This has been an amazing day! I was so excited to get to Joplin that I didn't sleep much last night. I was out of bed at 2:30 AM to begin the trek to the airport for my 6:10 flight where I met up with Marla Williams. She has been instrumental in organizing this series of talks. Marla and I were both committed to putting on these events with no cost to the Joplin community. American Family Insurance graciously sponsored the meetings so we could bring this message of resilience, empowerment and hope. After we arrived in Joplin this evening, Vicky Mieseler (the Director at Ozark Center) picked us up and gave us a first-hand view of the town. She was at work at the time the tornado struck and she was able to hunker down. Her daughter, on the other hand, had quite the experience.
Vicky was on the phone with her when the tornado touched down and screamed for her to stay at the hospital where she was working across town. Unfortunately, the phone line went dead and she never received the warning. Her daughter left her job at the hospital to try and get home but ended up driving right into the tornado. She turned back around and she was able to fight her way back to the hospital where she rode out the tornado. Meanwhile, unable to reach her daughter, Vicky jumped in her car and tried to find her. She drove to the hospital but her daughter's car was gone. Frightened to the core, Vicky turned her car around to go and search for her daughter. Thousands of cars were destroyed and barely recognizable. Vicky stopped at all of the white cars along the route to look inside to see if one of them might contain her daughter. Vicky told me, "Looking in the cars I saw things that I never should have seen." Her daughter was nowhere to be found. Vicky went back to the hospital to double check and, just then, her daughter - unable to get back home - drove up in her car. I can't imagine the overwhelming emotion as they embraced and cried for joy!