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“My mother is still in there”

29 Aug

“My mother is still in there”

Picture of man in Guatemala and volcano Fuego smoking in distance
A volcano named Fuego, in the distance still smoking, stole this man’s mother, and he hasn’t given up trying to find what’s left of her

“My mother is still in there”

The first of Jeff’s two trip blogs from Guatemala

Dear Family,

He walked alone with a shovel.

While taking photos of the devastation caused by the volcano Fuego, a man (pictured above) came walking by me with a shovel. Seeing my questioning eyes, perhaps, he stopped to explain his mission. He didn’t speak English and I don’t know much Spanish, but we didn’t need words for me to understand that he’d come in search of the remains of his mother. Words escaped me anyhow, even in English. He did allow me to pray for him, and then we parted. I hope he finds peace. I hope he knows Jesus.

I’m in Guatemala, where that volcano, appropriately named Fuego (Spanish for fire), erupted violently in early June. Heaven’s Family’s Disaster Relief Ministry responded promptly, sending funds to a trusted partner who lives only 6 miles from the volcano (and whom I’m visiting this week). Daryl Fulp heads a ministry here to the poor, especially those who are disabled. With his medical background he was able to purchase medical supplies, among other relief supplies, and treat survivors. Most suffered from respiratory and intestinal injuries from ingesting volcanic dust—extremely abrasive, microscopic particles of solidified lava—from the air or water supplies. Such injuries quickly cause infections. He also used our funds to purchase water filters that helped prevent further injuries for thousands living in the shadow of Fuego.

Picture of destruction in town downhill from the volcano
More grim photos of the destruction of one town unfortunate enough to lie downhill from the volcano. Much of the ash has been removed in the left photo, as workers searched for bodies, but the photo at right shows the 4-5 feet of ash that still remains (to the right of the house) in many places.

Pictures of volcano warning sign and devastation caused by volcanic ash
At left, I saw my first erupting-volcano warning sign; at right, what’s left of a car pummeled and scoured by volcanic ash (probably deposited there after heavy rain on the volcano’s slope freely raged in the path gouged out by the pyroclastic flow that turned what once was a stream into a canyon). Fuego has been spewing non-lethal amounts of steam and ash every day during my visit, but this relatively mild activity serves as a kind of pressure relief valve that prevents—or at least delays—major eruptions.

Yesterday we visited the town of El Ceylan, a town of about 7,500 that sits on the slopes of Fuego. The pyroclastic flow (a massive volume of superheated gas and ash that rushed down one side of the volcano at 400 mph, wiping out everything in its path) missed that town, but still filled the air with deadly dust and rained a few inches of sand-like black ash onto their lives that day. And everyone in El Ceylan now fears the possibility of another eruption soon—and wonder if they’ll be so lucky next time.

There’s a beacon of light in El Ceylan, however, and her name is Felina. We dropped off more medical supplies and some fortified food supplements yesterday, and I quickly realized I was in the blessed presence of one of those followers of Jesus who will do anything to help others. Felina uses some basic medical training and her love for the Lord to help fill the gap caused by the absence of a resident doctor in town.

Pictures of volcano victims in Guatemala receiving aid and support
At left, Felina and her daughter, Ana, share Jesus’ love in word and action to her 7,500 or so neighbors in El Ceylan, a town on the slopes of Fuego, who fear their days are numbered; center, one of the families who’ve received help—thanks to Felina’s connection to HF partner Daryl, Heaven’s Family, and then to you who gave; at right, a precious member of that community who was also helped during my visit

Thanks so much to all of you who’ve helped us show Jesus’ love in the wake of this disaster. It’s always a privilege to serve you as well as those who are in need. I’ll be sending another blog later this week, so I hope you’ll join me again from Guatemala!

Here on your behalf,

Picture of Jeff Trotter, Director of the Disaster Relief Ministry

Jeff Trotter
Director, Disaster Relief Ministry

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