynn Crew – Vice President of BACAR Constructors in Nashville, Tennessee, is a reservist with HFI and has served overseas and in the US extensively in relief work.
Glenda and Andrew Bashor, a couple in their mid 50’s have been with Hope Force force full time for about year. Glenda’s reflection on her experience serving with The Salvation Army in Marysville follows below.
Marysville, IN Deployment
Glenda Bashor – Hope Foce International
As we watched the storm progression from our home in Franklin, TN and prepared to hunker down in our own ‘safe place’, it became very apparent we would once again be “on the road” to serving survivors in the aftermath of the widespread storms tearing through the eastern states.
Marysville, specifically because the focus had been on other larger communities, was foremost in the heart and mind of Hope Force International leadership. It wasn’t long before our pre-packed bags were being tied down in our trailer and 6 of us were on our way to Marysville.
Our relationship as a national partner with the Salvation Army opened a door wide for our service in the Marysville area.
Following our arrival, introductions and updates about the situation surrounding the small community of Marysville, then a brief survey of the area’s needs, it was determined that our initial plans would be adapted to a specific area of service.
The Salvation Army pinpointed a greater need of supporting survivors, utility workers and volunteers through a gathering place for physical and emotional rejuvenation. Thus, overseeing the feeding tent became our focus.
Hospitality has always been an important component of my husband’s and my life. To serve the needs of those involved in the recovery process through this means was an honor. Connecting with individuals on a personal level (both survivors and volunteers), while fulfilling a basic need of food (something often overlooked in times of stress), was particularly special. Gathering around food often drops barriers and allows for an openness to deeper emotional and spiritual needs of people. To me this is the heart of hospitality – reflecting the love of God and expressing the value of the individual through a tangible means.
All the volunteers were so willing, available and capable. “Greg” particularly stands out. Several hours after standing at a menial and seemingly mundane task to which he brought excellence and care, it became apparent this was not what he had come for….he’d been ready to head out to “the fields” with chain saw, shovel and other such tools. BUT, he willingly and cheerfully stood as a sentry over food preparation and holding items when requested to do so. He exemplified the heart of volunteerism ….doing what is necessary, when required, regardless of pre-conceived ideas or expectations.
The spirit of resiliency in the residents of Marysville was evident in even the elderly of the community. Sisters Marguerite and Cecile were one set of survivors reflecting their faith and hope in a loving heavenly Father, even though their home would have to be leveled. They declared His hand of protection in their lives in spite of the discomfort and displacement they were experiencing. Many others, even though still reeling from the shock of loss of home and possessions and/or reliving memories of the winds tearing through their homes and community, were pressing in to gather up, clean up and determine the next step. A community bonded together through the common ground of recovery and rebuilding.
Working with Salvation Army members is always an honor as they are often the heart and soul of serving basic needs in local communities.
For more information on Hope Force International, please visit their website at www.hopeforce.org