Memories, Tears, Moving Forward And A Very Changed Man—Joplin, Missouri

by altardy on November 2, 2011

Of all the writing I will be doing in the coming days about Joplin, this entry will appear to be my last entry.  However, I am actually putting my last entry in first.  Two reasons for this: 1. in the sequence of entries this entry, when my writing is done, will appear to be my last.-2. I could have put it in a different place, but I wanted to have the first words I write to be the ones that come out of my heart, mind and soul having  just returned home with memories fresh within me.

   My eyes have began to flow with tears as I now try to put pictures, faces, names and time spent with so many wonderful people into words.  The visions from the past week which I spent with so many great new friends are combining with waves of emotions that I am still feeling even now after being gone for four days. 

  To the residents of Joplin–you are my new Brave Hearts.  You have been torn apart by mother nature’s most violent winds, yet, you stand strong, tall, and proud.  You are an example to the world.  You will not accept a hand out–you just ask for a hand.  There is absolutely no question in my mind that you will rebuild stronger than ever structurally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.    

     To the people I worked side by side with for MANY  hours each day(both residents and volunteers from far away) “thank you” for so many memories.  You didn’t become a page in my book of life, you became chapters that will be with me long after I’ve left this earth.

   The first picture you see is of me experiencing the first of many sunrises I would be awake to see and absorb the nature’s beauty.  I had come not totally knowing what to expect.  The second picture is the last sunset I saw before leaving.  I left a very changed person because of all of you.  Many of the residents of Joplin thanked me for coming to lend a hand.  I, however, felt that it was a privilege to become a part of your lives.  You welcomed me into your world as if I were an old friend.

   There is a chance I will be able to return to Joplin to speak.  It is in my prayers that this will come to pass.  Not just to get to speak again and hopefully inspire others, but to revisit the town whose people inspire me.  “Thank You” for being who you are and may God bless you.

If you were part of this wonderful rebuilding, please email me.  My personal email address is  I would love to hear from you.

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Thanks for your kind words


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