Guatemala Mission, March, 2014

St. Luke's first 2014 construction mission trip to Guatemala is from March 21 to March 30, 2014. 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, March, 2012 and March, 2013. 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, to add a cinder block kitchen to a school in Caserio Rosario (on the outskirts of Lemoa), and to conduct a band camp at the John Wesley School in Santa Cruz del Quiché. We will also be spending time with children in Bible school programs and at the John Wesley School. 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.

Click on any image below to see a larger version.

Our mission team, and Sisters Connie, Norie and Helen

March 21, 2014

The entire team arrived safely in Guatemala today. Most of the team flew from Houston to Guatemala City, and rode in our "chicken bus" to Antigua, where we're staying for the night. We had a nice dinner as a team in a local restaurant. The Wisconsin contingent, Jonel and Dominic Jacobucci, missed a connection so they arrived in Antigua later in the evening.



At dinner in Antigua






March 22, 2014

We drove from Antigua to Chichicastenango this morning, arriving in time for lunch at our hotel for the next week. After lunch, we visited the Methodist Retreat Center in Lemoa, which will be the base of our operations for the week. We also spent quite a bit of time with the Mary Knoll sisters, who also live in Lemoa. Our old friends Connie and Helen have been joined by Sister Norie, who arrived six months ago from Korea. The sisters filled us in on the history of the area, including the many hardships the local people have suffered, and on some of their current efforts to help the local people (including education, water filters, and stoves).



Betsy and her puppet Rojo playing with one of the hotel's parrots


Sister Helen explaining the local history to our team


Sister Connie serving homemade cookies to Nancy Copher and Lisa Coryell



Sister Norie serving homemade lemonade to Ed Coryell and Edee Worth






March 23, 2014

We spent the morning shopping at the world-famous Chichicastenango market. We toured the nearby cemetery after lunch. Then we attended worship services at the local Methodist Church.

Matthew Smith joined us today. He is taking a break from a summer doing construction work in Antigua ... to help us do construction work in Lemoa. Tomorrow is Monday, and we'll start our construction work and band camp!



Marjorie Dolson and Ralph Lidge shopping in the Chichicastenango market


Heather Shoup visiting the cemetary in Chichicastenango


Edee Worth at the grave of Margarita, a Pura Vida scholarship student who died in 2010



Our team singing "Pass It On" at church






March 24, 2014

We started the day by all going to Caserio Rosario, where the "cornstalk school" is located. Our two construction projects this week will be adding a kitchen to the school and building a house for a poor family nearby. The school gave us a presentation to thank us for our work. Then we split up into three groups: two to work on the construction projects, and one to conduct a band camp in Santa Cruz del Quiche for the John Wesley School band.

The band camp went relatively well; the band was able to play a new tune we taught them at the end of the one hour camp.

The construction work at the school went well, and we got roughly three rows of cinder blocks laid. The work at the house was much harder. We had to haul 800 concrete blocks up a 70' hill (although it seemed much taller). The unusually hot weather made the work even harder. Everyone will sleep well tonight.



Our group in front of the foundation for the new kitchen


The foundation for the new house


Kay Coryell teaching the trumpet players at the band camp



Lisa and Ed Coryell teaching the percussion students


Matt Karp teaching the trombone and tuba players


Beth Unger teaching the glockenspiel players



Shelly Richards teaching the saxophone player


Janie Williams carrying cinder blocks up the hill


The new homeowner, Marta, helps haul cinder blocks



Kristine Fong mortaring cinder blocks for the new kitchen



March 25, 2014

Today was a repeat of yesterday. We continued the band camp for the John Wesley School, and we continued construction of the kitchen (adding rows of cinder blocks) and the house (lots of rebar work).

It was unusually hot again; some of the team members were dragging, and we broke for the day early. We visited Pastor Tomas in Paquixic. Methodist pastors don't get a salary in Guatemala, so they need to generate income outside the church: Pastor Thomas has a weaving operation in his home.



Ken Fong taking photos of all the school children, in preparation for Bible Camp


Betsy Keyack entertaining the children with her puppet Rojo


Kara Fong adding another cinder block at the kitchen



Dominic and Jonel Jacobucci making rebar at the house


Our wonderful lunch team: Alicia Nelson, Nancy Copher, Sam Leahy and Heather Shoup


Progress on the kitchen



Matt Karp and Laura Richards mortaring between cinder blocks


Pastor Tomas displaying the types of weavings he produces




March 26, 2014

We tried a new appoach to visiting with our sponsored students today, and it seemed to work pretty well. We scheduled (essentially) all of the visits on one day in one place, and we hired extra translators. All the students showed up on the right day in the right place (which has not been the case in previous years), and those team members who are sponsoring students enjoyed their visits with them.

Otherwise, today was a repeat of the last two days. We finished the band camp for the John Wesley School, and we continued construction of the kitchen (adding more rows of cinder blocks and beginning the rebar half way up the wall) and the house (beginning the rows of cinder blocks and completing about four rows).

We had cloud cover most of the day, so temperatures returned to seasonal norms, making the working conditions much more pleasant. We're experiencing a few minor health problems (about par for the course).



Mike Richards and Marie Swartz meeting their sponsored student


Mike and Laura Richards with the three Hope Scholarship (college) students


Dominic Jacobucci, Kayla Riege and Matthew Smith adding cinder blocks to the house



Jerry Hertzler bending rebar for the kitchen


Ed Coryell and Sam Leahy playing ball with sponsored students




March 27, 2014

The morning was spent conducting 2 bible camps at the Caserio Rosario school: one camp for the younger students, and then a second camp for the older students. Each camp consisted of an opening session with all the children, an indoor session in which the children mounted and decorated photos of themselves, an outdoor session with various activities, and a closing session.

Following the bible camps and lunch, we continued construction on the kitchen and house. We are now mostly done with the horizontal concrete layer half way up the wall at both sites.



Kara Fong and Sam Leahy telling a bible story at one of the opening sessions


Heather Shoup helping with mounting and decorating photos


Marjorie Dolson and Shelly Richards helping with photos



Playing with the big parachute is a popular outdoor activity


Janie Williams applying a tattoo


Kristine Fong applying a tattoo



Ed Coryell launching rockets with one of the students


Ed Coryell lifting a student into the air


Lisa Coryell spinning a student in the air



Marie Swartz playing jump ropes with a student






March 28, 2014

Today was our last work day in Guatemala. We spent the morning at the John Wesley School in Santa Cruz del Quiche. The students presented a program for us; the highlight was the school band, which performed the numbers learned at the band camp. We also spent some time with students afterwards, encouraging them to practice their English.

We did some final construction work on both the kitchen and house. We dedicated the kitchen, and were thanked by the teachers for our efforts. The kitchen will be finished later this summer by a St. Luke's UMC Youth mission team and the local construction workers. We also blessed the house, with the future homeowner, Marta, and her children, Victor and Josephine, present. The house will be finished soon by the local construction workers.

We leave tomorrow morning for some R&R in Antigua, and then on Sunday we return to the United States.



The John Wesley School Band


Laura Richards speaking at the John Wesley School


Ralph Lidge smoothing some concrete for the kitchen



A concrete bucket brigade at the kitchen


Heather Shoup dedicating the kitchen


Our group, the teachers, and some students in front of the kitchen



Our final progress on the kitchen


Adding a few more rows of cinder blocks at the house


Dedicating the house



Our final progress on the house