Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Fire in Barranca

Dear Friends:
I felt compelled to write. This is part of the story of my life, from last week. Some things just happen, and they change us. Thanks for reading. There are photos on my facebook page.
love,  Debbie

Feb. 2, 2015 Barranca
I am visiting a community called Barranca where nine homes burned. Is is hard to imagine living in such a tiny room.   Yolanda lost her home, but I found her on a borrowed bed, with her pots and pans all over the floor, clothes soaking in soap in a black plastic basin, her dishes in a similar one. Clothes were hanging on nails around the walls, there was a clothesline with baby girl clothes. She told me she had recently had a baby. Where was she? In the hospital still, in an incubator, because she only weighed two and a half pounds at birth. She took public transportation into La Vega every day, which is about 30 minutes from Barranca, to breastfeed the baby.
I had brought 3 bags of clothes, a blanket, sheets, towels, washcloths, little shampoos and soaps. I was happy to leave it all with Yolanda, for her other 5 children, ranging in age from 2 to 16, and her dad, a pastor. But before we left, they asked Pastor Alex from the Rails church, who had led me here, to distribute the donations to the community, so that they wouldn’t be blamed for taking too much. That was after we prayed with them all and preached to them, thanking God for sparing their lives from the midnight holocaust. Surely God has a purpose in all this?
I posted a photo that night of the fire’s damage. I didn’t sleep very well. Then I remembered we had some clothes left over from the garage sale at school. I would find that in the morning…
Next day my dear friend Irene Serrano called. She is a missionary in San Francisco de Macoris, about 45 minutes from us. She had shoes, and clothes, and new socks and panties for little girls, and could she come today? Yes! It was Thursday the 29th, the day Liberty Ministries went home. At breakfast I showed them the photos I had taken the day before. (They had been out souvenir shopping with Mitch all day.) Their hearts went out to the fire victims and right away Jeanette Porter gave me the money to buy every family a bed, and the group took up another offering. On the way there I asked Nicolas from school to go to the bed factory and negotiate a price for 9 beds. He got back to me on time. We prayed for all the families involved, then went to see the new university ministry location and prayed there. I said good-bye to those precious 9 ladies, and set off for school. Even though it was past noon, the factory hadn’t closed for lunch, so I put in my order for the beds. They promised to have them made by Saturday.
Around 2:30 Irene and Sam came over, and after we caught up with our lives, we started sorting clothes. I had a list Alex and Charley made, so we had a bag for each boy and girl, and the women. We decided to just sort out the men’s clothing when we got there, and fit the children for the shoes. They had some groceries, so we quickly arranged them into two separate bags, and Irene bagged the rice on the way to the Rails to pick up Alex. We stopped for some viveres, and decided on plantanos to take to the families. The man at the roadside stand was happy to sell all he had.  When he said 120 we quickly rounded up the money, but we were wrong; there were 120 plantains, at 5.5 pesos each, added up to $660 RD, or $15 US. At the end of the day, Pastor Alex got a bag of rice and the yuca that Irene and Sam had brought. He has to eat, too.
We gave a bag of groceries to Yolanda for her big family, and to a pregnant mom with 2 small children. Irene got right to work with her first aid kit, bandaging up burns, infectious sores, handing out pain medication, laughing and talking and even singing in Creole. That is after she made a video with her husband filming. What a pair of missionaries! I love how we could all work together: the Haitian pastor, the teacher at his school, the Serranos, me, the clothes who