Hello friends and family,
Last month we shared how Colombia was assisting the Venezuelans all over Colombia go back to Venezuela if they wanted too. This also meant Kevin and his team were able to help feed the people and give them a couple meals worth before leaving Colombia. Thankful to help but sad to not know what their lives would be on the other side of the bridge. There have been more than 100,000 Venezuelans who have left Colombia since the quarantine began in March. Still, even tonight there are 800 people who sit at the bridge just waiting for the Venezuelan government to allow them to cross into. As we shared last month, once entered into Venezuela the people go into a two week quarantine which would make sense why they now only allow 300 people to cross Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Kevin and his team continue making trips to the border to feed the Venezuelan people when they arrive at the border.
Not all Venezuelans left. Many are able to stay because they have the paperwork to stay but have no way to work and pay for rent which is around $6 a day. A team from SP is helping house the people during these difficult time by setting up an additional shelter. With almost no notice, Kevin and his team started a large project feeding 400 people a day that will be jumping to 800 a day at a shelter set-up at the now infamous border crossing at Las Tienditas. This is where the dramatic push happened in February 2019 when the humanitarian aid concert was followed by an attempt to send humanitarian aid into Venezuela but was set on fire and burned while attempting to push through the Venezuelan military blockade. Now there is a combined effort there with the Colombian government, UN, and Samaritan’s Purse to house the folks that are being bussed in from around the country. They are being housed in tents by the UN and fed by Kevin’s team with Samaritan’s Purse. He has been working long hours for the past 7 days, but it is going strong feeding everyone at the camp breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while sharing the love of Christ through conversations, smiles, and treating everyone who comes through as one made in the image of God.
This month, our church, First Baptist of Cucuta, solicited help from its members to fill a very urgent request for local missionaries living in a very remote area. This area is actually where Bruce Olson, who wrote the book, Bruchko, lived. When Kevin asked where they lived, they explained, “Well, about three hours by car from here…then 2 days by motorcycle, and another day by donkey!” With the quarantine here being almost a complete lockdown (no one can leave their home, much less travel to another city), they ran out of food and were unable to support themselves or help their neighbors in the same situation. Samaritan’s Purse sent four large food parcels while as a family we were able to support their other needs including medicine, cleaning supplies, and the cost of transportation to get everything to them with your donations here. They didn’t receive a care package. They received a care CRATE! As everyone has no doubt experienced the stressfulness of the quarantine. It has been very difficult here as most can no longer support themselves while being stuck in their homes with their families. One of Kevin’s employees who has been able to courageously been able to continue to work shared about a need that was weighing on her. She has been working long hours selflessly to ensure that those in Cucuta are able to eat by receiving our food parcels. Despite the risk of COVID, poor security, and being tired, she said she was worried for her daughter who is a university student staying at home. Because she is still using the same mattress since she was a child, it was beginning to cause significant back and health problems. Working with donations that we received last month, we were able to purchase her a new mattress. We did it like a Secret Santa, not letting the left hand know what the right hand was doing, so we enlisted the help of our ministry coordinator, who presented the gift to her. She was ecstatic, and you could tell that she was different, knowing that something that during normal times, maybe minimal, for her and her daughter it was a burden she couldn’t carry alone. Thank you for helping us to continue to minister especially during this crazy time when there is so much more need. FAMILY NEWS Quarantine day 537999, no really around 110 days. Karen's gift and love for teaching are being put to use as the boys continue their preschool and Kindergarten classes on Zoom. Class is 8-11:45 am every day and they stay very busy! Not only do they have to do their school work, we also are working with the boys to continue learning in English. Even though Karen is not able to meet with her Spanish tutor at this time, she is getting plenty of practice translating the boys schedules and homework and even helping boys translate during classes. Saturday we learned that the boys, and us, will not receive the three week summer break and it has been hard to take. We all needed a break but will look forward to having one in OCTOBER! Benjamin is learning addition, subtraction, handwriting print and cursive and so much more. He finished a lesson Karen has been working with him on which is reading all his color words in English and Spanish. Great job, Benjamin!
Andrew loves school and working in his notebooks from school so he feels like a BIG Kid. He is focusing on counting, colors, vowels and handwriting cursive and print! He loves showing his teacher he can count to ten in English and Spanish and also knows all his colors in English and Spanish. Great job, Andrew!
As of last weekend our quarantine is looking a little bit different with more stores opening and children are now allowed out of the house for walks and car rides, but limited. Kevin and I are still only allowed to shop on our specified day and children are not allowed on playground equipment or in stores. We are thankful that Kevin purchased the boys their own mask for walks. We made our first trip out last weekend in the truck to McDonalds for drive-thru ice cream and to the Nursery to pick up a new plant for our place.
The two things we miss most is swimming 365 days a year in our 94 degree daily temps. As you can imagine ministry as a family in Colombia and in our church is hard. We came to Colombia with a purpose to Serve and Share Christ. God has shown us that we are Serving but in another way. We are thankful to be able to continue worshipping with our Northside family every Sunday online and are thankful to so many that continue to stay in contact with us. We continue to do the work that God has called us here to do, SERVING IN HIS NAME. Thank you again for your love and support. Thank you for staying connected with us and also for donating for those times God places specific people in our lives to help. Stay safe and healthy. The Whites Kevin, Karen, Benjamin, & Andrew.