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In the early hours on February 2nd, 2007 three separate tornadoes touched down in Lake County, FL, killing at least 21 people. The path of the tornadoes was over 16 miles and a 1/4 mile wide, leaving a huge amount of destruction.
We immediately contacted local churches and was put in contact with Robin-Anne. She lived in Lady Lake, but hadn't experienced any issues from the tornadoes.
Robin-Anne was collecting care packages and other items and was staging a small distribution center from her home. I was still working full time and couldn't immediately go to Lady Lake. We teamed up with Paul and Mandy Yoder who agreed to use their car sales lot to collect goods and create care packages.
Paul and Mandy, with a few others, took off for Lady Lake with the care packages. There were some problems hooking up with Robin-Anne, but Paul and Mandy found the area hit by the tornadoes and immediately set to work distributing them and ministering to folks.
One such person, Brent, didn't want any help. A tree had come through his roof and many areas of his home were exposed. The interior was ruined. He said he could handle it and that they should help others who needed it more!
Mandy used her charm and smile to convince him to take some of the stuff! She was able to let him know that Jesus loved him and that was why they were there!
When they returned home they asked that I try to contact him to help him if we could. We had already arranged to take a group up the following weekend. Robin-Anne had room for us to stay and work set up for us to do. I told Mandy we would try, but had already committed to other jobs.
Friday came and our group took off. We arrived in time to get unpacked and to bed. The next two days would be busy ones!
We got up bright and early and got ready. The home we were to begin working on, had not contacted us yet. One of the owner's parents had a heart attack and had been taken to the hospital. We waited a little while but needed to get to work so set out to find something else to do. We tried calling Brent, but no answer.
We came upon an area that was set up for disaster relief. Brother Jack was leading a group of volunteers. This place was a flurry of activity! I talked to Jack as I followed him around, in between his phone calls and other conversations. Once he realized we had an awesome team and the ability to get to work, he gave us our first assignment. Others from our church who could only come up on Saturday had joined our team. We set out to job #1.
The home owners weren't home, but Jack had already secured a work order and liability release form the day before. Once there we quickly determined that we needed a lot of wood to replace on the roof, fascia and soffit. We sent Brett from our church to Home Depot to pick up the lumber and other supplies.
While in the parking lot, loading the lumber, a local guy came up and offered to help him load his truck. Brett explained that he was part of a church relief group from Sarasota, and we were volunteering to help the residences get cleaned up. The gentleman thanked Brett for coming and he went his way.
Once back, Brett began unloading the truck and a guy on a motorcycle pulls into the yard, apparently he's the homeowner. I introduce myself to him and he tells me his name is Brent, the same guy that Paul and Mandy had ministered to the previous weekend! And then Brett walks up and says hey Brent, apparently Brent was the local guy who helped him load the lumber on his truck at Home Depot!
We ended up spending the weekend at Brent's and rebuilt his roof and got it dried in so that he could have the roofing materials installed the coming week. We even had a church service on Sunday morning in his front yard. A few other volunteers and neighbors joined us as I led us in Worship and then taught from The Word!
We spoke to Brent about the Lord and he said he became a Christian at an early age and had fallen away from the Lord, but we were certainly giving him a lot to think about. Continue to pray for him and his family.
We ended up going back to the area every Saturday for about 2 months, teaming up with Brother Jack. We contacted other Calvary Chapels in the state and several joined us. Ft. Lauderdale brought in a bus load of people a couple of different weekends.
We truly had the opportunity to do a lot of different types of work with many different people and the story above is only one of several “God” stories, that space limits me from sharing with you.
This was however an event that totally changed Mary Jo and my lives. I was winding down the end of a job. The company I worked for had closed our division and as Operations Manager, I was closing things up. Through a series of “God” events and divine interventions, the Lord used Brother Jack and Brother Charles specifically to push us into full time into Relief Ministry.
The last weekend that we spent in Lady Lake took us full circle. The family we were set up to help the first weekend we arrived had suffered through many hardships during the two months after the tornadoes. We ended up back in contact with them and helped them replace their roof. Three of us from Sarasota made the trip. When we arrived we were overwhelmed by all the work that needed done, but I told the guys, let's just get started and see what God does. The homeowner and his father showed up to help us.
All day long it looked like and did rain all around us, but we prayed that it wouldn't affect us until the roof was dried in. As the day was coming to an end, we ran out of roofing paper, one roll shy. The homeowner said he'd go get another roll and he and his father would finish the job as we had a two hour trip back home. We cleaned up and headed out. Before we made it home, the homeowner called us to thank us and told us that they had finished the job. As he was talking they were pulling out of the drive way and all of the sudden it started pouring down rain. God is so good, all we have to do is be faithful!
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