If you could leave your home and everything familiar, and immerse yourself in another culture, would you? And what would happen if you did that? Two groups, one from McKinney, Texas and one from Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan did that and found out exactly what occurs. As you’ll see through photos and hear about through testimonies, it was a decision that they did not regret. In fact, they would tell you that it was one of the best decisions of their lives. For those who have come multiple times and those who are coming for the very first time, the experience is always memorable.
So, what happens during a Hope of the Pokomchí mission trip? The essence of a trip is serving others with love. It is not just North Americans who serve; it is a mutual process. While you are serving through donating your time and money, travelling from afar, and building a project, the Pokomchí, likewise, are serving through warmly welcoming you, teaching you about their culture, and sharing their resources with you. Love is shared between the two cultures during smiles, project builds, cultural activities, fun and games with the children, and more. Speaking different languages is not a barrier in this atmosphere of love and respect. A smile is universal!
The McKinney team of 8 was in-country in June and served through building water tanks and latrines in the village of Cerro Verde. Many on this team have been coming year after year and each year the loving relationships grow and spread. There is no better way to get a glimpse of this, than the comments from some of the team members, below.
“It’s not easy work, but it is fulfilling work. I really didn’t expect the things that happened while I was here. I didn’t think I would connect with the kids as fast as I did. I didn’t think that I was gonna really miss this place. Here on the last day, thinking about how we’re gonna leave and this is the last time that we’re going to be in this village for a while. And me being the first time, that saddens me. I can’t imagine how it is for all of them that have been here for a multiple number of years. What I really want to say is that this needs to continue. People need to keep showing up. People need to keep donating. Because these people are in need and we have the opportunity to do something about it. So why wouldn’t we?”
“The opportunity to work in the same village, over and over, has led me to have many, many friends here and to build relationships that I feel that relay tribute to God’s love and power in this world, in this village, as well as in our church. The experiences I’ve had here are immeasurable. I’ve grown so much in my faith and in my spirituality, just by knowing the people here and by working on projects with them side by side. It’s just made a huge difference in my life.”
“I believe this is my 8th trip. When I first came I had no idea what was involved. I just wanted to see what it was like. After my first trip, I just fell in love with the Pokomchí people, especially the kids. It was just such a wonderful experience. The Pokomchí people are so nice, so giving.”
The Meadow Lake youth team of 15 were here in August and also worked really hard. They built latrines and a water tank in Cerro Verde, and constructed half of a new upper level retaining wall at the Shekinah Educational Center. The mutual serving with love blossomed yet again!
For most of them, this was their first time with us. No matter what age or experience they had, they served whole-heartedly, freely opening up with their team members, Hope of the Pokomchí staff, and with the Pokomchí people. Saying goodbye at the end of their trip was difficult and there were lots of tears, but many happy memories.
If you are thinking of coming on a mission trip, we hope reading this is an encouragement to you and excites you to join us in Guatemala. If you can’t come, there are still ways to help! You can pray for those going. You can support them financially if you are able. Through working together and putting our confidence in God, what we thought was impossible can be totally transformed into a good thing. We invite you to read the testimonies below.
“We came to Guatemala and I really wasn’t sure what to expect and what an amazing experience! I’ve learned a lot from the Pokomchí and just how important culture is.”
“My experience here in Guatemala has been excellent. I’ve loved to see all the kids, families, and Pokomchí people in their communities. It’s just been so great working with the ASOSAP group; to see all the projects that they’re doing and the work that they’re doing for God and for the Pokomchí people. Everything has been so amazing and I will always remember this. I think everyone should come and experience this. It’s great to work with a team, just to be together serving and helping the people here.”
“I’m so happy I got the chance to go on this trip. It was a really great experience because I learnt so much of the way of life and the culture of Guatemala. My favorite part was when we would go to the village to build things for families. I enjoyed listening to the kids saying our names and learning English words, and seeing how excited they would get when they noticed their brand new bathrooms. I was taken away by all of the things I learnt this week and I hope one day I’ll get the chance to go again.”
“I have always been excited to go on the Guatemala mission trip because I knew about it since I started youth group. When my turn came around, I didn’t think I wanted to come anymore, but then my parents made me and I am extremely grateful. I am kind of lazy at home and I was scared about the work. When we were doing the work, it was hard work, but once we were done, you felt really good because you knew you were helping and serving God. The people there were so nice. The connection we got with them was great. Even though it was hard to communicate, I felt like I had a better connection with them than I do with some people in Canada that I can actually talk English with. I will forever be grateful that I was able to go on this trip and definitely will do it again.”
And finally, by serving with love, each team greatly contributed to empowering the Pokomchí and improving their lives. Through the water tanks and latrines, they can lead healthier lives. With the retaining wall, those furthering their education at the Shekinah Center can do so in a location that is safe and secure. Also, seeing others come from far away and work so hard inspires the Pokomchí to continue working diligently, serving others, and taking advantage of the learning opportunities that come their way.