Weather reports had been forecasting “super storms” for days, but we figured the dark clouds forming rapidly overhead were just part of another crazy thunderstorm typical for spring in the South. When our cattle suddenly fled to the ditches for protection, we knew trouble was brewing.
We ran inside and huddled in the hallway. Claps of thunder shook the house as lightning streaked across the nearly black sky. Then the world went silent. For just a moment we experienced no wind, no thunder, no lightning. That’s when the tornado hit.
Our house began to shake as if it was in an earthquake, and a horrid sound like a freight train filled the air. As the tumult abated, we ran outside. When I looked up, I felt my heart stop. I couldn’t breathe. I watched as a terrifying, swirling black mass ripped away my small, rural town. Small tornados spawned from the mother storm devoured everything in their paths. Birds and buildings were sucked in and flung out in pieces.
We went back inside to gather supplies to go into town to help anyone we possibly could. Just then, my granddaddy’s phone started ringing and sirens blared, warning that another tornado was coming—this time straight for us.
As the funnel began forming right above our land, we did the only thing we could. We fell to our knees and prayed that Heavenly Father would spare us, but we also said that we would accept His will. The funnel passed right over our home, ripping off a few shingles and knocking down half of our barn, but otherwise leaving us untouched.
Following a dark night without electricity or running water, we were finally able to go into town to see what we could do to help. What I saw will never leave my mind. What was once my town was reduced to rubble.
Houses lay in splinters, and huge swaths of road were missing. The grass was gone, and any trees that still stood upright were stripped of branches and leaves. People’s belongings were strewn everywhere. Strips of metal and crushed cars cluttered the streets, and the anguish of those who had lost loved ones mixed with the dust and dirt of destruction.
In that moment I realized how blessed I was and how strong my faith was. I discovered how hope could emerge from utter destruction. In the days and weeks that followed, I worked with several organizations, including Mormon Helping Hands, to help rebuild our town and feed and clothe those who had lost everything. The common chorus heard was “The Lord will provide a way.”
As help poured in from around the country, I was filled with gratitude for total strangers. I was overwhelmingly thankful for my life and the spared lives of my loved ones. I was taught once again that more can be accomplished working together than trying to pull the load alone.
I decided from that moment to always remain grateful, to do everything within my power to be a servant to my God, and to seek out and help those less fortunate. My commitment has helped me when I face my own struggles and just want to give up.
My commitment has helped me as a missionary in France, when I returned home and got a job, and when I chose to attend LDS Business College. As I study Entrepreneurship I hope to always remember the things the tornado taught me that spring not so long ago.
I’ve got big plans for myself. Someday I want to use the gifts God has given me to own a small bed and bakery. How will I get there? It all begins here at LDSBC.
My degree will open my world to so many exciting opportunities! I hope to use my future experiences to help other culinary artists run their businesses—here in the U.S and around the world. I cannot wait to see where this adventure takes me.
In a hymn we sing, “Because I have been given much, I too must give.” This simple phrase has sculpted my life and is preparing me for the future.