Guatemala Mission (Part Two The Indigenous People)

Part One of our journey centered in the squalor of the densely populated Guatemala city.

The next leg of our journey described in this concluding article involved a 40 minute morning flight to Santiago Lago de Atitlan which was town on lake Atitlan west of Guatemala city. The views were so spectacular I totally forgot to be afraid. We could only ride three at a time. Pastor Matt, Michelle, and I volunteered to go on the first flight. We landed on a grass landing strip which made for a rather bouncy landing.

I often wonder why the most beautiful places in the world seem to be so poverty stricken.

Feeding Program

When we arrived our job was to work with some pastors in the area clearing out a section of land that would later be used for growing food for a feeding program. They don't have farm equipment therefore land is cleared by hand and our particular task for the day was digging up the root balls of old trees so that new Avocado trees could be planted.

They will begin with avocado trees because there is no one to tend the crops at this time therefore weeds would take over and most of the produce would likely be stolen.

Another great reason to start with Avocados is because they are said to be a perfect food nutritionally speaking not to mention these trees grow well in the volcanic rich soils of the Guatemalan forests. The land was donated to the mission and the plans are to use it for this feeding program in this much needed area.

Notice this little one holding a machete.  Children are taught to use them as early as 4 years old.
Notice this little one holding a machete. Children are taught to use them as early as 4 years old.

Malnutrition in Guatemala

Most of the indigenous Mayan people are malnourished according to Hormel Foods "Inside" magazine

  • Guatemala has the highest rate of Chronic malnutrition in our hemisphere
  • Nearly half of all children under age 5 are stunted - the highest rate in the world
  • The rate of chronic child malnutrition in Guatemala is higher than many countries in Africa
  • More than 75% of the people live in poverty

Hormel in partnership with "Food For the Poor" has made a product called "Spammy" a fortified turkey spread to help address this problem as well. It is high in protein and fortified with essential vitamins and minerals and Hormel has committed to deliver 1 million cans of "Spammy" each year to needy families for 3 years.

This is a temporary solution and thank God for it. In conjunction with these other more permanent feeding programs like "Life Builders International" (Jason and Tressa's ministry) many families will be nourished.

Technology

Sarah Lou was a young lady from the city that came with us on this venture. She spoke English extremely well. As you can see from the photo she is talking on her cell phone in the middle of a Guatemalan forest. I was shocked that there was signal where we were. Jason later informed us that Guatemala has the highest per capita cell phone use in the world. This was confirmed on wikipedia that also states that

"Guatemala has the highest rates of people that can access internet, telephone communication and television communication"

I did not see any cell phone use amongst the indigenous people.

Source

Maximon

We were scheduled to stay two nights in a hotel in Santiago. There were no sheets on the bed simply a blanket and pillows. The showers had on demand heating units in them. This is not safe according to my electrician husband. He claims people have died from such things. Donna just so happened to touch one while showering and did receive a jolt from it. There are apparently no building codes in Guatemala.

Our evening activity centered around gathering people in Santiago to the main square to hear a message about forsaking Maximon, their idol of worship.Worshipers offer him alcohol and tobacco in supposed return for good fortune on their lives. There are Christian's within this community we were in but they were afraid to speak out about forsaking Maximon. It made us slightly uneasy because the local pastors and elders would not attend or come with us but instead sent their young girls to show us around and interpret for us.

Their clothing is so stunningly beautiful and colorful
Their clothing is so stunningly beautiful and colorful

Call to Forsake Other Gods

These beautiful young ladies to the right escorted us through the city by twos to invite people to come to the meeting. This was extremely challenging in that not only did we not speak very much Spanish but Spanish is their second language. Their native language is Sutwhil. We resorted to our own made up version of sign language. We had a few communication errors that resulted in about 20 minutes of hysterical laughter for all of us the Guatemalan girls included.

Pastor Matt did a stellar job of preaching unashamedly the value of worshiping the one and only true God worthy of our praise and encouraged the people to put away their false idols and fully surrender to the King of Kings.

Random Cow
Random Cow
Gustavo Sporting Poisonous Worm
Gustavo Sporting Poisonous Worm
"Arise and Shine and Give God the Glory"
"Arise and Shine and Give God the Glory"

Nature

The following day we worked more on the tree stumps and doing some work on the landing strip. We filled in divets at the end of the strip with the surrounding hillside dirt.

One of the things I loved about working in the forest was the cows that seemed to wander around aimlessly unattended.

We also ran into a poisonous caterpillar. I happen to like caterpillars and was going to pick it up when Gustavo, another young man from the city who accompanied us, shouted "mui mall!!" I knew this meant very bad and opted to leave it alone.

And there was a very large hive of some sort that we chose not to disturb.

On the plus side during lunch we munched on some wild raspberries we found in the bushes. And I noticed some morning glories on our way up the trail to the site we were working on that were also confirmation of the Lord's presence with me on this journey. Before we left I was seeking His face for guidance and I kept noticing morning glories. I kept asking what they meant. When I saw them I knew that He was going to use them later to reassure me.

Children's Ministry

Our final evening in Santiago consisted of ministry to the children of the village of Tzan Chaj. We performed a dance and a skit for them. Michelle made crowns for the little girls to wear and Jason preached a corresponding message to go with it about God's incredible love for them. When we passed out the little tiaras the older women wanted them too. It was quite touching.

Afterwards we had hygiene education about tooth brushing and the children were given tooth brushing supplies to take home with them.

A final note on the indigenous people.

These people are a beautiful people and a hard working people. When we were digging stumps the local pastors outworked us all. They were there before we came and they were there when we left.

I was fascinated by their dress, culture, and lifestyle. How they washed their clothes in the lake and carried their laundry, corn, and other supplies in baskets on their heads.

I noticed that some seemed to enjoy having their picture taken, especially the children but others did not like it. We for the most part tried ask permission for photos.

Guatemalan Students Praying for Us
Guatemalan Students Praying for Us

Our Final Missions in the City

Our final assignments on the trip were performances at local schools. We did dances with the help of Candy and Joselyne who did an awesome job of working the crowd. The children seemed to really enjoy it. In one of the Christian schools we went to the kids actually prayed for us. I was stunned and moved at their comfort and willingness to do so. Oh how beautiful and moving that was.

Our final evening, Jason and Tressa took us out for pizza in the nice part of the city. It was very much like the U.S. with all the common fast food and shopping centers we would have here. Each culture was like stepping into a warp of some kind.

To finalize my trip I leave with a final picture of one of the most effective ministers I saw on our trip the Patton's little boy hugging His Guatemalan neighbor. The Patton children are all Guatemalan citizens because they were born there and they are bi-lingual. Jason and Tressa speak predominantly Spanish in their home.

Thank you for sharing my journey. I highly recommend a once in a life time trip to somewhere that will stir your heart to the harsh realities we only imagine. God bless the Patton's for choosing to live there.

May we also live in gratitude for having a home and enough food to eat and may we all find ways to share what we have with those who don't.

Brenda the office manager standing by the sign that says "Your Kingdom Come"  It was what I prayed before I left for Guatemala
Brenda the office manager standing by the sign that says "Your Kingdom Come" It was what I prayed before I left for Guatemala

Make us A Prayer by Rita Springer

© 2011 Tamarajo

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Comments 20 comments

lifegate profile image

lifegate 5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

TJ,

Thank you for sharing your journey with us. My guess is you'll never be the same--Am I right?


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Yes Lifegate I actually was quite humbled by the experience especially when the children prayed for us.

I also was amazed at how content the people were with what they had. The children seemed happy in spite of the hard work they were required to do.

Guatemala is not known for their people being depreessed partly I think because their hearts are set on survival as most were born into difficulty and learn to deal with it early on. Another reason I think is because children are contributing members of the family every one has a purpose. Here we our family lives revolve around the needs and desires of the children there life revolves around the needs of the family as a whole. Just some spare thoughts on the whole thing.

Thanks for reading and commenting.


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

Tamarajo,

What a wonderful experience you shared with us. My second marriage was to a man from Guatemala and I learned a whole lot from him about the people. I also worked for many years with migrants from Guatemala. When the opportunity rose to travel to Guatemala, I chose not to due to the constant guerilla warfare going on at that time. Maybe one day I will get to travel there. Thanks for sharing.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Hi Faithful Daughter. It was a wonderful experience and I am thrilled to share it.

I don't think I would have gone at that time of all their civil war events they were having either.

I watched a documentary on it and my heart is even more grieved for the indigenous people for all that they suffered during those tumultuous times.

I should have added to the hub and may do so later when I get some time is about the prejudices there, mainly the Spanish viewing the Mayan as less than and how the government at one point sought to destroy them in brutal massacres that occurred not so long ago.

How interesting that you married a Guatemalan and came to know of their culture and ways.

Do go should you get the opportunity. I think there are many other mission bases down there that can provide relatively safe bases to launch from.

Thank you so much for stopping by. I was blessed by you sharing your experience.


tinamarie9884 5 years ago

Hello Tamarajo, Wow, absolutely beautiful, I am happy that you took the time to share the events with us while you were there. Blessings to all of you!!


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Thank you tinamarie. I am glad you liked the trip. Blessings to you for stopping by and viewing it. It is a pleasure to share it.

Blessed by your visit and encouraging comment.


exjwlaurie 5 years ago

This is so beautiful, what an adventure for you! I know that you were probably changed by the experience, even more than they were for having you there! What a lovely and precious people they are. So content and humble, grateful for every morsel of food.

They probably enjoy their lives each day--far more than we do here in America, where riches bring mostly strife, and abundance is squandered. I think your journey was something you will never forget, and these people will be in your daily prayers!

God Bless you girl!


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Yes Laurie I am sure I got more out of the trip than they did as far as personal growth is concern. And yes precious they were.

I think they are more content with what they do have than we are in our culture but I know they suffer in spite of that. They are an oppressed people who do need prayer and salvation.

I definitely won't forget it.

Blessed to have you stop by and comment.


C-Bless profile image

C-Bless 5 years ago from Canada

AWESOME...AWESOME...AWESOME!!


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

C-Bless thank you so much for your visit and enthusiastic comment.


Betty Johansen profile image

Betty Johansen 5 years ago

Guatemala sounds like a land of contrasts with cell phones and malls on one side and malnutrition and lack of farm equipment on the other. And there are worship of false gods and worship of the true God. I should think it would be enough to make your head spin - like stepping into a warp, as you put it. But I'm sure that, overall, the experience was an amazing blessing. Thank you for sharing it with us!


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Yes Betty the experience was amazing and the contrasting cultures was strange. There were the indigenous the extremely poor city dwellers and the rich minority and all lving in this small country you could step into any one of them and be immersed into completely different lifestyles.

Seeing the contrast helped me to realize that this was much like a microcosm of the world. In the US we are insulated from really seeing or knowing the enormity of poverty and oppression In guatemala all you have to do is cross a street and it is in your face.

We really are blessed and I pray that the Guatemalan people will find peace for their land and people.

Thanks for coming along on my journey Betty.


no body profile image

no body 5 years ago from Rochester, New York

I am convinced that trips like this are viewed as treasures by the Lord. Since God is a debtor to no man (or woman) I'm sure He gave you more blessings than you know. Bless you for loving the Gospel so much. Bless you for being an example for me and so many others. Love you Tam.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Yes the trip was definitely a treasure and I was also was super blessed by the venture. I truly admire those who chose to live on the mission field and experience daily what the people they are serving experience. I think that is just like what Jesus did. He left His heavenly home to become very uncomfortable with us that we might find salvation in Him.

Thank you Dave for your visit and comment.


VOICE CIW 5 years ago

God bless you Tamarajo, thank you for sharing your experience. This is what furthering the Gospel is all about. Not only is God blessing the people through you, but also, God is blessing you through the people. Our God is a Awesome God! Let the Lord keep on blessing you. I love you in the Lord.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Thank you Voice It was a pleasure to share this experience and. God truly is awesome and worthy of our praise and service.

Thank you for coming by and sharing my journey with me. : )


cristina327 profile image

cristina327 5 years ago from Manila

Excelleny hub. I find it very inspiring and very encouraging. Doing missions truly brings real joy to us as christians. i am also longing that one day I can do a short term mission. Thank you for sharing this beautiful journey here at HUbpages. Remain blessed always. Best regards.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Hi cristina, I am glad you liked the hub. The trip really was a joy and I do think I got much more out of it than I was able to give in what we went there to do. I think a short term mission is a great way to give us the fresh faith perspective that sometimes gets lost in the daily routine of life.

Thank you so much for your inspiring visit.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

This Hub is very touching. I have a good friend, Dr Skip Moen, who works in Guatemala quite often. There are many important lessons in your article. Thank you for the journey.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 4 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Glad you enjoyed the article James. I did learn quite a few important lessons from this journey. It was an experience of a life time. What a beautiful people. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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