Monday, April 20, 2009
Monday Mission: Guatemala
A new series for me...a weekly focus on a different mission that you - or perhaps your friends or family - may want to get involved in.
For the inaugural post, I'm choosing the mission that is most near and dear to my heart...and that is Guatemala.
I first went to Guatemala the summer of 2004...and had a horrific time. Seriously. Remind me to tell you everything that went wrong on that trip...and how at one time, during the mission trip, I looked over at my DH and said, "Don't ever even SAY the word 'Guatemala' to me again." That's how bad it was...I had made up my mind right there and then to never return to this country.
Well, God works in mysterious ways...some times what WE have planned, is not what He has planned. Before I knew what was happening, I was being nudged - no, make that pushed - back to Guatemala in 2005. Two trips in 2006, one in 2007, one in 2008, and another one coming up this summer. And every trip since the 2004 experience has been wonderful, heartfelt, amazing, God-filled, inspirational...need I go on?
So - the basics: each trip is approximately 10 days long...although I've been known to 'extend' my own trips and stay with friends there. Each trip is approximately $1,800 - which includes all transportation, lodging, and most meals. We stay in a small village called San Lucas Toliman, which is on the shores of Lake Atitlan in the Western Highlands of Guatemala.
What do we do, you ask? Well, we've done various projects - nothing major or too difficult - but we've built schools, painted schools, picked coffee beans, mortared walls, bagged dirt, and played with children. However, I think the most important thing we do is build relationships - with each other, with other volunteers that are visiting Guatemala, and with the villagers. The projects we choose are just the 'tools' in the building of the relationships.
People ask, "Do I need to know Spanish?" Well, it helps - but it's not necessary. We always provide an interpreter, and enough of us know a little Spanish to get by. Another common question: "Is it safe?" Hmmm...I think it's safe as long as you play it smart. It IS a 3rd-world country, but if you don't go down and do stupid things (flash a lot of jewelry, money or expensive electronics, or travel late at night, alone!) then you'll be okay. The food is basic, but good - the water is not safe, but we provide bottled water - and there's a delicious pizza shop and an ice-cream shop nearby so you won't starve.
We try to do some other things, like hike a volcano, take a boat ride on the lake, and listen to presentations on Guatemalan & Mayan culture, to add some fun to the trip.
I've taken my 2 teenage sons for the last 2 years - and one son will be going again this summer for the 3rd time. Yes, he's caught the "bug", too...like I did. This year, I'm taking my dad - that will be way exciting! I can't way to show him everything that I've talked about for the last 5 years!
If you're ever interested, let me know...I love to lead groups there and change people's lives...!
So - that's it for today's Monday mission moment. Be sure to do YOUR part today to change the world, one action at a time, one day at a time.