“Run, get out of here! Go, faster
!” were the screams of those living at the base of Volcán Fuego on June 3 when the volcano began to erupt sending a pyroclastic flow (dense hot ash, lava fragments and gasses) hurling down the mountain side toward them. They left their pots cooking on the stove, their plates on the table and many did not even have time to find their shoes in the frenzy as they started to run. The loss of life for families from the villages of San Miguel Los Lotes and El Rodeo is unimaginable. Extended families of 22 individuals have only three survivors and continue to look for the bodies of their missing loved ones. In total it is estimated that over 110 lives were lost and another 200 people are still missing as rescue workers dig through the destruction.
The lucky ones who managed to stay out of the path of the pyroclastic flow escaped with only their lives. Forever lost are their homes and all their possessions. Temporary refugee centers have taken in approximately 3100 people who will all need to be resettled as they cannot rebuild where the volcano’s path left such destruction. The scale of this eruption has been compared to that of Mt. Vesuvius which destroyed the town of Pompeii in 79 AD. People, pets, livestock, the volcano did not discriminate as it turned everything in its' path into statues, encapsulated in the hot lava ash. The photo above is of two brothers who were reunited at one of the relief centers, praises are lifted up to God for the precious moments like these amidst so much sorrow.
Since word first reached us of this tragedy our hearts and prayers have been with the families from Los Lotes and El Rodeo as with the rescue workers braving the heat to dig out any survivors. The immediate needs of rescue workers were for N95 respirator face masks and gloves. Our first wave of support included those items as well as bottled water, TIVA water filters and a box truck full of thousands of pounds of rice, beans, maize and Incaparina (a protein fortified soy/corn drink). We have partnered with the Antigua Church of Christ and missionaries Cary and Rita Sills who live in the Antigua area to distribute these initial supplies. Yet much more is needed…
One of the relief centers in Esquintla, Guatemala a few miles from the disaster zone is currently housing 1000 refugees. Their immediate needs are for 10 of our TIVA water filters, more N95 masks and ibuprofen, all of which are being sent down this coming Saturday. They have also requested medicines such as antibiotics, pain medicines, gastro intestinal medicines and inhalants to help those with smoke/ash inhalation. An order for these has already been placed and will be in their hands as soon as possible. In another week our June 23 mission team in conjunction with the Montellano Church of Christ will be sorting several tons of food supplies into family sized bags to deliver to these families. Clinica Ezell will be used as our distribution center for all of the supplies we are purchasing for this relief effort thanks to your generous donations and the partnership of other ministries like Healing Hands
International and Blessings International.
The beauty amidst this tragedy is that the name of Jesus is being proclaimed among the people. In the picture below you see Rita Sills handing out copies of the New Testament to children in one of the affected villages. The churches and missionaries we are partnering with at this time as well as our ministry team will continue to spread the Good News of Jesus’ compassion and love with each grain of rice, drop of pure water or prescription provided.