A second wave of emergency flood relief from Blanco County rolled out to Eagle Pass this week, and was immediately passed on to a church across the border in Mexico, where many people who were flooded out of their homes still needed food and water.
Like the truckload delivered the previous week, this one was quickly taken across the Rio Grande by Mexican church workers and prepared for hungry evacuees.
“It is different in Mexico,” explained Pastor Jesús Hector of Iglesia Aleluya in Piedras Negras. “There is not much help from the government, and what there is is not well organized. Nothing is given to the churches to distribute.
“Yet it is the churches who are expected to house and feed and clothe people who escape the water with little beyond what they are wearing. They were very poor before the flood, and afterward they are poorer than poor.”
Pastor Hector said Iglesia Aleluya feeds 60-70 children a day in normal times. Since the flood, he said he didn’t know how many people they fed...they fed as long as there was food.
Reverend Harlene Sadler, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Eagle Pass, partners with churches in Mexico to help those in need on both sides of the river, both in normal times and in emergencies.
“In addition to government help, in this country we’re accustomed to a lot of relief agencies arriving behind disasters. Besides churches, we’ve had the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, St Vincent de Paul, and many more coming to our aid, even though flooding on this side of the river was not widespread.
“On the Mexican side, where the damage was much more severe, help from Mexican agencies is spotty and sparse. They really depend on US churches...and people like you have in Blanco County,” Sadler added.
But it wasn’t just Blanco County. This truckload included collections from San Antonio and from First United Methodist Church in Burnet, brought to Johnson City to be forwarded to the border. A load from Kerrville made last Sunday’s deadline to go in the last shipment this week, and one from Fredericksburg was expected any minute.
Pastor Sid Spiller of First United Methodist Church in Johnson City helped drive the shipment to Eagle Pass and make the delivery to the Mexican pastor.
“The importance of what we were doing didn’t hit me until after it was all over,” Spiller said. “We already had unloaded everything and Pastor Hector had told us what he was going to be doing with it. Then he went home and we, like true Americans, went to lunch.
“As I sat at the buffet table, my plate piled high with more food than I needed and knowing I could go back for more, I looked out the window and thought of the people just a few miles across the river who were so happy to get what we had given them...and how dependent they were on our generosity.
“I remembered Jesus’ order to Peter, shortly before his crucifixion: ‘If you love me, feed my sheep.’ In a very literal way, we had been doing the work of Christ.
“And I knew at that moment that my Sunday sermon had just flown out that window, and a new one had flown in.”