“Disasters have a way of bringing people together. We came as strangers, but we know that we leave as friends,” Kevin King, the executive director of Mennonite Disaster Service, noted Saturday at the house blessing for Jessie Williams in Cordova.
The ceremony was special for several reasons.
It was held on the second anniversary of the storms at the approximate time that the deadly tornado passed over the city.
It will be the final dedication held in Walker County.
No more projects are on the schedule for the local Long Term Recovery Committee. The faith-based groups that have provided a continuous supply of labor will not be returning in the fall as they have for the past two years.
The Williams rebuild was also a collaboration of World Renew and Mennonite Disaster Service, organizations which typically work independently.
Cindy Smith, the caseworker who has lobbied on Williams’ behalf for 18 months, said the delays seem to have been by divine design.
“One thing we’ve figured out is things aren’t done on our time; they’re done on God’s time. This was absolutely the build that he was supposed to have by who he was supposed to have it done by,” Smith said.
Both groups put their individual stamp on the ceremony – the presentation of a Bible and “The Hammer Rings Hope” book by representatives of MDS and a last nail ceremony and presentation of a Green Shirt by World Renew.
But the ceremony began and ended with voices lifted in unity to a tune familiar to all volunteers present, “This is the Day.”
Smith, who has worked alongside numerous representatives of each organization over the past two years, said they have repaired more than homes. They have repaired lives.
“You have helped bring a community back together,” Smith said. “This is what we’re all supposed to do. You’re not letting anything stop you from being here doing what God wants you to do.”