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Cullman couple respond to family, needs in Chilecomment (0)

April 8, 2010

By Cathy Ponder

Our daughter, Angel; her husband, Trent Tomlinson; and their four children serve as full-time International Mission Board (IMB) representatives to Chile. 

For 19 days, we were repeatedly reassured that our children had survived the massive earthquake.   Once they shifted from survivor mode to servant mode, they requested our help in order to meet the needs of the Chilean people affected by the earthquake and tsunami. If we could come and return some stability to their own children’s lives, they would be available to be more fully involved in disaster recovery and relief efforts. We  went, and finally being able to hold our children and grandchildren was pure relief.

Most of the damage to the Temuco area — about 175 miles from the quake’s epicenter — is not immediately evident. Much of the damage is to inside plaster or sheetrock walls in the newer buildings. But rides to the older sections of downtown reveal the irony of nature. One building exhibits almost no damage while two doors down, it looks as if a bull had been released inside. Some buildings have a few fallen bricks while others show nothing but the original wood studs remaining.

The first assessment by the IMB Mapuche Team revealed a threefold need. Clean water, food and shelter were needed for fishing villages in the Gulf of Arauco which had been decimated by the tsunami.   

Faces of the people reveal the gamut of emotions in the midst of the recovery effort.  One young boy wandering through the camp offered only a blank stare when asked about his parents. Fishermen sitting in what remains of their boat display their despair. A construction supervisor hangs his head despondency as he reacts to the destruction of work finished only the day before. Yet joy is found in the smallest things — a found puppy, a warm meal or the beauty of a peaceful ocean.

The responsibilities of the IMB workers are often overwhelming.  Housing, feeding, assigning tasks and transporting teams to various locations is a challenge beyond belief. Yet the Lord continues to provide strength and wisdom as needed.  

Though the urgency of the quake is no longer headline news, recovery will be long in coming and the need for people who care is unending.

Editor’s Note — Cathy Ponder and her husband, Mike, are members of Greater Vision Baptist Church, Cullman.

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