Last night after getting home from running a few post-small group errands, I saw a notification that my mom had written on my Facebook wall. She wanted to know if I heard about the explosion in West. In addition to my mom’s post my newsfeed was blowing up with posts from friends in Waco about the explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. My heart sank.
West, Texas is not to be confused with West Texas. West, TX is a town of about 3000 people located in the Central Texas McLennan County Texas, the same county as Waco. West Texas is a region of the state. From here on out “West” will refer to the town not the region.
West is located just a few miles up I-35 from Waco on the way to Dallas or Ft. Worth. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve stopped in that little town. There is a place called the Czech Stop which is this Czech bakery attached to a Shell Gas station where they sell Kolaches. Kolaches were new to me when I moved to Texas but they are delicious danishes filled with either fruit or meat and cheese. The Czech Stop is famous for their kolaches (Cottage Cheese is my favorite, I promise it’s not as nasty as it sounds.)
I drove past that place too many times to count on my way to Dallas, Fort Worth or Kentucky. Friends, students and even my mom and I made special trips just for the kolaches. Of course, having lived in Texas for 5 years, 3 of which were in Waco, I know people from West.
There is something about the Texas spirit. When something happens to one, it happens to all. Even though I no longer live in Waco, when I moved I left much of my heart there. I am heartbroken with the rest of the county and state.
I feel as though I’ve walked around today in a total fog. It seemed wrong to enjoy the beautiful sunny day when pain was just starting to settle into the place I love. I remembered what it felt like to be in Waco when Nashville Flooded in 2010.
I was so glad to come home from work today and find a package on my front porch. My friend Erin from Baylor has an Etsy Shop called Burlap Meets Lace where she sells these adorable mason jar tumblers. I ordered one other day and in perfect timing they arrived today.
I can’t be in Waco participating in the ways my church and Baylor communities are supporting West but these tumblers remind me I can be a support here. While I drink out of them I’m reminded to pray for my surrogate hometown and everyone I know affected by the awful catastrophe. They are a reminder that I’m still connected to that place- that really we are all connected to each other. I cannot begin to explain the overwhelming emotions of confusion and sadness I feel, but having just a little extra bit of my Waco community in my home tonight really hits the spot.
PS- In sweeter news (pun intended)- the Czech Stop has continued to operate around the clock as usual providing refreshments (and kolaches) to the injured and rescue workers. When all is said and done even more people will feel a deep connection to this town and it’s delectable treats.