The recent category two storm, Hurricane Dolly, which hit southwest Texas near the Mexico border Wednesday impacted many people in McAllen, Tex., where the Grace Brethren Church is located. Here’s a report from Pastor Robert Soto as he prepares to leave for the national conference of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches in Tampa, Fla.
It was 20 years ago that Iris and I drove the Ryder truck pulling our van from Winona Lake, Ind. What made this time so memorable is that a month after we arrived, we were hit by Hurricane Gilbert. So I thought it was very thoughtful of God to help us celebrate our 20th anniversary with a hurricane.
Hurricane Dolly hit the lower part of Texas on July 23. It quickly went from a tropical depression to a category two hurricane in a few days. I was on a ministry trip in Missouri so I drove 1,290 all through the night Sunday and Monday to make sure I had at least a day to prepare in case the hurricane hit. By the time I got home, people were evacuating the area and heading to higher ground. Since many people in McAllen have never been through a hurricane, you could see the panic in most of the peoples’ eyes. I helped my daughter get some sandbags for her apartment. But as I did, I noticed the hopelessness in a lot of people’s eyes so I decided to stick around and help shovel sand for as many as I could, sharing what little hope I could in a time like this. Wednesday we woke up with 40-mile an hour winds which gradually increased to 85-100 by late afternoon. I must confess, continuous winds scare a person. We lost our electricity by 10 p.m. which meant we had no air conditioner, no stove to cook, no phone service — both home and cell — and no lights. We had gathered a few flashlights and candles so the rest of the night we just lingered around our darkened home listening to the battery powered radio.
The hurricane finally left us around 3 a.m. Thursday and left a city without lights. The morning revealed uprooted trees, telephone poles snapped in two, homes in the poor communities destroyed and a lot of flooding. The water plant was without electricity so they were asking all of us to conserve water lest we run out. Thursday morning and throughout the day we spent cleaning up the mess the hurricane left behind. The only casualty was my laptop computer which did not survive a power surge when the lights went out. Pray I can find a quick replacement before we leave for conference. I praise the Lord that none of our church families suffered any kind of loss. The city is pretty much back to normal today. Everyone survived the hurricane and we will live to see another come and tell the stories of how we survived hurricane Dolly.
Keep us in prayer as we celebrate our 20th year in McAllen at McAllen Grace Brethren Church. I never imagined being here this long. But God is faithful, who has brought us through a lot and continues to use us to reach out into our community and the world for Jesus Christ.
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