Placing our hearts in the midst of tragedy

By Kendra Zadnik

When the West Fertilizer plant caught fire and exploded April 17, amidst the fire and ashes were the remnants of people’s lives. Some even lost their lives, while others lost all of their material possessions. These were the things we all take for granted—a comfortable bed to sleep on, a favorite pillow, a pair of comfortable house shoes. Lost forever were the things that can’t be replaced—grandmother’s china, childhood photos, treasured keepsakes.

As one woman who lost everything said, “Yes, they were just things, but they were my things.”

Many are suffering from physical injuries and emotional stress. Parents look at their children and are grateful for one more day.

Most everyone in the entire area is mourning the loss of a friend or loved one and longing to ease the pain of those who have suffered the most.

That was my prayer Friday morning when, just hours after the tragedy, I believed Jesus would show me a way to help.

As I was driving out of my driveway, my phone rang with a call from the Veterans Administration asking me to help them locate a house for a displaced veteran and his family whose home was destroyed in the fire. I work with the VA regularly as I am under contract with them to connect the properties they own in McLennan County with veterans. But this call stopped me in my tracks.

My heart quickened as I knew God had answered my prayer that quickly. He was allowing me to be part of the healing for this family.

From that call, until the moment that we presented a fully stocked and furnished three-bedroom home with furniture, a television, clocks, lamps, bedding, small appliances, a refrigerator, toiletry items and a pantry full of food, I knew this was bigger than me.

The past few days have been very powerful as God placed people and their donations into this situation. Friends were calling to pick up items in their truck and deliver them. This dirty house with weeds was cleaned and decorated and turned into a beautiful home with new grass and fresh linens and towels, clothes hanging in the closets and all the special touches this family deserves.

Every single item in this home is a gift from God. The rent is paid, and the yard is ready for their dogs.

It has been an incredible four days of seeing God orchestrate for Scott and Geri Burgess and their sons and daughter.

Geri said this whole event is “like losing a tooth. Your tongue keeps going to that spot, but you realize that it’s no longer there.”

Yet, they are still worried about their neighbor who is missing.

The 19-year-old son, Tom, pulled out his parents who were burned all over by the falling debris and insulation. The roof fell in on them. Both Geri and her son wore glasses that were blown off.

They were even preparing to leave and Geri had her purse in hand when the blast happened. They had feared a fire at the plant in the past, but this time it was for real. They are forever changed.

I’m so proud of each of you who jumped in and found friends to make this house a home. I have the best friends in the world! I love how each of you are servants of Jesus and were all about love and hope for this family in their time of need.

I can’t explain that every time something was needed my phone rang and someone took on the next item. A stranger called saying they had a truck when we needed a sofa and loveseat picked up in Bosqueville and taken to the house.

Through all the connections, another friend turned up who actually knows this family and came over and hung the flag.

Every piece and item had a place and a purpose.

We all know that when our friends and family hurt, we hurt. We live in a community where people embrace each other in times of tragedy and we’ve experienced that in a very real way. This is just one story of many, I’m sure, where people are being used to comfort the town of West. We are honored and humbled to be part of God’s healing work.

I would especially like to recognize and offer my heartfelt gratitude to the amazing people at Fellowship Bible Church. You amaze me with your spirit of love and unselfishness. Thank you to Kyle Wollard, who donated his beautiful couch. Mirth co-workers raised money to purchase a washer and dryer and Home Depot delivered them. Many, many others have been a part of this project including Jason Findley, who provided rent for the next six months; Comet Cleaners in Bellmead; Barrera’s Landscaping in Hewitt, Greater Hewitt Chamber of Commerce, Target Restoration, Cyndi Mitchell, Amie Kelly, Valerie Horn, Robin Jamison, Stephen Jamison, Donna Sharp, James Gilmore, Bobby Jones, Julie Latino, Shawna Lucas, Lesly Rascoe, Holly Davis, Jeanna Kish, Loren Lee, Rene Kekic, Kevin Rhodes, Kevin Kelly, Charlie Melton, Mindi Selman, Rachel Hisle, Lori Dean, Stana and Kenny Butts, Zoe Zadnik, Brinna Jones, Daniel Hoover, Patrick Kekic, Robby Mullens and Joanne Maloney.

Many additional friends picked up items and others went out a bought every item needed from bedding, towels, curtains, rugs, trash cans, mops and  small to large appliance such as a refrigerator and  washer and dryer.

Thank you also to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki and Undersecretary Allison Hickey for calling to say thank you for helping one of their veterans.

We can’t explain the events that happened in West, but I know I will never forget the generosity and compassion that I have personally witnessed this week.

 Home Before…

Home Filled with Love…