Keeping families together today means fighting fires and uniting the community!

La Mision Fire

     On October 25th, at 1am,  we watched as our small town was literally surrounded by a wildfire that was being forced across the landscape by the Santa Ana winds. It was a nightmare, something you only see in movies.  Most of the town was evacuated, including our staff at OA campus. We prayed to God for the wind to change, and we praise Him, that it did!  The fire stopped 50 feet from Open Arms.

    The fire fighters used our dorms to rest, eat and shower when time permitted, but many of them worked four days without a break. We helped fill their trucks with gas to fight the fire and filled their bellies with food, since they are all volunteers.

There came a point where another fire had started to the south of La Mision and with the high winds it created the possibility of coming into town. The fire trucks were out of gas and many of the vehicles being used were of the volunteer firemen. We were blessed to be able to help by being on call to fill the vehicles so they could be sent back out to prevent further damage. All of the La Mision firefighters are volunteers and there are only eight of them who faithfully attend trainings. It is because of them and other able bodied people who went out to help that our entire town did not burn to the ground. Literally, everyone capable was shoveling dirt on the fire, or using buckets to put out the fire. It was incredible to see the town rally together to put a monster fire out. 

 Sadly 19 homes were lost in the fire, but no Open Arms families were affected. Twelve of those homes were Mexican nationals who watched everything they own go up in flames. Some of them were left with just the foundation their homes used to sit on and others just the dirt left behind.

     Twenty-five leaders in our town got together for a plan to re-build La Mision and Open Arms was nominated to manage the fire funds, since we work directly with families in the community. We are proud to say that the rebuilding labor will be by local workers. A local contractor is overseeing the rebuilding of the homes (under the supervision of local government officials and the fire relief board) and all the materials will be purchased locally.  We believe that this tragic event gives us an unprecedented opportunity to come together as a community and lift one another up. We trust God in His plan, and we pray that the town can come together to rebuild La Mision.

If you would like to help, go directly to this link online: 100% of the donations marked for “fire releif” will go directly to build homes for those who lost theirs.

Above: Celia and Pablo’s house burned to the ground in the fire. They lost everything and had only minutes to evacuate. Their home is the first we are building! We broke ground on a new foundation last week!
Above: Celia and Pablo have spent their lives in the home they lost in the fire. Here they are pictured with the first load of rock for the cement for their new foundation! They had a dirt floor, but God gives more than you can ask or imagine. 
Above: The footing are being dug for the foundation on Celia and Pablo’s property. We pray this house will be a sign of God’s faithfulness!

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