If you ask any of the people who have joined a Mission Possible mission trip, a soul-stirring moment of each trip is a visit to ‘tin city.’
They will tell you that when you stand by the river bank you see tin houses/shacks for miles up and down the river – literally as far as the eye can see. These areas are filled with the poorest of the poor in the Dominican Republic and across the world. The visit always helps our mission participants reflect mightily on the blessings of God in their own life. It also gives them a mindfulness of who we are trying to help in our mission efforts. Our goal is to help provide safe and healthy living for all of God’s children.
After fifteen years, I am not usually ‘moved’ by the regular visits to Tin City – until today. Walking and seeing the immense devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona was truly stirring – humbling – and even inspiring.
- Where we stood today on the river bank was the normal river level. In the trees 50 to 60 feet above us, you could see how high the river rose by the clothes, bedding and mattresses that were entangled in the tree branches. This immense water washed away all the homes along the river bank and, along with it, the lives of so many, many families.
- Littered on the shore were pieces, parts and remnants of homes, household items, and peoples lives.
- Today in the river we watched families scrubbing their ‘shirt’ and cleaning what they could salvage from the storm.
- And today was inspiring because amid the deep devastation and the work ahead, people were working together, helping each other, and laughing and making the most of another difficult day in their life.
The day was filled with many efforts to start the process of repairing, healing and walking forward:
- We met with both the Mayor and the Bishop to discuss needs and ways we can offer help and hope.
- We met with some good people who are ‘experts’ in construction to assess the safety and integrity of every home in both of our neighborhoods (sadly we may need to demolish six additional homes).
- There were teams demolishing the houses that we destroyed in the storm (four) and efforts continued to repair and replace what was immediate and urgent and most helpful.
- We hope to have a comprehensive plan to repair and rebuild in the next few days.
As the sun started to set, Jake and I had the great blessing of distributing food to all the members of our communities.
(25 lbs of rice, 10 lbs of beans, packs of bottled water, and a ½ gallon of cooking oil).
We had the joy of going house to house and as we walked/traveled through the neighborhoods it became like a parade – everyone walked with us through the community. You could feel the burdens lifting. You could sense a joy and hopefulness knowing that they are not alone. It was a blessing beyond words. Tomorrow with the help of the Diocese we will be working out of the local churches to distribute food to the residents of ‘tin city’. They will also receive large packs of food that will help them over the next two-three weeks as long term solutions are developed and implemented.
Much work will continue on Saturday. By the time we leave for home the community will be ‘stabilized’, the displaced will have a home, and there will be the start of a plan to build a hopeful future for our sisters and brothers in our mission.
God bless you for your goodness. You make the mission possible!!!