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St. Luke's first 2013 construction mission trip to Guatemala is from March 16 to March 24, 2013. The work will be centered in Lemoa in the department of Quiché near the highland center of Chichicastenango. Our previous construction mission trips were in March, 2005, March, 2006, March, 2007, March, 2008, March, 2009, March, 2010, March, 2011 and March, 2012. Most of the population there is indigenous Mayan. Lemoa was especially hard-hit by massacres and destruction of villages during the years of "La Violencia", guerrilla rebellion and army repression which ended just recently in 1996. We will be working with local people to build a home for a needy family and to add cinder block classrooms to a school in San Jose Pacho (on the outskirts of Lemoa) . Photos of the work are available here. We will also be spending time with children in Bible school programs and at the John Wesley School in nearby Santa Cruz del Quiché. Look here for the itinerary. See puravida.org for more details about Lemoa.
You may contact the missionary team while they are in Guatemala by sending email here.
Click on any image below to see a larger version.
March 16, 2013
The 28 mission team members arrived safely in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, this evening. Everything was going well until we got within 5 blocks of the hotel. All traffic into the center of town was halted, to accommodate a parade. We walked the rest of the way to the hotel. Tomorrow the plans call for us to shop in the world famous Chichicastenango market, visit the "sisters", and attend church services.
March 17, 2013
We spent the morning shopping in Chichicastenango. In the afternoon, we visited the Mary Knoll Sisters Helen and Connie. They described their mission here, which includes helping with the education of the indigenous Mayans and helping provide homes for widows and orphans. Finally, we attended the Sunday evening service at the Chichicastenango Methodist Church. We were fortunate to participate in a special service, since they were celebrating the 25th wedding anniversary of a local couple. The church was filled to capacity, which was twice as many attendees as we've ever seen there.
March 18, 2013
Today was a great day. It was our first work day, and we accomplished so much at our two work sites in San Jose Pacho, a remote village on the outskirts of Lemoa. We finished the footer for the 2-room home we're building there, and we laid several rows of cinder blocks for that home and for the 2-room addition we're building for the school in the village. We were interrupted by rain for a few minutes; otherwise, the weather was good. We began building relations with the people in the village, especially the children.
Tomorrow, a few people will discover all the places they missed applying sun tan lotion today. And there will be some sore muscles from moving hundreds of cinder blocks.
March 19, 2013
We started today by visiting the John Wesley School in Santa Cruz del Quiche. The school put on a very nice show for us; many of the students' performances were new. Laura Richards dedicated the new band instruments that were provided courtesy of fundraisers at St. Luke's UMC. The highlight was the school's marching band performing for us; they've improved a LOT in the last year!
Many of the missionaries sponsor students at the school, and they were able to visit with them.
After lunch, we added more rows of cinder blocks to the house and school we're building, and of course we moved hundreds more newly arrived cinder blocks. The kids in the village are clearly getting more used to us; they even jumped in to help with our cinder block bucket brigades.
A group went to the orphanage in Lemoa and delivered two suitcases of shoes and one suitcase of clothes for the children. We also had some visits with students being sponsored in the Lemoa area.
Everyone seems to be healthy and enjoying the trip.
March 20, 2013
The day began with a visit to the school addition built last year at Caserio Rosario, about half way between Lemoa and where we're working this year. Everyone there is very happy with the new rooms we built. Then it was back to our work site and adding more layers of cinder blocks to both the home and the school addition. We completed the rebar-reinforced row half way up the house, and we are almost there at the school.
There were more visits with our sponsored students. Some of the team members spent time with the children at the orphanage, and some others did chores for the sisters at their home.
Remarkably, everyone on the team is still healthy!
March 21, 2013
We had a very different morning: we ran the first bible camp ever for the children at the San Jose Pacho school. Compared to many previous bible camps, this one went quite smoothly. There were eight classes of students at two locations (our work site, and four classrooms down the street). We did photo frames, tatoos, coloring books, jump rope, rockets, and played with a large parachute. The students and our missionaries all had a great time.
After lunch, we continued our construction work. The house has progressed to the point where we now are working on scaffolding to add new rows of blocks. At the school, we spent the afternoon putting in rebar in preparation for pouring a reinforced concrete horizontal beam half way up around the entire addition. Like the last several days, the rain interrupted our work for a few minutes; overall, though, the weather has been very good this week.
One of the team members had a brief stomach problem; the rest of the team is just tired.
March 21, 2013
This was our last work day in Guatemala.
We started by visiting the home of Pastor Tomas, who lives in Paquixic. The visit gave us a better idea of how many people live in rural Guatemala. It was a 20 minute bus ride from Chichicastenango, and then a 5 minute walk down a narrow dirt path, to get to his house. He shared with us the ministries of his church. Since he doesn't get paid as a pastor, he weaves and sells traditional Guatemalan textiles to support his family. Our group of course bought many of his products.
About half the group visited the nearby home that Pura Vida constructed two years ago ("Margarita's house"), also in Paquixic, and caught up with the family.
All the construction work we did today was at the school, since we needed everyone for the cement bucket brigade. We finished pouring the horizontal concrete beam around the addition, half way up. It was a lot of mixing concrete, passing buckets of concrete, and pouring and smoothing concrete. Real physical labor!
Although we didn't do any construction at the home, we did bless it at the end of the day.
Other work groups will come behind us to continue construction, and the local contractors will finish the buildings after that.
It has been a very successful mission trip. Relationships were built and improved with the people of Guatemala, and among the mission team members. Other than a few minor stomach and sinus problems, we've also been unusually healthy.
Tomorrow we head off to Antigua for some sightseeing, and Sunday we fly back home to the United States.