In the move, Crishna and her mother were separated from her older siblings who took up residence in another camp. Now they must do the best they can in a small pinewood shelter without electricity or safe drinking water while they wait for the rebuilding to come. The government once estimated two years until they could move out of the camp, where they have already endured six months, but now the estimate has risen to three.
The Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile (IELCHI) responded immediately to the developing needs of the people in the affected areas of Constitucion and Talca, sending and coordinating aid from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and other South American churches from the beginning. Most recently, the IELCHI partnered with Lutherans in Medical Missions (LIMM) and LCMS World Mission to place and support two deaconesses to provide spiritual care and coordinate aid to these camps and communities in the affected area. Deaconesses Valeria Bustamante and Jannet Escudero, of Argentina and Chile respectively have been working closely with the people in the camps alongside volunteers from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina to meet the needs of those communities and share the hope of the Gospel with those in desperation—families like Rosa and Crishna’s.
Recently, LCMS World Mission’s Olga Groh, and a former LCMS missionary, Rita Nickel from LIMM traveled to the area of Talca and Constitucion to offer a week-long training in Community Health Education and Evangelism to the two deaconesses. Four other deaconesses in training and the local pastors joined the group on the weekend of a three-day theoretical and practical workshop on identifying and addressing medical and social needs. The training focused on further developing the capacity of South American deaconesses to respond to crises like this one, while continuing to have practical daily experience through visiting in the camps.
It was on one of these visits that the group of women came to know Crishna, who participated in the children’s events they were hosting. Crishna seemed to want to spend lots of time with the deaconesses and showed a real interest in what they were doing. Through conversations with her and her mother, however, it became clear that Crishna had missed an entire grade of school because of the move to the camp, something which worried her quite a bit.
She asked the deaconesses, “Will I ever be able to have a profession if I have missed one grade?” The deaconesses responded with determination, “Yes, of course you can,” and saying to each other and the child that no one should ever be left to feel that there is no hope for them. The Chilean deaconesses set up tutoring classes for Crishna to make up the lost time in her mathematics and language studies, as well as beginning a Bible study with her and other children from the camp.
In the end, the deaconesses observed that while Crishna was one girl with difficulties to overcome, there are so many children in Latin America who need God’s mercy and to learn about His love.
Pray for God’s protection of these children and those all over Latin America, and that God would use His church and those deaconesses serving in Chile and around the world to reach the needy and hurting with the love of Christ.