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Hurricane Mitch

Aaron Ortiz is the son of a woman, Amparo Ortiz, who was a fantastic spanish tutor and very helpful to me when I was in Honduras.

He had studied in the US and spoke good english. Besides that he has an inquisitive mind anchored firmly in faith in Christian principles. This together with his Honduran heritage made him a good companion for some travels near La Ceiba; I was lucky to have him around.

After hurricane Mitch hit Honduras in the fall of 1998, he sent me these reports:

From: "Aaron Ortiz" aeortiz@sigmanet
To: "Justin Hall" justin@bud
Subject: Mitch
Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 06:57:45 -0000

Honduras is reeling as if from a punch in the face, but I'm really glad to say morale is high in most of the country. The media have been pumping out optimism for the past two weeks. This is poetically just; you should have heard the radio the week of Oct. 31. The things they've said are probably the most depressing news ever aired in Honduras. For example, after Mitch had swept away entire neighborhoods in Teguz, the poor and marginal ones of course--they're the one close to the rivers or steep hills, our mayor died in a spectacular helicopter crash. I assure many people creid that night--as for myself, I tried but couldn't.

As a nation we are lifted up emotionally by the immense response we have had around the world. Our needs are being met by Japanese, US, and European volunteers and literally tons of food and donations, and millions of dollars in aid--by way of cancelling foreign debts. Many of the volunteers are nurses, doctors or specialized military.

Deaths: 7,000
Homeless: 1,932,000
People reported as dissapeared: 12,000
Injured inhabitants: 11,000
Economic lost: $ 2 billions
Banana plantation: $ 850 millions
Coffee: 800,000 hundred kilograms
Agricultural crops: 70%destroyed
Infraestructure: 70% destroyed
169 bridges destroyed
Factory loses: $ 10 millions

Unfortunately I know little about what happened in la mosquitia, I'll try to find out more. I'll send another message tonight--i gotta get to work.


From: "Aaron Ortiz" aeortiz@sigmanet
To: "Justin Hall" justin@bud
Subject: Mitch II
Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 19:25:19 -0000

I have limited news about La Ceiba. As far as I know, houses within 100 feet of the ocean were destroyed by high tides and waves--porbably including La Kosta [nightclub; Justin saw a gunfight there his first night in Honduras. Then met a spanish tutor there for two weeks in the afternoons]. The Cangrejal River overflowed its banks, taking down sections of both the bridges that cross it; Even the 60+ year-old steel railroad bridge Standard Fruit built. My parents were unharmed, the only damage to their house being an asbestos roof tile came loose; it was repaired quickly. They were able to communicate with me through the telephone, although I couldn't call them. Remember the plantations we visited, and the town of Saba where we had a coke, across the Aguan river? Well, I heard a rumor the bridge had failed, and that large portions of Saba were flooded. All accross Honduras many bridges and sections of road are destroyed, damaged or dangerous. DDD.

The religious atmosphere in Honduras is mixed. Some people chose to stay positive and are hard at work helping. Others choose to blame, and have called the storm 'El Maldito Mitch', freely translated: 'that damned (or accursed) Mitch'. I personally feel that natural disasters are simply the result of the physical laws God set in motion. His will is to use every bit of human suffering for good--develop of character, bring people to their knees to accept His gift--eternal life--which is more valuable than material possesions or even this life. The message God wants all people to hear, whether they're suffering or not is:

God loves you, <insert name here>, He made you.
You are, however a sinner, and that means your punishment should be spiritual death--forever.
However, God preferred to have His Son, Jesus suffer for a little while than have you suffer forever.
If you believe this, He will grant you eternal life and adopt you as a son or daughter--immediately and forever.
No sin you commit can then separate you from the gift of forgiveness and eternal life, even until you die.

Unlike 'free gifts' we recieve through junk mail or the TV, forgiveness is already paid for, no strings attached, you only have to say 'Yes, please I want to be forgiven and live forever, I believe you died for me." The spiritual equivalent of saying this from the heart, is signing a check for a billion dollars, pardoning a debt you had to pay, and would go to jail for if you couldn't. I hate to say what I just said from far away, like a televangelist. I leave much unsaid--too simple for people with bachelor's, master's or doctorate degrees. Also, turning to God means abandoning sin--(how awful). Yet sin is not what the media hypes it to be. Sin is taking something good, like physical pleasure, and raping it, doing it without love, out of context, in rebellion. God is not against anything that's fun, but doing stuff in rebellion damages our spirits, and makes it hard for us to listen to him.

your friend,


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