Easter Sunday of this year marked the one-year anniversary since the earthquake that rocked the coast of Ecuador in 2016.
Endless stories and retellings of the events of that April 16th have marked our few visits to the coast since we arrived to Ecuador last summer. Taxi drivers and hotel managers, members of Covenant Church communities and pastors – everyone has a story of where they were and what they were doing when the earthquake hit. It is an event that has deeply marked this generation and the 52 seconds of shaking left immense destruction in its path and scars that will be seen on landscape and livelihoods for years and years to come.
We were on the coast for Palm Sunday, preaching at a church that has been immensely involved in relief and recovery efforts in a community called Montecristi, just about 20 minutes inland from the coast. And while the grief and the loss from the earthquake is still fresh in many ways for those living in these coastal cities, this April has brought about unending rains that have flooded many of the small communities in the area. Palm Sunday was marked by recounts of the triumphal entry and also a special offering to collect resources to help brothers and sisters in a neighboring community, Mejilla, where people’s homes and businesses were completely underwater. I was struck by the generosity of the folks who filled the pews that morning. They walked forward with handfuls of change to give away to those whose lives had once again been ravaged by the forces of nature and with promises to collect food and clothing and toys and medical necessities also. The same folks still in the midst of rebuilding their own lives, their own livelihoods, their own community coming forward to let those in Mejilla know that they do not walk this road of suffering alone.
The road to rebuild the communities on the coast will be a long one and the loss of over 650 lives will continue to have an impact long after the buildings and roads and infrastructure are reconstructed. Covenant World Relief is partnering with local Covenant Churches in the area to provide resources for families affected and create a space of hope. You can learn more about the new Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan) project here from our colleagues who have been involved in getting it off the ground. You can also check out this article from the Covenant Companion about what has happened over the past year.
As I said before, the road to recovery will be long, but let us continue to encourage this beautiful country and the good work that the church is doing here. Let us assure this community that they do not walk this road of suffering alone and may we all hold tightly to the promise that Resurrection Sunday gives us: that we serve the One who makes all things new.