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UIMA December 2018 Update

Hurricane Victims Receive Relief
Written by Clif Huntting, missionary pilot in Mexico

On October 23, 2018 Hurricane Willa hit the coast of Mexico just north of us...

... Willa devastated the shrimp industry along the Nayarit coast and completely destroyed the livelihoods of nearly 30,000 people in the town of Tuxpan, Nayarit.

It's hard to imagine this kind of devastation. When the levee broke that was protecting Tuxpan from the river, they had three hours before the town was completely flooded, covering a large part in 10 to 12 feet of water! Try to imagine the desperation in people's eyes when there is no clean water, no more food, your entire house is under water, and dead animals are rotting in more than a foot of mud that covers everything! Almost 30,000 people lost everything they owned, including their businesses and livelihoods.

The pastor of the local church, Arturo, told me the story of how he took his car to high ground to try to save it, and that was when the levee broke during the night, separating him from his family. He was able to call his wife and tell her to get to a neighbor's house that had a second floor, because he was stranded with his car. There was no time to prepare.

In the early days after the hurricane, as soon as the airstrip was cleared of mud we were flying into Tuxpan twice or sometimes three times a day with everything from clothes, blankets, toilet paper, food, water, lots and lots of bleach, gloves, boots, shovels, and dish detergent. There was a lot of necessary coordination; communication with government officials, paperwork, and visits to government offices were vital as we worked to bring aid to the people of Tuxpan. We focused our efforts on coordinating with our church here in Tepic who has a sister church plant in Tuxpan. Through our contact with Arturo, the pastor of the church in Tuxpan, we were able to get aid directly to the local community. 

It has been a pleasure to work alongside the local church through the devastation. In the days after the flooding receded, Arturo and his wife spent all of their energy cleaning the church building first, so it could be used as an outreach and supply center to the local community. Only after that did they work on clearing the mud from their own house. Weeks into the recovery efforts, bacteria set in and the available food became unsafe, and of course clean water was unavailable. During this time, Arturo sent his family to live in a different town to protect them from the possible diseases. We were recently able to provide his family with a flight home, saving Arturo a 7 hour round-trip drive.

Arturo has shared with me how many people in his community and his church were wrestling with depression and extreme discouragement and they struggled to see any hope in their current situations. He told me how knowing the body of Christ around the world had come together through the local church in Tepic to pray, physically help clean houses, bring necessary supplies, provide smiles and encouragement, and donate from their personal time and finances to be a blessing to those in need has brought many not only from the brink of despair and hopelessness, but also to know Jesus as their personal Savior through the testimony of the church.

We continue to provide one supply flight a week until the end of the year with bulk food and supplies. We are able to do this because of the donations many of you gave toward the hurricane relief. We want to personally thank each and every one of you who have been involved in this process through your involvement in our ministry and with UIM Aviation. You have had a direct impact in the lives of the people in Tuxpan. They don't know you, nor have you ever met them, but they know the love of Christ all the same because of your prayers and generosity. Thank you!

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