When SPPRAK travels we like to visit churches. On Trinity Lutheran it would be, seemed a good fit, and, lets face it, it is not the church that makes the difference it is the people. Lucky us, we picked the right church with the right group of people!, we choose a church based on a couple of criteria: late start, due to the previous days fourteen hour journey and easy to find in a new city.
As soon as we arrived and stepped out of our car we were greeted with a good morning! Remember our back window was painted up for our Moore trip, we weren't what you call inconspicuous. Someone held the door as we walked in to more greetings, a minister that shook our hands hardily, we could tell everyone was genuine. When Pastor Roger asked what brought us to Oklahoma City, we were happy to tell him. One of the alter boys was Jesse Warren, an eleven year old who attends school in Moore, as did his friend Abigail. In fact, more than a few in the church had ties to Moore. A counselor, a teacher, students. We also just happened to come on 50's and 60's day. Dressing up optional but encouraged and of course there was a lunch after the service. Complete with music we had a pretty good time with this great group of people.
While we were there, we asked Jesse's parents, Winnie and Jesse, if we could speak to him about the day of the tornado. When asked about that day, Jesse is forthcoming, he said he was scared, but that the tornado missed his school. His teacher allowed students to contact their parents so Winnie and Jesse knew their son was safe. As was their neighborhood. However, once they were home, Winnie discovered that the only family they knew at Plaza Towers, the school that had been destroyed by the tornado, was not so lucky. Jesse said he remembered his mom screaming as she read a Facebook message. Jesse's friend Christopher had been one of the 7 children killed that day, his brother, Jesse's good friend, and little sister were badly injured. Their father had run to the school to help and had pulled his children from the rubble. As a parent it is hard to imagine, but Jesse is a child, and when asked how he felt about this, he is silent for a moment. “Sad. I played football with him, I liked him.” It is football season again, but Jesse and Christopher's brother play on different teams now. Winnie, Jesse's mom, fills in that Christopher was not where he was suppose to be, he was down the hall playing with a little girl that he was friends with. When the storm comes, Christopher covers the girl with his body as the wall collapses on them. The little girl survives. It seems like something he would do, Jesse says. When asked if he feels strange about starting school with all that has happened he says he is a little nervous. And while he did lose a friend, his school, home and normal day to day life was not affected by the tornado. How does that feel? Jesse shares that it is a little strange sometimes. Jesse's father is an officer in the Air Force and the family moves around a lot. They came to Moore only a little more than a year ago. They had not lived in Moore that long before the tornado and had not lived here when the May 3, 1996 tornado happened.
Jesse, like most eleven year olds enjoys attention, but you can tell he is caring, friendly and open.
The talk with Jesse was encouraging, he was excited about our program coming to his school. His parents were very kind, in letting Jesse tell his story, and agreeing to have it in our blog. There are not a lot of details, and that may disappoint some, but Jesse is a child, his personal experience with that day is different than others. His school was spared, he returned to his home and had his parents with him. And that is okay. It is more than okay. And when they hang the banner in his school, he will be able to say he talked to SPPRAK, and that they wanted to bring the SPPRAK Pack program to Moore to help ease the pain and encourage the school children effected in Moore to be OK.
|The Warren family and Pastor Roberts|