Yesterday, I went out to Rio 3 with Jim and Betty to deliver food, water and clothes. I asked Olga how we could help her and what she thought was the most important things they needed. She had a lot to say:
The Night of the Storm and flash flooding: Olga said there were some 500 plus people crammed into the church because the water came up over the lip of the community and took out everyone's shacks along the river. She described a stampede of people and livestock running towards the church. She ran outside though against the stampede looking for certain children. She kept praying and saying, "God these are my people. I need to find my people." She did find the children she was looking for and ran back into the church with 20 some children following her. She laughed inside saying, "is this some kind of movie I'm in?" She was worried because many of the dangerous men from the community were inside the church and she wasn't sure if riots or fighting would break out in the middle of the night. But she said, "God you have brought all of these people here and you have a plan and you will lead us out."
Most people's homes are gone. Everything along the river is gone. There are 5 families that belong to her church and are faithful members who have lost everything - their homes, clothes, everything except each other. They (about 35 to 40 people) are now permanently living in the church until they can arrange for something else. Most nights anywhere between 60 and 140 people are sleeping on the floor in the church. Last night it rained for the second night in a row and over 120 people slept on the tile floor.
People immediately began squatting on land and claiming it as their own. The men refuse to leave their area in fear that someone else might claim it. The women and children are running around trying to find building supplies in the rubble, clothes to wash and food which they then bring to the men. This process blows my mind. Standing out there- it looked like the photos I saw of Haiti post earthquake. Olga says that she is not going to get involved with construction because it could cause fighting and riots. She's trying to keep the peace.
Olga's daily struggles:
Olga is currently feeding 500 plus people 2 meals each day. She is struggling to maintain the amount of food and water she needs to feed the people and to have enough - she says if she runs out - riots could occur. She is also providing people in the community a place to take a bucket bath and then she provides them with a change of clothes. No one has anywhere to put any donations she might give them- they carry around a grocery bag and that's it. So she just takes their dirty clothes and hand washes I guess and gives clean clothes to the next person.
Her words for us- I told her I'd send an email to our american friends:
She says, "thank you so much for what you do. I thank God for ministries like yours because you are doing what the Mexican government refuses to do. You are helping these people. I thank God for the American groups you all have brought to teach my congregation what it means to share and to serve others. I've had many conversations with our church members who now have nothing and are having a hard time wanting to share what God is bringing to our church with the rest of the community and especially with those on the other side of the river who come across for help. Your groups have shown them how to serve others. And now I'm asking them to follow in your example and serve this community."
How Back2back is currently helping:
Jim and Betty have been out everyday at least once a day - some days many trips - to bring drinking water and food. We've brought out a ton of donations - clothing, sheets, towels, shoes, diapers, feminine pads and every single travel size toiletry that's been donated in the last 4 months. They are very useful right now. Today Jim tried to go out and buy enough yoga mat type material to cover the entire church floor for all those sleeping there. I believe Back2back is donating 30 or 40 mattresses from the LDM as well.
Pictured above is Olga. Pray for her. She is the woman we stand back to back with in this Rio community. She hasn't slept in many days I think (but she looks super awake in this photo which was taken 3 or 4 months ago)
This is the usually dry creek bed that is the Santa Catarina River that became a monster in Hurricane Alex. It ripped through the city of Monterrey - and destroyed the homes in Rio 3 along the river. For those from the McCollum group - this is where we had that soccer game - it's now underwater.
Another shot of the "dry creek." TONS of water rushed through areas like the rio communities we serve and came up over people's homes - destroying everything.
It was shocking to me to see people EVERYWHERE trying to claim their land and rebuild in the mud with trash and whatever they could find laying around. Everyone was digging through the debris and guarding their "land"
The aftermath at Rio 3 - all the homes are gone
This is the exact spot where we would walk groups down to see the river and pray for Olga - now there is nothing
People digging through the trash trying to find anything that could be used to rebuild or old clothes that they could hand wash and wear
How you can help:
Please pray for Olga. She's exhausted but trusting in God to provide and to keep the peace.
If you feel led to donate to our relief fund to help communities like this one and if you'd like to donate online, please click on (or cut/paste into your web browser) the following link https://donations.back2backministries.org/ and indicate your donation for “General Mexico Needs.” Donations by checks payable to Back2Back Ministries should be sent to: Back2Back Ministries, P. O. Box 70, Mason, OH 45040.