Reflections by Pastor Carlos Hernandez, Director, LCMS World Relief and Human Care
"Tenemos Vida - We have our lives"
Chiquimula, Guatemala, June 8, 2010 - Today we began our Assessment / Pastoral Care work in the Northwest desert region (Very hot! I think I perspired 5 pound. Dr. Collver even took off his collar!) of this Central American country where Dr. Collver and I witnessed the damaging power of the Taco River that weaves through the city's poor neighborhoods (accent on the second vowel and not pronunced like "Taco Bell"!) and that left five dead in its path, most homes flooded band dozens homeless.
Dr. Collver (collarless) with Nury at Resurrection Lutheran Gualan
Reverendo Tiburcio Giron is Pastor of Emanuel. He is also Vice-President of "La Comision Administrativa del La Iglesia Evangelica Luterana en Guatemala" (Administrative Commission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guatemala).
Pastor Giron is traveling with us today and so when we arrived at an area along the Taco River where many of the members of Emanuel live and were flooded out, Emanuel's congregational President, Juan Vicente Molina Erazo is there to meet us.
Many of those left homeless lived in the El Mango ("Zona 4") section ("Colonia") of Chiqui mula where "Iglesia Evangelica Luterana Emanuel" (Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church)
is located. Rev. Tiburcio Giron is happy to have a faithful and reliable congregational leader like Mr. Erazo.
Mr. Erazo leads us to a group of women and children from the congregation that are risking their lives, still occupying their washed out homes along the Taco River because they have no other place to go!
We are introduced and the women and children welcome us with a joyous gospel song in Spanish that translates, "I have a friend who loves me and Jesus is his name."
Pastor Eduardo Bonilla of "Castillo Fuerte" in Guatemala City is also traveling with us and offers a fervent prayer for the families and we, as LCMS World Relief amd Human Care promise to respond with relief services as we are able.
The women express words of thanks to God that he spared their lives. "Tenemos vida," some say while other express their agreement with hearty "Amens."
Pastors in the Lutheran Church in Guatemala do not receive a salary and must support themselves. Pastor Giron 'earns a living' as the Director of the Instituto Nacional de Educacion Basica on the Campus of "Iglesia Luterana de La Resurreccion" ("Lutheran Church of the Resurreccion").
He is taking several days off to travel with us at no pay. He jokes in Spanish, "I am putting my wife to work so I can take off!"
But it's no joke! Pastor Giron wife, Carmelina, whom we met at the Deaconess Conference in Argentina in 2009, works in health services for the State and today she is working at a State Health Center in Gualan.
Next, President of Emanuel, Mr. Erazo, takes us to the congregation where we will meet with Maria del Carmen Setino who is in a crisis.
Her home was washed out. She and her children are staying with friends who understandably want their stay to be short term. She is 8 months pregnant and she and her four children have no food.
Here where assessment ends
and immediate help begins!
Dr. Collver brought along some LCMS World Relief and Human Care cash. When we offered immediate cash help, Pastor Giron and Mr. Erazo suggest 200 Quetzales ($25) - about 3-4 days of food. Later Dr. Collver set aside another 3,500 Quetzales ($425.00) for Emanuel to assist others in a crisis like Maria and her 4 children.
Before going to Gualan where Rev. Luis Jacinto is Pastor at Iglesia Evangelica Luterana de La Resurreccion, we saw Mr. Erazo's own home and its serious damages.
His joy in caring for others belies his own need. Mr. Erazo is teaming up with his Pastor to care for others while he and his family have equally serious needs - a genuine "Wounded Healer."
Iglesia Luterana de La Resurreccion in Gualan, right on the Motagua River (!) has massive flood damages, as well as numerous conregational, school and coomunity families in dire need and a $10,000 grant from LCMS World Relief and Human Care has already been rushed (wired) to them.
But that exciting story will be the topic of another edition of "Reflections."
Pastor Carlos Hernandez can be reached at 314-956-2005 or firstname.lastname@example.org