As a full-time activist, there are days when I need to see a picture like the one I saw this weekend. Every discouraged American needs to see this picture to be reminded… America is GOOD. America is RESILIENT. Hoosiers shine like stars when put through the fire. This is a story of a faith, family and freedom all within a picture frame of triumph through tragedy.
On Sunday afternoon, November 17th, about 3 pm, lives changed for many Hoosiers. Weather warnings had come through the news outlets the day before, and it was aligning just as they said. News anchors and weathermen settled in. An unsettling atmosphere warned us of the upcoming turbulence. Storm clouds and warnings were getting closer and closer. With the new technology, we could see it coming at us. You could hear panic in the newscasters voices, as they said, “This one is coming fast.” Eyes were glued to social media as our friends from the south gave reports from their basements. What an amazing new way to watch a storm. All eyes were on the sky in the Boyer home. The time came for the 20 minute trip to the spidery filled basement. (we must figure out a way to get the critters to cooperate) Parakeets, the Shitzue, Poodle, and Great Dane safely delivered to the basement. Four children and one husband all settled in. Bathroom privileges were removed after glancing at the green sky. No one moved. Complete silence. Prayers breathed and we wait.
4:03 pm post, “scared to check damage, pressure on ears, loud bang.”
4:06 pm post, “our barns are gone, shop gone, house and sons house damaged. We have a disaster.”
What followed those posts would literally turn this family’s life upside down. What followed these posts gave the heartland a picture of Hoosier heroes, who traveled the path of tragedy through triumph.
Darren and Teresa Martin own a three generation family farm along with their children. They also run a thriving toy company where they spend hours in the shop making beautiful hand crafted wooden toys unlike anything you could find at a toy store! They spend their hours working the farm, making toys, and are also full-time activists fighting against the ginormic government intrusion on businesses such as their own. I have never met a stronger woman than Teresa. She is one of those American heroes you read about in books. I’ve always admired her tenacity. She keeps me pushing forward in my fight to protect our families. So when we got the call, my husband and I didn’t think twice. We looked at each other and without words put on the boots, secured our homestead and headed out the door.
The trip to the Martin farm was a long one. We had to dodge about 15 storm sightseers, downed trees, and power lines. We had no idea what we were about to encounter within the next few moments. Power lines were down so we had to take the back way in. The long-range view looked like a war zone. White metal thrown across fields in a white path of destruction. When we pulled up to the house, what once stood like a gorgeous shining Hoosier farm on a hill was flattened and chaotic. We found a place to park and were completely overwhelmed by what we saw. The strong woman I knew, was speechless, surrounded by hundreds of people, who didn’t ask what they could do…. they just came out and got to work.
The Martins were surrounded by their church. Within minutes, the pastor of their church, surrounded by church members, flooded in and began to dig through the rubble. Women of the church surrounded Teresa, picked up a broom to begin the task of simply sweeping up glass in her living room. It seemed menial in comparison to the barns that were leveled, but it was healing. The church had come out of its building and did what it was created to do… be the CHURCH.
Family members and friends all felt the same pull to the farm. Most had never even been within 10 ft of a cow, let alone find themselves in a barn herding up nearly 700 displaced, confused cows and livestock to take to area farms. They didn’t know what to do, they just did it. Semi trucks from area farms and family lined up on her county road to help take out the cattle to safety. Friends and family pulled together, and walked with an incredibly strong yet “in shock” friend. Just their presence alone seemed to bring a calmness to a chaotic situation. Believe it or not, out of 700 cattle, only about 10 of them lost their lives.
Freedom? What does freedom have to do with this story? To date, the Martins have not received one call from the government, the state, or Red Cross. They were literally on their own. In fact, the thought of calling the government didn’t even cross their minds! The lack of government help didn’t faze them one bit, because they had surrounded themselves with people, and they were not dependent on the government. They had complete freedom. They didn’t have to wait for the government to come in with handouts. They were prepared. They were prepared with emergency supplies such as oil, first aid, food, family and friends. They had charged their cell phones, and prepped for an emergency just as big as this one. They were able to relax, breathe and let the church be the church, and family and friends surround them with help and comfort.
This story is far from over. There is much to do. They lost everything including their means of income. There is much healing to come, and much work to do. Yesterday, over 100 volunteers from all over the state of Indiana came out and literally transformed the property at the Martin farm. Several posts from Facebook read, “I don’t know the Martins, but I had to come.” When I returned home after the initial devastation, I opened my email and found 50 emails that said, “I don’t know the Martins, and you don’t know me, but I would love to help.” Food has been driven to the Martins by the truck load full, supplies donated, and a wonderful woman even came out to take the cats to board so they would not lose them in the chaos. Cows are securely comfortable in area farms, and volunteers are still calling.
What a story of Hoosier resilience. Sunday brought a line of devastation all across the state of Indiana. Our Governor and several Indiana leaders traveled the state to make sure everyone was ok. If Governor Pence saw just a glimpse of what we experienced here in Kosciusko County yesterday, I imagine his heart swelled with pride as Hoosiers came together and held each other in through this tough time. If all of the stories of healing match the Martin story, Hoosiers have something to hang their hat on.
Our hearts and prayers go out to all who were affected in this storm. May we continue to stand with each other through this time.[oqeygallery id=2]
Video from the wreckage thanks to Cheryl Johnson, one of the amazing volunteers that said, “I can’t sit home and watch, I have to be apart of this cleanup crew. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10153504597460531&set=vb.600080530&type=2&theater
Many wonderful people have asked how they can help this family. The Martin’s church has set up an account for them. Here is the info.
First Brethren Church with TORNADO RELIEF in the memo.
First Brethren Church
407 N Sycamore St
North Manchester, IN 46962