We arrived home to Mexico from a three-week visit in Texas the day after a 7.1 earthquake rocked Mexico City. Our airplane landed, we got on a bus headed home to Tarimoro, and almost immediately Doug and I began to make plans to return to help in some way. Evie, our youngest daughter, is working in Puebla and the church she attends had become a gathering point for relief supplies to be taken to devastated towns throughout the states of Puebla and Morelos.
It seemed logical to join with them and help distribute care packages. A convoy of cars and trucks were loaded to take food and supplies to villages which hadn’t yet received help.
In the last town we visited, Santa Monica, we delivered dozens of food bags as well as clothing and some tools to help with cleanup.
I took hundreds of photos, but haven’t had time to get them off my camera and into the computer. I’ll post more as soon as I’m able.
Evie and I did an impromptu kids’ class in the city square with the children whose parents were lined up for food bags or awaiting medical care at the clinic. If you look closely, you’ll see in the background of this photo the destroyed city hall and the collapsed office building. It was quite surreal: singing and playing with 50 children in the middle of what appeared to be a war zone.
We left and drove back to the church in Puebla, arriving very late at night…almost midnight, in fact. We were tired, but felt extremely blessed to be able to participate in such an important project.
As we drove, we talked about how we would like to make a more personal impact: to be able to help a specific family in a tangible way. We began to pray that God would direct us to someone who would say, “I need help!”
Arriving at the church building at midnight, in the pouring rain, we found a young man named Salvador waiting for us on the steps. “Pastor,” he said, “I need help.” A friend of his in the city of Juchitán, Oaxaca, had contacted him saying that the situation there was becoming desperate.
Juchitán was hit by an 8.2 quake on September 7 which had devastated the city, and still no help had arrived. In addition to 3 major earthquakes, because a 6.1 tremor had hit just that morning, countless aftershocks continued to rock the city, and to make matters worse, there was a tropical storm building off the coast dumping buckets of water over thousands of people whose houses were either collapsed or threatening to collapse. The friend from Juchitán had asked if somehow, someone could bring tarps or some other way to escape from the torrential downpours.
Salvador’s family and friends had purchased food bags for 50 families, but they had one problem: transport. Doug asked Salvador, “Why did you ask me?” Salvador replied, “Because you guys are missionaries.” Can’t argue with that.
So, the next morning, September 24, we began shopping for food and tarps. We chose a heavy-guage black plastic, simply because it is easy to find and easy to work with. With not much time to hunt for bargains, we loaded up what we could in the two trucks we had available. We figured we had enough plastic to give a 20×30 tarp to about 120 families.
Unloading 13 rolls of plastic in Juchitán. Evie, Dessie and Tere spent all afternoon cutting tarps. 😀
One family who received a plastic tarp. You can see in the background that they have a small, plastic-covered area already. This small plastic room is the family’s sleeping area. With the new tarp, they’ll be able to put a makeshift roof over their kitchen as well.
This family was very excited about the tarp. Look at what they have been living under for the past two weeks. A bed sheet isn’t very good protection from tropical rains.
We only had a few hours to spend in Juchitán, but we wished we had days. We weren’t alone in our relief efforts in Juchitán, as many trucks and cars were arriving the day we traveled there. But there is so much need!!! Trucks can’t get into the most needy areas, because streets are blocked by piles of rubble or by families camping in the streets. Supplies need to be delivered by Moto-taxi or horse-drawn cart.
Doug was able to sit down with a pastor in Juchitán named Antonio. They talked about long-term needs of the people in Juchitán and the surrounding communities. Homes can be rebuilt, but it will take time. The rainy season will end soon, but the next season will be harder. It’s the season of intense wind. Antonio and Doug talked about temporary housing options that will withstand 50mph winds. As you can imagine, there aren’t many.
What we finally decided was the best option is a super-heavy-duty tarp. It will serve as a temporary shelter/tent until the rains stop and then can be used as a roof over another structure, either wooden, bamboo concrete or whatever the family decides to build.
Our first team returned home and we began to shop again; this time specifically for heavy tarps.
The material we found in Puebla is what trucking companies use to cover their loads, so we’re pretty sure they’ll hold up to the harsh coastal climate. We got a phenomenal price of less than half the going price.
So here we are, on our way to Juchitán again! Three friends from a church in Coyutla, Veracruz, arrived with a truck at 3am and by noon, we were loaded and on the road.
We’re planning to stay a few days and help install tarps and see if there’s anything else we can do to help families there.
Please pray for the Church in Juchitán. God is using His people in a mighty way to spread His love, but Christian families lost homes and loved ones, right alongside non-christians.
I’ll try to get another blog post up soon. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement! Thank you to everyone who has donated to take supplies down to Oaxaca, to everyone who continues to send encouraging notes to us, and to everyone who is praying for us and for Mexico.