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How Thankfulness Comes Through Hurricanes and Family Visits

I am sitting in my room this morning, trying the “work from home” thing in hopes of proving that I can be productive when I do not go in to the office and get carried away with shenanigans in the shop that do not belong to me.  (Read: our team handles customers much better when I do not stick my nose in and botch up the process.)

But my mind is whirling from cleaning my inbox after several days off and deleting too many Pinterest emails after I opened them (the possibilities are endless on Pinterest!), and my heart is racing from the pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting that my mom made as she visited this week.  They make a great breakfast with coffee when you are trying to be creative.  You just have to balance the sugar-to-protein ratio to keep from overdoing it… which I have not. BRBC with Police

A visit from my parents always helps me to slow down and recap what is truly important.  Because they only come about once a year, it is easy to block off that time and make life stop, or at the very least, shake it up to make sure that memories are made and laughter is had in abundance.  The beautiful fall weather just adds to the perfection of the days: it seems like anything is possible when the sun shines through and warms the chill of the day.

We have so much to be thankful for.  The past couple months have left me with a laundry list of all I need to write to keep our friends and family in the loop.  From the Spirit Ride to the Franklin County Agricultural Fair, with the Fill the Bus Hurricane Harvey Water Relief, we have been overwhelmed by the kindness in our community, and sweetness of absolute strangers that became friends in a moment.

For those of you who followed the story on Facebook with Hurricane Harvey, we felt compelled to help in the face of such a huge natural disaster.  Even now, as the waters are STILL receding and God’s Pit Crew heads down there weekly to rebuild more homes, we contemplate holding another collection or drive as the doors open in the future.  But in that moment, we learned that the greatest need was water, so cases of water are what we set out to collect.  One trip in to Walmart to ask permission, and they graciously rolled out the red carpet for us.  One phone call to the team at SML Signs and they literally designed and donated the banner for the bus, completed in an afternoon.  We were already humbled by the heart of this community.

We meekly hoped for a few pallets that we could haul on our beautiful new rollback to take down to Danville, the collection warehouse for God’s Pit Crew.  We would’ve have been so proud to have the pallets stacked up and hauled off, our good deed for the day.  So we quickly jumped on Facebook Live, in the pouring rain no less, and announced our collection date set for Walmart with a few days notice. 

(Sidenote: maybe others have no trouble with this, but I have (had?) a huge problem going Facebook Live.  It scares the ever-living tar out of me.  I mean, what if something awkward happens?  What if you accidentally say something politically incorrect and offend the masses and get publicly crucified?  What if people can see your flaws and now there is no way to hide them?  You can’t take it back, you can’t cover over it.  I mean, it’s LIVE.  It happened.  Living proof that I am just a human being.  And that is what scares me something fierce.  So me and Jesus had to work through that together, until I realized that human is all I ever will be, and it is only by His grace that I am anything good anyways.  Problem solved in my heart.  For that hurdle and that moment, anyways.And here is the proof:  )

Long story short, the Facebook Live went viral, with thousands of views and shares and likes and loves.  Cases of water started getting dropped off at the shop the next day, and the phone started ringing with requests to bring the bus other places.  It was a humbling thing to witness, to say the least.  So many caring people going out of their way to bless others, and we got to be a part of it.

By the time we got to Walmart, there were several PALLETS waiting for us even before we started the collection.  That’s right: pallets.  Friends and family from Upstate New York had called in or ordered online, local friends and community leaders got in competition with one another to buy case after case… it was a joyous madness, if I had to coin a phrase.  Single mothers let their kids help give their cases, older couples drove up to the curb to let us haul cases out of their trunks, friends and strangers alike came by to drop off and thank us.  Case after case, some people even returning with more cases throughout the afternoon, some bringing change or small bills and asking us to send the cash on.  Whole families turned out to contribute, widowed men came to give and even stayed for awhile; people that had extra money to spare, and people that were so clearly sacrificing to make this donation to a cause they felt had a greater need than they… it was the most beautiful picture you have ever seen.  A special thanks to Blue Ridge Bible College for volunteering their time to help us in this effort.  We at TNT would have fallen apart, quite literally, had it not been for their loading and packing efforts.  See the article from Laker Weekly here.

Hurricane Water Collection Walmart

What we didn’t even know at the time was that Walmart had put collection bins in he store and announced that we were filling the bus that day.  As we were wrapping up that evening, they stopped us to ask what they should do with all the donations.  We then literally filled the Cool Bus with every kind of donation from peanut butter to bleach to diapers to dog food.  We had no idea what to do with all of it, but promised we would get it to Danville with the rest of the pallets.

Hurricane Collection Cool Bus 

We spent the whole next day at the Rocky Mount Police Department collecting even more cases and donations.  I happened to notice that Franklin Restaurant was collecting a trailer full of goods to take for hurricane relief as well.  With one phone call, they opened their doors to take all of our non-water donations, and we kept taking the cases of water.

Franklin Restaurant with TNT Hurricane Relief

 Before the week was out, it was clear we would need a tractor trailer to haul this abundance anywhere.  The only other option we had was to load the rollback and make 4 separate trips to Danville for the drop off, which would have cost so much time, money, fuel and staff to help, and we were already pretty spent from the collection week we had just experienced.  With one phone call, our family friend Tony Custer arranged his trucker schedule to haul the pallets for us if we would only load it.  It was the greatest blessing we could have ever hoped for: in an instant, that heavy burden lifted.  We were overwhelmed.

Our friends from Blue Ridge Bible College showed up to save the day again, on a Saturday morning through Labor Day weekend no less, and we loaded that tractor trailer full. We were able to share the morning on Facebook Live here. In between the hard work were lots of laughs and memories made. See the morning fun on YouTube here.

It was a bittersweet moment as we watched that tractor trailer drive away.  A part of our hearts went with it.  It was one of those moments that you think you are doing God a favor by doing what you can, doing the “right thing”… but the truth of the matter is, it was we who were changed for the better, and our hearts that were warmed and healed.  Then I remembered, It is better to give than to receive, and I wholeheartedly agreed with it once again, getting a fresh revelation on that verse in that moment in time.

This story has already gone on so much longer than I planned, but I don’t want to change any of it in the event that you all like the “behind the scenes” of this TNT window.  I will share with you more on the Spirit Ride and the Franklin County Fair… once I get another coffee and pumpkin muffin with cream cheese frosting.

 Love, Tara

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