Guatemala Mission Trip
Beautiful Feet: Stepping Out With the Transformative Truth of Jesus Christ
In February 2024, a group of high school students and chaperones will travel to Guatemala to partner with Catalyst Resources International in Guatemala City and surrounding villages. Service and ministry opportunities include building houses, visiting orphanages, participating in feeding programs, and establishing relationships within the local community. Our desire is to be the hands and feet of Jesus as we build, give, learn, play, and serve in Guatemala.
Each team member is raising support for the entire team. Please consider partnering with us in the form of a tax-deductible gift. Click the link below to support the team and specify who on the team asked for your support.
We invite you to walk with us. Pray. Send. Go.
“'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
We have arrived and were greeted warmly by our friends at CRI. All went well today as we traveled from Charlotte, through Miami, to Guatemala. Our day of travel was uneventful — other than losing some hair product and sunscreen at the security checkpoint!
There have been many smiles as we all enjoyed some moments to nap, read, play games, laugh, chat and catch an amazing sunset over Miami.
The moon is shining down on us as are settling in to our bunks with the hopes of a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow, we will spend some time at an orphanage before heading out to Santa Maria de Jesus.
While there, we will begin our work project.
I want to introduce to you the beautiful families for whom we will build houses:
Dany Elí Antún Rojo and his wife, Angela Felisia Simon Rancho.
- They have 2 children: Brisany Esmeralda Antún Simon, 7 years old, and Ruth Noemí Antún Simon, 16 days old.
Donaldo Mefiboset Antún Rojo and his wife, María Juana Yuman Oron.
- They have 5 children: Josué Nehemías Antún Yuman, 17 years old; Darwin Elianatan Antún Yuman, 14 years old; Wendy Floridalma Antún Yuman, 10 years old; Karla Patricia Antún Yuman, 5 years old; and Eber Donaldo Antún Yuman, 4 months old.
Please pray for our hands—as we build and shape, and our hearts—as we love and serve.
Thanks for your prayers.
2023 Team Leader
Today, I have struggled to put into words the things we have seen and done.
Perhaps it has something to do with the stories we heard today. Stories of abandoned children. Of mommas who choose prostitution, addiction, and short-term boyfriends over their babies. Stories of children rescued from trash heaps. We heard the stories. We held the stories. Our hearts were broken today.
Our students, are amazing! The incredible amount of love they poured out into these children was overwhelming.
See for yourself:
It was a privilege to see the beautiful work that CRI is doing. It was an honor to share in it. We are grateful to know these babies’ lives —their stories—continue because of those who are living out the word of God:
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
James 1:27, New Living Translation
Please continue to pray.
2023 Team Leader
Let me first say what a privilege it is to serve alongside our high schoolers!
I appreciate them. They are respectful, well-behaved, fun, compassionate, mindful of their purpose on this trip, and hysterically funny at times! As I shared with them, seeing on Saturday morning how they ALL eagerly and attentively loved on those toddlers at Mimi’s orphanage was like seeing them exchange their phones for their hearts!
To catch you up, after the orphanage on Saturday we had an exciting journey to the 2 home-building locations. Our 2 teams pounded nails all afternoon until several framed walls were erected.
Sunday, we started out with a phenomenal multicultural worship at Access Church which is on site where we are being hosted. Everyone seemed to like that some worship songs were in Spanish and some were English, and the pastor was extremely passionate!
After lunch we ventured to the second of Mimi’s Orphanages that ministers to elementary-aged orphans and their younger siblings, if they have them. The kids greeted us by running and screaming out of their yellow house up the hill, cackling and smiling, throwing confetti then jumping into our kids’ arms!
Our hearts were jolted again by the real life stories of how these precious little ones have been brutally abused and abandoned. Again, our high-schoolers ran with them, colored with them, carried them, played games with them, and finished off the day by having a pizza party with them. Here are some precious memories of the afternoon:
Goodbyes were hard.
We came back to the center and a group of the teens led us all in worshiping our God that has given those orphans a new life.
Monday morning we are heading to a coffee farm, then back to the houses. Please keep praying!
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- Mark 10:45, English Standard Version
Coffee and Clavos (Nails)
If the best way to start a day is with a cup of Jo, it seemed appropriate to begin our day at a coffee plantation outside Antigua. There, we learned about the process of creating a perfect cup of coffee — from the history of the migrating seed to planting, harvesting, drying, roasting, packing, and sending to distributors around the world. After watching the process and sampling a cup of perfection, I believe we all have a greater appreciation for the amount of effort that goes into a “simple” cup of morning brew.
If only we had known how much energy we would need for the rest of the day! Perhaps we would have sampled more coffee.
In the afternoon, we returned to our worksites. Clanging and banging, the pounding of nails rang out across the mountainside. The sun was hot, the dust and dirt were plentiful, but the teamwork was tremendous. It was fun to hear multiple students exclaim over syncing their rhythm and speed of hammering with their teammates.
Amazing progress was made in these houses today as our students and chaperones worked every muscle in their hands and arms to build interior and exterior walls.
Building houses is sweaty, dirty work. We were happy to return to the center for showers before a delicious traditional dinner, made unusual by the fact that we cooked part of it! The CRI staff hosted us for their first team cooking class! Our students made tamales and a dessert that consisted of cooked and mashed plantains with black bean, cinnamon, sugar, and chocolate filling. So uniquely delicious!
Now, all are tucked in for the night. We return to our work tomorrow. The dust is intense, the air is dry, and some of our team’s allergies and sinuses are affected. Please pray for relief and continued good health for all!
Before I close this note, I want to say once again how proud I am of this team. They bring me tremendous joy, but more so, I know their Maker is pleased with them— not their good works, though they are commendable—but the fruit that is shown and is at the heart of their efforts: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”*
We have seen these over the past few days.
After working on our houses tomorrow, we have an opportunity to share God’s word and love with children from the village. Pray for us as we share a message on God as Creator. Pray for the children to understand and know they have a Father who created them and loves them.
Trip Leader and Arborbrook Faculty
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Galatians 5:22-23, NLT
Shout out today to our bus driver.
I wanted to show you how we have been traveling to and from our activities this week. It’s an hour long bus ride from the center to the town where we are building houses. Trust me when I say that driving in this country requires some expert level skills! Or as our students like to holler when our driver navigates through a narrow street with inches, er, no, an inch to spare: “Fuego!” (fire) Muy impresario!
Once we arrive at the small town of Santa Maria de Jesus, a line of tuktuks greet us and we jump in, three to a car, and travel up the mountain. It’s reminiscent of, but better and longer than, a theme park ride.
The last part of the trek to our worksite involves walking through the narrow cobblestone streets.
Today, our homes and families awaited us, and we set to work paneling the front entryways and window frames. We framed roof beams in preparation for the local men to add the corrugated tin roofs.
Tomorrow we will dedicate the houses to the families. They are very sweet families and we have enjoyed getting to know them this week. One of my favorite things to watch is our students practicing their Spanish speaking skills. It’s difficult to replicate real world experiences in a classroom. Here, they are stepping out of their comfort zones to listen, learn, comprehend, and speak.
Regardless of our broken attempts at communication, as we saw during our VBS afternoon, God’s love breaks down all barriers.
Our evening ended with our favorite taco truck and a surprise visit from the nannies and babies from the nearby orphanage.
Several of our students then helped with the bedtime routine. Precious!
Before completing my own bedtime routine, I want to end with another shoutout: Carina, Deirdre, Joe, Tim, Matt, and Blair have been AMAZING teammates and I am INCREDIBLY grateful for them. Were I to add pictures highlighting all the things they have done, you would see them working side by side with our students, laughing, conversing, teaching, and encouraging them. They have shared their stories and challenged our students to grow in their faith. They continue to love and serve our students so well. I cannot say enough about how much I’ve enjoyed being with them in Guatemala. They are kind, fun, and easy people to be around.
2023 Guatemala Team Leader
Today was another awesome day here in Guatemala.
We started the morning with a bus ride back to Santa Maria de Jesus to finish both of the house builds there. Each day when we've arrived in Santa Maria the bus has dropped us near the town center and we've taken Tuk Tuks, little 3 wheeled taxis that barely seat 3, up through the narrow streets to where the house builds are. If you're picturing a scene from Indiana Jones, that's exactly what it's like! Here is a video from this morning.
From there we've been splitting into two teams to work on each house. The people of Santa Maria get by with very little. All of the cooking is over a wood fire. All of their water is carried in 5 gallon jugs from one of several springs in town. Firewood is cut outside of town and hauled back via mule or on their backs. It's amazing to see how happy they appear with so little. Here is a video showing our walk into the property where we built house 2.
The block structure with two doors to the immediate left is a restroom on one side and shower on the other. You can see the house where the family currently lives (smiling kids in the doorway) on the right, just before we arrive at the house build. The current structure is made entirely of corrugated metal roofing, which is not great in either the heat or cold.
Our work today was mostly finishing touches like adding windows and a front door, assembling beds and simple furniture, and setting up some basic items for the family like a gravity fed water filter.
After finishing with the home setup, we had a time of dedication with the families in each house, which included scripture reading, singing and prayer. It was a very sweet time which ended with us handing the keys to each family. The pastor of the local church also joined and participated in the dedication. He shared this passage from Acts 20:34-35:
"You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Our students have been a constant example this week by working hard!
Videos from this morning are posted on the CRI Facebook Page if you'd like to see what is described above.
It was mid-afternoon by the time we left Santa Maria de Jesus for Antigua. In Antigua we split into our smaller travel groups and got to wander around and shop for a couple hours. Listening to some of the students "try" to haggle with vendors was hilarious! After shopping we all met back up for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, which was a great time.
Please pray for continued health and safety and a strong finish to a fantastic trip.
2023 Guatemala Chaperone