Saturday, April 14, 2012

Flooding and Frustration

The Rieles area has flooded again.  How much frustration can you put up with?  How much frustration can families in Los Rieles put up with?  It has been 5 years since tropical storms Olga and Noel hit this community.  See this link where our media team (Elias Castillo and myself) posted a video of the event. It is These families should have moved elsewhere.  They didn't because they couldn't afford anything else.  Only a very few moved away to a better area.

Yesterday at about 10PM we became aware that because of torrential rains, some of the church kids from the Rieles area had decided to spend the night in the new sanctuary.  However, after our van waded through hubcap deep waters to get to the church.   We had brought with us seven mattresses, some sheets and blankets, and some clothing.  We discovered that there were actually 21 families spending the night on the floor in the church.  Our Sunday school addition has not been finished yet and so there are still no bathrooms  working in the facility. No floors down yet either in the new kitchen and dining area, or for that matter in the four classrooms.  For a lack of $8000.00 US, we were not ready for this emergency. That was a little frustrating.  I had hoped that by now the project would be finished. The need was
imminent, but the frustration came in knowing that there was nothing I could do about it.  I have been asking for help on this for a couple of years.  Donors are probably tired of the appeals. This has been an especially  large project for us.  Oh, that it might be done! It can be finished in less than two months if the finances are on hand.  The building is 140 feet long by 50 feet wide.  It is roomy because our vision for this church is that it will serve as an emergency shelter for this community. The sanctuary alone holds 400 people.  

Debbie was out there this morning with hot oatmeal for the families. Later again in the day she was able to get some hot meals for the families from a government subsidized feeding center.   They really appreciated it. She will be out there again in the morning with some oatmeal.  As I looked at her photos and the peoples faces, I couldn't help but wonder if I would have a smile on my face after having river water wash out my belongings.  I don't think so.  Five years ago these people looked so desperate and depressed, but now the majority were members of this new church.  They seemed to have a glow of hope about them.  Jesus was making a difference in their lives.  The church currently has about 150 in attendance, including children.  Almost 100 children study at the church at least twice weekly in the after-school study program.  Attendance is good at the four services the church has. Pastor Gemuel Delgado is doing a great job here. 
The photos give you a good glimpse at what life is like for them.  They don't have a lot of luxuries.  Most have concrete floors.  Not much clothing (few dressers), but they manage to keep themselves clean and tidy, in spite of not having running water in some instances.    The river went up about a foot or more in most of the homes.  God was gracious as they were able to pick up many items and place them high enough where they were protected from the water.  The worst part is the mud that fills the floors of the homes.  And it is raining again tonight, and the forecast is for rain throughout the weekend.   They will not sleep well this week.  I will pray that the river not rise again at least until the project is finished, and we are better prepared to handle these emergencies.

  The rainy season is not over yet.  Please make contact with us if you would like to help with some of these needs.  Clean sheets, and used clothing and shoes would certainly be a big help.  Some funds for groceries would certainly go a long ways.  Your gifts would be tax-deductible.
Together we can make a difference.  

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