Sunday morning we rolled into the Operation BBQ Relief site located at the Hillsdale Free Will Baptist Bible College about a mile south of the tornado’s path. This is Kristi and my 3rd deployment with OBR after a tornado so we were familiar with what was going to happen and went right to work.
We unloaded the supplies we had purchased with the donations of our friends, then Kristi was put in charge of the line that filled orders for pre-packaged individual meals and I was put in charge of keeping inventory of food that was ready to be distributed. Our friends Sam and Brian that went along were also put right to work as there is always something that needs to be done. After a busy lunch, we cleaned and got ready to do it all again. Meat had to come off the smoker and be prepared for serving and fresh meat needed to be prepped to go on the smokers.
We finally got to bed a little after midnight and were up again bright and early the next morning for day 2. Ribs needed to be seasoned and put on the smoker for a special Memorial Day meal for victims hosted by the University of Oklahoma. Then we worked on stocking OBR’s new concession trailer as we were the lucky ones who got to take her out for her maiden voyage. We set up the trailer in the drive of Plaza Towers Elementary school and offered a hot, nutritious meal to those cleaning up as well as those who were there to protect. We were assisted by our good friends Terri, Caelyn and Larry who have helped us several times with people’s choice events. A couple of us walked through the local neighborhoods telling people about OBR and directing them to our trailer for a meal. We serve meals rich in protein and carbohydrates because these people are working hard and need to keep their energy up. It’s also amazing how much a hot meal can raise their spirits! A mother/daughter team from Indiana stopped by and asked if they could help, by the time we finished for the day they had made a half dozen or so trips out into the neighborhoods with meals to hand out to those in need. We had never met them before, but we won’t forget them.
Set up next to us was a group called Raise Some Hope (www.raisesomehope.org) or Facebook.com/raisesomehope. These folks had t-shirts that you could write your feelings on the back as part of the grieving/healing process. At one point I had gone over to check on them and there was a young boy writing a thank you note to his teacher. It turns out he was one of the children who was shielded by their teacher when she laid over them for protection. When I tried to tell the story to Kristi I couldn’t do it without crying, so of course I had to repeat it several times. Even today typing this I’m getting a little misty eyed.
Another story worth telling; on one of my walking trips around the area telling people about our food I spoke with a young lady who was there helping to clean her brother’s house. She said she wasn’t really hungry, but a group of people had offered to help her and were cleaning in the back yard so we headed that way to ask them. She asked if they had had anything to eat, to which one replied they had some crackers earlier in the day. she asked me if we could feed the entire crew and I said “of course!”. She told the crew she would be back, we went to our trailer and loaded her up with 40 meals. She had no idea who these people were, but that’s what good people do in a disaster, they help one another.
We do this to help others, but it always seems like we are the ones who get blessed. The power of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me.
To learn more about Operation BBQ Relief, visit our website links page and click on their logo.