December 24, 2022
On Christmas, “there’s some things they want Mom to fix,” says Mayfield tornado survivor
German chocolate cake. Fresh coconut cake. Apple cake. Chocolate pie—the old-fashioned kind.
Standing in the kitchen in her new home built by MDS volunteers, Sheila Hickman is planning some major Christmas baking. “I will celebrate Christmas in my house, and I’ve always cooked,” she said. “There’s some things they just want Mom to fix.”
The sixty-nine-year-old has been baking all her life—but she lost many of her recipes when a tornado struck her Kentucky town of Mayfield on Dec. 10, 2021. That night, her home was all but destroyed; she has vivid memories of the members of her church, Baltimore Baptist in Mayfield, coming to find her in the rubble.
“Fortunately, my church is also helping me get my recipes back,” she said. “Over the years, they were published in church cookbooks.”
This year, she’ll cook her adult children’s favorite desserts as they come to her house to visit. As for the rest of her belongings, she’s not looking back. “If I was meant to have all that stuff—it would have made it through the storm,” she said. “I just started all over.”
As she cares for one of her adult sons, who is gravely ill, she also has a new mission to reach out to even more people. “There’s a man in town whose wife passed away. She had a mission of always doing something to help others,” said Hickman.
Last week, Hickman handed out hand-carved wooden crosses to the MDS volunteers still working in Mayfield. “I stop by to see the volunteers every Thursday,” she said. “I try every week to do something good for them.”
Christ’s love in Kentucky
Bruce Kindy, who is coordinating MDS work in Mayfield and surrounding communities, is thankful for all the volunteers who have helped build 21 houses. They also put storm shelters in place near many of those homes.
“I hope those storm shelters help bring a sense of security,” said Kindy. “There’s still a lot of trauma there. Maybe a storm shelter helps to ease that.”
The tornado killed 24 people in Mayfield and injured hundreds of others.
Jane Bright, coordinator for Homes and Hope for Kentucky, which handles case management for people in need, said that, as the one-year anniversary of the tornado approached, some residents left town rather than cope with bringing up memories of the storm.
Fortunately, she added, along with needed construction labor, MDS volunteers bring a sense of joy back into the community.
“We have been so blessed,” she said. “Showing love involves more than just words—it’s the actions of volunteers that demonstrate love for these homeowners. They’re showing what true Christian love is.”