SALT LAKE CITY — Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Guatemala, El Salvador and southern Mexico are overcoming mudslides, washed-out bridges and blocked roads to deliver relief supplies to victims of Hurricane Stan.
Using Church-provided commodities along with locally purchased goods, the helping hands of Latter-day Saint volunteers are assembling and distributing “family boxes” that include food and hygiene supplies.
Latter-day Saint youth from Benemérito — a Church-owned high school in Mexico City — assembled 6,000 family boxes that were transported to storm-impacted areas in southern Mexico.
“In this critical situation, I saw how the fundamental gospel principle of service to others came to the fore in the lives of Church members and those of all faiths in areas devastated by the storm,” said Elder Craig C. Christensen, president of the Mexico South Area.
In Guatemala, local leaders mobilized Church members to prepare 170,000 pounds of food and hygiene supplies for distribution to families in small, isolated villages. With many roads impassable, transporting the much-needed supplies has led to a unique partnership.
Church leaders have made arrangements with Aero Club, a Guatemala association of pilots and owners of small airplanes, to help ferry the supplies to storm victims.
The planes deliver small loads to designated drop-off points where members of nearby Latter-day Saint congregations are waiting with trucks to convey goods to remote areas. Where necessary, supplies are carried by individual Latter-day Saints who load what they can on their shoulders, wade across rivers and walk over mountainous terrain to reach isolated victims.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Stan, approximately 900 Latter-day Saints and their neighbors in Guatemala and El Salvador have found aid and shelter in thirteen Church meetinghouses being used as relief centers.
All full-time missionaries in the area weathered the storm safely and have been assisting in relief efforts.