Dear People of Vilonia:
April 27, 2014 is a day that the town of Vilonia will never forget. This day is a day my family will never forget as well. On that dark night, many would see so much pain and destruction, but I only have seen so much beauty. My husband and I lived on Cody Lane where the tornado hit head on. We lost everything — and I mean everything. Our two sweet boys, Cameron and Tyler Smith, are now in Heaven. My husband died twice. I was unable to walk for three months, and the only thing left was our foundation.
I thank God each day that our foundation was not in our things but in him. Literally, not a single moment would I have made it without God right there with me. He showed me a peace and strength I was never capable of having and carried me through the worst storm life has to offer.
It has been five months since that day that everything was taken from me in this world, and still I am breathtaken by the love I have seen from the people who live in Vilonia.
I would like to honor this town and the people who worked endlessly to help rebuild this city. What I would like for everyone to know is that you are not only rebuilding a city but helping with restoring lives. When you are faced with such a bad situation and you see strangers rising up all around, it really has been a great inspiration for my family. The outpour of this community, and around the nation, has shown me a love I have never seen or known. I am a mother who lost her children, and that is something no one can imagine or want to go through. The love that has been displayed is a constant reminder for me to keep fighting each day — to honor my sweet boys and glorify God. We are the hands and feet of Jesus, and the town of Vilonia has been the example.
On Oct. 5, we were invited to the Vilonia Fire Department. We showed up and they had the sweetest gifts for us to honor and remember our boys. Two teddy bears, dressed as fire fighters with hats, boot and all. Their names were embroidered with their birthdate. I cannot tell you how special it is receiving this from people who were there that night — people who gave their own time and love to help, people who mostly volunteer. It meant so very much to Daniel and I. Cameron and Tyler love firefighters. We have spent a lot of time hanging out at fire stations and it is a special memory I hold on to dearly. Also, both of my boys had a big heart for stuffed animals. No matter what, that was on their Christmas list each year. Five months later — and it feels as if it were yesterday — the people of Vilonia are still giving back.
The Vilonia Fire Department is one of many great outpours that my family has received. I know many families lost a lot, and rebuilding is sometimes the hardest thing to do. It does not matter if it is a house or your family, it is a hard season. When we have to go through trials in life we always come out on the other side stronger. I know the city of Vilonia will not only be stronger but bigger and better. From the Smith family to you all, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you for praying. God answers.
Beauty for Ashes Isaiah 61:3: I have stood on this verse because in the midst of so much pain and destruction. I saw beauty from people all around.
— April Smith