“Angels!” On the first morning of our visit to Chichicastenango, Guatemala, representatives from the nearby John Wesley School greeted our work group to bless us and pray. Recognizing our team and St. Luke’s for our years of work in the area, they called us “angels.” Angels abounded in and around “Chichi” that week, but they were evident in the endlessly happy and playful children, and through the eyes of their parents, whose deep gratitude was obvious every day. We were simply workers blessed to be there and share in the joy.
"The work group – familiar faces, new faces, all with the biggest hearts, wanting to make a difference in some people’s lives, which will hopefully enhance them forever….coming to Guatemala, I see the babies’ faces and young mothers, hoping they will have a better future…or maybe it starts with their babies."
Monday through Friday, the team worked. Three houses, in Chichi and two neighboring villages, were substantially completed, with roofing and floors to be added by future teams including a St. Luke’s youth team. We mixed mortar and added about six feet of elevation to each concrete block structure. Whenever they were able to visit with us the families who would be receiving these shelters were as gracious and helpful as possible. It’s difficult not to be excited about your task when you’re greeted in the early morning by a tiny child, perhaps three years old, holding a trowel and giving you a look that says “Let’s go!”!
“You can see in the faces of the very young principal and teachers their earnest efforts to educate and nurture that body of children The young children pressed forward as they happily accepted the break from class to present a program of thanks, play games, and just be kids….To me, education equals opportunity. And the work done by St. Luke’s and Pura Vida to promote the education of children lays the cornerstone of opportunity.” – work team member journal entry.
The team also was able to spend time with sisters Connie and Helen from the Maryknoll Contemplative Community in Lemoa. The sisters have worked to aid and educate the poor in the region for decades. As inspirational as the children were on this trip, so was sister Helen, working hard at age 99.
Members of St. Luke’s have supported Pura Vida’s work in Guatemala with work trips since 2005, building dozens of houses and sponsoring hundreds of students. The blessings of this initiative flow both ways: “It is truly amazing what motivated and compassionate Christians can accomplish in one week in Guatemala. I’ve enjoyed seeing our team bond together in a spirit of service and make a difference…one family at a time”. – team member journal entry.
The St. Luke’s Guatemala mission team members change lives - often their own – as they bring housing, education and hope to some of the world’s most needy.