Greetings from Guatemala ! We have finished three days on the work site and will spend our last day in the village tomorrow. We have been busy! We have made lots of progress on the 4th classroom and will likely finish the bricks for 4th wall before we leave. We have built 4 stoves in the homes of residents of the village. We have made a joyful noise with jingle bells, drums and recorders via a music program with the school children. We will plant 100 trees tomorrow. We assembled and delivered teacher kits to one of the AMA circles. We saw a weaving demonstration at AMAs offices. We began the work week with a Mayan ceremony and today enjoyed a reprieve from the worksite to visit a natural hot springs. Tomorrow we will wrap up our time here and visit Vicki’s house, a great way to end the week as we come full circle back to where it all started. As I said – we have been busy!
Tonight we shared a time of reflection and were blessed to be outside in front of a fire surrounded by stars, singing songs and listening to Psalms. We are 26 individuals, many of whom did not know each other prior to boarding the plane , but we have evolved into a great team that has stayed healthy (wahoo!!) and shared both laughs and tears.
We appreciate your continued prayers as we complete our journey and return home on Saturday. It is hard to explain the change in this community since last year. It more than a few new classrooms. There is a new attitude, and new hope for the future. May we carry home with us the desire to bring that same hope to others.
We have arrived at our home for the week! Starting early Saturday morning, we made it safely on board, and after a brief weather delay were we air borne. After landing safely and clearing customs, we boarded a bus for our evening destination. We arrived before dark and enjoyed a sunset over the volcano at lake atitlan while dining on comfort food of spaghetti ! Most welcome after a long day.
Flat Jesus on the boat ride! The other flat Jesus went zip lining.
Sunday was our fun activity day before we head to the village tomorrow. Half the group enjoyed the same zip lining experience we did last year. Others of us enjoyed a boat trip across the lake, a tour of an organic coffee plantation and a delightful lunch with some awesome fresh guacamole (like, right off the tree fresh). We were tired and wet, but a good time had by all. We rode the remaining time on the bus (a school bus, only with a much cooler paint job), and arrived at el Refugio, our home for the week, in time to get settled and cleaned up before dinner.
We ended the evening gathering around a fire pit to sing some songs and listen to Lupe, the heart and soul of HSP, share her story. Many of us have heard bits and pieces, but tonight we really came to better understand why she motivated to do the work she does.
And it was a poignant reminder of why we are doing the work we will do this week . She shared a story of how the children in the village helped unload the tiles to the floor of their school. They were not asked or told to do it – adults were going to do it. But they insisted -“this is our school”. It’s hard to explain how this mentality is evidence of a deeper impact than just bricks and mortar. The school is the physical evidence of a deeper goal of transforming communities to be empowered.
Speaking of class rooms. Tomorrow we get to see in person what has gone on since we were here last year. I have a feeling it will be a very emotional morning for many of us – I know it will be for me (Sue). I will not be surprised if a few tears fall upon the first sighting.
Thank you for your continued prayers of support for us. It is a great group, and after getting to know each other for the past 2 days we are ready to get to work!
Evening devotions with songs led by Josh and Johna
Family BINGO Night
Thank you to everyone who supported our Family BINGO Night fundraiser.
As we journey through this season of Lent, perhaps you have been drawn to the idea of increasing your commitment to service by participating in a short term mission trip. Here are a few things to prayerfully consider (from “Five Reasons You Should Go on Short-Term Missions”, By Marti Wade):
1) To Obey the Great Commission and Great Commandment
Demonstrating and sharing God’s love with others is something we’re made for. Can you serve God and others more effectively close to home? Quite possibly. But that does not mean he doesn’t want to use you for a season somewhere else. Often such an experience helps us see our lives at home through different eyes and better serve the people who live right next to us, too.
2) To Step Out in Faith
Do you think God is calling you to surrender more to him? If a mission trip is your next big step, you’ll have to trust him for the resources to make it happen, for others to walk with you, for love for those you meet, for grace to be flexible as the experience unfolds, and for mercy when you fall. By engaging the unknown on a mission trip, many learn how to better walk with God day by day and moment by moment.
3) To Take a Journey of Personal Growth
It’s almost a cliché now. As most mission trip participants report, you may receive more than you give. While taking a mission trip solely for what you can get out of it may be irresponsible, many find the journey of personal faith and growth to be life-changing. The German philosopher Martin Buber said it well: “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” If God is tugging on you to be part of a mission team, it’s likely he has something he wants to do in your life through this experience.
Deposits are due this Sunday April 12th!
Last year, 14 members of the CPC community joined together with 13 members of Vale United Methodist and committed to a week of serving the village of Twi’Ninwitz in the highlands of Guatemala. It was a diverse group of men and women, youth and elders. And while we all had our individual reasons for committing to the trip, and we all had unique experiences, together we served as one team, showing God’s love and providing hope for a better future. This summer we will return to Twi’Ninwitz to, literally, build on the foundation that we built last summer. Construction will continue on the school, and we will engage the community in several other projects.
The dates of the trip are July 18th-July 25th. This is a multi-generational opportunity and open to all ages. Last year’s team had an age range of 60 years. Information packets are available by the display in the Narthex. Registration form are available under “Forms 2015” at www.missiontrip.cpcfairfax.org.
Note: The estimated cost of the trip will be approximately $1700/person. An initial deposit of $250 will be due by April 12th, with additional payments made in increments in May and June. As you consider your involvement, please know that we strive to provide anyone who feels led to participate with financial assistance as needed. Fundraising is a community effort, and last year everyone was able to fund their required expenses through a variety of options. Please do not let concerns about the cost prevent you from participating.
If you have any questions about this years trip, please contact Sue Ferguson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Velma Armijo (email@example.com).
I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone on the work site yesterday who did not interact with the school kids and find them just about the cutest kids ever! And, for the most part, we could not communicate a single spoken word to them. The elementary school students only know their local Mayan dialect and don’t begin formal Spanish lessons till 4th grade. Out of 100 children, 50 will complete middle school, 25 high school, and only 1 might graduate from university. But in the village today, the focus was only on their smiles.
We worked with kids making frames and taking pictures for them to put in their frames. We worked with them to build and decorate boats for a race at the end of the week. Even the folks working on building the school got in on the fun. Break time had everyone in the school common area taking pictures, blowing bubbles, playing with bendaroos and playing duck, duck, goose.
It can not be over stated how much these kids LOVE to have their picture taken. And they love to see how it comes out. We have a Polaroid that prints out pics for them right on the spot. My favorite thing was taking several selfies to see how many kids we could fit in one pic. And they have beaming smiles in every single one. I need to pay my kids to smile for a family pic, but these children have one almost permanently plastered on their face.
Their smiles communicate their approach to life. No words needed . For lunch, the kids line up to take home one hard boiled egg to eat. They take it gladly with a smile and go on their way – today getting high fives on their way out from one of our team members. Another wordless communication.
Each night the team gathers for Devo Time – a way to reflect and decompress at the end of the day. Tonight’s theme was wordless communication and we used the following quote by Thomas Merton as our focus: “The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless…beyond speech…beyond concept.”
Today we shared communion with the children of La Cumbre.
One of the projects our team is working on is a school for the village. Here is a picture of the current wooden school and the progress made so far on the new school.
It seems that some of our team have been hit by a fever inducing virus. The fevers have all broken and our team is on the upswing. Sue Ferguson shares that despite this setback the work is still getting done.
From Velma A’s Facebook Post: As I wake this morning, some of my reflections on what I saw yesterday. I saw giggly children running around saying Hola! to us and then running on. Some would tell us their names, others just stared. I saw, along our way to and from the village–and this was in urban areas–various farm animals tethered to a pole so they could graze but not wander. I saw women walking over uneven ground wearing various types of shoes, but mostly sandals. It was not hot. I saw babies and toddlers being carried on the mother’s back, and some of these mothers were tending a little tortilla stand all day; other mothers were carrying other articles along cobble stones and uneven ground alongside the road.
I am dealing with feelings that I am searching to describe. Grateful, thankful, ashamed are a few words that come to mind.
Sue F. -Day two upcoming on the worksites. By last night we were a pretty tired group. Work was done on both the school and in the homes getting the stoves. Today we work with the kids at the school on frames, rain gutter regatta and science lessons. Then more work on the school and the stoves. Prayers for endurance and strong stomachs are appreciated. The combination of sun, altitude, different food and physical exertion is an exhausting combination. Hopefully tonight we can post some pics of the progress.
Greetings from Guatemala. We are about to begin day two of our journey. Day one was a 20+ hour day starting in the 4am hour for most of us, and continuing with flight delays, a 4+ hour flight, and a 6 hour bus ride complete with a flat tire. Funny enough, the bus ride is not usually so long…but we got stuck in traffic. Our Northern Virginia roots prepared us so well for this unexpected delay!
Although the day was a journey, the time went quickly and gave the team a good chance to make new friends, and get to know existing friends better. Comraderie is high. The long bus ride also provided plenty of time to see the life of Guatemala. While obvious signs of a basic economy were observed in some areas (they have a Walmart, chunky cheese and a hooters), for the most part we drove for hours past extreme poverty. A shanty town life with cement block walls and aluminum/tin sheets for a roof – often held down by bricks to keep from blowing away. This is in stark contrast to the extreme green and lush countryside. Gods good creation is abundant – and we will take in some of that today as we stop and enjoy a bit of nature before getting back on the bus (hopefully only two hours ) to our final destination for the week.
We thank you for your continued prayers.