Nashville, Guatemalan friends share disaster experiences

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This guest blog post is by Emmie Thomas, who discovered CFCA when she picked up her daughter, Ellen, now 20, from youth group one Sunday seven years ago. Ellen announced that she wanted to sponsor a little girl her age with the money she had made singing in studio sessions.

After searching the Internet for efficient nonprofits, she chose CFCA and began sponsoring a child from the Philippines. Thinking that this might be something her youth group would like to do, she and her brother Jimmy took the idea to church, and the youth group began sponsoring a young man their age, Vicente, from Guatemala.

The family chose Guatemala thinking that maybe one day, the youth group could travel to meet Vicente. Since that time, the youth have made two trips to Guatemala, and Woodmont Christian Church and its members have sponsored 55 children.

Emmie writes, “We plan to return with a new group of high school students in 2014; Ellen plans to be the young adult leader on that trip!”

I traveled to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, this June with 19 members of our churchís youth group on a soul-stretching, mission awareness trip with CFCA.

On the second day of our trip, we made a powerful visit to the lakeside community of San Antonio Palopo.

In May 2010, Nashville was hit with a devastating natural disaster, a 100-year flood. Three weeks later, Guatemala was ravaged by Hurricane Agatha.

Taking the boat across Lake Atitlan to meet the people and see the devastation elicited such empathy from our group, some of whose homes in Nashville had been flooded and damaged.

I work as an executive director for Friends of Radnor Lake, a state park in Nashville. A lake in the middle of an urban area surrounded by hills and homes. In a very remote sense, similar to Lake Atitlan.

At Radnor Lake, the flood caused roads to buckle, over 70 trees to fall and 40 different landslides Ö right in the middle of an urban area with all of the infrastructure and services of a major U.S. city.

Agatha caused similar damage; rains fell, roads were taken out, homes built on steep slopes slid and were destroyed and lives were lost.

As we visited the town of San Antonio Palopo and climbed the steep paths to visit the homes, we were struck by the similarities and differences.

Nature is a powerful force. In Nashville, churches, cities and neighbors gathered together with the theme of We Are Nashville to help recover and rebuild.

At Radnor Lake, over 3,000 volunteers helped rebuild and restore such a beloved park.

We witnessed the help that CFCA provided and continues to provide in San Antonio Palopo, opening their community center to many of the displaced and providing shelter and food in a similar We are Guatemala fashion.

The powerful contrast and comparison washes out in the resilience of people, no matter where we are. We are One in the scheme of things, and what a privilege it is to realize that.

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