Greetings from the Dominican Republic. Hurricane George's came our way on Tuesday afternoon and the destruction in the south part of the country is something I like I have never seen before. I went down yesterday morning to the capital and checked on all of the preachers and churches - no one hurt, for which we praise the Lord. I would say 805 or the trees over 10 ft. tall are down in Santo Domingo- a huge number of light poles, telephone poles, radio and TV towers are down. Electricity is, of course, off there and probably will be for days or weeks. 70 are reported dead with several hundred missing. Our churches in San Juan and Barahona have not called me yet-I am sure the lines are down and the roads are impassible still hopefully they will call soon to see how they are.
The church in Los Frailes in Santo Domingo that Francisco Ortiz preaches at lost its roof, as did Francisco's house. I had some funds available and took them yesterday to him to get new tin roofing and beams. Several families in Dr.Peña's church in Herrera lost their roofs as did the new church in Totumo that Gary Klein and Pedro Abreu are working with. Many of the poorer barrios were especially hard hit everyone's possessions are now completely wet and more rain is expected today.
A lot of the plantain and banana fields were mowed down by the wind. Here in the Santiago area we were protected by the central mountain range with peaks up to 10,000 feet and we felt only about 1/2 the effect of the wind maybe 60-70 miles an hour so damage here was minimal. In fact, our lights are back on this morning after only 24 hours and our phone lines never did go out.
Please be in prayer for the situation in the southern part of the country. We could use some extra funds for tin roofing and wood to help people get their houses back under cover. We'll direct those funds to Gary and let him get the materials. Thanks for your help and prayers.
Hurricane George's hit us real hard with sustained winds of 121 mph for 4 hours with gusts up to 160 mph. We were in the eye for about 45 min and the eye wall was sheer horror. We have lost all of our trees and recognizable ground vegetation. We lost parts of our roof and several windows. The entire house is soaked as water came in from every possible crack. But Praise the Lord no one was hurt in the process! The little village of Totumo right on other side of the fence did much worse with one in three families loosing every thing that they owned.
People are sick, there is no electric and there probably won't be for weeks as the whole south coast was devastated by the winds and flooding. Many, many electric poles are down and there are few trees still standing anywhere here. There is tin, wood, clothes and misc. household materials everywhere. It looks like a bomb went off every where you look.
The water washed away thousands of houses in the lower lying areas, and many were drowned in the process of trying to salvage some of there personal effects during the starting hours of the storm. The hurricane was over us here from 1130 am until about 8:30 pm and was very strong for most of this time. The torrential rains that followed the eye were very damaging to property and to human life. After the winds and falling trees and poles tore into Santo Doimingo many here went from their homes to some stronger block building near by, then as the winds died down in the eye they returned to their homes to retrieve a few precious personal items only to be caught in the storm again and many were washed away by the flash floods and returning high winds.
The radio stations, TV stations, and Airport all lost their towers and communications equipment. There were about 136 antenna towers lost in all here during the storm. The Airport took a lot of damage with the traffic control tower blown off (with the people still in it), the radar was destroyed, and there was extensive damage done to the "open Air" style terminal as well.
Roads all over the city have been destroyed by falling trees and concrete telephone poles, and the huge commercial signs that were all over the place have been turned into nothing but a pile of twisted steel, aluminum, and painted glass. Whole store fronts are gone, their contents looted. During the peak of the storm there were many stores that were robbed by armed gunmen that killed the Security Guards on watch there to do so. The town is filled with soldiers armed with M-16's, machine gun uzzi's, and shot guns, to prevent robberies.
There is a curfew set and anyone caught out on the street after 6 pm will be considered armed and dangerous, and will be at the least arrested and jailed. The country was so sure that the hurricane would go another direction that they did little to prepare for the disaster at all. The general public wasn't even notified until the day before the hurricane hit the country. Due to the intransitability of the roads, and the downed lines, towers, and absence of electric we still don't know what has happened outside the city of Santo Domingo.
There are rumors of flash floods that washed away whole villages, Buildings that collapsed on top of huddled masses, and bridges that have been washed out. These stories have yet to be confirmed. We do know from what we have seen that the loss of property, and of human life is great. The rivers have risen from 8-12 ft. and many areas are under water. It has continued to rain all day ever since and there is no water available to clean with. The sanitation problems are getting to be a real concern due to overflowing outhouses and soaked grounds.
Please continue to pray for these people as they try to recover from this real disaster here. We are in a good position here to be a good resource for many here. We have a good supply of medicine to help with, but we need more to be able to help on an ongoing basis. We need money to help them rebuild, or at least get some tin for their roof so they have some cover for their families, and certainly money to buy staples of foods with as the financial base of this culture has been devastated for some time to come.
We would be able to help many here if we had the resources to do so.
Please send any donations for this cause to our forwarding agent
2608 Flameleaf Dr. Grapevine
Medicines and Relief Supplies to...
P.O. Box 37849 Airport Station,
San Juan PR 00937-0849
Thank you for your concern for the brethren here in the Dominican Republic.
We just got word last night from the church in San Juan de la Maguana, where Santos Orgando is the preacher. The two local rivers flooded and wiped out their barrio, including the church and parsonage.
Santos and his family escaped harm and are OK staying with his in-laws there in another part of town. We're going to send funds down today to get food and clothes for the family and Antonio, our construction supervisor, is going down to get started rebuilding from the ground up. We'll definitely need some extra help for this project construction of the church and parsonage will probably cost $15,000-18,000 US before it's all done. Any help can be sent to our forwarding agents at the following address:
York Dominican Mission
P.O. Box 631
Lincoln, IL 62656
Please be sure and designate the gift "Hurricane relief"
Thanks for your continued prayers and help.
Oh, how we appreciate knowing we have so many concerned brothers and sisters in Christ holding us up in prayer.
We received a phone call this morning from our preacher in San Juan de Maguana. A dam did break and our Church in San Juan is gone, (the building that is) It is still believed that a whole village has been washed away, with hundreds missing.
A big cheer went up in our house this morning as we received a call from Milo, our preacher for Vaya Hondito. Both the church in Vaya Hondito and Las Canoas held firm and provided a refuge for the many that lost their homes. Thank you all for your prayers. And thank you Highland Meadows for your labors of love in constructing these 2 buildings that were very much a visual example to the people of God's love and protection for them. Milo said all of the church members are still living, although they are in great need. Our line was cut before we finished the conversation. The roads to that area are totally impassable but we will be making a trip up there as soon as possible. More good news Gary just received a call from the American Embassy, they have lots of relief help coming in and asked if he could help get it out to the people. He has gone down there right now to find out what all is involved and see how he can help. Rick York and a number of our preachers, and the teachers from Santiago Christian School have volunteered to help him with this. On the home front Chan Poi Fui, our landlord, has allowed us to hook up our house to his corporations' large generator. A huge blessing for us. Our generator quite working, our battery system has run dry, and we are exhausted.
We have been using rain water until that ran out. We were then pulling buckets up from the cistern for flushing toilets, bathing, washing dishes, washing clothes, etc. We also have much to do in clearing away our Mango tree, chopping the pieces small enough to haul out, and clearing the rest of the destruction here. We are also offering refuge to those who need it from Totumo (the poor neighborhood close by) and helping to feed them. With full toilets, lots of hard work leading to sweaty stinky bodies and clothes and a lack of energy and water to do anything about it you can imagine the stench was not pleasant. Today is a sunny day and I'm going to go wash what I can while the generator is running, hang the clothes out to dry, and hope the water and sun hold up. God bless you all, yes we are still overwhelmed and devastated but we do see a light and feel your love and prayers.
Thank you, In Jesus Name we press on
Cindy Klein and family
Dear Friends in Christ,
Greetings from the Dominican Republic. We're happy to report that we have heard from all the churches in the most affected areas of the country no deaths were reported in the churches from Hurricane Georges. Wind and rain damage were reported in church member's homes in Santo Domingo in Los Frailes, Herrera, and Totumo churches. Extensive damage was done in member's homes in San Juan de la Maguana, Los Canoas and Barahona churches. The church building and parsonage were washed away in San Juan de la Maguana-which is the worst damage reported.
William Decena, preacher in Barahona- helped rescue his grandmother from a flooding river with a rope scary story but she is OK.
Relief efforts have already started. We got four homes roofed in the Totumo churches yesterday and today. A group of our teachers from Santiago Christian School went down to Kleins this weekend and worked on that project. Our Senior class is going down Wednesday and Thursday and working on a widow's house in Los Frailes and passing out food and clothing.
Our biggest need will be for building materials tin roofing and wood for roofing. Your help can be sent to:
York Dominican Mission
P.O. Box 631
Lincoln, IL 62656 <<br>
Please designate the funds for "Hurricane Relief" Our forwarding agent will be e-mailing me regularly to let me know what funds are available so we can get our workers working immediately on the projects most urgent.
Thanks for your help and prayers. We really appreciate them both!
The days are so very long now, and there is so very much to do all of the time. The Disaster relief effort here is a disaster itself. The Dominican Red Cross has been tasked with the entire releif distribution process and they have no resources (trucks, people, gas, water, generators, equipment,etc.) to do it with so things are just disappearing all over the place. The other day I attended one of their daily "planning" meetings and nothing was even close to being accomplished just a lot of talking and complaining. We did find out that the first several C-130 flights had landed the day before with "one Million sheets of tin roofing" that had "completely disappeared already from the Air Force Base" the releif effort is not at all getting to the people, there is an epidemic of Dengue, Typhoid fever and Diarrhea related diseases from the poor sanitation and the lack of drinking water available to the masses affected here.
I will be reporting the US Embassy charge-de-affairs Linda Watt tommorrow about this situation and hopefully we can get the USAID to take some responsibility for the distribution of these incoming resources. What we in the Evangelical churches are doing is that we are uniting to form an inter-denominational releif team that is pooling our collective resources to send work teams to the most seriously hit areas to bring food, used clothes, shoes, water, medicine, and medical care, and building materials to help in the recovery effort. In this way we can actually get this releif effort moving much sooner. We hope to eventually earn the confidence of the Local distribution agence here so that they will filter some of the releif donations sent through government channels to our group so that we can keep the momentum going.
We are sponsored and overseen by
South Lakeshore Christian Church Missions Board of Elders
1740 So. 84th St.
Tacoma, WA 98444
Telephone # (253)535-3811
Pastor's name is Monty Leighton.
They are directing all collections and distributions of relief donations for the CDMM mission effort, their E-mail is " email@example.com "
What we need most is vitamins, baby formula, Antibiotics,anti-diarrheal meds.,a water purification system that has a " UV Filter " and wood for building roofs, Tin sheeting for building roofs, and food for the starving masses here that have lost everything they own.
Some of these things are not even available here and will need to be brought in somehow from the outside, some can be purchased here.
We would be very grateful for anything that you could do to assist in this great cause, and pray that the Lord will use us as a channel for your assistance efforts if He so wills. We are approaching a crucial period where all of the fallen fruits here are running out, and the future food supply is uncertain as to where the next several weeks and months of food will come from. The market here never has the depth to it to absorb the demand that a cricic such as this brings to it. People are very worried about starving to death in the coming weeks, and the sicknesses related to poor sanitation, and lack of clean water are already seriously on the rise. We need to have the goods, and medicines to respond to this crisis or else the loss of life from the aftermath of Hurricaine Georges will take a greater death toll than the actual storm itself.
Thank you, for being concerned.
God Bless you and keep you all safe and well.
In Christ, The Kleins, and CDMM staff
After sending this letter to all I realized that there is a typo that gives a wrong impression reguarding the Embassy involvement in the recovery process. As a part time (10hrs.a week) employee for the US Embassy in Santo Domingo I have occasion to discuss my Medical concerns about the Embassy and local community with the acting Ambassador. The Embassy has been very responsable with it's resources and is genuinely concerned about the Dominican People and their recovery needs, and the proper and timely distribution of relief supplies. My reference left out the word "TO" which makes it look like I was reporting the officials for poor management which is not at all the case. This was supposed to read: "I will be reporting to Linda Watt the Charge-de-Affairs about this situation"
On the contrary they are being good managers and are following the wishes of the local government officials in directing all donations to the Dominican Red Cross. The only problem that really exists with the Red Cross here is that their institution is under-developed at this time and they have not received the support in the past that would prepare them for their current assignment. Please forgive me for wrong impressions that would have been given in the initial message.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Greetings from the Dominican Republic.We're making progress in the relief efforts for the churches and families affected by Hurricane Georges. Already in Santo Domingo 8 homes have been reroofed and the church and parsonage in Los Friales has also been repaired and reroofed, plus some of the windows have been changed. We're so thankful that our supporters and supporting churches have already started to respond and many have indicated that they will soon.
Gary Klein and I met last night with representatives of the American Red Cross and Southern Baptist relief workers. Gary has also been working closely with the Dominican Red Cross. The biggest concern is making sure that relief materials get to the people that need the help and the Red Cross wants to work through church organizations, even evangelical groups. We're organizing a meeting of all evangelical mission representatives for Sunday afternoon to try and present a united effort on our behalf. We now have damage surveys that each affected church area will be filling out so that help from the Red Cross can be channeled that way.
We're travelling down to San Juan de la Maguana on Saturday to take food and building materials and evaluate the damage of the churches there. One church in Dallas, TX is raising funds to rebuild homes in Las Canoas, where they built the church two years ago. We will be in charge of raising the funds for the reconstruction of the church in San Juan, along with the parsonage. The preacher there, Santos Orgando, lost everything his family owns so the need is greater than just a building.
Please let me know what your church can do to help-we're so thankful to have faithful help in times like these. I'll write more on Saturday evening when I get back from San Juan.
Thanks for your help and prayers.
October 1, 1998
Many know now (either through us or Yorks) that William, his family, and his congregation have survived the hurricane. As have all of our church members. Praise be the Lord. Efforts have been started here in Santo Domingo to help the people put their lives back in order. We've re-roofed 5 houses with another one planned for tomorrow. We have handed out clothes, shoes, powdered milk, and food items to one village, with many others planned. The evangelical churches are making plans to unite together in this relief effort, which will allow us to help distribuate the relief supplies which are coming in from the US and other parts of the world. Please pray that we will be able to get the supplies into the hands of those that need them, and that we may preach God's word at the same time, while showing them His love.
We have a group of students here this evening and tomorrow during the day from Santiago Christian School. They will be re-roofing a poor destitute widows' roof. (Gary had come across this elderly lady sitting in frount of her house weeping, while on his way out to one of our churches last week. He evaluated the situation and realized she lives alone and has no one that will help her. He promised he would do what he could.) They also will be helping pack medicine for the upcoming clinics, gathering large broken tree limbs to use for re-building roof frames for houses, as well as more food and clothing distributions. They brought a lot of food and clothes with them to be distributed to the needy.
Marv and Jan Bullock will be arriving Friday afternoon from South Lakeshore Christian Church in Tacoma, Washington. (Via the red-eye special) The airport in Santo Domingo is now open for daytime flights. Gary, Rick York, Marv Bullock, and Lt. Col. Gonsoles, Director of Military Intelligence at the U.S. Embassy are taking the Ambulance up full of food, clothing, medicines to San Juan, Vaya Hondita, and Las Canoas Saturday. That should be a challenging venture. No doubt some of our kids will be talking Gary into letting them go too. They are a lot of help.
The family is keeping fairly healthy. We still have no electric but our small generator is now working, so we fill in the gaps with it. We continue to enjoy Chan's generousity in being able to hook up to his corporate generator during working hours.
We are very blessed to have a phoneline, right next door and onward they have none.
We have water for bathing, and washing dishes, and clothes most of the time. We have plenty of food to eat, and plenty of fresh bottled water to drink. We even have ice.
I started Sara and Donny back to their homeschool kindergarten and preschool today. We made clown faces with shapes and colors as well as worked on letter sounds. The older kids have also started back to their studies, on and off. It is difficult with so much to do, and many interruptions. Please be in prayer for us to be focused and attentive to our school and to have the necessary time to commit to the lessons. The kids are eager workers, but it is important they get a good education as well.
Donny said the sweetest prayer the other day, I'm sure God had to have been smiling.
Christy had just finished saying the prayer for the meal and Donny says "My hands are still folded! (Meaning, I want to pray too) Dear Jesus please bless the people in Totumo that lost their houses and their sticks (we had been out the day before gathering branches to use in the roofing) Help them to get their sticks and God to build their roofs. Amen"
We'd like to thank all of you that have been praying for us; and those who have taken a step of faith in sending us help so we will have the priveldge of helping those we can, in the Name of Jesus. Much love to you all as we labor together.
Love, Cindy Klein and family
Much thanks to all, as we press on together, Cindy Klein Christian
Dominican Medical Mission in the Dominican Republic
Date: Domingo 4 de Octubre de 1998 11:28 AM
I left yesterday morning at 5:00 AM and met up with Gary Klein and a crew of Dominican church workers and we headed for the San Juan de la Maguana area. News reports had indicated that the Mesopotamia barrio was one of the hardest hit, if not the hardest, by flooding caused by Hurricane Georges. We had already received word that the church building had been washed away, which is true. We stopped in las Canoas and Valle Hondito, in the San Juan province, where we have two churches. Both buildings are fine and damage there is noticeable but not catastrophic by any means. Food supplies will be the real test there in the coming weeks and months. Some homes were damaged and some knocked down but well-built houses did fine.
We had to ford the same river three or four times-once was a little deep and we paid twenty pesos for two young men to guide the vehicles through the water. Gary drove the FAME ambulance and I had my pick-up. The scene in San Juan was a little surrealistic. The town is divided into three sections basically with the river and the Mesopotamia barrio in the middle, and at a lower elevation. Mesopotamia means "between two rivers"and the Yaque del Sur river divides before coming into town and the barrio had been built on that flood plain years ago and had not flooded substantially for over 20 years. The rest of San Juan was relatively unscathed and businesses were open and booming. As we drove down into Mesopotamia however, the smell of death lingered in the air. Mud was everywhere and houses were completely filled with mud and debris. The force of the water must have been tremendous-whole concrete/block homes where washed ways. We found the corner where the church had been and all that remained was the back wall and the baptistery-filled completely with mud. Dead bodies were still being removed by back-hoes in one section of the barrio. I have seen an area so devastated. The devastation was about 1/2 wide-an area that had been filled with mostly lower class homes.
Santos Orgando and his wife and daughter are fine-living right now with their in-laws in the upper section of town. The government has decided to prohibit construction in that barrio-a wise decision in my opinion, and so we are looking for property in another section(higher) of town. Santos is looking for a house or apartment to rent and we'll begin getting their life back in order this week. His wife had just opened a beauty parlor. We helped her get all the equipment and it opened up about two months ago-all the equipment was lost. They literally lost everything they owned so starting over will be difficult but we will help a much as possible. All the churches here are taking up a special offering on October 18th for the San Juan church.
We also were able to confirm that two of the church members were drowned-I'll find out their names this week. A sad scene indeed.
On the way home the Gary's ambulance had a breakdown-the back right dual tires came off-one flew off and down a ravine-he was able to get the ambulance stopped just as the second tire came off. We got it jacked up and all of the lug nuts had snapped off-we got the hub off and after searching in San Juan for replacements finally had the ambulance towed back to Las Canoas and 14 of us came home in my pick-up-back through the river-at night-but it had actually gone down so that wasn't too scary!! I got home about 1:15 this morning-tired and emotionally drained but confident that the Lord is in control of this situation. Santos and his wife Isabel's attitude was just like Job's-The Lord gives and the Lord takes away-blessed be the name of the Lord! Remarkable faith.
As we talked on the way down and back to Santo Domingo, we decided to focus on three areas in this aspect of the ministry:
1. Relief- food and medicine are becoming a critical area and funds must be raised to help feed and doctor many people. We can't feed and heal the whole country so we're going to concentrate on the three areas most affected where we have churches: San Juan de la Maguana, Las Canoas/Valle Hondito, and the Haitian villages in Barahona. In these three areas alone our churches can have contact with at least 8000-10,000 people. We took about 2000 pounds of food and medicine and some clothes yesterday for these areas and we plan to set up a regular relief effort for as many people as we can reach. Crops are destroyed and it will be at least 6-8 months before anything can be harvested-Jobs are also lost so it's going to be a tough time for many people. Realistically we need about $10,000 a month for the next 8 months for this part of the ministry.
2. Rebuild. We are getting an accurate count of number of homes damaged and extent of damage. A new roof will cost about $450 US for new lumber and tin/zinc roofing. The church in San Juan alone will cost about $20,000 to rebuild. Again, thousands of homes have been destroyed throughout the country but we can only do so much so it's best for us to concentrate where we have reliable Dominican leadership to oversee projects. We have four of our best men in the south, William Decena in the Haitian bateys(villages), Miguel Ignacio Cruz in Las Canoas, Milo Hernandez in Valle Hondito and Santos Orgando in San Juan. These men have years of experience in the churches and are completely trustworthy.
3. Renew. We want to seize this opportunity to preach the gospel while people are willing to listen. Many people lost everything and need help. A helping hand earns the right to speak of spiritual needs and so we're looking to plant new churches in the areas we help. Please be praying for that harvest as well.
Many are responding and we thank you for that. Any funds can be sent to:
York Dominican Mission
P.O. Box 631
Lincoln, IL 62656
Please mark your gift "Hurricane Relief"
Thanks again for your help and may the Lord bless you.
Rick and Suzanne York
Dear Friends in Christ,
Greetings from the Dominican Republic. We're making progress on relief efforts for the most affected areas of the country. One of our school board members, Barry Burnett, is the Southern Baptist field leader here and a close friend of ours. They have no mission work in the San Juan/Barahona area where we have 5 churches. They are setting up a center in Azua, near the areas, where they can distribute food and building materials via established churches, including ours. Our preachers will serve as liaisons for the relief effort in the area they work in - they are all men of integrity and well known in their communities. I also contacted one of our families in the school that owns a rice processing plant here in Santiago and they are willing to sell rice at below market costs.
We're hoping to work out a food plan to provide food for a family of for a week-rice, beans, cooking oil, etc. The basics for Dominican life.
Gary Klein is getting 1000 sheets of roofing tin via Barry. Also-Barry has a good connection at one of the hardware companies in town-roofing materials are hard to find. That should roof at least 20 houses.
Things are hopping but we're making progress-please keep these projects in your prayers.
Again- our plan is Relief, Rebuild, Renew-pray for that, please.
We have been so very grateful for the response of so many of you to the disaster recovery here. God Bless you all for your caring and sharing.
We have been very busy reaching out to help the hardest hit on the island and we have had our mission team here rebuilding damaged homes. The mission has purchased and put on a lot of roofing material in an attempt to allow folks in the shelters here to return to their homes.
The shelters that have been designated for those who have lost their homes are getting to be a serious health problem. I was in a shelter in San Juan De La Maguana with 4000 people in it yesterday, I went there with an official from the Dominican Red Cross. There was just one 400 gallon water tank provided by UNICEF that is filled three times a day with (cloudy) water. This is the only souce of there... no one can bathe... or wash clothing and for this 4000 people they have only 12 latrines in place. The number of people with Aembic Dysentary, Conjunctivitis, and Dengue fever is alarming. There is also a rise of Tuberculosis in these poorly vented shelters.
I have been working with Marv Bullock who along with his wife Jan came to help us for a couple of months here.
We took the Ambulance to San Juan de la Maguana to bring food, clothes, and medicine to the over 22,000 people who lost there homes there when an earthen Dam was opened above the town at two-o-clock in the morning with the Hurricaine in full swing... this sent a wall of water rolling down through town about a mile and a half wide and about 12 feet high. It is feared that THOUSANDS LOST THERE LIVES THERE. The "OFFICIAL DEATH COUNT" for the entire island is only about 250 people.
This is really a cover-up of the real death toll due to the Government's desire to minimize the magnitude of their error in judgment reguarding the management of the dam water level. I have a video, and Pictures of this disaster that I will try to get out to you as possible... It is really unbelievable what happened there, and even more terrible how the disaster is being handled by the authorities here... there is a complete denial of the magnitude of the problems. They are only counting the bodies that are found be the Military durring their "Street Cleaning" with BullDozers. All other dead are being burried or burned as they are found by their neighbors and family. Walking through the hundreds of mud, wooden sticks, and trashed items of family life... clothes, dishes, furniture, beds, doors, walls, roofs, toys, dolls etc.
The area is a virtual ghost town in the center 1/3 of this large town of San Juan De La Maguana. All of the people and their homes on both sides of this once little 20ft. wide stream have completely vanished...and the distruction goes on for about 70 miles through other villages like Tamayo where hundreds of other homes and their inhabitants have "Vanished suddenly but cannot be presumed dead" (so says the government here). There are no photo's or video of this distruction on TV or in the Papers that even come close to the real picture of how big the problem is there. I have met with some US Embassy officials and gave them a copy of my Video of the disaster there. While taking relief items to these people we had a bit of an accident with the Ambulance...Full of Las Canoas, and other Mission workers...All eight lug bolts on the right rear dual tires snapped off one right after another (like flying mud chunks reported Rick York who was driving behind us when it happened).
I was able to keep the truck under control as we dragged to a stop on the pavement and no one was hurt PTL! It started pouring down rain as we tried to get it fixed and with most of the bridges out along the road there our efforts were made more difficult as we got someone to comw from town la te at night to tow the truck to Las Canoas where it still sits waiting to be fixed (I will go and fix it tommorrow Lord willing). All 14 of us from Santo Domingo and other parts of the country packed into Rick York's little Chevy truck and forded the rivers in the dark headed back to Santo Domingo arriving at about 11:30pm. rather exausted but satisfied that we had accomplished our task of helping the suffering in that area.
Unfortunately we completely lost the entire church building there in the "Mesopotamia area" of San Juan. We Praise the Lord that our Preacher there Santo Ogando and his family are still alive but thet did lose everything they owned in the process (they Lived in the parsonage attached to the church there). We did lose at least two families from the church in the flood. The relief efforts in this area are not going well as most of the supplies donated to the Government never make it to the people...they are getting diverted along the way somehow. There are about 10 homes lost or seriously damaged in the Las Canoas area as well but both our churches in this area (Las Canoas, and Balla Hondita) did very well and were refuges for their respective communities during and after the Hurricaine.
I have been working to establish an inter-denominational relief plan so that all of the Evangelical churches can cooperate to help the people hurt the most and further the cause of Christ here in the midst of this disaster...There is a lot of interest in the plan from other groups and we will be meeting again next Sunday afternoon to continue our planning.
My cooperation with the Dominican Red Cross has increased and we have completed initial survey's and requests for help from over a thousand homes since the Hurricaine to try to get help from the "international Relief efforts" here.
I continue to work with my US Embassy friends, and USAID friends to arrange for the delivery by US Air Force Shipments offered many churches in the Northwest, and in Indiana. Lord willing with the political pressure of many people from all over we may just get the job done and receive the needed supplies. The Red Cross has agreed to accept these shipments as their property (exonerated from taxes) and then sign over the supplies to CDMM at the aircraft. PTL! We are also in the process of applying for the needed Exoneration for our Ambulance at this time as the timing is favorable with the work that we are doing with the Red Cross, and the Embassy here.
Please keep these things in your prayers as we need strength to complete the task at hand. Thank you for your financial and relief supplies support it is what allows us to keep making a difference here in the Name of Christ and to His Glory!
God Bless you all, In Christ,
Dear Friends inChrist,
Greetings from the Dominican Republic. We're making progress with our relief efforts. Michel Marte and I are heading to San Juan and Barahona tomorrow to take a truckload of food and clothing. I bought 3125 pounds of rice today for distribution and had severa hundred pounds of salami donated ablong with several hundred pounds of pasta. I also received 1000 dresses from some good friends of ours, José and Peggy Franco. They have a clothing factory here and donated the dresses-it's a real blessing.
Gary and I just went in to debt to get a cargo truck-we've talked about our need for one to haul our construction materials and luggage for our work teams but the need to haul several thousand pounds of food each week really motivated us to get te truck-it's a Daihatsu-the most used cargo truck here and can carry loads up to 10,000 lbs - I've got about 5000 lbs on it tonight.
Our immediate goal is to supply food for 1000 people weekly-cost for us will be about $1500 US. Reconstruction projects continue-we're looking for new property-on higher ground-in San Juan to rebuild the church and parsonage. We were able to help Santos and his family move into a rented house and we've got them set with some basic furnishings and clothes-trying to get their life back on track. Bodies are still being recovered from the flooded area of San Juan.
Thanks for your prayers and help-please present this need to your church if you haven't done so yet - we're thrilled at the way the Lord is opening doors.
Dear friends in Christ,
We continue to do our best to help the folks that have lost so much here to recover from the Hurricaine, it has been almost 3 weeks now and the wheels of relief are turning very slowly still.
Santo Ogando, our preacher from the Church in San Juan de la Maguana church that was completely washed away from the flood waters on the night of the Hurricaine reports some very bad news. We have confirmed the deaths of two of our most faithful ladies in the church there in San Juan, and there are still many of the Sunday school children missing and assumed dead. We will update you of this as we have news.
Santo Ogando on the night of the Hurricaine had been thinking about the history of this area and the floods that had occured in past years and he decided to move his wife and daughter to stay with her brother in a house that is on higher ground at about 7pm, he went back to the church to make everything secure there, and planned to stay the night to guard the church from theft. He reports that he was on his knees praying at about 11:30 at night ant the storm was houling outside. He reports that as he prayed he felt the need to be with his family during the storm as they would be in great fear. He decided that he would go to stay the night with them and return early in the morning to check the church. He had already prepared his bed and was dressed for bed before he knelt to pray. He says he was somewhat concerned about leaving the church but he felt that the urging to be with his family was from the Lord so he got dressed, locked everything up tight, and staggered off through the blustering storm to where his family was staying more that two miles away on foot. He arrived there about 1pm exausted, completely soaked to the core, and windblown. He got changed and settled in for the night, and 30 min. later... a wall of water rushed down through the center of this town destroying 5,000 homes, the Church building, and thousands of lives in the process.
Santo reports that he has never felt closer to the Holy Spirit than he does now, and he feels like the Lord spared his life through this prompting to leave under such undesirable conditions to allow him to now minister to the ones that lost everything that fateful night. Just last thursday when I was in San Juan the Civil Defense came in with "search Dogs" that had been brought in from Miami, and in less that an hour they had helped the searchers to find 36 bodies buried in the deep mud in their own homes, truly a saddening sight, The search continues... May God help their souls. Pray for those that lost their loved ones!
The relief effort here is improving some with the Government here having ordered a ship full of tin for roofing repairs, they still have little affordable wood available. The price of wood has more than doubled here since the Hurricaine. Food is the really big issue though. There are many that are literally starving to death with the available donated food being poorly mismanaged by the government here. I was in a shelter the other day that had four thousand people in it...boy was it bad! It stunk to high heavens as Amebic dysentary has set in there and the water available is insufficient. The govt. provides one 400gal. tank that they fill three times a day with cloudy water for 4,000 people. They cannot bathe or wash clothes at all. The river is still too dangerous and dirty to use for washing clothes in as well. Typhoid, Dyptheria, Dengue, and tuberculosis, as well as conjunctivitis is becoming epidemic in the more that 200 shelters that currently house about 80,000 people. Clothes will be a greater need as these people get back into their homes and have room for storing more posessions, but for now more clothes would not really help much as space is so critical in the shelters.
The priority list includes
There is a large number of folks that lost everything that are back in their homes already however the current focus of deep concern is on these shelters, the epidemic going on there, and getting the people out of them as soon as possible.
Bringing these clothes down now would cost money that we need to be spending on building materials, food, and Medicine so the clothes had better wait for now.
We are planning to get our medical clinics in full swing as soon as we pass the rebuilding crisis phase of recovery here. The plan we have is to recover what can be salvaged from the ruins, rebuild as much as we can for each family affected, refresh with supply of food, and water, and reestablish the growth of the Church here with a renewed effort to show these people that the Lord Jesus, and His promise to fill their lives with Joy, Peace, Hope, and a bright Future is still available those who will confess their sins,and place their trust in Him. Please keep us in your prayers as we strive to further the cause of Christ in the wake of this disaster.
God bless you all and keep you in His care,
In Christ, Gary
We appreciate your support and prayers as we continue to get settled and set up our ministry here according to God's will.
We can also be reached by writing
715 14th Street SE
Rochester, MN 55904
Our address in the Dominican will be
Juan Alberto and Lynette Rivas
SCS-DR, PO Box 24770
West Palm Beach, FL 33416
Make all checks payable to:
Cedar Falls Church of Christ
2727 West Fourth Street
Cedar Falls, IA 50613