This blog is more of a report than normal in light of the destruction caused by hurricane Odile.This is hurricane Odile shortly before it made landfall in Baja
HURRICANE ODILE – THE DAYS AFTER – Steve Dresselhaus
I’m in La Paz right now.* No, Lois and I have not moved here yet. That comes in January, if all goes according to plan — please pray with us that it will. I’m here on an unplanned and unexpected trip to encourage and help our missionaries recover after hurricane Odile tore across this peninsula leaving in her wake devastation, desperation and depression at both emotional and economic levels.
Which memories are etched into my mind and heart after this trip? What of this experience is now a permanent part of my life which changed me forever and which will inform my way of thinking and being from here on out?
Even though I was not present for the actual storm, I’ll never forget the physical devastation which a major hurricane leaves as its winds relentlessly howl through houses, businesses and lives, leaving all three in hard-to-mend shreds. I’ll never forget the woman who told us how she and her children hid in large coolers as their house was torn apart around them. Nor will I forget a pastor, his small daughter and his pregnant wife, due to deliver at any time, as they hugged, huddled and prayed in a tiny six foot by thee foot bathroom while hurricane Odile blew a camper trailer through their property wall and up against the house, the trailer coming to a stop just before it would have torn into the house itself.
We had to wait while a temporary causeway was built to allow us to drive across the flooded arroyo.
I will never forget having to wait on the highway as emergency crews built a temporary bridge across a flooded arroyo because the real bridge is now a great big V, having collapsed into the rushing water. As we waited for a temporary causeway to be built across the hurricane made river, curiosity grew and inhibitions diminished and little by little a group of us approached the work site. I’ll never forget thinking how much fun it is living in Mexico where personal security is the responsibility of the individual, and not the entity with the most money. Mexico is certainly a freer and more fun country in which to live than is the United States where insurance companies and fear of litigation dictate what we can and cannot do.
Living in Mexico is so much fun!
There is one memory etched into my mind that will never go away, and it is not a pleasant one. I will never forget the rampant looting, the vandalism, the savagery of gangs of armed men, stealing with abandone. I will never forget a once magnificent tourist area being over flown by military helicopters whose loud whoop whoop whoop meant supplies were being delivered and the bad guys sought out. Nor will I forget the once elegant and fun streets currently being patrolled by heavily armed convoys of federal troops trying to restore order. Nor will I ever forget desperate bands of neighbors joining together to protect themselves against the marauders who, taking advantage of the storm-caused-chaos, were looting at will with next to no risk of being caught by the authorities.
But the memory that will live the longest in my heart and mind is seeing how my TEAM missionary coworkers rose to the occasion, going into an overdrive of love as they housed, fed, and counseled the victims of the storm. Feeding hundreds of people at impromptu field kitchens, rebuilding houses destroyed by the storm, and opening their own homes to people who had lost everything even though the missionaries themselves had few supplies, no electricity, and sometimes not even running water, and only limited drinking water. As I watch my friends joyfully and selflessly serving others the distinction between them and Jesus seemed to blur a bit. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to this world of ours if the 1.5 billion of us who say we are Christians lived up to the same standard of obedience and love I observed in my friends and coworkers in Baja this week. I am optimistic that we could make this world a better (not perfect) place. Let’s try!
TEAM’s (and Lois’s and my) reason for being in Baja is “TEAM in Mexico makes disciples of Jesus who start society transforming reproducing churches with godly biblical leadership.” Showing the love of Jesus in these very tangible ways is a privilege and our hope is that those whom we are serving and helping will soon be disciples of Jesus as well.
*I’m actually in the Mexico City airport right now, on my way home.
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