Majesty and Destruction

A Letter from Eliane Menezes, serving in Guatemala

December 2018

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Greetings from Guatemala! 

We left Guatemala City early in the morning and headed south. Driving down the hills, it seemed as if we were going deep into a hole surrounded by green pastures. As we headed further south, for the first time in my life I found myself facing a volcano, the colossal Volcán de Agua. I couldn’t take my eyes off the huge, magnificent volcano — I found it hard to hide my admiration for this natural phenomenon created by God. After we passed it, I could see two smaller volcanos. I was told that the one sending smoke into the air was Volcán del Fuego, whose eruption had recently caused many families to lose family members, friends and their means of living. Many had to flee the area. The other volcano, quiet and equally stunning, was Volcán Acatenango. 

As I was contemplating this beautiful creation that was totally new to me, I couldn’t forget the destruction that it had caused to the many families who lived around it. I found that I had mixed feelings about my first time being so close to a volcano — I was both awed and sorry for the destruction it wrought in the lives of families who had lived in destruction’s path. We would later meet with these families to hear about their recent experiences.

Volcán de Agua.

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Volcán de Agua.

CEDEPCA’s Disaster Ministry team, in partnership with ACT Alliance, had come to Escuintla to meet with leaders of the communities affected by the volcano. When we arrived at the meeting, the leaders themselves were arriving and getting ready to begin the conversation. There were around 29 representatives of the families from the several shelters where some survivors of the tragedy were still living. I observed in their facial expressions the weight of their struggles, the weight of experiencing such tragedy and having to determine how to face their next steps. Out of necessity, they were taking one day at a time.

The leaders explained that some of the families had already left the shelters and gone back to their land because they didn’t have another place to go. They shared their experiences and hardships and expressed gratefulness for the psychosocial support they have received from CEDEPCA and ACT Alliance. I am glad that Presbyterians (through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance) have been part of making CEDEPCA’s work possible.

The testimony that touched me most was from a woman who said, “I’m a single mother with three adult children. I survived the internal armed conflict, was exiled in Mexico, came back and now we’ve experienced this calamity. … I was depressed and without hope, and I had the psychologists from CEDECPA come to listen to me. They have made a difference in my life.”

While listening to these community leaders and offering support, I expressed my admiration for their strength to survive such a devastating event. I was moved by their courage and firm purpose. As I witnessed in each face an expression of love and care, I saw the manifestation of God’s love in the midst of this adversity. During this encounter, they all expressed gratitude to CEDEPCA and ACT Alliance for giving them a helping hand. At this meeting, the leaders learned that each family would receive one-time financial assistance from ACT Alliance to help them with basic needs. Again, they expressed deeply felt gratitude. 

The paradox of this encounter gave me something to think about. On the one hand, I was face to face with the beauty and majesty of Volcán del Fuego in its routine of smoking and playing its part in nature, and on the other hand I listened to people who lived in close proximity, experienced its natural violent cycles and survived. 

This unique moment provided me the opportunity to be with those who are still struggling to return to their lives in the place where life happens to them and they make life happen. I’m grateful to be in this place in this exact moment to see that through faith we can rebuild and restart our lives and continue our mission on this earth. 

It wouldn’t be possible without your prayers, thoughts and gifts to this ministry. Thank you for your financial gifts to Presbyterian World Mission. Your gift of support makes ministry happen!

If you would like to make a gift toward my sending and support, please use the enclosed envelope and follow the instructions in the gray box below.

Thanks and Blessings,

Rev. Eliane Menezes

Please read this important message from José Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission

Dear partners in God’s mission,

We near the close of 2018 inspired by the hope of Christ. God is transforming the world, and you are helping to make it happen.

Thank you very much for your support of our mission co-workers. The prayers and financial gifts of people like you enable them to work alongside global partners to address poverty, hopelessness, violence and other pressing problems in the name of Jesus Christ.

Every day, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-workers are blessed to be able to walk alongside their brothers and sisters across the globe. Listening to each other in faith and in friendship, they learn from each other how to work towards a world in which everyone flourishes. Acting upon what they discover together, PC(USA) mission co-workers and our global partners strengthen the body of Christ.

Because you are an integral part of God’s mission, I invite you to become more deeply committed to Presbyterian World Mission. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer God’s call to serve others.

I also invite you to ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s prayer list and mission budget for 2019 and beyond. Your multi-year commitment will make a great difference in our involvement with our partners. The majority of our mission co-workers’ funding comes from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours, for God’s mission is a responsibility of the whole church, not a particular area of the church. Now more than ever, we need your financial support!

In faith, our mission co-workers accept a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission, representing the whole church and you, sends them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts? With hope and faith, I await your positive response!

At God’s service and at your service!

José Luis Casal

Director

P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!


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