First Church recently sent a mission team to Xepocol, Guatemala to partner with Project Salud y Paz, an organization that partners with congregations in the U.S. and also with the indigenous Methodist church of Guatemala to provide medical and dental services to impoverished people in Guatemala, as well as preschool and feeding programs for families in need.
We asked some of the team members to share more about their experience in Guatemala.
Erin Elaine writes:
“As we entered Guatemalan air space we had already gelled as a team, and as a team we focused on our work together, created relationships, explored Guatemala and had many funny, interesting, enlightening and heart-rending moments together. A volcano erupted on our approach to Guatemala City, adding to the wonder and excitement of my first experience outside the United States. I had wanted to go on a mission trip since I was a young girl, and I could hardly believe I was on the team going to Xepocol. This mission trip gave me a gift I could never have received from a book, or a documentary or even someone’s personal account. I grew to love the people and the country and community we served, as well as my team members. My understanding of the world has broadened, leaving my heart gushing like the volcano.
My understanding of the world has broadened, leaving my heart gushing like the volcano.
There were many wonderful things about the trip for me, but the most touching was the interaction with the community members of Xepocol. In the dirt schoolyard I learned new construction skills, bending and cutting rebar, mixing cement on the dirt, and carrying large items, while the children, teachers, community leaders and mothers went about their day, and watching us too. At recess we got to bring out toys we had brought to play with the children. The curious and playful children warily crowded around us and took the edges of a parachute.
Communicating with my eyes, facial expressions, hand gestures and a little k’iche and Spanish, we played games with the parachute and laughed together. We also had jump ropes that proved to be a favorite recess game. At first, two young girls named Jessica and Tomasa wanted to jump but hung back as the boys were happily jumping. They hung close to me and I asked if they wanted me to jump with them. That did it and the girls began jumping after that. Tomasa and Jessica would tug my hands toward the bag with the toys and let me know the jump rope was what they wanted. As I brought it out they grasped my hand in theirs, pulling me to the cement undercover area. We, and many other kids, had a great time playing jump rope games together each recess. After the last day of recess with them I approached a teacher in a classroom and asked if I could leave the jump ropes with him for the kids. I felt very emotional knowing it was the last day I would have with them. Each one of the kids came up and we hugged each other. In the week we were there I saw the conditions in which they live, and also got to help Candalaria, one of the women we met with groceries, blankets and wood. Candalaria had three young children and had lost her husband. The local community was unable to help her, not from lack of wanting to help, but because they lacked the resources to help her. I found it very hard to leave on the last day with the fierce and tender hugs of Tomasa and Jessica and others. A piece of my heart stayed in Xepocol and I will always wonder how the people I met there are doing.”
This was also my first time out of the country . . . If I’m being honest, something that truly stuck out to me was the food we ate!
Would you like to learn more about the Mission Team’s experience in Guatemala? Join us for a Celebration Dinner on Saturday, September 9, at 6PM