Central Arkansas, Day 3

5 05 2014

On our final day, we spent time with students at Mayflower Elementary School in grades 1-4. From classroom to classroom we journeyed, stopping for a half hour in each classroom, passing out Comfort Dog cards and sharing soft, fluffy love.

The students most affected by the tornadoes of the past week were easy to spot — mostly. Many volunteered information and stories about what happened to them. They were eager to interrupt conversations about other topics to share their experience. These little ones needed to share, and the Comfort Dog Team was ready to listen. Others were very quiet and withdrawn, unable to talk about anything whatsoever. They simply and silently stroked the dogs, and that was okay with everyone.

Thank you Arkansas, for welcoming Jackson and Louie, the Comfort Dogs from Joplin. You are in our prayers as you rebuild and recover. Jesus bless you all with His comfort and peace!

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Central Arkansas, Day 2

4 05 2014

Sunday has been a very good day for our Comfort Dog team. The dogs slept well, and the people slept better than the previous night, so we were rested and ready to go on our second full day.

After feeding and grooming the dogs to “perfection,” we went back to the Waffle House near our hotel. The dogs were again a big hit with the staff and the customers. Our waitress has family in the tornado zone, and survived the storm herself. Each of the dwellings on the family land was damaged, and her aunt and uncle’s home was totally destroyed. By God’s grace no one there was seriously injured, but the waitress’ grandfather had died a week before the storm. She said that the only thing good about the tornado was that it “took grandma’s focus off of grandpa dying for a while.” We listened to her story, and encouraged her with the hope that is ours in Christ.

As we finished our breakfast, we were told that a family a couple of booths down had paid for our team’s meal. “Thank you for coming here. It means a lot what you’re doing” said the kindhearted grandfather as we thanked him. We were humbled by his generous gift to us.

We met lots if great people as we visited Shepherd of Peace Lutheran Church in Maumelle. The dogs split up for the Sunday School hour — Jackson to the preschool class and Louie to the youth class. What fun! Just like at home.

The dogs met the congregation before worship, then settled in to hear a nice sermon from the visiting vicar. Following the service the congregation had a potluck meal, but the Comfort Dogs stayed behind to visit with some special folks in the entryway.

Our team was blessed to spend a quiet hour with a family who had lost their home. The kids talked about their experience with the tornado for the first time while petting the Comfort Dogs. The part that brought tears of joy to the dog handlers’ eyes was in learning that the whole family had been baptized the week before the storm on Easter Sunday. How beautiful that The Lord gave His baptismal promises of forgiveness, life and salvation to this family, reminding them of His love during their time of great need.

After church we traveled across town to several relief centers, visiting with volunteers, survivors and relief workers. Our drive on Dam Road in Mayflower reminded us again of how much help is still needed here. We remembered our home town of Joplin from 2011. There were so many destroyed homes, cars and trees! Please continue praying for the community here.

At 5:00pm we visited with the staff from Mayflower Elementary School. These amazing teachers have ALL worked tirelessly to help their town in the past week. On their first day back tomorrow, the Comfort Dogs will be there to offer their help the students, teachers and families to ease back into their school routine. How difficult it must be to come back for the last few weeks of school, since 75 students here have lost their homes.

Our day finished with the best pizza in Arkansas at Razorback Pizza. The dogs rested under the table, while the people talked about their long day, met the staff and customers, and planned for the day ahead.

At the end of this day we are reminded of Jesus’ followers’ words on the Emmaus Road after meeting the resurrected Lord there:

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)

Lord Jesus, may we speak to many others along the road as we follow You. Let Your Comfort Dog teams point the people here to Your mercy, compassion, and Good News. Christ is risen! Amen.

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Central Arkansas, Day 1

3 05 2014

What a blessed day in Conway, Arkansas we had today. Jason, Karen, Rick and Vicki along with Louie and Jackson the Comfort Dogs, met up with Jessy Comfort Dog and her crew from Concordia, MO bright and early at 7am. The crew was led by Tim Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities and his assistant, Joel. Our first stop: The Rotary Club Pancake Feed.

There were hundreds of people at the breakfast, and a major topic of conversation all morning long was the tornado that ripped through the area on the previous Sunday evening. Comfort Dogs were petted, but connections were also made with key community leaders who told us about the needs of the hurting people in the area.

After a small rest break, the teams departed for the annual “Toad Suck Daze” festival in town (don’t ask). It was fun, and we talked to several tornado survivors. Lots of people wondered what kind of dogs we had, and what they were doing in town. After explaining it to folks, most thanked us for being here, and several told us their personal tornado story. Some were very emotional. We also saw a load of toads. 🙂

From there to the relief center, we met dozens of volunteers organizing donations, and learned where to go tomorrow after church to visit with more people who need comfort. We finish the day very tired, and God was so good to us today.

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A New School Year at Martin Luther!

15 08 2013

Jackson and Louie are SO excited! The kids are back!

A school is just a building without children in it. The summer was long and the building has certainly been empty. On Wednesday classes resumed at Martin Luther Christian School in Joplin, and the Comfort Dogs were there.

Louie and Jackson were vested with tails wagging as hundreds of children and parents made their way to their new classrooms, new desks, and new teachers for their new grades. The opening chapel service was a joy in the Immanuel Lutheran Church sanctuary. Pastor Mech shared a message centering on the theme verse for the year from 2 Thessalonians 1:3.

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

God bless your school year, Martin Luther School! The Comfort Dogs are glad you’re back.

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Love and Comfort at Joplin High

12 02 2013

Lunch time is always a good time to stop by at Joplin High School. Students can be found hanging out in the common areas, taking a break and getting a bite to eat. The walls are decorated with heart-filled posters on this Valentine’s Day week.

Louie loved the attention he received today from many friends and new friends. While most students simply gave Louie a smile and a pat on the head as they walked to their next class, several stopped to ask questions and spend some one-on-one time with him. Louie lovingly greeted each new student, teacher, or staff person, many of whom he had met on previous trips to the JHS Mall Campus. One young lady had experienced the death of a family pet the previous week. Another student was dealing with hurt that was too raw to discuss. Louie’s knowing gaze will have to do until she’s ready to talk it out.

Several students asked about the green ribbon on Louie’s vest. “It’s for the people of Newtown, Connecticut and Sandy Hook Elementary School,” replied Louie’s handler. “Louie and his brother Jackson spent a week out there, comforting children, teachers, and parents after the school shooting.” Many students asked more questions. They empathized with the heartache and difficulties that communities experience following a disaster, natural or otherwise.

After the last lunch shift ended and all of his Comfort Cards were passed out, Louie Comfort Dog padded out to his seat in the van, ready to go back to Immanuel Lutheran Church for a nap.

“Good boy, Louie. We’ll do some more work tomorrow.”

1 John 4:7

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

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Home Dedications and a Wagging Tail

5 02 2013

The landscape in Joplin, Missouri is ever-changing. On May 21, 2011 there were tree-lined streets and yards filled with many middle-aged homes. The day after, the landscape was desolate. Tornadoes tend to change the look of things.

In the nineteen months following the devastating Joplin tornado, smiles are on the rise as new homes are being built. Louie Comfort Dog and his handlers Karen and Sandy joined five overjoyed families and dozens of supporters as a handful of Habitat for Humanity homes were blessed and keys were passed. These homes were all sponsored and financially backed by the St. Louis Blues hockey team. What a beautiful day!

We at Immanuel Lutheran Church and Martin Luther School in Joplin are thrilled to do our part in building these homes through our mission ministry, Transform Joplin. Transform Joplin has been a hand-in-hand partner with Habitat and several other faith-based ministries. We daily share volunteers, tools, and resources that make a difference in the lives of people in our changing community.

Louie’s tail wagged as the people shed tears of joy. The families were finally home. There was no shortage of comfort in Joplin yesterday. You see, the landscape is changing for the better in Joplin, and Louie Comfort Dog is proud that he and his church family are a part of it.

Acts 20:32

“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” 

www.transformjoplin.com

Louie Comfort Dog visited dedication of Habitat House





Louie Goes to Messiah in Independence

28 01 2013

It’s Lutheran Schools Week all around the United States, and Messiah Lutheran School in Independence, Missouri invited Louie Comfort Dog to come and be a part of their celebration. Louie and his handler Jason Glaskey traveled North to Kansas City area school on Monday, January 28. They visited classrooms after lunch, then shared a special presentation for the school’s Parent Teacher League meeting later that evening. They shared about the progress in Joplin following the May 2011 tornado, and talked about how Comfort Dogs in Joplin are used at Martin Luther School, Immanuel Lutheran Church and in the community to bring comfort, unconditional love, and opportunities for ministry.

 John 1:41-42

Tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

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