Tough Day in the Fire Fields

Tuesday was a difficult day in many ways. We began the day with prayer and proceeded to a meeting at breakfast to coordinate efforts to help the victims of the fire. There were 114 homes burned. Many families have relocated to other places but there are still many who have remained and are living in tents provided by the government or are trying to get temporary shelters built.

Some of the destruction.

The cause of the fire is unknown but there is speculation that it was started by some electrical sparks from the high winds and power lines.

Whatever started the fires left a devastation of homes and businesses in its path. The Iglesia Christiana El Shaday (church) where we visited survived and is being used as a distribution point for food, clothing, and other items. They are preparing meals for those who are staying and rebuilding. Some of the families that have outside resources are beginning to rebuild while others are waiting for government assistance. Any outside building assistance disqualifies a family from government aid so it’s difficult for any sort of aid to come in to help.

This is one of hundreds of structures that were burned.
A temporary shelter being built.

In the middle of the day, we took a few minutes to visit H.I.S. Ministries, International, a children’s center in La Mission. It was fun catching up with Jim and Linda Doss. They’ve been running a free day care for that community for more than 25 years. That community has made many advancements even in the few years since I saw them last. When I mentioned the work we were heading into, they donated several bags of rice and some clothes to help out.

We evaluated the options and decided instead of building to try and meet the basic needs first. For those families waiting on assistance, it’s being prepared for a cold winter where there will be unrelenting cold down to 20 degrees F. We ordered sleeping bags as many as we were able and are having them shipped in, but will have to bring them in from the US.

About 90 children lost their backpacks and school supplies in the fire and can’t go to school without them. We purchase 34 backpacks and handed out what we could to the children closest to the church. It would have been nice to meet the entire need, but our budget was already stretched.

Backpacks loaded with school supplies
Children whose homes burned getting new school backpacks.

We also delivered the clothes and food donations provided by the 2nd Nazarene church in Tecate.

It is heartbreaking to see the affected families who have been left with nothing struggling to get shelter before the cold comes in December.