Guatemala Mission, March, 2015

St. Luke's first 2015 construction mission trip to Guatemala is from March 21 to March 29. 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, March, 2013 and March, 2014. 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 2 homes for needy families. 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.

March 21, 2015

The entire team arrived safely in Guatemala today, after a long day of travel. Because of the local events associated with the upcoming holy week, streets are being blocked off so that sawdust carpets can be made up on various streets in preparation for processions. Several of the beautiful carpets are on display in our hotel.



Checking into our hotel






March 22, 2015

We were able to see many completed or near-completed sawdust carpets before we left Antigua for Chichicastenango this morning. Because we left for Guatemala a day later than usual, we only had an abbreviated period for shopping at the Chichicastenango market in the morning. In the afternoon, we visited the Mary Knoll Sisters, Connie and Helen, in Lemoa. Even though many in the group have visited them before, we always learn something new about the history and living conditions of rural Guatemala. Then we attended worship services at the Methodist church in Chichicastenango. Reverend Sarah Merchant introduced our group, mostly in Spanish (!).




The carpets in front of our Antigua hotel


The team visiting Sisters Connie and Helen


Our team




Rev. Sarah Merchant at the Chichicastenango Methodist Church






March 23, 2015

Today was our first day of construction work. We are building two concrete cinder block homes for poor families in the Lemoa area. We found House 1 with the foundation layer of blocks already completed by the local construction crew. Today we filled in dirt around the foundation blocks, built rebar structures and placed them into the top layer of blocks, and filled them with concrete.

We found House 2 (at the top of the hill) with just the foundation dug out. By the end of the day, we had almost completed the foundation layers of blocks.

The weather was great, and we felt good about getting a lot accomplished today. Several of the team members also met with their sponsored scholarship students.




Jeff Seefeldt working on rebar, with help from the future home's children


Glenn Hertzler, Sarah Merchant, Justin Martinez and Jeff Suntken working on rebar


The family that will be receiving House 1




Alicia Nelson getting braiding lessons from the House 1 family


Jonathan Heitsmith and Eric Medlock working on the House 2 foundation


Lee Seaman showing Sarah Merchant how to lay a concrete block at House 2


March 24, 2015

Today was an excellent day of work; we felt very good about how productive we were. At House 1, we added 4 or 5 rows of blocks on most of the walls. Members of the family which will move into the house were a big help to us, even the young kids. We also spent a lot of time playing with the family's children.

At House 2, the rest of the foundation blocks were laid, and rebar structures were built and laid.

Ken Fong, Betsy Keyack and Sarah Merchant visited the school at Caserio Rosario and took photos of all the students, in preparation for Friday's bible camp.

More team members were able to spend time visiting with their scholarship students.

Other than a lot of red skin, everyone seems to be healthy.




Meeting on the roof of the hotel for morning devotion


Rowe Helman and Roxie Morris putting mortar between concrete blocks at House 1


Cindy Robinson and Jeff Seefeldt laying a cinder block at House 1



Janie Williams with 2 helpers


The House 1 work site


Ralph Lidge drawing with one of the family's children



Orval Seaman working on the House 2 foundation


Nancy Copher, Sarah Merchant and Babs Mock working on the House 2 rebar


Ken Fong taking student photos at the Caserio Rosario school



Betsy Keyack playing with the children at the school






March 25, 2015

This morning, we visited the John Wesley School in Santa Cruz del Quiche. The school celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and they've grown to 500 students. We were impressed with the progress the school has made; they've even added a roof over their courtyard! The team members who sponsor students going to the school were able to visit with them after several student groups welcomed us, including their marching band.

After lunch, everyone went to House 2, which is on the side of a hill. New supplies of concrete blocks and gravel were delivered to the top of the hill, where the nearest road is. The hardest activity of the day was moving those supplies half way down the hill to the construction site (during the hottest part of the day).

After that, the team split up and worked at the two houses, adding rows of blocks and working on rebar. The House 1 children were very helpful, again.

The health situation continues to be good.




John Wesley School students performing for our team


Sharon and John Williams, our team leaders, being recognized at the School


Jeff Suntken with his 2 sponsored students



Moving blocks from the top of the hill to the House 2 site


Eric Medlock working on rebar, with help from one of the children


Justin Martinez adding a block, with help



Sarah Merchant and a friend working on rebar


Eric Medlock playing ball with the family's children


Orval and Lee Seaman putting mortar between blocks


March 26, 2015

This morning was reserved for seeing the world-class market in Chichicastenango, since we didn't get much of a chance to see it on Sunday (the other day it is open). Some of the group also visited the cemetery, and others took the opportunity to rest.

In the afternoon, we worked at the two house sites. Both homes are now at about the same state of completion: most of the fifth (U-block) row is completed, ready for rebar and cement. This was our last day of construction; the June mission team will work further on the homes, and the local construction team will see that both homes are completed.

Betsy Keyack, Babs Mock and Edee Worth went to the Sisters' home and helped them with some chores.

Visits with sponsored students also continued today.

We have had good weather all week, and the health situation continues to be good.




Janie Williams has been leading morning devotions all week


Visiting the Chichicastenango cemetery


Cindy Robinson playing with the children at House 1



Jerry and Glenn Hertzler adding a block


Sharon and John Williams putting mortar between blocks


Babs Mock, Betsy Keyack and Edee Worth visiting with the Sisters, Connie and Helen



Edee Worth helping with the Sisters' plants


The House 2 work site




March 27, 2015

This was our last day in Lemoa & Chichicastenango. We spent the morning at the Caserio Rosario school ("cornstalk school"). The students welcomed us with an hour-long presentation. Then we conducted a successful bible camp for the 150 or so students. We told the story of Noah and the Ark, sang songs, did crafts (including individual student photos), and played outdoor games.

After lunch, we blessed the 2 houses that we've spent the week building. After that, we split into three teams and built chicken coops.

We also finished the student visits today.

It has been another wonderful week in Guatemala. We've had good weather all week, and no one has gotten sick!

We're off to Antigua for some R&R tomorrow, and will fly home on Sunday.




The students welcomed us


Sarah Merchant telling the Noah and the Ark story


Lee Seaman helping with crafts



Edee Worth applying a tattoo


Playing with the parachute


Glenn Hertzler playing with rockets



We handed out hearts saying "Jesus loves you"


Blessing House 1


Jerry Hertzler, Janie Williams and Glenn Hertzler dedicated House 1 to their mother



Blessing House 2


John and Sharon Williams dedicated House 2 in memory of John's mother


The Chicken Coop #1 Team