This has been a very trying week on so many levels. We found out that the visas we thought were fine are actually not valid for our trip because in spite of the fact that we sent the itinerary as required and stated when we were traveling to Ghana as required they put the wrong date on the visas and refuse to change them. This means the ministry was really hit below the belt financially and will have to help those that have already sent in their visas to do this again closer to the date of our departure. It felt like a real attack of the enemy but this is nothing to the storm that came to us on Father's Day. I have always wanted to see a tornado but even when we lived in Oklahoma I only saw the aftermath of these beasts that everyone fears so much. I never forgot seeing a 2x4 imbedded in a tree trunk...steel from the guard along the road wrapped around trees like a pretzel, car frames thrown into all sorts of places. Ironically I never saw a tornado there. I've only witnessed two tornados in my life. One here in Montana in '91 which didn't do any real damage at all before dissapating. We had large hail that I remember but that was about it. Father's day was the warmest day we'd had in a while. Lovely and I decided not to see a movie since the show we really wanted to see wasn't on and we were tired. I taught that day and just wanted to relax. Gabby was playing with her little friends next door while I sat in our garage reading and listening to music from our laptop. I saw the approaching clouds but from our angle they didn't look like much. Some huge raindrops started to fall as Danielle and Mike came home from the park with two of their friends. We figured the storm would quickly pass with little excitement. How very wrong we were! The rain started to increase and with it hail started to fall. It hailed for some time with then it seemed as though the hail would cease altogether. My dad came out and watched the storm with us as the lighthing became dramatic enough for us all to sit up and take real notice. It was psychedelic purple with thunder following almost instantly. Suddenly very large hail started to fall and the cloud we had been watching took on a life of its own. Suddenly out of the boiling cloud came the creature of many people's nightmares but almost as quickly as it came it was shrouded in rain wrapped wall. Suddenly the town siren went off though it could barely be heard over the hail and rainfall. Under it all we could hear a roar that sounded like mix between a freight train and a jet...just like everyone says they sound...the tornado was here! We could see nothing as the roar continued and hail fell. The street filled with a literal river of water as the field and the plains flooded with water that had no place to go except right down the street
. We have never owned a boat before nor ever really wanted one however today would have been a good day to have one! It seems everyone that owned a truck or SUV thought it would be a great idea to try and run the river that was once a street...seems like a great way to ruin your vehicle if you ask me. Some houses had terrible flood damage and no insurance to cover it since such things are very rare here. The hail was large and lasted for nearly and hour. We all prayerd when we saw the hail and the tornado let me tell you! The miracle of all this is that we don't even need a new roof nor did our vehicles sustain damage...many lost windshields and sustained awful flood damage...only God could have spared us. The neighborhood was filled with people checking out the whole spectacle...dad got on his fishing boots and went to check things out. I think he looks like a rescue worker! He saw an outhouse go floating by from one of the construction projects going on! This was record breaking rain at one time for us! Only one of our vehicles was outside during this storm but since it's older and has more steel in it there was no damage. A bird near the car was beaten to death by the hail...very sad. Water was rushing by the car to the field behind out house. The pond behind our house became one with the ditch...scary to see things flooding right next to the house this waythough I know some have had far worse flooding. Some had a four foot wall of water shatter their windows and enter their home! Mike found a large hailstone and held it...this was not the largest stone we saw by any means. Going to our deck I began to have some idea of the volume of hail that fell on us...it was shocking! Houses, cars and plants got completely pummeled...we lost our potted garden sadly. I was about beside myself since I couldn't get to Gabby until after the hail storm and tornado passed...she was at our neighbor's house the whole time! Our precious flowers are destroyed nowbut we're alive and in one of the few homes left undamaged. I read in the paper that thousands of insurance claims were made just today. The hailstones were all unique. Some were smooth while others were sort of spiked, some were opaque while others were nearly clear with a very white core but the sheer volume of it all is what amazed me! Here are some of the individual stonesboth dad and I got hit by a few of these...I got hit on the toe but he got hit on the back! Aren't these things amazing? I think it must have been some amazingly powerful updrafts to have created these! We then found out that the tornado was the upper end of an F2! Nearly and F3 and it destroyed many businesses on Main Street including the Metra where I and some in our church graduated and where the fair is held...not damaged...pretty much destroyed! That's a 10,000 seat arena! The National Guard came in for a while but they've done a great job cleaning up. One of the members in our church said that their son was actually driving down the road when he saw a huge pine tree fly over his car then his windows were blown out and the car was moved into another lane! We made international news...our little town...on the news for a tornado! I didn't get any pictures of the tornado myself but have a few pictures from the paper and posted videos on my facebook page. Check these pictures out! None of us will forget the roar nor those that have suffered so much from this beast...that just what it sounded like too: an unleashed monster. Seeing the things it destroyed and that which it left I stand in awe of how much God did to protect us. The day before would have found thousands watching a football game at the arena that was destroyed only a day later. It was Sunday meaning none were hurt or killed in the destroyed businesses and Lovely and I are alive because we didn't go to the show. We are all alive and well because that tornado didn't take a slight curve and enter the residential area right close by. We're trying to put things back together in town now but we'll never look at the sky the same way. Storms can go from interesting to death incarnate in just seconds. Now the storms that pass have more attention from us than usual. It reminds me of when we lived in Oklahoma where we Montanans puzzled at the worried looks to the sky when storms came. We're now a little wiser for the experience. We think of the Israelites in the Old Testament that painted their door posts with the blood to keep the angel of death from entering in. Death certainly passed us by this Father's Day 2010!