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Building hope out of the ashes in Guatemala

Photo: Unsplash/Yosh Ginsu
Photo: Unsplash/Yosh Ginsu | Photo: Unsplash/Yosh Ginsu

Orlando will never forget the day the sky fell in Los Lotes, Guatemala.

It started as a normal June day. He went to work, saw his friends, and thought about going home to his son and his beloved village. But then the volcano erupted — and everything changed.

Burning ash fell from the sky as people attempted to run for their lives.

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The next time Orlando saw Los Lotes, it was buried underneath nearly 20 feet of ash. In just one day, he had lost his wife, his son, his friends, his neighbors, and the village he called home.

But Orlando had little time to grieve. He had nowhere to live. And he wasn’t the only one.

Los Lotes was once home to more than 2,000 people. Now, only 500 remain … and everyone has lost someone.

His good friend Alex lost his uncle and his house to the earthquake, and their friend Edison is still recovering from the wounds he sustained during his escape.

With nowhere to go, the survivors crowded together in the homes of friends and family. Orlando was living in one room with 17 other people!

The situation in Los Lotes seemed hopeless, but through the generosity of compassionate donors, hope is rising from the ashes for the survivors.

World Help’s founder and CEO, Vernon Brewer, heard about what had happened to Orlando and his friends. He had personally met these men and even worked with them on previous humanitarian trips, so he rushed to Guatemala to be with them and to see the devastation for himself.

What he found was “hell on earth.”

He, Orlando, Alex, and Edison walked across the layers of ash that used to be a village. They saw the roof of the school — likely where Orlando’s son had been during the eruption. Together, the men prayed and wept.

When Brewer returned home, he shared this urgent need with friends and donors all across the country. The response was overwhelming! In just a short time, the money had been raised to help these people who had been left homeless by the volcano.

Today, new homes are being built on a plot of freshly purchased land — the perfect place for a new start. Although these homes will never replace all that these men and women lost, it will give them a place to grieve and a place to rebuild.

As they broke ground, the men of Los Lotes gathered to pray for these homes. They prayed that they would be safe havens and blessings to those in need. Construction has begun, and it won’t be long before Orlando, Alex, Edison, and others have a place to call their own again.

A home is something we often take for granted. But for Orlando and his friends, a home symbolizes safety, security, dignity, and the chance for a bright future.

Over and over, the Bible refers to God as our refuge and our dwelling place. And these homes are a tangible example of this part of God’s character to the people of Los Lotes.

The people of this small Guatemalan village — many of whom are Christians — are so grateful that their brothers and sisters around the world were there for them when they needed it most.

Please continue to pray for this community as they recover from the tragic earthquake and begin to rebuild their lives.

Emily Towns writes for World Help, a Christian humanitarian organization serving the physical and spiritual needs of people in impoverished communities around the world. To learn more, click here.

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