What’s up is pretty broad these days. Yes, we’re back in Mexico. We got back mid-August in time for Micah to start school.
Then the first earthquake hit off the coast of Chiapas. Then the second earthquake hit outside of Mexico City. We’re at somewhere north of 4,000 aftershocks, many of them 5 and 6 on the Richter scale. Juchitan, a city of 100,000 in the neighboring state of Oaxaca, was flattened. Their hospital collapsed along with the city hall, elementary school and central market. The Church of the Naz has a strong presence there, and so we ended up being one of the organizations best equipped to provide basic outreach. Within a week after the first earthquake we had 25 distribution sites feeding somewhere around 15,000 people three meals a day. Eight districts around Mexico sent food and supplies. Just when they thought they would run out, another truck would arrive, sometimes in the middle of the night. It truly was an incredible effort by the church in Mexico. Even the government recognized how solid our network was. At one point they showed up with 4 dump truck loads of supplies and asked us to distribute them. This was after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, so there wasn’t nearly the international attention that I think a situation of that magnitude would ordinarily have. Stephen has been in the thick of disaster relief along with a solid group of Mexican leaders in NCM and Jessi, our Work and Witness Volunteer. We’re starting to switch gears to longer term issues in these areas, but some very basic needs remain. Medical care is virtually nonexistent, so medical teams have been critical. We had a doctor from Costa Rica come for a week. A group of 25 docs from the south part of MX came for a weekend. A Guatemalan doc. Again, just when we think we won’t have a doctor, someone arrives or tells us they’re coming. God has continued to provide.
The situation remains stressful in Oaxaca. Last weekend there were some very strong aftershocks that picked up in tempo again. More houses and churches collapsed. People fled their homes and flocked back into the church sponsored shelters. They’re exhausted and overwhelmed. They want to restart their lives, but there they were, 2.5 weeks after the original quake back in the same place. And then the rains came. Most of the time it rains in the afternoon and then it passes. Last weekend it rained all night Saturday and Sunday. So we were scrambling for shelters since more of the buildings we had been using for shelter had been compromised. Every tarp and tent was put to use, but there were still a lot of people who spent some wet nights.
One of the bright spots for the church has been regarding water. NCM in this area has focused on putting water purification systems in churches all over the south through an organization called Healing Waters. The advantage of their system is that it doesn’t require electricity. A pump in Juchitan survived the original quake, and so it was one of the few functional systems immediately afterwords, even before electricity returned. Stephen and the NCM coordinator made a trip today to grab two more systems from different areas that weren’t being used. They’ll take them to Juchitan tomorrow. I think that brings the total up to 4 systems in that area which is HUGE.
We’re settling in for the long haul. This will be a long rebuilding process, but the church has already made and is poised to continue to make a significant impact in this community. While the news outside of Mexico seems to be focused on Mexico City (or whether or not a football player stands or kneels,) the need remains the strongest in Oaxaca. In Mexico City the earthquake was disastrous, but there are so many more resources there, and the infrastructure remains intact. While the church is active in relief in that area, Oaxaca is where we see the greatest opportunity to serve.
I’m sure that was more than you were expecting in an update, but that’s where we are!
Our family and our home are fine. We rocked and rolled with everyone else when the quake hit (it was a minute long, 8.2 on the Richter scale) but our house is very solidly built. In our area really only minor damage occurred except in homes built of adobe.
So specific needs include: immediate or longer term medical and construction teams, or individual volunteers. Honestly, we are taking anyone who believes they could contribute. Spanish speakers would definitely be preferred, but we need everything. We have many churches and parsonages that will need to be bulldozed and rebuilt, and all of the others in Oaxaca will need some level of repair.
If anyone would like to donate, the NCM link is: http://give.nazarene.org/donate/f/128252
They can also follow what’s going on on the Mexico NCM Facebook site: Ministerios Nazarenos de Compasion
or the Work and Witness FB page: Work and Witness Mexico
Let me know if you have any questions!
Thanks for checking on us.
Posted on Tue, October 3, 2017
by Alabama North Naz