January 9, 2012

Learning to do Good

"Learn to do good..." - Isaiah 1:17

Yesterday we heard about a family of 7 whose plywood house burned down. Mom, Dad, and five kids were left with nothing. Literally nothing.

So a group of us from church loaded up some non-perishable food items (they don't have a fridge), clothing, mattresses, sheets and blankets, a tent so they have somewhere to sleep, and some water in big plastic jugs, and drove our little caravan out to the very edge of town.

Because, the Bible says, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Edgardo lent us his truck, onto which we strapped our extra mattresses
(now when people come visit, we will just have to sleep on the floor and give them our own bed,
hardly a sacrifice considering the needs we see here daily)

we half emptied our own cabinets to pile food and clothes and other supplies into our van
 I made my kids pick out some clothes that no longer fit them, and some shoes that still do, to donate to the family of 5 children. Because no one needs five pairs of flip flops when your neighbor has none.

"He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise." Luke 3:11

heading out to the site
"If you love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15

on the way we stopped to pick up Dora, who lives 4 blocks from where the houses burned down
 - she goes to our church, and lead us to what was left of the homes

getting closer - the brick houses turned into plywood lean-to's

finally there

one of the three houses that burned down
Fires are common here, they either start with electrical shorts or from sparks that fly off of wood fires or gas stove used for cooking.

one of the burnt houses is already being rebuilt
the woman in the red shirt lives in the gray tent
her "home", a tent

The neighborhood sits on the very edge of the city. It's a squatters village and it's sprawling and huge. It seems to go on and on and on. People who have no place to live and no money to rent or buy land just "take" a small plot of land on the edge of town, sometimes in public squares or parks, and build ramshackle houses out of plywood, scraps, or brick if they can afford it. The government put up a fence on the edge of town to stop the squatters from taking any more land.

right next to the burnt houses was the fence (behind me), beyond was desert

unloading the mattresses and supplies
It was about 100 degrees and there was not a tree in sight. There was broken glass, dog poop, charred wood and ash, and trash mixed in with desert grit. The kids who live here were filthy and were walking around in underwear and bare feet. Bare feet! My mommy instinct wanted to just stick them in a bathtub, scrub them up, comb their hair, and put some shoes on them. But there is barely water in the neighborhood. The government hasn't extended the pipes to this edge of town yet.

Keren playing with the kids

Mario, one of the pastors, comforting the families with God's word

after unloading everything, we prayed with the families that lost everything
the woman in the middle in the dress will be sleeping in the tent we gave her until they can rebuild

afterwards, conferring about the possibility of coming back, and what kind of help is most needed

and, of course, the truck wouldn't start (it has had battery problems) so we had to push it to pop it into gear

Afterwards, when we were driving Dora back to her house, we drove by some little kids playing outside -two adorable little girls, maybe 4 and 6. I smiled out the window and yelled, "Hola Hermosas!" and they waved back. Dora said, "Oh, if you knew the things those girls have lived through..."

Oh, no. What? What things??

Their mother is mising one leg, so has trouble taking care of them. Last year, some men broke into their house and raped the mother and her daughters.

This is the neighborhood that Jorge and Monica do the Happy Hour outreach. We were told that 90% of the people who live here are alcoholics or theives. There are a few that work hard and don't commit crime, but they are not the majority.

Tony was following me and told me later that he thought I was probably scared driving one of the cars by myself through this neighborhood. I wasn't. At all. I attribute that to prayer, and God's grace, ONLY, because I am a bit of a scaredy cat. So thank you, friends, for praying. We definately feel your prayers.

Our night did not end there. Argentinians are lovers of the night. The youth/young adults invited us back to Edgardo's house for pizza. All I really wanted to do was get my three-year-old into a bathtub stat, and myself into a cold shower, but we said yes and went. Our three-year-old fell asleep on the drive back into town with dirty hands and filthy feet. Dinner wasn't until 10:30. But it was delicious - they made pizza from scratch and torre de panqueques (stacked crepe sandwiches). Yum! Sorry no pictures of that - our cell phones were already full of pictures.



Christy said...

Sad but encouraging story. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for being willing to help wherever, however and whenever needed. The need certainly is great as we can see by those pictures. Wow. I didn't realize the poverty was to that extent right where you were. How you must want to help them all. Praying for wisdom for you in knowing how to help. Glad to hear that there has been victory over fear in your life. You certainly need it in those situations.

Annie said...

I am so glad you were able to be blessed in this situation by blessing this family, Chris. I will pray for them and also for your mission to grow in resources so that you can help even more people!!!

Denise said...

I was unprepared for that kind of poverty. Heartbreaking. I feel the way I felt reading Kisses from Katie; it's hard to fathom having so much when others have so little. It did my heart good to know that something as simple as Tupperware cups went to people who literally have nothing. Is there a cost-effective way to send more?

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