April 12, 2005 (7:20am) - Banda Aceh, Sumatra - Report submitted by: Joe Hurston
Our flight from Medan to Banda Aceh was bumpy and the landing in the Boeing 737-400 was one of the roughest I have ever encountered. I thought the landing gear had been damaged. Welcome to Banda Aceh!
The quakes are popping like crazy in the region. There were about 4 yesterday on Monday, the strongest being 6.7. Immediately upon arrival, our host, Jeff Hammond of Bless Indonesia Today brought us to meet the Mayor of Banda Aceh. Cherie and I demonstrated the Vortex Voyager TM. He expressed extreme thanks for our care for his people. He lost numerous memembers of his family. We prayed for him. There is not a single person that we have encountered that has not had major losses. Yet, the people manage to smile and across the board, express thanks for our coming! We must do all we can to help them.
We then drove through Meuraxa, the region that you likely have all seen. This is a small region on the northwest side of Banda Aceh that lost 50,000 people! We were driven through the area by the regional mayor. He lost his wife, his 4 children over 200 members of his family, his home and his entire region of responsibility! His courage was astounding! There is so much more that I want to say about all of this but time won't allow me. Even today, the destruction is inconceivable. We saw tents popping up everywhere with families returning to their property, attempting to re-stake their claim. It's sad to see them living in such conditions with a total reminder of the tsunami everywhere. The smell is still pungent in regions. There are over 135,000 unaccounted for bodies. The atmosphere is like none other we have experienced. Yet, in the midst of it, Bless Indonesia Today (BIT) has raised it's flags all over the region. There is new construction of clinics and HOPE. We're the blessed ones to be working with such a ministry.
We'll pump water today! We did pump a little water next to the famous Mosque that you may have seen as the only surviving structure after the tsunami hit this region. It was quite damaged, but still standing. We pumped water from a well that was quite salty, but still to acceptable levels (about 400 parts per million). We only pumped a little while. Today, we'll find some better wells and pump for the community. At the same time, we'll train our Indonesian counterparts on the operation.
Well, I typed this to you during breakfast. We only have one line and computer. So, I'd better run. I'll try to communicate this evening. Please continue to pray for our team as we shake and rattle through this region. We love you all!!
Joe and the Air Mobile Team