I grew up in East Texas. There were pine trees, red clay mud and the beauty of nature surrounding us. It was an amazing place to grow up especially for a little girl that grew up dreaming about the fairies that lived in the woods around her.
Van was a small town not far from where I lived then and very close to where my dad and sister currently lives. My small high school played them in sports. There were Friday nights spent at their football stadium and UIL band competitions held in their gymnasium.
This past Sunday night, Mother’s Day, I happened to check Twitter one final time before bed and saw a tornado warning for Van and the neighboring city where my family lives. Thankfully because of modern day technology I was able to text my dad, who was huddled in his guest bathroom hiding from the storm. He was fine and my sister and her family were fine, they made it through the storm safely. But Van, TX is not fine.
On Mother’s Day the city of Van was hit by an E3 tornado that decimated homes. Their elementary school and intermediate school are destroyed. I have a friend named Ross who works at the elementary school. Today he’s digging through rubble hoping to find his college diploma that was hanging on the wall or any other mementoes from the past few years. Ross sent me these pictures taken at the Van school district campus.
A married couple, one being a retired police lieutenant, sadly passed away from the Tornado. His bible was found in a field, open to James 1:2-6, which says to consider trials to be nothing but joy because it produces faith.
This is a small sleepy town that needs help. Van is a good town full of good people. Mercy Ships International and Teen Mania, the organization behind Acquire the Fire, are based right outside of Van, TX. Many people that work for both organizations have been affected by this storm.
So what can we do from miles away? We can give. At this moment they have their needs met as far as clothing and water but in the coming months they will need money to rebuild. If you have money, give money. If you’re going through a rough patch and money isn’t there, give through spreading the word and praying.
How can you donate financially? Here’s three places that I have researched and are helping the community directly:
Samaritan’s Purse – This is a great organization that our family works with every year for Operation Christmas Child, where you fill a shoebox full of small gifts for children in other countries. They currently have a team on the ground in Van working to help clean up and take care of the people affected by this storm.
Van Community Ministries – This is an established organization in Van that is working hard to help meet people’s needs after this huge storm. Please make a note when donating that it is for the Tornado Victim’s Fund. You can view their FB page here.
Nicholas Pet Haven – Because so many homes were destroyed, there are a lot of lost pets at the moment. Nicholas Pet Haven was granted permission from the county to round up the loose animals and foster them until the owners can be found. This is a link to their main donations page but you can find out more information on their Facebook Page.
Most importantly we need to pray for Van. This community will rebuild but everyone knows that the last few weeks of school is tough but so fun. Pray for the kids not to be traumatized but to see what can happen when people pull together. Pray for the teachers that we know put so much of their own money into their classrooms and have now lost so much. Pray for the people that were injured to have those hospital bills met by people that can help.
Pray for homes, the community and the lives of people who live there to be rebuilt quickly. Pray for Van to do amazing things in the next few weeks.
Thank you to Ross Baker for letting me use these photos.