Thursday, January 22, 2009

Earthquake in Costa Rica

I speak little Spanish, but the tears in Salenia's eyes need no translator. Her story mirror's that of hundred's of other families, who are now living in shelters in the quake affected area outside of San Jose, Costa Rica. The 6.1 earthquake struck on January 8, 2009 and aftershocks have continued in the area.

Salenia's home (left) was affected by an aftershock opening up a new fault line. The back of her home cracked and started sliding down the hillside. The cracks in the hillside are visible. She serves as the women's ministry director for a local christian church. Her parents and her 3 sons now live in a concrete shelter with 52 other poeple from the community. She has not only had her home condemned, but also her land, due to the land slide danger. She has no idea what her future holds.

The damage to most homes was not catastrophic. in fact driving through the region it is hard to tell which ones are habitable and which ones aren't from the road. Some are totally in tact, but the land they are built on slid down the mountain side a foot, rendering them unsafe. The rainy season coming later in the year is expected to bring renewed tragedy as these weakened hillsides give way into very dangerous landslides, carrying these homes down with them.

We also met Marta. She has been in her new home about a year. It is beautiful with a breathtaking view. Her land though has also been condemned. She has 14 years of mortgage payments remaining on land and a home that is unusable. There is great uncertainty as well as to how, and even if, there will be any government help. Both ladies commented on how fearful they and other people in the region remain.

We are in the process of developing a response in conjunction with the Ev. Free Church of Costa Rica. The focus of the plan will be to work through local church pastors in the affected region, caring for them, their families and their flocks, and then reaching out through those churches to their hurting neighbors. There are significant short term needs including food for the shelters, school supplies for kids (school starts in a few weeks), and temporary housing, among other needs. Long term needs will include rebuilding homes. Pray that through helping to meet these needs, people will know Jesus.

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