`Don't worry - your boys are OK'

Mike Smith raced home from work moments after learning a tornado on May 27 had just ripped through the subdivision in which he lives. Two of his four children, Brandon, 6, and Nathan, 3, were home alone with a 14-year-old babysitter.

Fear filled Brother Smith, a member of the Cedar Park Ward, Austin Texas Stake, as he pulled into the neighborhood, which "looked like a war zone." His wife, Kelly, and their two daughters, were driving the ward Young Women to camp.Relief came as Brother Smith was met in his driveway by a Church member who said, "Don't worry, your boys are OK, they are over at the bishop's house."

Several tornadoes struck four counties in Texas - from Waco to Austin - that day. No local members or missionaries were killed or injured in the disaster; however, five members' homes were damaged, including the Smiths'.

An estimated 38 people were killed in the tornados, and livestock, homes and businesses were destroyed. In Jarrell, a town of 1,000 about 40 miles north of Austin, 32 people died, dozens more were injured, and 50 homes were leveled.

Carol Bridger, a member of Georgetown Ward, Austin Texas Stake - of which Jarrell is a part - said three member families live in Jarrell, but none of their homes were damaged.

Members of the Georgetown Ward are gathering goods such as toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and soap for victims in Jarrell and are helping clean up the area.

In Cedar Park, Bishop R. Grant Almond organized, the day of the storm, a group of members to help victims in the Smiths' neighborhood.

By morning more than 100 Church members gathered in the affected subdivision and worked well into the night cleaning up debris and broken glass.

They helped one woman who was just sitting in her lawn chair on the front lawn crying - not knowing what to do.

They also helped a member family who had the siding torn off their home during the storm. In fact, in the days after the storm, this family had more help repairing their home than they could use.

The Smiths said they can't express enough gratitude to the scores of people who assisted them. Members offered them cellular phones, cars, money and places to stay. One found them a storage unit for their belongings. Others searched for a home for the Smiths to rent while theirs is repaired.

"There are so many times you feel like you are not a part of something big - then something like this comes along," said Sister Smith. "It is amazing that by the power of the Spirit you can know everything will be OK. It is still scary, but you know everything will be OK."

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