Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pummeled in Progreso

Our church received a call this afternoon from Cheyenne Solis, Buckner's Mission Group Coordinator for the Rio Grande Valley Colonias, requesting prayer for Progreso as a result of Hurricane Dolly. I was able to call and speak to him personally and obtain some additional information.

Progreso has been hard hit by "huge floods." Many homes were damaged and roofs were blown off, and much of the area is without electricity. Of course, many homes have water in them. The main road is closed due to flooding, and a large number of people were evacuated to the shelter at the school. The street where Laura lives and the area immediately around her was probably hit the hardest, he said. The pastor of the church also lives near her.

The needs are great, but right now, Cheyenne said the greatest need is PRAYER. "Pray for the people of Progreso. Pray that the sun will come out and the water will recede."

Once that happens they will be able to traverse the flooded roads and better evaluate the damage and the needs of individual families. He said there will be needs for hygiene kits, school supplies & uniforms, donations for roof repairs, etc.

Last week we handed out a few backpacks with school supplies in them at our community "block party" at the park on Wednesday night. I've been wanting to post all week about this. Because some other churches who had participated in past years weren't there, we didn't have nearly as many to distribute as in the past. So the families signed in as they arrived, and they were limited to one per family. Of course, most families had multiple children. It was heart-wrenching to see the disappointment on the kids' faces who did not receive one. And the ones who did? Thrilled! Here are two who were proud of their new supplies.

Such a simple thing to do. No $30-50 Jansport or Adidas backpacks here! Buckner gave us a standardized list - a $5 Wal-mart backpack, inside which we placed specific school supplies:

1 package wide-ruled paper
2 pocket folders, no brads
2 spiral notebooks
1 package of pens
1 package of pencils
A 12-inch ruler
1 pair of blunt scissors
1 bottle of glue
1 box 24-count crayons

All are things that Wal-mart has dirt-cheap this time of year. I think the backpack plus all the supplies only cost around $10. An amount most of us don't even think about as we indulge ourselves with movies and Starbucks and restaurants, but which is a big expense for most of these families, especially when they have so many kids. I plan to pick up some additional items when we go shopping for school supplies this year.

If this tugs at your heart, I'd love for you to have the opportunity to help as well. You may be like me and have some unused wide-ruled notebook paper and spirals in your school supply drawer or cabinet and your kids have now promoted to college-ruled. Or you may want to grab some extra supplies as you shop with your kids. If you'd like to mail them to me (the supplies, not your kids!), email me and I'll send you my address. Or bring them to the Siesta Fiesta in San Antonio. I'll see that they get to Progreso. I'll be posting about more needs as they become apparent when the flood waters recede.

Here is a neat article from a couple of weeks ago about the church in Progreso and how it is serving its community, including more information about Laura. I was happy to learn that her husband is indeed a member of the church! I know as a farm laborer he works many hours.

Thanks for reading about my mission adventure and for praying for the people in Progreso. It was a life-changing, heart-changing week. My girl is already talking about going back next year!


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Sandy@ Jesus and Dark Chocolate said...

What a great experience Linda. I am glad that they are at least managing after Dolly plowed in to town. My in-laws got through it all also. Minimal damage, lots of rain.

The backpack pics are dear! Those who have so little are SO appreciative!!! :)

Betty said...

Great..! I too love to provide free school supplies to needy and poor students.