Peru Misison Visits Earthquake Area

Last weekend several from Peru Mission visited the area devastated by the earthquake. With the money that many of you contributed to along with Peruvians, our Mission was able to give $3381 to aid in the relief work. One of our missionaries, Clara Lee, shares her experience:

“[Here is] a brief report on the relief trip we took to Chincha this weekend, exactly ten days after the earthquake. The worst of the cleanup has already taken place, but I believe we were able to deliver help to some people in real need.

Jaime (Peru Mission’s Team Administrator) coordinated our relief effort together with the brothers at Los Olivos church in Lima, which has been collecting donations. He rented a bus and purchased about $1000 US worth of blankets, plastic sheets, diapers, food and water, and adding in the food and clothing donations collected at the church there was barely enough room for us to fit in.

We decided to go to Chincha because one of the brothers at Los Olivos (a presbyterian congregation in Lima) had a sister there, and they were able to coordinate with a group of neighbors and families in need to gather at her house. We left Lima about 6:40 am and traveled down the coast, past lots of sand dunes and ocean views. A few sections of the road were damaged and we had to travel on a single lane, but the traffic was well regulated and we did not have any major delays. We began to see damaged highway rails, walls and rocks when we got closer to Chincha. Driving through the town itself, there were collapsed structures everywhere, and some tents outside where people had taken shelter.

We arrived around 10:30am at the sister’s house, finding about 20-30 families (nearly all women and children) gathered outside. We carried pre-packed sacks of groceries and blankets into the house for later distribution. Jaime preached a short message to those gathered. Knowing of the region’s devotion to local saints, he preached rather strongly about the futility of idol worship – gods who cannot see or hear – and asked the group to repeat John 14:6 after him, “Jesus said to them: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” The crowd was responsive, but we can only hope they will have more chances to hear God’s word being preached. There are very few evangelical churches in the region.

I asked the sister’s husband whether other help had arrived, and he said the government had delivered some food and supplies. It appeared the people were getting some help, and access to water had been restored, but of course much more help would be needed to reconstruct people’s homes. He told me that about a third of the homes in Chincha had collapsed. (Pisco, further south, suffered much more destruction, and currently is receiving most of the aid.)

Afterward, we decided to drive out to the pueblos jovenes, since aid was being distributed out of Chincha’s Plaza de Armas and we did not want to duplicate efforts. We drove through several neighborhoods, first going from house to house, but quickly discovering that wherever we went people would gather and form a line, requiring us to distribute directly from the bus. For the most part the distribution was orderly; we tried to only give to women so that we would be more likely to reach families rather than individuals. Those who were elderly or carrying a baby were sure to receive a new blanket. Several of the people told us they had not received help out in the pueblos jovenes. Everyone was very excited about our gifts, and curious about who we were since we were traveling in a Lima city bus!

Finally around 2 pm we had distributed everything we had. We had to turn away 5 people at the last distribution point, where the largest crowds had formed. However in the end I think we must have given something to at least 200 families, maybe more. The most popular items were the blankets, plastic sheets to reinforce shelters, and diapers! Food was also in high demand; clothing was not as needed.

…What we saw confirmed the news reports we’d been hearing: that a lot of aid was arriving, enough to keep people from being destitute, but not enough to meet all of the need, and not in a very organized manner. Those who were lucky enough to have a bus pass by, and who ran to get a place in line, received aid; but it was difficult to know whether those who needed help the most were being reached.

All in all it was a good day, fortunately without any danger or strife, and with the amount of goods we distributed we gave some help, whether it be a lot or a little. It was a twelve-hour day counting the four hour trip out, four hours of distribution, and four hour trip back. When we got back to Los Olivos, we had a short “debriefing” session, during which the brothers from Los Olivos expressed a desire to continue to go back, get to know the people a little better, perhaps preach more and raise up a church. Jaime and I were a little more cautious, knowing how much it takes to start a church plant, but we all remain open to God’s calling for future involvement with the area, especially how to contribute the additional funds we’ve received toward reconstruction.”

Thank you very much for your support and prayers for the displaced Peruvians!

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