Sept. 22, 2017
We were able to fly back to Mexico City on Wednesday evening (the 20th) after the earthquake that occurred the day before. This was the second major quake in less than two weeks. The first (8.1) affected primarily the south eastern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, but shook up a lot of people in the metropolis. The second (7.4) was a terrifying reminder of the quake that hit Mexico City exactly 32 years earlier on the same day (Sept. 19, 1985). I was scheduled to fly to Merida today but canceled the trip due to the uncertain situation that prevails here.
Our family had flown to Denver on the previous Saturday to attend my dad’s funeral that took place on Monday the 18th. Dad was a cancer survivor and had lived for a lengthy time with lung disease. He seemed to be going downhill after my mother passed away two years ago, but there had recently been some positive improvement. I had spoken with him a few days previously about the good medical checkup he had just received. We were very concerned about potential trouble at the funeral, but the Lord gave us a peaceful time to say goodbye.
This Mexico City quake was about 10-15 % of the 1985 tremor that killed tens of thousands. Lissa and I had lived in Mexico City for two years when that tragedy occurred and lived very close to the most severely affected areas. The fatalities now are ‘only’ in the hundreds, and there are preliminary reports of about 3,000 buildings with structural damage. The quake two weeks ago left about 80,000 homes and buildings unusable in the southern states. The authorities are facing a titanic effort to help those very poor areas of the country.
As far as we know, all of our church members are safe, but some have suffered damages to their homes or property. We were happy to find that the building we purchased early this year survived with no damages. We are still in the process of reinforcing the first two floors trying to make them ‘earthquake proof’ because of the extreme seismic danger in that part of the city. This involves the installation of a metal beams and columns to reinforce the existing structure. So far we have been providentially spared from extortion and bribery attempts by the local authorities and police. We continue to pray for the workers’ safety and for the neighbors to remain calm, in spite of the welding and noise that can easily upset them.
“Natural disasters” of any kind always present an opportunity and force many to face the real issues of life in a fallen world. The quakes and recent hurricanes on both coasts have provoked some to abandon their fantasy world and think about what really matters. I plan to preach about these events and many of our people are seeking evangelistic opportunities. Some have already dedicated time and resources to help with the ‘rescue’ phase where unknown numbers are still trapped in fallen buildings. Please pray that the Lord will fulfill His purposes in the lives of many and bring souls to the feet of Christ.
Missionary Tom Montgomery and Family