Though our programs operate all year round, thanks to our local teachers and coordinators, the highlight of the year for many of the team is the annual trip. Usually the first or second week in March, a group of approximately 35 pay their own expenses to go to Chichicastenango, Guatemala. Once there, they divide into a Wellness and a Developmental Team.
The Medical and Dental portion of the group works through Salud y Paz, a nearby clinic, which provides transportation, interpreters, and supplies for the team to go into a different remote village each of 5 days. They examine and treat up to 600 people in that time, providing care for those who may never have seen a doctor or dentist in their life. Diagnoses run the gamut of what is seen at home; however, respiratory and waterborne illnesses are the leading causes of death in this area.
Due to the contaminated water and the prevalence of inexpensive sugared drinks, tooth decay is rampant. It is no wonder that a dentist is called “el extractor” by the children.
Meanwhile, the Developmental Team does those things which cannot be done remotely – Community Relationships and examination, evaluation and implementation of programs. Particularly for new members of the team, they build a stove, distribute water filters, and make micro-loans. Bible School and Sports Camps for children, as well as Women’s Bible Studies are conducted. Scholarship children are visited in their homes; recipients of stoves or water filters are visited to ensure they are properly in use; Saturday Classes and the Learning Center are evaluated.
But we are DIFFERENT, even on our mission trips.
We are not there to work FOR them. They are more qualified than we are to do the labor involved in most of our tasks (with the exception of our Medical Team, of course!) We never want to deny their dignity or sense of ownership.
Our lodging is in a lovely hotel with flowers and antiques everywhere and birds in the lovely courtyards. The food served there is always prepared in consideration of our special needs. The rooms are very comfortable with private baths in each. This would not be possible without the wonderful owner of the inn who supports our efforts to enrich the lives of those we serve.