Guatemala: A Place for Service and Fellowship
For more information, contact Jayne Mittan by sending an inquiry to the church office at [email protected]
Each year, members of Trinity UMC travel to Panajachel, Guatemala, on a mission trip to serve the needy people in this Central American country. Trinity has been working in Guatemala since 2011 with the in-country ministry of Porch de Salomon run by Lloyd and Melanie Monroe. You can read more about Salomon’s Porch at www.porchdesalomon.org
The purpose of our trip is threefold:
- To build a house for an impoverished family
- To provide medical care for those who rarely, if ever, see a doctor
- To conduct a bible school for hundreds of children.
Members of the team begin their preparation for the fall trip in the early spring. Monthly meetings allow the team to learn about
- Costs involved in the trip
- Needed immunizations required
- What to expect once they arrive in Guatemala
These meetings also allow members to get to know each other in a social setting so once they are in Guatemala, they will be traveling as a team and not a group of people who may only know each other as a friendly face in church.
Our Friends Whom We Serve
The indigenous Mayans have very little support from their government. Many live in extreme poverty with little hope of ever improving their lot in life. A typical Mayan works in the cornfields for 10 – 12 hours a day and makes the equivalent of $2.00 – $3.00 for that day’s labor.
Our last family we assisted was run solely by a woman who worked three jobs for a total of $30 a month that had to support a family of five. Most Mayan homes are rudimentary and are usually made from mud and corn stalks and have corrugated tin roofs. Rarely is there electricity in the house, many lack running water and most homes have a dirt floor. There is little or no furniture in the house with family members sleeping on the dirt floors. If there is any provision for sanitation, it is an outhouse a short distance from the house.
What We Provide
With money raised by the Trinity team members through silent auctions, dinners, and the generosity of church members, we are able to provide a new house for a family. The house is made of concrete blocks and has been designed to withstand the tremors from frequent earthquakes. These cinder block homes have concrete floors, at least two bedrooms, and running water with a filter system that removes many of the impurities found in the water.
Each house includes a bathroom with a shower and toilet all tied into a septic system. The house also has an eco-friendly cooking stove that uses 90% less wood than their previous stove. Additionally, our financial support allows Porch de Salomon to provide enough furniture and bedding so every family member has a bed with linens. With the efforts of our team, we believe we have planted the seed of hope for this family, so that one day a member of this household may find the means to raise themselves out of this crushing poverty.
Along with the construction team, Trinity has been blessed to be able to send physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and dentists to Guatemala to meet the medical needs of these people. Many of the Mayans suffer from medical conditions long ignored due to the lack of services in the rural areas of Guatemala. Each day, the medical team travels from Panajachel into outlying villages to attend to the needs of the community. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and other treatable conditions have created a tremendous need for our team’s services.
On any given day, the medical team sees upwards to 150 people. Nurses triage each patient and assign him or her to the physician or physician assistant who can best treat the malady. After the individual is diagnosed, medicine is provided to help the patient. Should the problem be chronic, follow-up by Porch de Salomon is provided.
Another pressing need in Guatemala is for dental work. Even though there is tremendous poverty, Mayans appear to use some of their money for food and drink items high in sugar content. Without any dental services provided in these rural areas, a large majority of the population suffers chronic pain from teeth full of decay. The dental teams spend their days numbing and then pulling decayed teeth. On average the dental team pulls teeth from 70-80 patients a day.
Last, but certainly not least is the effort of our team members to bring a Bible school to the children in the villages our medical team visits. As families gather to see a doctor or dentist, great patience is needed. Those in need of medical services start arriving at the designated area long before the team does. Given that the Mayan culture places a high regard for the family, many in need of services bring their children with them.
To keep the children occupied while the mother or father is waiting to receive medical services, team members provide a Bible school. Children are entertained with a clown who juggles and does magic tricks, games such as sack races and three-legged races, as well as a relevant Bible story. For the last few years, the Bible school team has been doing the story of Jonah and the Whale. Besides talking about God’s great graces with Jonah, the children also have an opportunity to “build” a whale with a bar of soap, a washcloth and cutouts that look like fins. The children and their parents have great time learning about this wonderful Bible story. At the end of the day they receive the soap and washcloth to take home and hopefully continue learning about hygiene.
There are many tangible benefits that are provided to the people of Guatemala. However, many team members receive more from the experience than they ever imagined. Many return from Guatemala with the feeling that their experiences have brought them closer to our Lord for helping the lost, the least, the last.
We also support our Sister Church in Fomento, Cuba, by
- Writing letters to church members through our pen-pal program.
- Participating in mission trips, taking supplies to church members, and offering our help to their community.