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The BWM continues to receive generous donations to help us respond in light of the myriad of disasters in the last several weeks. Below is an update regarding the current status of our response.
The BWM has sent a Moravian Disaster Response trailer down to Port Arthur, Texas to assist with the relief efforts. The trailer was filled on Sunday the 24th, and early morning of the 25th with items donated by congregations in Southern Wisconsin. These items will help supplement the BWM tools already in the trailer, and be used in the reconstruction of a local church and in the homes of members who have experienced damage to (and in some cases total loss of) their homes.
The trailer left before dawn on Monday, September 25th, and has arrived safely at the Good Shepherd Moravian Church, a Unity of the Brethren Congregation with some Moravian roots. Many thanks to our three volunteers Phil, Aaron, and Jon (pictured L to R) who drove the trailer to Texas from Wisconsin, and helped provide some initial assessments on the church and homes to be addressed first.
Two distributions of funds have been made to support this work from MDR funds. A plan is now in place to start sending teams down to Texas starting as soon as people are available. If you have not yet filled out the form at the link above (click on the “Volunteer Now” button) please fill it out to be put on our email list regarding team information.
Initially we will be sending teams no larger than 6 people due to current needs, and accommodations currently being a camp out in the church building. Hotels remained full of families who cannot yet return to their homes, limiting our options as we plan for additional accommodations. Each team will also need to have at least one skilled member to help direct the work of the team members. Please be in touch with any other questions.
Hurricane Irma and Maria
Currently the Moravian Church in Cuba is holding its first Synod as a Mission Province of the Worldwide Moravian Unity. BWM staff member Rt. Rev Sam Gray is attending the Synod, along with BWM board member Joe Jarvis and other representatives of BWM partner, the Armando Rusindo Mission Foundation. They are receiving updates from each region as to the specific needs resulting from and damage incurred by Hurricane Irma. Several initial reports have indicated various levels of impact across the island. Specifically, the farm project of the church in Camaguey was particularly hit, destroying the two buildings on site, and drowning some of the livestock.
Upon return the BWM will be receiving a report on this damage and planning a further response in Cuba. Please hold this church, its members, and its Synod in your prayers.
Sam shared this update on Wednesday, September 27th:
Sam is with the 68 voting delegates, 11 observers, 1 consultant and 5 other invited guests who have gathered in Havana for the Synod of the Cuban Moravian Mission Province. The 9 working committees are meeting this afternoon and will begin bringing reports and resolutions at the Plenary Session this evening. Tomorrow afternoon there will be elections for the Provincial Board (including a president to replace brother Armando Rusindo, who has served the church faithfully and effectively over the past years). Please keep all of these brothers and sisters in your prayers.
The BWM has made an initial allocation of MDR funds to the EWI Province, and remained in contact about the best plan for further steps. A MDR Staff member will be traveling to the EWI Province to view the damage and help plan for work teams as soon as it becomes possible to do so. Currently (as stated in the updated below) airports remained closed, and communication spotty. Many of the Virgin Islands still have a curfew in place (6pm to 9am on St. Thomas and 4pm to 12pm on St. Croix) giving only short periods of time for errands, clean-up etc.
Additionally, as power remains out in much of the area, many people are not able to use ATMs to access their funds. This is a problem as many stores are also currently only accepting cash.
Please do keep these areas in prayer as the relief efforts begin, but they will be slow. Pray for safe travels as airports re-open and families are reunited after members have been trapped away from their home, traveling when the storm hit with no airport open to get them back to their families.
We received the following update from Rev. Cortroy Jarvis, Chariman of the EWI Province, along with the letter below. Please read for a further update on the situation in the EWI being monitored by the BWM. If you wish to respond to the requests in the letter please be in touch with the BWM (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss further.
Communication is still an issue in St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola and St. Croix. So many Islands have been devastated by these hurricanes that we are just seeking to do our best to assist in our Mission. We would appreciate more funds but we have not yet received estimates on each Sanctuary, manse and School building that has been damaged. Until then, we will wait.
Volunteer Teams would definitely be needed especially in St. John and St. Croix and to a lesser extent, St. Thomas.The Airports in St. Croix, St. Thomas and Tortola have been closed indefinitely and so it is difficult to set dates to visit them at this time. As soon as the Airports are reopened, I will communicate to you regarding future visits.