After the threats of Tropical Storm Agatha, we were surprised to wake up on Sunday not to the sound of rain, but to the sounds of…sunshine? It seems that the storm took some unexpected turns, keeping its tail far from Antigua. A true relief. We spent the day walking around outside, and eventually went to see “Sherlock Holmes” at the local cinema. All in all, a relaxed day.
On Monday, half the group planned to go on a bike ride, guided by a local outfitters store, through coffee fields and neighboring towns. After being gone for an hour or two, they returned only to tell the rest of the group that they were leaving again: just twenty minutes from Antigua, several towns had been devastated by mudslides. The bike tour guide offered to take our group mates back to try and help with the clean up. He only had room for five (and they were the only ones who hadn’t left tennis shoes and/or jeans back in Santiago Atitlan) so they changed their clothes and left to see what they could do.
We waited impatiently for their return, wondering what they were able to do, and what we might be able to do. They came back to the hotel in the late afternoon, a bit shell-shocked, to say the least. Their afternoon was spent knee-deep in mud (as evidenced by their pants and shoes), wading and poking through coffee fields. It took a while for them to figure out where to be, what to do, and who to take instruction from. Eventually they were given an assignment: to search for a missing five-year-old girl in the mud covered coffee fields.
I cannot even imagine what it would be like to know you are searching for the body of a tiny person. I could see on their faces that it was emotionally as exhausting as it had been physically. Though my heart goes out to that family, and all the families whose lives were covered in mud, I am a bit grateful that our friends were not the ones to actually uncover a body.
We continued our evening and week living well, while our neighbors down the street struggled to get rid of tons and tons of mud. They have been in our prayers ever since.