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Honeymooning duo sensed call to Okla. to aid tornado survivors

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–In the aftermath of one of the worst tornadoes in recorded history, volunteers from across the nation have flooded into Oklahoma, leaving family, jobs and other responsibilities, to help with food and clothing distribution, clean-up and reconstruction.
But few have spent part of their honeymoon trudging through rubble and sleeping at night in a Sunday school classroom.
After Jim and Roxanne Bloomfield were married March 23 in their hometown of Rochester, Minn., they quit their jobs, put their personal belongings in storage and prepared for a month-long honeymoon trip. On the way to visit friends in Amarillo, Texas, they had passed through Oklahoma City and were deciding an alternate route back to Minnesota when they heard about the May 3 tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas.
“We hadn’t planned to return through Oklahoma because we wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been,” said Roxanne. “We mapped out a route through Denver, because we wanted to visit the U.S. Mint there.”
However, the young couple couldn’t get Oklahoma City out of their minds.
“There was a tug on our hearts pulling us this way,” Jim said. “We just felt we should come back this way and try to be of help.”
As they were driving down Interstate 35, they said they couldn’t see anything until they got to Moore, Okla., and “there it was.” Seeing the emergency vehicles at First Baptist Church in Moore, they stopped there, went to the volunteer desk in the foyer and were soon put to work sorting through donations of food and clothing.
Then they met Gerald Peters, director of missions in East Central Baptist Association, and Zane and Anita Bartel, Mission Service Corps volunteers who are coordinating tornado relief work with volunteers.
“We started cleaning debris and moving furniture,” Jim said. “Then we moved to Graceway Baptist Church, and were provided a room there.”
From the southwest Oklahoma City church, Jim and Roxanne started going to homes in the devastated areas looking for people who needed help, especially in clean-up.
In three days, they covered 200 homes and brought in 80 written requests for jobs to be done.
“The people we met were all so humble,” said Roxanne. “Most said they were all right, but their neighbor needed help.”
The Bloomfields said they met one man who said he couldn’t think of anything he needed, but they noticed a huge piece of metal in a tree in his yard. When they asked about it, he said several people promised they would help him with it, but so far no one had.
Jim said he couldn’t budge the metal, which was once part of a carport. The couple saw a church van filled with a group of young people going down the street, stopped it, and asked the kids if they would be willing to help get the metal out of the tree. They began loosening nuts and bolts, and were able to remove what was left of the carport from the tree. The man, they said, was grateful, but then said his yard now needed to be cleaned up.
“The kids jumped right in and cleaned up his yard,” said Roxanne. “As we left, we noticed his eyes were filling with tears.”
The honeymooners said seeing how people have pulled together after the tragedy has strengthened their faith in God.
“If you ask for anything, people flood to help you,” Jim noted. “Whatever anyone asks for, it is gathered 100 times plus.”
They said they feel the reason people are reluctant to ask for help is because they are used to being the ones helping.
“We met a man who was in a wheelchair, and his wife had had a stroke and didn’t have full use of one side of her body, but she said, ‘Put us at the bottom of the list, and if you get to us, fine,’” Roxanne related.
Being on their honeymoon has brought a lot of attention to the Bloomfields.
“When we’ve told people we are on our honeymoon, they say, ‘What a bummer,’ but we don’t feel that way,” said Jim.
“What we’ve been through has already made us a stronger couple,” Roxanne added. “Besides, we have the rest of our lives together.”
The Bloomfields said they have been attending Meadowood Church of Christ in Rochester.
“I have a friend who is youth minister at a Baptist church in Rochester, and we’re going to visit there when we get back,” said Jim. “The Baptists have been so great to us here. They’ve fed us, given us a place to stay and even put us up in a motel room one night so we could do our laundry.”
The couple said they like Oklahoma so well they are praying about returning to live in the state.
“Regardless of whether we come back to Oklahoma or not, we’re probably going to become Baptists,” Jim said.

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  • Dana Williamson