Voices from the Field Lyndell Campbell-Requia Get to know Lyndell

A Time of Crisis

Published on May 14, 2024

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This will be a much different prayer letter because of the historic flooding we are facing in our state in Brazil. Extremely rare weather conditions have caused four months of rain in one week. We live in the capital city where five major rivers meet to form the largest freshwater lagoon in the world. The accumulation of all this water has been devastating. Way beyond the typical inconveniences of having no power or water for days, there has been loss of life, loss of homes, loss of livelihood for so many people around us.

This week has been spent using the resources we have on our field to help our Baptist pastors and churches who are sheltering and feeding people. I have also had the privilege of helping with very specific needs, like asking doctors I know to help get donations of special formulas for two children who have significant health issues, a wheelchair for someone who had to abandon theirs when the rescuers came, prescriptions for medications, online appointments, etc. I have also been able to use my connections to get food and potable water to people in places very difficult to access. In such tragedy, it has been beautiful to see the Lord weaving together many people to help with the most basic of needs.

Thankfully, the water level in the lagoon has been going down. However, as I write this, it is raining again. I did find myself stuck in the elevator one day when the power went out, but my colleague Brandon was able to get me out! But I am very grateful that we have had power for most of the week. It has only fluctuated a bit. That means we have internet services, which has allowed me to work to help as many as we can. Thankfully, our building has had water in our reservoir, as well. We have been rationing as much as possible, using rainwater to flush our toilets. The entire water system in our city was turned off until yesterday because the main plant bringing water in from the lagoon had flooded. It is now fixed and isolated from any more flooding, but only six of the 23 treatment centers are running. Slowly, water access is returning to neighbourhoods. Our church is in the city next to us, which has not had any water, and officials have no idea when they will be able to get it going again.

The next big task will be the clean-up when the water finally dissipates. Thousands of homes have water to their roofs. Then there are the streets, yards, vehicles, etc. It is going to be a huge challenge for people to return to their homes. Paulo and I are already researching what kind of equipment and products will be necessary. It will be during this phase that we get an idea of what material items have been lost. The North American Baptist Conference has started a fund for Brazil Flood Relief, which will be used for this last phase. To buy big-ticket items like refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, beds, etc. Salaries are low for the working class and poor, and it is not uncommon for them to have no money left over for anything before the end of the month. Also, house insurance doesn’t exist for people in this economic class. Therefore, it is very difficult for them to pay for these larger items. It means paying for things like these in installments on a credit card (if they can get one) for years and buying one at a time. If you would like to contribute to our fund, here are the links:

We are very grateful to those of you who have already given to the fund!

Seminary classes are suspended until further notice. The homes of our secretary and one of our students are covered in water. Another staff member and a student are displaced because water inundated their apartment complexes. And most of our professors and students are helping with relief ministry.

The statistics from the city where our church is (Canoas) as of May 11:

  • 100,226 people in shelters out of a population of 348,200
  • 66,606 requests for rescue
  • 13 deaths
  • 11 missing

Our church is hosting two families whose houses are underwater. And we have become a distribution centre for the community. For Paulo and I, it has been extremely difficult to get to church, because the main highway we take is completely cut off by water. This past Tuesday, Paulo went, and what typically takes 15 minutes took six hours and half a tank of gas. However, we have a team of volunteers, and they are being our hands and feet at this moment. In the meantime, we focus on getting them the supplies they need to care for church members, as well as neighbours.

Thank you so much for all your prayers! They are making a huge difference!

Lyndell and Paulo Campbell-Réquia