Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless HIS HOLY NAME.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Through Deep Waters

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:..” Isaiah 43:2

If you have been keeping up the latest news in Mexico, you have heard of all the flooding caused by the heavy rains. The day following Edgar and Diana’s wedding in Tortuguero (Sunday morning), we woke up to a sight not seen there since 1982: The whole valley below us was completely flooded. The river had overflowed and the waters had extended farther than a kilometer. It was certainly an impressive sight; we were thankful that we were up high on the mountain top!

Andrew had planned to leave that morning, but there was no way we could get out. Trees were completely covered; cattle had been washed away; corn crops had been destroyed. I watched as Andrew’s sisters and brothers-in-law stared in disbelief at the valley below us.

A 57-year-old man from Tortuguero had been designated to watch over and guard the machinery down near the river, being used to build the new bridge. During the night, the sudden flooding took him by surprise. He climbed a palm tree nearby, but when he felt the tree swaying like it would break, he dove into the deep, rushing waters and swam and swam for hours. I got up around 4:00 a.m. and went to the bathroom, and I heard a yell from down in the valley, and then someone from up the mountain responded. (I didn’t think anything about it then.) But Andrew told me it was the guard yelling for help. At 6:00, as soon as it began to get daylight, the men in Tortuguero organized a rescue team, and went down and rescued the man. (His body was freezing, having lost his clothing in the water. Thank the Lord he was alive!)
The new bridge being built was nearly covered
The swinging bridge

Andrew told me, “It could be a week before we are able to get out, if it doesn’t continue to rain.” But on Monday morning, Magdalena came in and told Andrew that men were getting people across the waters in a canoe. She said that her daughter and son-in-law, and another niece were going to try to get out. When Andrew asked if I would like to try and get out, I told him I was afraid to cross the deep waters. He said, “If we wait until the water goes down, the mud could be up to our chests, and who knows how long it would take to get out?!” We had been told that the waters were at least 15 meters deep; and we would be crossing in a canoe being paddled by two men, with no life jackets available.

Last year, Andrew had bought a two-way radio set for his older brother, Jacobo; he lives about 20 miles down the highway toward Palenque, and the two-way radio reaches the village of Tortuguero. On Sunday, we were able to communicate with him. There had been severe floodings in other nearby villages, including where he lives. But Andrew asked him if he could call Mom and let her know what had happened, because she had been expecting us on Sunday. (Mom later told me that it was such a blessing that Jacobo had called her, because she had become worried when we didn’t come in on Sunday, and when she couldn’t get in touch with us on our cell phones.)

At about 11:00 on Monday morning, it was decided that we were going to try to get out. I packed our things, we had a meal with Elena and her family, and at 1:00 p.m., we headed out. Elena and her family and Magdalena and her family walked with us, helping to carry our things, but also to get a close look at how much of the valley had been flooded. From the time I knew we were going to leave, I began to pray, “Lord, please put Your angels around us.”
Ready for our trip Andrew and Deborah, prepared for the trip down the mountain

We walked down the mountain (the children once again riding the horse…and very thrilled!). The mud made the trail down the mountain incredibly slippery. We met two men who were coming up the mountain: “Señora, please be careful,” they said to me. “The mud makes the trail very dangerous!” We finally made it to level ground (I was so thankful that the horse had made it down the mountain safely with our children!). The mud was very deep. Andrew walked in front of me, leading the way, and helping me where it was extremely deep.

Starting down the mountain

We finally reached the point where the flooding began. Everyone stared in disbelief at only being able to see the tree tops. I have never seen anything quite like it. We waited for about 30 minutes, then we finally saw the canoe approaching.
The approaching canoe

We said our goodbyes and climbed into the canoe (6 adults and 4 children, plus the 2 row men). We had to kneel in the muddy canoe (there was a seat at the back of the canoe, where Andrew’s niece sat with our children and her little girl). I knelt right behind Andrew and held onto his belt. Fear gripped my heart as the canoe took off over the deep waters; but I began reciting in my mind, “What time I am afaid, I will trust in thee,” and “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” over and over. I knew that the Lord was with us. A quiet calm came over me. I kept looking back at our children, excitedly exclaiming over getting to ride in a canoe, but completely unaware of the danger. The expert row men very confidently rowed and rowed and rowed. We finally reached the river (the water was all at the same level on the surface, but where the river started, the current was obviously stronger). The men began rowing upriver, while the current took us downriver. It seemed like forever, but I finally saw the front row man stick his oar down and it touched ground (his oar was nearly covered, but at least I knew we were nearly to shore!). Everyone was very quiet the whole ride (except when I’d yell back at the children to please be still so the canoe would not tip over!); but when we got to shore, we all exclaimed, “Thank the Lord!” We very gladly got out onto the shore; tears of relief and joy came to my eyes and I thanked the Lord over and over for keeping us safe.
We were all filthy and covered in mud. But no one cared what they looked like; we were just SO THANKFUL to be on dry land, and past the danger. We walked the short distance to María’s house (who didn’t have any running water, because the flooding had broken the main water pipe that takes water to the village) and bathed with water she had stored into big buckets. Andrew’s brother, Jacobo, and his wife, Alicia, came from their home 20 miles away to see if we had made it safely. I hugged Alicia and said, “We are so thankful to be here!” Jacobo was very relived that we had made it safely.
Thankful to be on dry ground! (Notice how muddy the bottom of my skirt is!)
An hour later we were on the road, headed back to San Cristóbal. We all sang hymns of praise most of the way home. “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “Do You Know My Jesus?” “There Is Power in the Blood,” among others. What a great and powerful God we serve! He created the mountains and the rivers. He controls the rain; he causes the sun to shine; and He sent his angels to protect our family last Monday.


Anonymous said...

Amazing story -- Praise God for His protection.

--Garry W.

Anonymous said...

Very good, Anna. The Lord takes care of His own and I am so thankful for His ever watchful presence. Isn't it amazing the feeling of peace He gives to us! Praise the Lord you all made it home safely.


Ruth said...

Anna, Mom wrote us and asked us to pray for you...she was very worried, which is "strange" for her, you know? I did pray for you, and am SO thankful that the Lord kept you safe on your way out of the village. He has a plan for yall's lives! One of which I am sure is to keep being an encouragement to your little sister :) I love you!

Colleen said...

I just read "Through Deep Waters" We are praying for you and your family and so thankful that we have a GOD that is ABLE! Praising the LORD with you that HE protected you through the water.

--Colleen B.