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June 26, 2018

Dear pastor Unger,

Sorry for my long silence. We arrived last Friday from our trip to the US and had a very busy weekend. The last three weeks of my trip were also very busy traveling and visiting churches. I had the opportunity to give report of the terrible crisis our country is going through. Not too many people in the US really understand or are aware of what is going on in Venezuela. But very few people I know has understood and taken so seriously what is going on here like you.

I have been given report that so far 558 people of all ages from our church, missionaries and mission churches have benefited from the clothes and shoes that we received from you. I attach bellow a few pictures and videos.

My assistant pastor tells me that some people were in tears when they got clothes for their children. Many of them felt ashamed when coming to church on Sundays, because they did not have good shoes to come to church. Not any more. Many "thank-notes" thank me for the gifts they received. But I tell them that it all comes mainly from believers in Canada. They are very grateful to all of you. I might get a few testimonies in video now that I have arrived. Many children came to me Sunday morning to show me their new clothes and shoes. I was very moved.

When children tried the "new" shoes to see if they fitted, they immediately left the old ones behind. They all went back home with a big smile on their faces. One girl asked who had sent the clothes, and she was told the Lord had provided it. She immediately said "God is so good!" and ran in tears to her parents saying: "look, mom and dad, what God sent for me."

Upon arrival in the country I noticed that things were a lot worse than when we left five weeks before. The government raised the minimum salary by 200%, while inflation is running in the thousands. Monthly minimum salary is today just US$1,50, while a family of four needs from $35 (the very poor that do not pay rent, mortgage, condominium, utilities, etc.) to $50 (the shrinking to extinction middle class) a month to barely make it. Just a can of tuna costs the equivalent of a monthly minimum salary.

Yesterday we went out to try to purchase some food. Since we arrived last Friday, we had not had the chance to do so. We were appalled by the high price of goods and the shortage of vegetables. Our farming project will be part of the solution for this. We need all the prayers and help we can get for this. We can talk a bit more about that later. We already have seed in the ground (at least the seeds we could find), and bought a couple of big water tanks (5K litter each) for irrigation while exploring the possibility to drill in search for water. We will have cistern trucks come into the property periodically. The rainy season is in, so we will not be using this much till for the time being.

You ask if we have sufficient food and if we are able to survive. And the answer is yes. But if the aid we are receiving through you stoped at any time, we would be in big trouble. That is one of my greatest fears. In Venezuela the options to have enough to eat are:
* Crime
* Government related corruption
* Aid from abroad (in money ($$) and/or food)
* A productive business

Regarding water, we just finished building an underground water cistern in church with capacity for more than 80,000 liters. While excavating down to 3 meters, water begun slowly to come out of the ground. We noticed that it is clean water. Since we do not have the means to test the water to check its potability, we decided to make the arrangements to pump it out in case of an emergency. In Caracas water is rationed 3 out of the 7 days a week.

Drinking water is a complete different thing. The only water that can be trusted is bottled water. So we buy it. But the source of that water is sometimes dubious. Water has become a big business in Caracas. I have been thinking of the possibility to get an industrial water purifier to satisfy the needs of our church, Bible college and people. But the price is out of reach. It remains a prayer request.

While in transit in Miami, I met with Wilmer (Avila Cargo). We had a long talk. I learned that when he was in Venezuela he was very much involved in politics. I asked him what his friends in the opposition say about the possibilities of a change in government in Venezuela, and he said they are not too optimistic. So it looks like we are going to be in this for a longer while than expected or desired.

When people ask me if I am leaving and when, I give them a definite yes. That I will soon be leaving. They are thinking of Miami, New York or Los Angeles as my probable destination. But I am thinking of a better place. I try not to think much about whether there is going to be a future of some kind in my country. The Lord says we are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Today Hebrews 11:13 has a more profound meaning than ever before. Believing it helps us keep our eyes on our Lord. Believing every promise in God's word is the only way to emotionally survive this catastrophe.

You ask: How much worse are you able to endure before it turns to hopeless?
As I said, if aid from abroad stoped, we would be in big trouble. This does not make me feel comfortable at all. Because our people -at least the ones from our church family- had never had to depend on anyone to feed their families and clothe themselves. They are nor comfortable either. I have had men come in tears into my office because they wanted proudly to provide for their families. That is why I have them work for us, and we give them food and some money. Some are hired full-time, others part-time. They just want to earn what they receive. So please tell donors that aid is not going to a bunch of lazy bums siting on a couch and watching TV. These are hard working christian men and women.

I am constantly thinking of what we should do to avoid undesirable future scenarios. The idea is to work with anticipation at creating alternatives. Here is an example, if we had an industrial water purifier, we could provide drinkable water to our ministry, and to our people at a very low cost. But we could also turn it into a business that generates jobs for some of them, and the income generated could be used as investment for other job generating projects. People need water to survive. Water is a good business in Caracas. This would not solve all our problems, but we would be trying to do something to help ourselves. I am just throing out ideas.

Bro. Unger, thank you for asking all those questions. Very few people ask them. God bless you!

Víctor Páez
4212 Campbell St. N
London, Ontario, Canada N6P1A6
Tel: 519.652.2619 - Toll Free: 1.866.295.4143
[email protected]