Guatemala Mission, March, 2009

St. Luke's is conducting a return mission trip to Guatemala, from March 20 to March 29, 2009, 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 and March, 2008. 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 construct adobe homes for widows, and will also be spending time with children in Bible school programs. We may also do some work at the orphanage across the street. We will also spend time at the John Wesley School in nearby Santa Cruz del Quiché. Look here and 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.

(click on any picture to see a larger version)

March 22, 2009

The team left on Friday, March 20, flying from Denver to Houston to Guatemala City. They drove to Antigua, Guatemala, where they did some shopping and sightseeing. On Saturday, March 21, they drove to Chichicastenango, where they will be staying for most of the trip. They visited the sites in Lemoa where they will be working later in the week; the adobe homes are farther along than expected, which may limit the amount of work they can do on them. They also visited the "sisters" and the Hogar del Nino Orphanage. On Sunday, March 22, they visited the market in Chichicastenango, which is one of the "must see" sights in Guatemala. The weather was absolutely beautiful. Ken Fong joined them that morning; he had been delayed by a side trip to the Littleton Emergency Room (he's OK). In the afternoon, the missionaries attended Sunday worship services at the local methodist church.



Edee Worth shopping in Antigua


Dave and Allison Bradbury at the orphanage


Jeff Suntken shopping in Chichicastenango



The team with children's shoes to be given out later in the week


Rev. Brad Laurvick at the local methodist church


Rev. Brad Laurvick at Sunday night's devotion


March 23, 2009

This morning we visited the John Wesley School in Santa Cruz del Quiche, a school started by the Methodist Church of Guatemala. We were given an overview of the school by Amilcar Solarzano, the principal, and we were treated to special performances by some of the students. Several of the missionaries met with the students they are sponsoring there. Then we conducted a bible camp for them.

After a quick lunch at the Methodist Retreat Center in Lemoa, we broke into three groups. The first went to work at Adobe 6. This has already been completed up to the roof line by the construction team we hired. We helped them by moving hundreds of adobe blocks. Since we need more work to do this week, we began the construction of an addition; today, we dug most of the trench for the adobe block foundation.

The second group went to Adobe 7, which is in a similar state to Adobe 6. Because that team needed more work as well, some people split off into a third group to help build adobe blocks for a different home.

The morning at John Wesley School was a real high; the afternoon was hard but satisfying physical labor. Everyone is in good health and spirits.



Bev Ashworth receiving fruit during a student performance


Ken Fong with his sponsoree, Karla


Alaina Gilbert at the bible camp



Ashley Martin helping with crafts at the bible camp


Tony Ashworth moving an adobe block


Meghan Laurvick and Allison Bradbury digging a trench for the addition footings


March 24, 2009

Correction to yesterday's report: one of the missionaries was carrying an adobe block when it broke in half and dropped on their big toe. They spent today resting up, and they are optimistic they can rejoin the work teams tomorrow.

We broke up into four work teams today. One went to the John Wesley school to paint; we take great pride in the school and want it to look its best. We finished painting the "Home Ec" room upstairs.

The second team went to the Hogar del Nino orphanage and painted their pantry (it really needed it!). They also gave out some of the shoes which were donated.

The third team worked on Adobe 6. Due to resource limitations, it was decided NOT to do the addition. The trench for the addition footing that we dug yesterday had to be filled back in. The roof rafters were started, and the adobe walls holding up the roof structure were about half completed.

The fourth team worked on Adobe 7. The local construction team had other commitments today, so we just moved adobe blocks from a nearby field to the construction site, and moved dirt in front of the house to provide a proper grade.

Although many of the missionaries are beginning to tire, we feel good about how much we accomplished today. We continue to place a high priority on everyone's health and safety.



Allison Bradbury and Sharon Williams painting the orphanage pantry


Matching up children with shoes


The side wall of Adobe 6



Gary Gilbert putting mud between brick layers


Shelly Richards, Katie Halloran and Brian Ray working on the mortar between bricks


Brian Ray and Jim Halloran moving adobe bricks at Adobe 7


March 25, 2009

Today was not nearly as productive as yesterday; some of the missionaries were frustrated by not having enough work to do.

We formed five work teams. One team went back to the John Wesley School and painted another second-floor classroom. A second team went back to the orphanage and painted the kitchen and part of the adjacent room. A third team went to the two sisters' home and helped spruce their place up.

The remaining two teams worked on Adobe 6 and 7. Some progress was made on Adobe 6, but now the hired construction crew is doing rafter work (which only they can do). They would be ready for us to help with roof tiles on Friday, but we will be in Chontala building chicken coops then. So we have basically done all the work that we'll be able to on that home. Similarly, on Adobe 7, we were only able to do limited work: lifting some adobe blocks and mortar for the hired construction crew. But because so much of the work required more skills than we have, we had more people than work.

We took advantage of having less work by spending more time playing with the local children. The health of the team is good.



Laura Richards painting one of the John Wesley classrooms


Brad Martin painting the classroom ceiling


Tim Halloran playing with one of the children at Adobe 6



Bob Utter checking out Adobe 6


Bob Utter, Julia (one of our 3 translators) and Gary Gilbert inside Adobe 7


Using a bucket brigade to get adobe blocks up to the top of Adobe 7


March 26, 2009

The missionary team, the two sisters, our three translators and our bus driver

Today was our last day in Lemoa; we're starting to realize that this wonderful mission trip is coming to an end soon.

We formed four teams today. The first went to the John Wesley school one last time and painted the last classroom upstairs. The second went to the orphanage and painted the dining room. The third and fourth teams worked on Adobe 6 and Adobe 7. Progress was made on the roofs at both homes, but we were disappointed that we were not able to see either home completed before we left. All the teams came together at the end of the day and we blessed both homes.

The injured toe is improving nicely. Except for some sunburns and a few tired missionaries, our health is good.



Lori Martin painting at the orphanage


Lifting blocks up at Adobe 7


Jim Halloran, Jeff Suntken and one of the future occupants leveling the floor at Adobe 7



Joyce Carnes and Ashley Martin playing duck-duck-goose with the children at Adobe 7


Gary Gilbert and Brad Martin moving roof tiles at Adobe 6


Blessing Adobe 7



Blessing Adobe 6


Blessing Adobe 6



March 27, 2009

Today was our last work day in Guatemala. We will miss this place.

We drove to the small village of Chontala and formed three groups, each to build a chicken coop at a different woman's home. Our mission team pays for the coops, and that allows families to buy baby chickens, raise them, and then sell the grown chickens for some additional income. The coops already had the roofs and supporting posts done. Each team prepped the floor; mixed, poured, and finished the concrete floor; and nailed up the chicken wire.

After lunch, we ran a bible camp for about 75 local children. This included singing, crafts, stories, tattoos and field games. In the evening, we went to a local restaurant, where we ate dinner with and said goodbye (for now) to the sisters and the directors of the John Wesley School.

Tomorrow we pack, drive to Antigua for some down time, and then Sunday it's off to the Guatemala airport. We've been very lucky with the weather and lack of serious illness or injuries. It's been a great trip with a wonderful group.



Lori Martin and Alaina Gilbert smoothing concrete for the coop floor


Team #3 in front of their chicken coop


Team #2 and the coop owners, in front of their chicken coop



Sharon Williams putting on a tattoo at the bible camp


Jeff Suntken leading the "red" group to their next bible camp activity


Playing field games in downtown Chontala