ALTO, Texas (KTRE) - A month after powerful tornadoes cut a path of destruction through the town of Alto, members of one congregation say they’re finding unexpected blessings after this test of faith.
Some of the men who attend The River Church meet over pancakes and hot coffee for their regular Saturday breakfast at Miss Mollie's Diner on San Antonio Road.
Despite vivid reminders of the damage all around the community, many like Davey Dallmeyer are filled with optimism.
"God brought us all together and he's made us all a lot closer," he said.
A welcome break from the work of physical and spiritual rebuilding, this opportunity to gather in fellowship draws more than dozen people each week.
Carl Partin is also among the roughly 160 people who attend church at The River. He sees this experience as a new beginning for Alto.
"By the time God's done, there won't be anybody left who doesn't have something in their life that's been made new. Whether it's new roofs, remodels, new homes, a new appreciation of the goodness of God."
Only after the skies cleared on April 13, their church became a triage center for the disaster response.
Volunteers and others from the congregation showed up to begin gathering toiletries and other essentials.
"God is always there. He shows up," Dallmeyer said. "Sometimes he doesn't always come like we want him to and he doesn't always give us what we think we want. But he'll always give us what we need."
Powered by a generator, the sanctuary and school building filled with cots and a shower building was opened.
Ron Rose, The River's pastor of nearly 18 years, says donated meals, water, and critical supplies poured in.
"Our ultimate goal is to be quick to share the reason for the hope that's in us," Rose said. "And our hope doesn't come from everything going all right. You know our hope comes that we are loved by God chosen by God, filled with God. You know to release his goodness on the earth."
The shelter was organized more than a decade ago to serve families evacuating after hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike. They never envisioned it serving as a refuge for their own neighbors.
That generosity was repaid, according to Derek Bozeman.
"We put him (God) first and honor him and everything that we do. There's there's no area in our lives that he doesn't have access to or that he's not first in. And when you do that, he provides."
Now, the congregation is focusing on restoring what was lost.
With help from generous donors, they’ve given away four mobile homes so far, with another four on order. The church has also funded the replacement of roofing for a dozen homes in the area.
"There is no 'us' and 'them.' There's those in need and those that can help," Rose said. "So that love is breaking down barriers like like I've only prayed for in Alto."
With more work to be done, The River church is living out its mission to create disciples of Christ when they're needed most.
Rose says they plan to continue matching all donations dollar-for-dollar. Applications for assistance are being accepted at their office located at the corner of U.S. Highway 69 and San Antonio Road.
To learn more about The River Church or donation opportunities, visit their website.
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