I was talking with Jonah and Christy Beyer the other night after we had unloaded from our trip to West, Texas. We had spent 3 days and nights working with the victims, volunteers and families from the fertilizer plant explosion. I thanked them for introducing me to Mission U-Too. I told them if I had not met them I would be rested, clean, smelled good and probably have watched all of the events from the comfort of my living room. However, I did meet them and I was exhausted, filthy, smelled bad and had one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
We served between 1800 and 2000 meals over those three days and met many people from all over the state and country. Texas sure did turn out and support the folks from West. The town of West has about 2500 people and during this disaster there were maybe 10 times that amount of people. This is a very tight knit community and they are either related or have been friends for a long time. Most of them that we talked with knew everyone that had died. The lifeblood of a small Texas town is generally its High School and the sports that are associated with the school. West lost its football field, gymnasium and other sports fields. This devastation will last for a long time.
There were times during the last couple of days that I could see visible wounds from some of the victims. When a lady came through our food line with multiple cuts all over her body it was easy to feel compassion for her and the trauma that she had been through. We have become such a visual society that sometimes we forget to look at the inner pain and hurts that these people are feeling. With the out pouring of help all around the city sometimes you wonder if you are doing any good. You wonder if you are supposed to be there. Did I hear God about coming here?
Mission U-Too’s mission is to feed people physically and spiritually. The physical part with the help of all of our volunteers and donors is really the easy part. The difficult part is to feed them spiritually while they are going through this. I was talking with one of the volunteers while I was there and we were talking about joy and that the joy had been removed from the town. I believe that Mission U-Too was sent to help put Joy back into the town.
Isn’t that just like God to use a borrowed trailer, borrowed grills, weekend cooks with no beds to lay down at night and donated food and water to bring Joy to the City of West? Our presentation when we talk with everyone is we are not affiliated with any church or religious organization, that we just want to be “The Hands and Feet of Jesus.”
I talked with Shelley today to follow up and see how they were doing. She is the coordinator of the town that had set up everything at the fairgrounds. They had just been to the first viewing and said that the viewing and funerals were going to be going on for the next 10 days. She expressed how much we had meant to her and the town and that she didn’t realize how close you can become in three days’ time. Shelley said that all of the food vendors were gone now but that she missed us the most because we put our hearts into the people by praying with them. She had said that we brought Joy to them. We talked about our next trip up there and then as I hung up the phone I realized that we had truly become, “The Hands and Feet of Jesus.”
Mission U-Too accomplished, but I really am excited to be exhausted, stinky, filthy and fulfilled again by the people of West, Texas.
Thanks for Helping Us Help Others,
Chas Winckel started serving with Mission U-Too in 2011 with the Bastrop Fires. After a year of God put it on his hart to get more involved with Mission U-Too, him and his wife Laurie started our Round Rock location and serve as the site coordinators.