As I round the one-year mark in Americus, I had the opportunity to revisit my first out-of-office assignment. Back to Alabama I drove to meet with families assisted by Habitat after last year’s April 27 storm system that sent more than 30 tornadoes across the state.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of the recovery efforts, but I was shocked by how familiar the tree-splintered skylines still looked. Some areas in Alberta City, just in the city limits of Tuscaloosa, looked like they were only a week out from the storm with just the streets of abandoned neighborhoods cleared out.
With the homeowners’ stories of excitement and hope as they move back to their communities, their voice and eyes were still filled with fear knowing that another storm could follow the same path and that nature doesn’t yield to any amount of preparation. Tornado sirens were even being tested in preparation for this past weekend’s storm system, which ended up causing several deaths in Indiana, Alabama and Missouri.
While nervously watching the skies, families were kind enough to stand on their porches with babies on hips and grandchildren running around in order to share their stories of where they were last April and how they started over. While I usually get the, “I’m so grateful for Habitat/volunteers/opportunity,” I was touched with how every family used their low points as a testimony for God’s work in their life.
One mom said as the tornado blew threw her children started repeating a “God is great, God is good” that a family member had taught them for meals. She said she didn’t even know they knew how to pray, but now it’s a part of their routine. A grandmother who’s part of five generations in her community said as her kitchen wall was being ripped off, her grandchildren were reciting the Lord’s Prayer and she was praying for another day to continue working in her community where her kitchen is the gathering place for anyone in need.
I’m not always great at sharing how God works in my life, but after seeing the weather hold off for our interviews and photos and then seeing these families acknowledge how He’s shaped their last year in miraculous ways, it’s hard to deny the power of prayer. Even if you’re not a Christian, it’s still a miracle to see hope where bitterness could take root.
Even families that are still months away from moving into a new home, or still have blue tarps for windows are just grateful for life. It’s just a sweet reminder that God is good – all the time.