Yesterday my three sons and I went up to the earthquake stricken zone to bring water, food, clothes and tarps to people near BeiChuan. We went past MianYang into JiangYou and then westward towards Beichuan. We went through some very small villages. The further west we went the more destruction we saw. When we got closer to Beichuan the road was closed. They would allow us in by foot but told us that everyone had been evacuated already. Since we wanted to pass out supplies and bless people we turned around and looked for people in need.
We stopped along the road where there were 15 or so people congregated. We got out to pass out water and mantou (steamed bread). The people were initially reluctant to take it saying there were others who needed it more but I think they were just overwhelmed and didn’t know how to accept. Behind them was a former valley that was now filled with perhaps 50-100 meters of dirt and gravel. On either end of the dirt slide you could see clusters of homes. They told us that there had been 10 or more clusters (units) of homes down there that were now buried. They estimated more than 100 people had been buried (one person estimated 300). I met one man whose home and family had all survived. Their homes were at the edge of the slide. I asked if they could still live in their homes and he said no. My son and I put up a tarp over a “lean-to” that had been built. After we had been there maybe 20-30 minutes the village head came out to thank us. He convinced people to take the clothes we had brought. They had been giving their clothes to survivors and needed replacements.
Next we next drove down a dirt road to a small village. We got out and talked to the families and passed out water and food. They said they needed rice, cooking oil and medicine. They sent us down a dirt path to a the Wang Family. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this experience. We carried water and food down a trail to the Wang Family Compound. There were 5 homes all next to each other. One was completely destroyed, another had one wall collapsed and dirt filling most of the room. The ceiling had partially fallen in and the concrete floor looked like it had been hit with sledge hammers. In the next room broken bowls were on the ground.
While we were talking to them an after-shock came. It was a strong jolt but very short. I was looking at Mr. Wang when the after-shock hit and he jumped back and had a look of terror on this face. As soon as it stopped he put down a basket he was carrying and sat on it. He looked utterly defeated. After a few minutes I knelt down and put my arm around his shoulders. He put his head on my shoulder and we both let the tears flow. He was so helpless and in shock. I told him many times “God loves you” “don’t worry”, etc. Before we left we asked if we could pray for them. I prayed and then a local friend prayed. He said “this is probably the first time they have heard the name of Jesus.”
Altogether we were gone for 13 hours and came back exhausted. We all shed some tears and said many prayers. So many people are hopeless. The earth, that was their source of sustenance through farming, was now betraying them. So many families were separated, children in boarding schools (even elementary students), husbands in larger cities looking for work. Without electricity or cell phone service they don’t know if family member are okay.
On the way out we gave a ride to Mr. Liu who was trying to get to another town. While we were driving he asked us to stop the car and we picked up a woman. We soon found out that it was his wife. They had lost 7 members of their family when the mountain collapsed. Mrs. Liu told us that for the first three days she didn’t talk or even cry. She was just in shock. It was obvious that she had been crying recently and we were glad to give them a ride. When we let them off, she smiled for the first time. I think she was relieved to be in a “safer” place and joined with her family.
We drove 430 kilometers yesterday, passed out 13 cases of water, more than 200 pieces of mantou, lots of instant noodles, two large suitcases of clothes, and one hundred meters of water proof tarp for shelter.