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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a very interesting week last week. CBN News called on Tuesday and asked "how fast can you get to Mexico?" Thirty minutes later I was on my way to the airport with a change of clothes and my camera gear.

I spent two days documenting the destruction caused by Hurricane Dean in the southern city of Chetumal and in Belize. Then my boss asked me to drive into the hinterlands of the Yucatan Peninsula and look for a Mayan village or something that had been devastated by the storm and had not yet received any support.

I did as he instructed and indeed discovered a village that was almost completely destroyed. Except they weren't Mayan, they were white, German-speaking Christians.

The eye of the hurricane passed over the village of Barancal, about thirty kilometers north of Chetumal. When I stopped there to survey the damage, I met a large white man dressed like a farmer from Minnesota. He introduced himself as Benjamin, and spoke English with a Carribean accent. He told me that his family needed help, and asked if I wouldn't mind using my rented SUV to deliver some supplies to his village. I agreed.

We set off down a dirt road away from town. After bumping over this track for more than seven kilometers, we passed a sign welcoming us to the village of Salamanca. There I was greeted by a scene straight out of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania.

We drove past farm after farm surrounded by fields of corn. I gaped as horse drawn buggies went by filled with blond-headed, blue-eyed children who stared right back.

Until yesterday, I never knew that there is a large population of Mennonites in Belize and southern Mexico. Their ancestors emigrated from Germany in the mid 1900's. They came for much the same reasons that the pilgrims purchased one-way tickets on the Mayflower – to live in a place where they could raise their families and live out their faith in peace, minimizing the impact of secular culture on their families.

They raise mostly corn and kids, with each family having at least seven or eight children.

When hurricane Dean made landfall, these Mennonites took their families to shelters in Chetumal. When they returned, ninety percent of their homes were no longer standing. All of their corn – twelve thousand acres – was completely destroyed.

Benjamin showed me his farm. "it's a pretty piece of land," he said as we pulled in the driveway. His children, dressed in traditional Mennonite clothing, were standing around looking dazed in what was left of their home. One wall was standing. "We put that up this morning," Benjamin said.

Then he burst into tears. He continued to weep as he explained that they had very little food, and though he insisted he didn't want anyone to just give him anything, he didn't know how they were going to survive this.

"A man plowed my fields for me this spring, and I was supposed to pay him with this year's corn harvest." He explained. "But he lost his home, too. Now he needs the money and I have nothing to repay him. We have nothing. I don't know what we're going to do."

I spent the rest of the day documenting the tragedy at Salamanca. I learned that after hurricane Wilma, these people went to the aid of those in need. The Mennonite aid organization was of great assistance during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Now it is they themselves who need help.

I also met an American from Cancun named Phil Chain. He's been working in this area for more than ten years, and showed up in Salamanca with food and supplies for the Mennonites there.

If you would like to help, make a donation so that he can continue to help these fellow homesteaders. Go to www.mexicomissions.org and donate, designating on the form that the funds are for "mennonites in Salamanca."


I captured some heart-wrenching interviews at Salamanca that will air this week on Christian World News. I know you guys are going to love it. I just hope we can get some help to these people.

You can preview some photos of the people of Salamanca here.
 

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We have Mennonite friends planning to move and join that community if NAIS or the Real ID act are passed in their state.

We will send prayers and donations.

ETA - I should not have said THAT community, in case there is more than one in Belize. Sorry.
 

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bunny slave
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We saw lots of Amish when we were in Belize. Our local guide tried to explain what they were in detail, and we laughed and said, "Where we come from, they call them 'Pennsylvania Dutch'."

They are good people, and they deserve all the help they can get. I'm glad you're letting people know about this. :)
 

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Sending today, Chuck. My grandfather, who was a Hungarian living in Yugoslavia, emigrated to NA in 1927. His half-brother emigrated at the same time, but to SA. Family lore has it that he ended up with a "community of like minded Christians" in Central America. Who knows, some of those people may well be long-lost relatives :)
 
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Chuck, there is a member here at HT who hangs out in the poultry forum who lives in Belize near a Mennonite settlement. She may live near the one you were at, I don't know. We in the poultry forum are waiting for an update from her to see how she fared.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
the site I referenced above sends the money directly to Phil Chain, a missionary I met in Mexico last week. I worked with Phil and will vouch for his veracity. If I didn´t trust him personally, we wouldn´t have given him the more than ten thousand dollars we´ve sent him so far. He has agreed to deliver the funds designated for the mennonite village of salamanca directly to them.

All that said, he could run off with your money, as could anyone. I can´t guarantee any man´s integrity besides my own, but will give you my word that I trust him.
 

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Thank you for giving us the opportunity to help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I just wanted to update everyone - Operation Blessing is working to hook these people up with the Mennonite Aid Society - and it looks like help is starting to flood in because of the publicity we've generated about it. Pretty cool to be a part of helping people like that, isn't it? You all are very generous, and it makes me proud to be associated with the likes of you.
 
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Chuck said:
You all are very generous, and it makes me proud to be associated with the likes of you.
We've got some wonderful members here. Even (most) of the ones I disagree with politically. :happy:
 

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Nohoa Homestead
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Chuck said:
If you would like to help, make a donation so that he can continue to help these fellow homesteaders. Go to www.mexicomissions.org and donate, designating on the form that the funds are for "mennonites in Salamanca."


I captured some heart-wrenching interviews at Salamanca that will air this week on Christian World News. I know you guys are going to love it. I just hope we can get some help to these people.

You can preview some photos of the people of Salamanca here.
I would gladly donate if they had a paypal option. I can't believe they don't. I don't give my credit card information to anybody, that's what I have paypal for.

Perhaps I will send them a check instead, since there is a mail in option.

donsgal
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Just wanted to thank you all - Phil Chain sent me a thank-you email today, apparently we here at HT have donated over $1200 to help the Mennonites of Salamanca. Great job, everyone!
 

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Chuck, thank you so much for posting this. I knew that there were old order Mennonites in Mexico and Belize, but was totally unaware that they had been so hit by that storm. I was out of town last Sunday so I am not sure if it was announced at church. I am sure that by now Mennonite Disaster Service knows. We respond to needs all over the world after disasters, but seldom have to respond to the needs of our own people. The mainstream media never to my knowledge ever covered this story. I wondered at the time when they were saying that fortunately the storm was going through sparcely populated areas if homesteaders and farmers might be really hit hard.
 
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