John and Shirley Wind returned to their home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, late Friday night, October 30, in a torrential downpour. There was a message on their answering machine: "Go help Jose Arias."
The Winds had served as missionaries in Honduras for 19 years with the Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM)—sending arm of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC)—and Jose Arias was pastor of a small CRC church in the neighborhood of San Jose de La Vega. The Winds quickly changed and left their home for Arias's church. "It was raining so hard," Shirley later described in an e-mail, "we could see the water rushing under the bridge."
They arrived at the church around 11:30 p.m. to find over 100 people from the community seeking refuge from the storm. "We assessed the situation and decided to go back home to pick up food and blankets and to take those who wanted to to stay at our house."
They left for home at midnight but quickly realized they would have to turn back. "The river had risen so rapidly there was no way out. The water was now over the bridges, and the road looked like a river."
Trapped in the small church building with their people, the Winds could only watch the water rise as Hurricane Mitch—having already wreaked havoc on the northern Caribbean coast—bore down mercilessly in the central and southern parts of Honduras. "We all stayed awake, and from time to time, someone would check to see how high the water level was. John saw a car perched on a fence. Houses and trees were floating down the raging river."
Their final departure from Honduras had been scheduled for December 1998, and John and Shirley Wind did not expect that the last weeks of their missionary service would entail fighting for their ...1
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