We have been asked this question many times. Often times people can have misconceptions about what it is like to come here to Guatemala and minister. Many people have this idea of a “missions trip” in their mind where they build things and do projects. While we sometimes do these types of projects when you come on a trip here it is not just a “missions trip”. In fact we try to not even use the term “missions trip” because it is more that just a project or an event. Our goal in bringing teams here is bigger than accomplishing a task or a project. Our goal is for each person that comes to invest in the lives of the people that we are serving here, our goal is for relationships to be formed and lives to be changed.
Missions was never intended to be narrowed down to a project or a task, but a life long pursuit of sharing the life changing hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This only happens as we form relationships and show and share the love of Jesus. While we do tasks and projects on our trips the goal is bigger than accomplishing the task it is all about relationships being formed and lives being changed! The picture above is an example of one relationship that has been formed between Rich and Beverly. Rich has been sponsoring Beverly for about 2 years. This has become more than just a sponsorship but he has built a relationship with her and now her family. He wrote letters, sent gifts and then last year he came down to visit and got to meet her family. She has been writing him letters and sent him a gift as well. This relationship has been beautiful to see. Now Rich is committed not just to helping her in the Art School which she just finished last October, but also to helping her complete all the education she wishes to receive! He is changing her lives in a significant way and giving her hope. Check out this video we made with him while he was her.
The culture here as you can imagine is much different than what we are used to in the United States. It is a relationship oriented culture and is heavily driven by this rather than schedules. So we always have schedules for our teams but we ask for flexibility as the schedule usually changes during the week. Some of the cultural differences you can expect other than this are the language difference. The primary language spoken here is Spanish and there are also several other Indian dialects spoken here as well. The people here are typically very friendly especially here in the village. You will normally be greeted each morning with “buenos dias” and “buenas tardes” in the afternoon and “buenas noches” after dark.
The location where we are is about 45 minutes southwest of Guatemala City in a small village called Magdalena. The drive from the airport is curving and uphill as we are driving into the mountains of Guatemala. It is a beautiful country with a lot of mountains and volcanoes. Guatemala is know as the “Land of the Eternal Spring” because it is like springtime year round here. The weather is beautiful most times but there is a rainy season. It rains from about May to October and is dry from November through April. Even in the rainy season it usually only rains 2-3 hours each afternoon. The temperature is about 65 during the day and 45 at night.
Safety is a concern here but isn’t it everywhere? If you are smart about how you handle yourself and treat others your security should not be a concern. We will ask you do to simple and smart things such as don’t go out by yourself or go out at dark. We will ask you to leave your valuables in the team houses. Things such as this will help keep you safe. Health concerns here can also be a challenge. But again if you are smart and don’t touch the animals, drink the water out of the tap and wash your hands often it is not usually a problem.
Team houses are at the Kunkel’s home and also at Carlos’ and Telma’s. Depending on the size of the teams you will be staying in one or the other of these homes. You do not come to Guatemala for a vacation but we try to make it is comfortable as possible. You will normally have hot water for your showers, electricity and even acess to Wifi even though we recommend you “unconnect” while you are here. Bedding is provided as well.
What will you do? Each of our teams spends time in our trade schools building relationships with the students and investing in them. We also do small projects to bless the students and their families. Some teams make chicken coops to help provide a small business for the family, build a kitchen or deliver pigs. We may also work in the schools cleaning, painting or doing light remodeling. We ask each person that comes to be flexible and willing to do whatever is asked of them even if it is not your “gift”. We also usually spend a half day in Antigua sight seeing and shopping. Whatever we do we always have lots of fun and lives are changed! Your life will be changed and the lives of those you are able to serve!
We love having teams come down and visit and serve with us! Please consider coming down and serving in this capacity.
Contact Ben Kunkel for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or go here.