Sat overlooking the old capital city of Antigua are several volcanoes, standing like sentinels, proud and intimidating. Among them is Fuego, which likes to regularly let off steam with small rumblings and eruptions. Generally, these volcanoes pose no real threat and are a point of beauty and fascination. However, yesterday was different.
Yesterday Fuego erupted with a fury that has left at least 25 people dead, many missing and numerous without homes. I first heard the news from friends who were in Antigua at the time of the first ash rain. We even felt some small particles in the rain here in the city too.
At the time we didn’t think much about it, until we saw the scope of the disaster on videos and through the news. This eruption was big, powerful and deadly. The smoke toxic and the ash and lava destructive.
I have never seen anything quite like it and the fact that it had happened only a few miles away in a place that I know was unnerving. I have never lived in a place where natural disasters pose any real threat, but here in this beautiful part of the world natural disasters are a regular occurrence.
An event like this reminds you of your humanity and mortality and also the fragility of life for so many.
We were advised to remain inside with our windows closed and so I returned home and got ready to sleep. As I lay in bed I messaged my family and told them I was safe, never before have I had to send a message like that. Knowing I couldn’t go to sleep without messaging home because they would wake up to the news of the eruption. I received messages and calls throughout the night and woke to numerous emails. People checking that I was safe, offering their kind words and prayers.
It’s hard to describe how it feels to be in such close proximity to such a real threat, life changing for many. At times like this you see true community, people coming together to offer aid and relief. Here at Street Kids Direct Guatemala we have come into work and are planning our day around visits to all our families, to make sure everyone is well and taking precautions.
In the city we’ve been little affected, but we know many have suffered great loss. Churches are collecting clothes, food and water to distribute to those most in need.
A true expression of beauty from the ashes.
Perhaps the disaster is still too near to think like this, to see the good and the hope. For many I imagine it is too soon to see anything beyond the darkness.
However, if I have learnt anything while I have been living here in Guatemala for the past 10 months it is that the people of Guatemala have big hearts and will stand together in times of difficulty and need.
This devastating event has brought me to tears and I know that just as I and many others have wept so does God’s heart. It is hard to understand why and to make sense of something like this. Even so, I find comfort in knowing that God is in control even in difficult times. My prayer is for God’s comfort, peace and love at this sad time.