I was asked to make a timeline of Hosanna Industries’ work since our inception. It was going to be the guestbook for our 25th anniversary dinner. I was told to put in the major events in Hosanna’s history because people were going to sign in near the year that they first became involved with the mission. So many new friends find Hosanna when we are working on major projects that having these on the board would help people to know when they first joined the mission in case they’d forgotten.
And so I did my research. I came up with a list of major events. Almost every year there was something really big that the mission workers and volunteers had tackled. I wrote the events on plain paper and took them to my Sunday School class. The children drew a picture of each event and I transferred them to a board and added some color.
Then I stood back. I looked at the work. I have to admit, I was a little surprised at what I saw. It isn’t unusual for me to tell people in the course of my work about Hosanna’s disaster recovery. It almost rolls off my tongue – we helped people in Florida after Hurricane Andrew; St. Genevieve, Missouri after the flooding in the mid-90’s; in Arkansas after the racial burning of churches in the late 90’s; in North Carolina after Hurricane Floyd; in our own area after Hurricane Ivan; in Gulfport, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina; in Haiti following the earthquake; and in Joplin, Missouri after the tornado. To see it on the timeline was amazing though. I had just drawn the major events in Hosanna’s history and there were five hurricanes, two floods, an earthquake and a tornado.
In my mind when I think about what Hosanna does, it isn’t the disaster recovery work that comes to my mind first. It’s the elderly widow who is all alone and her roof is leaking into her bedroom. It’s the single mom whose windows are drafty and rattling. It’s the young hard-working dad who can’t afford to replace the furnace in their home to keep his wife and kids warm. It’s the disabled person who needs a wheelchair ramp to allow him or her access to the world outside.
If this is what I think of when I think about Hosanna and I’ve been working their for 17 years, why did my timeline look like a history of natural disasters? It didn’t seem right.
But it was right. People rally together to solve major crises. They come out offering what they can – a day, a week, a dollar, a thousand dollars, a pan of brownies, a meal for 40 volunteers, a 2×4, a pallet of shingles. They see the tragedy on the news. They talk about it at work. They wonder what they would do if disaster struck their own home and neighborhood. And they respond. And miracles happen.
The problem is people experience their own storms, their own disasters, their own tragedies all the time. A motorcycle crashes and a young mom is now raising two kids on her own. Cancer strikes and someone’s world is turned upside-down. A wife walks out one day and never returns. A child is born with severe disabilities and the house suddenly becomes too small for this young life and all the necessary medical equipment. An elderly man passes away peacefully but his widow’s income instantly drops to 1/3 of what it was the day before. Multiple sclerosis demands that a home be made wheelchair accessible. And so on and so forth.
Thankfully a young wife and mother once asked her husband, “Who is going to help the people in our own backyard.” And thankfully he responded by giving his life to a little mission that can help people through these storms in life.
I am thrilled to see people respond to others’ needs when hurricanes and tornados, earthquakes and floods strike. But it stirs something deep in my soul to see people respond to those quiet but desperate cries of Hosanna – “Rescue me now” – that are just as real and just as pain-filled and right in our own backyard. Changing these hosanna’s into hallelujah’s is what Hosanna does every day. Thank you to all of you who allow these miracles to happen!
-Julie Wettach, Mission Worker