Guatemala Mission, March, 2007

St. Luke's is conducting a return mission trip to Guatemala, from March 24 to April 2, 2007, in Lemoa in the department of Quiché near the highland center of Chichicastenango. Our previous mission trips were in March, 2005 and March, 2006. 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 on some combination of the following construction projects: at the Methodist Retreat Center, at the orphanage in Lemoa, building adobe homes for needy women, and building chicken coops for needy families.  We will also be running a Bible school day camp for several hundred local children. Look here for the itinerary. See for more details about Lemoa.

You may contact the missionary team while they are in Guatemala by sending email here.

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March 24, 2007

The team left Denver yesterday afternoon and arrived (via Los Angeles) safely in Guatemala City in the early morning hours. All the luggage arrived except for one passenger's 2 bags and the wheelchairs we're donating. The 38 missionaries (30 from St. Luke's and 8 from the Wesley Foundation at the University of Colorado in Boulder) all traveled in a "chicken bus" to Chichicastenango. The St. Luke's group will be staying in a hotel there. The CU group went on to the Methodist Retreat Center in Lemoa, where they will be staying. After lunch, everyone visited the Hogar del Nino orphanage in Lemoa and played with the children.



All the luggage for 38 people goes on top of the bus


Eating lunch on the way to Chichicastenango


Debra Geiger and Cheryl Wolff with orphanage babies



Shelly Richards playing with one of the orphanage children


Ed Coryell helping one of the orphanage children shoot baskets

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March 25, 2007

We began the day by shopping in the market in Chichicastenango, which is a great place to buy Guatemalan goods. Then we visited Helen and Connie, who are Maryknoll sisters working at the church in Lemoa. Among other ministries, they help widowed women in the area; we will be building two homes this week to support this ministry. In the afternoon, we attended services in the Methodist church in Chichicastenango and then shopped at the adjacent Ruth and Naomi Project, which helps widows and orphans. Many of us are looking forward to tomorrow, when we begin working on our various projects.



Kristine Fong buys a skirt in the market


We bring gifts to Connie and Helen


The St. Luke's group with the 2 sisters



The missionaries singing a hymn in the Chichicastenango church


Doug and Pam Rowley sing a duet for the church service

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March 26, 2007

This was our first work day. We split up into various teams. One team visited the small village of Chontala, south of Chichicastenango. We will be building 5 chicken coops at the homes of widows; they need the income from selling chickens to become more self-sufficient. The group today nearly finished the first chicken coop; the village and widow's home were much more remote than anything we've experienced before in Guatemala. We also conducted a bible camp for about 40 children from the village.

A second group worked at the orphanage in Lemoa, north of Chichicastenango, applying stucco to the ceiling and walls and tiling the walls of the addition being built to the orphanage.

Two other groups worked on building adobe houses for widows in the Lemoa area. One team got as far as the fourth row of blocks. The other group spent most of their time hauling water up the hill to the house, in preparation for mixing the mortar needed to build the house.

The final group worked on adding a roof to the bathroom addition at the Methodist Retreat Center in Lemoa. They spent all day chiseling out concrete to tie in rebar.

The team is in good spirits and healthy, with only one person encountering some gastrointestinal problems.



Kristina Carnes mixing cement for the chicken coop


The almost-finished chicken coop


Laura Richards with children from Chontala at the Bible Camp



Keith Ayers and Jim Wolff stuccoing at the Lemoa orphanage


Debbie Lawrence and one of the babies at the Lemoa orphanage

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March 27, 2007

We had another productive work day. A new team visited the small village of Chontala and started building a second chicken coop. Before that, however, they visited the Salud y Paz Methodist Clinic; our missionaries were very impressed with their medical facilities and their ministering to the needy of the area. This group also conducted a second bible camp, this time with 70 children attending. Finally, this group attended the worship services in the village's Methodist church; Pam was privileged to consecrate the elements for communion.

The group working at the orphanage continued stuccoing the ceiling and walls of the orphanage addition.

The "adobe 1" group added 5 rows of bricks to their adobe house, for a total of 9 rows. The "adobe 2" group put down 2 rows of bricks for a foundation and added 1 row of above-ground bricks.

The group working at the Methodist Retreat Center got into high gear in the afternoon and built support structures and concrete forms in preparation for adding a roof to the bathroom addition.

As the St. Luke's team gets more experience working with the CU students from the Wesley Foundation, many bonds are being built. The team is starting to experience more cases of gastrointestinal problems and we are STILL missing one piece of luggage, but overall this trip continues to be a great experience.



Doug Rowley, Sharon Williams and Kristin Hertzler with Dr. Phil Plunk at the Salud y Paz clinic


Lesly Ely, Kristin Hertzler and Sharon Williams showing the children how to brush teeth at the Bible Camp


Jim Wolff working on the foundation of "adobe 2"


Andrea Money adding a row of bricks to "adobe 1"

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March 28, 2007

We spent the morning continuing work on our various projects, and the afternoon beginning the Bible Camp at the Retreat Center in Lemoa. Yet another team visited the small village of Chontala and started building a third chicken coop. The group working at the orphanage continued stuccoing the walls of the orphanage addition. Both the "adobe 1" and "adobe 2" groups added another couple of rows of bricks to their adobe homes. The group working at the Methodist Retreat Center finished building the forms for the bathroom addition ceiling and expect to pour the concrete tomorrow.

An estimated 250 youth from the Lemoa area attended our Bible Camp this afternoon. We broke them into 4 groups and did tattoos, puppet shows, crafts, and field games. Today's camp felt even more chaotic than in the past, and we will be trying to adjust for tomorrow.

The good news for today is that our final piece of luggage arrived. The bad news is that several more people fell mildly sick. Some of the projects felt slightly understaffed because of this.



Joan Gitchell sifting sand at the orphanage


Keith and Marilyn Ayers sharpening tools for Sister Helen


Jerry Hertzler building concrete forms



Suzanne Humphreys mortaring at "adobe 1"


Pam Rowley begins the Bible Camp


Maddy, Jana Money, and Erika perform puppet shows at the Bible Camp


Nancy Abbott helps some children with crafts at the Bible Camp

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March 29, 2007

Once again, we spent the morning continuing work on our various projects, and the afternoon conducting a Bible Camp. The group working at the orphanage continued carrying tiles into both the first and second stories of the new addition, and the installation of these tiles should be completed by the on-site workers in the next few days. The "adobe 1" team started installation of beams for the roof, and the "adobe 2" team hauled lots of water to be used in the mortar. The group working at the Methodist Retreat Center finished pouring the concrete roof for the bathroom addition, a major accomplishment!

Approximately 350 youth attended our Bible Camp this afternoon. We played field games, sang songs, played with a 30-foot parachute, and did crafts. The camp felt much more under control today, thanks to some improved procedures.

We were fortunate to be visited by Dr. Phil Plunk of the Salud y Paz clinic, who helped give us a better understanding of the problems in Guatemala, especially those relating to health issues. We also visited the local public school across the street from the Retreat Center and left them all the donated school supplies and Girl Scout cookies that had been donated.



Nancy Abbott carrying tiles at the orphanage


Andrea Mezger carries water up the hill to make mortar for "adobe 2"


Gene Branch helping make concrete for the bathroom addition roof



Sharon Williams donating supplies to the public school


Joyce Carnes entertaining children at the Bible Camp


Lisa Coryell playing with children at the Bible Camp

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March 30, 2007

We began our last full day in the Lemoa area by driving to Santa Cruz del Quiche to visit the John Wesley school, which offers religious-based education for children in the area. Several of the students there have been provided scholarships by missionaries on this trip, as well as by other members of St. Luke's. Meeting the sponsored students was a very emotional experience. We gave out the prayer bears that we brought from home.

Then we went to "adobe 1" and "adobe 2", joined the homeowners, circled the homes, and blessed them.

After lunch, we conducted the last of our Bible Camps. We had about the same number of children as the day before, and everything seemed to finally flow smoothly. We did coloring, sang songs, played field games, and showed the children how to brush their teeth.

After leaving the Retreat Center, we paid a final visit to the orphanage to say goodbye to the children there. We passed out more prayer bears there.

The Wesley Foundation team joined us at our hotel, and we all had dinner at a local restaurant. We ended a long but fulfilling day by having a communion service.

Tomorrow morning, we leave for Antigua for a day of relaxation before we go to the airport early Sunday morning for our flight back to Denver.



The sponsors meeting with their students at the John Wesley school


Andrea Money passing out Prayer Bears at the John Wesley school


Blessing "Adobe 1"



Mark and Lesly Ely, Sister Helen, John and Sharon Williams, the homeowner, and Sister Connie at "Adobe 2"


Doug Rowley and Lisa Coryell showing how to brush teeth


John Williams reading the prayer in the Prayer Bear to Sandra at the Orphanage

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