Guatemalan Adventure

By Gail Lee

Guatemalan Adventure – January 30 – February 13, 2010

If we had to use just one word to describe our recent Christian and Missionary Alliance Work Project Mission Trip to Guatemala we would have to say “Transformational!”  Was the work-site transformed? Yes!! But, most of all we were transformed.

January 30th Larry and Shanon Weselake, Therese Etherington and ourselves, Bruce and Gail Lee left Winnipeg airport with 10 – 50 suitcases of vacuum packed clothes for a girls orphanage, as well as tools and supplies for the worksite. Thank you to everyone who participated!

We were fortunate to have Joseph and Helen Lee, Alliance Missionaries, look after our food, local travel and accommodation needs.  Some of us were housed in an apartment above the Chinese Alliance Church and some at the Lee’s condo, a few blocks away. Most of our lunch and suppers were made in the kitchen at the church.

The on site work consisted of bending rebar in to stirrups, making saw horses, and straightening nails. We were also to transport 1,000 concrete blocks (and the associated sand, gravel and cement for making mortar) from the street level to the roof level. We did this by way of a pulley system that we constructed. Some wooden plank forms at roof level on the outer side of the building also had to be removed.  We did this by hanging over the edge and prying them away with a crow bar. Only one minor slip-up occurred when a plank dropped onto the tin fence surrounding the building – no damage just a bit bent. We then proceeded to tie the rebar stirrups to the uprights and lay the concrete blocks to form 2 outer walls.
The team gelled incredibly and the camaraderie and laughter was infectious. The National workers have so little but are so joyful.  Domingo, the site boss, was taken to the hospital twice while we were there with a kidney stone and he kept coming back to the work-site saying “The Lord.” They all have a very strong faith and continue to pray that the Lord will send International workers to provide the additional energy and funds to complete the project.

Some of us traveled to the orphanage to deliver the clothes we took for the girls, ages 2-18.  Corbin, the administrator gave us a tour and explained his role. The girls have been apprehended from abusive home situations and placed in the orphanage. They receive spiritual, relational, and everyday management skills as well as education. They are assisted in finding jobs and blending back into their Guatemalan lifestyle.

We took a day trip into the mountains near Tecpan to view the site of a previous Alliance Men’s Work project which began water system improvements and a meeting house for the local people.  Limited funds have prevented the completion of that project. Desire to return and finish this project grew in the hearts of some of our workers who had been there 3 years previous. This trip allowed us to meet many of the local people and distribute toys to the children.  They are such carefree, happy people despite their poor living conditions. We spent the night at nearby Lake Atitlan, a large lake occupying a volcanic basin, in central Guatemala. We stayed at an American Camp on the shoreline and enjoyed a boat trip the next day to San Pedro and Santiago.  We were able to shop from the local people selling their wares on the streets and tour ruins from past earthquakes.

The picture below shows the completion of our 2 week experience. Once the concrete walls are completed to 8 feet and a tin roof is put in place, church services will be held on this level.  The second story will be dormitories for rural pastors to come for training and the main level will be Alliance offices.

Early mornings, long days, hot sun and hard work paled in comparison to the awesome experience we encountered.  Working along side eight fellow Christians from Alberta, Victoria and Yellowknife and four amazing Guatemalan Nationals proved to us once again that we all serve the same awesome God despite personality, racial and language differences.

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