As we began last week, I am highlighting the personal stories of some of the amazing women I will be ministering to in July as I head down to Peru! These women walked alongside me for 5 years when we served as missionaries there. This particular lady, Luz del Mar (if you speak Spanish, you know that means "Light of the Sea"... so beautiful!), is especially precious to me as she is a HUGE reason that Simple Deep Life exists! You can read that story here.
On March 15th of this past spring, the Bible Centered Ministries campus in Lima, Peru suffered a devastating flood which wiped out much of the 10-acre camp property, including Luz's home. This is her story, in her words, of what happened that night.
We had already put the baby down for bed and were getting ready for bed ourselves when suddenly we heard "The river is overflowing! The river is overflowing!" I thought then, "Well, maybe it will just be like last time. The guys can put a few sandbags out and we'll be fine." But after a few minutes that thought changed drastically as we watched the water coming faster and faster, with more and more strength. I began to worry a little and then, five minutes later, we heard what sounded like a huge explosion behind our home. Almost in the same instant the water had risen to our knees. I immediately ran for the baby's room as he was still sleeping in his crib.
By the time I got there, the water was nearly over the top of his mattress, but he was just laying there asleep! I snatched him up, which of course startled him and made him cry. As we were turning to leave, I realized the door had shut behind us from the force of the water and I realized, to my horror, that I couldn't open it! My husband, Marlon, forced it open with all his strength and all I remember is running as fast as I could and as the water would let me to higher ground. Once I got there I realized that my shoes were gone as they had been sucked off with the flow of the river.
My husband had stayed behind to help others, but I had to cross a deep and rapidly moving section of the water to get to a friend's house that was out of danger for the moment. Another missionary man helped me as I was carrying my baby and I can't swim! For a moment, the force of the water almost swept us away and I thought, "Oh WHY did I never learn to swim?!" But, thankfully, we finally made it to my friend's house and I still didn't see my husband anywhere, which worried me. In that moment, my friend welcomed me in and just stood there hugging me as I just felt like crying and screaming because of the terror of what we had just gone through. That little guy in my arms needed me to be strong, so instead we made our way upstairs and dried off a bit.
Not too long after that I heard my husband's voice yelling, "Has anyone seen Luz?!" I called back, "I'm here!" and in just a moment he had found us. I remember saying, "I'm so thankful that you're here!" He told me not to worry because the worst was over.
Outside, we began to hear other voices getting louder and we could hear, "We need to evacuate, now! More water is on the way!" Marlon came back in and said, "Ok, let's go. We're getting out." We went out together with the baby and the others and immediately saw that the water had risen a great deal. We finally got to the entrance of the camp where a construction tractor was waiting for us from a neighbor's house. The baby and I got on and it was just so terrifying because as we headed out it felt like the water was going to sweep us away with the tractor. We were so relieved and thankful to God when we finally arrived up the road where there wasn't any water. I just hugged my baby and thought, "Thank You, God!" although I was still worried about my husband and our friends who had stayed behind.
In God's blessing and provision, after we got to the town there were friends waiting for us from another mission nearby. They had brought large vans and loaded us all up and took us to the mission. Waiting for us were dry clothes and shoes, along with some warm beverages. It just felt so peaceful to be loved and taken care of by our friends! Just a few minutes later, the rest of our staff and missionary family began to arrive and I felt so much better! Our dog even showed up as someone had grabbed him after he swam after the people evacuating!
At that point I was convinced that I could NEVER go back to the camp, it was too terrifying. But after a few days of living in a temporary home I began to miss our place terribly. A few weeks later, when we were able to go back and assess things, I was greeted with such a sad sight. The majority of our things that we had worked so hard for, saved so long for, were destroyed. Not only that, our home had been damaged beyond repair and we weren't able to live there anymore. But, I took comfort in the fact that we were all OK and that my faith had grown so deeply to know that we weren't alone! Our Jehovah Jireh, our Good Shepherd, was always be with us. The passage I kept with me during these days was Psalm 23.
I still don't feel like I've overcome my fears... sometimes when I hear the water flowing in the drainage ditch next to our house I can feel my heart beating quickly and the fear comes back. It's then that I remember again that I'm not alone! This experience has increased the love and comradeship in our missionary family. I've seen in the midst of everything that God has provided even more than we had before (which makes me think of Job!). For now we're living in a temporary home while we wait for a new house to be built in God's timing.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28