The past two days have held some monumentally encouraging news. Please, allow me to share:
- Tuscaloosa's missing persons list dropped dramatically yesterday to 80!! Only 80 still missing!! At it's height, the missing persons list was in the 500s due to duplicates and lack of updating! Praise Jesus! I pray we find these 80 people!!
- Tuscaloosa's "death count" (isn't there a more tactful phrase?) is still at 40! It did not change yesterday. What a miracle. Forty is still a huge number, and my heart aches for those who have lost their lives or lost loved ones. But, I think we can all agree that we were expecting so much worse, and I am praying the "count" stays at 40.
- ALL - 100% - Every-Single-One - of the students at Holt Elementary, Davis-Emerson Middle, and Holt High have been found safe and accounted for!! On Monday, there were still 40 Holt Elementary students missing. What a miracle!
- My family applied for assistance to rebuild my grandmother's house!! I knew they were going to do this, but finding out the paperwork is in process made my heart happy. The damage to the house is contained to two specific areas (and the yard), and we are praying that the house will be repaired quickly!!
- Received some encouraging words from my most recent cooperating teacher. :)
- Gave each of my students a copy of "101 Great American Poems" as a "farewell" gift yesterday, and wasn't sure what their response would be. I did a unit on poetry with them, which started with the question, "Why do you hate poetry so much?". Kids generally don't like poetry, so my job was to teach these fifth graders a thing or two about REAL poetry. I would read from my copy of "101 Great American Poems" (which my 11th grade teacher read from!), and the kids would sit around and snap their fingers (instead of clapping). By the end of the unit, many of them claimed to really enjoy poetry - and wrote some incredible poems of their own!! When I told them what I got them, I saw several of their eyes light up. :)
- Before I left the school, each and every one of my students came to give me a hug. Normally, that's not such a big deal. But, I learned a lot with these kids - and, to be honest, they really didn't like me very much at the beginning because I tend to be a bit strict. But, I think they realized that I really do love them, and that I am tough on them because I expect great things from them. So, those hugs meant the world to me.
- Saw a leopard moth outside the bathroom at a gas station. I guess that just made going to a gas station bathroom more enjoyable.
- Got a free mani-pedi from our pastor's daughter. I have green toenails and a combination of ladybugs and bumblebees on my fingernails. :)
- A beautiful rainbow appeared over Tuscaloosa yesterday.
Blake and I drove down McFarland for the first time yesterday. Most of the work we have been doing since the storm has been in Ralph or in Northport, so we really haven't seen much of the damage. We walked down 15th street last Thursday, which was enough for me. I tend to be very sensitive to my emotions, and the sight of all the wreckage literally makes me sick. As we drove down McFarland, I honestly forgot about the damage we would see. I have seen pictures, but nothing really prepares you to see it in person.
Just last week, I took some friends' little girls to the 15th Street McDonald's for ice cream. Just last week, Blake and I ate Taco Casa on 15th - swearing it would be our last trip out to eat for a long time. Just recently, I shopped at the CVS at the intersection and saved a bundle with my coupons. My bridesmaid's dresses were ordered from Burch and Hatfield (and some of the dresses were in the shop). I banked at the University Regions. I have made many U-turns to go get my "Hot and Now" Krispy Kreme donut. And, oh, the hours I have spent in Hobby Lobby!!!! They may be "just" businesses - and I am confident they will all rebuild. But, to see my favorite little intersection lying in rubble hurt. It hurt real bad.
I can't help but sing praises to the Lord for saving so many people and for bringing so many volunteers to our town and to all the towns hit by the storm. These amazing people who have poured in from all over the country are a huge blessing. In time, the mass of volunteers will leave and we will be left to finish the work on our own. Tuscaloosa is pulling together in a way I have never seen before, and I pray that our energy will constant and that we will continue pulling together long after our beautiful city is restored.