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June 27, 2012 • United States

By Michelle de Carion, Samaritan’s Purse staff writer.

Adina Hadley couldn’t shake the nightmare she had on May 21, 2011. The only detail she could remember was that someone was in danger. After some time, Adina realized it was about her 2-year-old daughter, Avery.

She immediately called her mother Cheryl, who was watching Avery in Joplin, Missouri, and told her to leave and come to Arkansas as quickly as possible.

Adina is a single mom, and Cheryl was helping take care of her daughter on the weekends. Cheryl immediately left town. The next day an EF-5 tornado hit Joplin, killing 161 people and destroying hundreds of homes, including Cheryl’s. They couldn’t believe that the nightmare had come to life

“It was terrible seeing different parts of your stuff spread out everywhere,” Cheryl said. “I just stood there and stared at it for an hour. I didn’t really salvage anything, but I saved the important stuff—my granddaughter.”

Because Avery gets sick easily, Cheryl had to find a clean place to live when she returned to Joplin. It proved to be much more difficult than she imagined in the tornado-ravaged community. But her prayers were answered when Samaritan’s Purse called to say they were going to build her a brand new home.

“It’s almost like the house fell out of heaven,” Cheryl said. “I didn’t quite believe it. I told them that just the idea that Samaritan’s Purse is willing to build me a house is good enough. I don’t even need the house!”

It wasn’t enough just to receive help. In the following months, Cheryl came to our base camp at Forest Park Baptist Church in the morning to volunteer with our crews rebuilding homes in Joplin. All day, Cheryl wore a smile on her face as she worked, knowing in her heart that soon she would be on the other end, receiving her own brand new house.