Sunday, October 30th
Today was our first day of our Guatemala trip. We got up early and traveled to Chichicastenango. “Chichi” is a Mayan City known for its K'iche' Maya culture. Students took a tour of Chichi, exploring the Church of Santo Tomas which is built on top of an old Mayan temple; here Christians and Mayans alike worship in their own ways alongside each other.
We also traveled to the local cemetery where families were decorating and adorning the tombs of their loved ones, getting ready for All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
The market of Chichicastenango is one of the most colorful and vibrant indigenous markets in the Western Hemisphere. Students spent part of the afternoon, exploring this important, historic market which pre-dates the arrival of the Spaniards.
Monday, October 31st
Today was our first day visiting the ministries and missions where we were invited to serve. Proyecto Genesis is a relatively new ministry, started four years ago by Ricardo Armas and his wife Betsy. Ricardo is slowly building a network of support that is helping him serve over 100 underprivileged children by supporting their nutrition, health, and education. Ricardo’s first priority is to provide students with one nutritional meal a day. In Ricardo’s words, “If they are not nourished, than the children cannot concentrate on studies, and many get sick.” Ricardo shared that a majority of the children that visit his program get very little nutrition. Sometimes they will get bread and coffee in the morning and bread and coffee for supper. Ricardo also mentioned that over the past four years, he has seen a great change in hope in the children. He mentioned, “They used to come here and talk about someday leaving for the United States or driving a Chicken Bus as their two options for the future. Now the children are talking about being doctors and veterinarians and lawyers.” Project Genesis struggles to keep the doors open. Our students raised over $2,000 for Ricardo which will allow him to keep his doors open for many months to come.
Tuesday, November 1st
Tuesday marked “All Saints Day” as well as the 2nd day of the Mayan Days of the Dead. What a great time to be in Guatemala! Our group traveled to Supango, Sacatequepez, where we attended one of the most renowned signature events of Guatemala; the Festival de Barriletes Gigantes, or the Supango Kite Festival. What a great day! We spent the day watching kite-makers complete and raise their massive, but very detailed barriletes (kites)! It was truly a spectacular and surreal cultural experience. We also visited the local cemetary, where once again we were privileged to witness a unique cultural aspect of Mayan and Aztec culture; the practice of celebrating the lives of those who have passed before us, during the Days of the Dead.
Wednesday, November 2nd
On Wednesday, half of our group traveled to Proyecto Genesis, and the other half went the opposite direction to an orphanage that is near and dear to the hearts of many Grovers who have traveled there: Luz de Maria is a home for abandoned children. It is directed by Dinora Palacios, a committed mother of three children who has opened her doors to countless infants, toddlers and youngsters over the years. Currently, Luz de Maria serves over 60 children. Luz de Maria is committed to meeting the physical, social and spiritual needs of the children who live there. Luz de Maria also has significant financial needs, as they receive no help from the government. Part of our group worked to install toilets and take care of other maintenance needs. Others painted Luz de Maria’s newly renovated classrooms, and others spent the day rocking, hugging, and playing with the precious children.
We also started a project at Proyecto Genesis on Wednesday, which included clearing and hauling the ruins of a nearby home to make way for the beginning of a small building which will initially serve as a learning center for the children of Proyecto Genesis.
Thursday, November 3rd
Today, our group was spread out over the 3 ministries we are supporting; Proyecto Genesis, Luz de Maria orphanage and Luz de Fatima Orphanage. Along with the most important part of the trip; (spending quality time with the children) students were very active with projects at all thre sites. This was our first visit to Luz de Fatima Orphanage, a home in Guatemala City that serves over 35 children… many babies and toddlers. At Luz de Fatima, our team prepared a worksite. Through fundraising at Oak Grove, we were able to purchase materials to turn a 2nd floor terrace into a play room for the infants and toddlers. We also continued projects at Luz de Maria and Proyecto Genesis.
Friday, November 4th
Today, our groups visited Luz de Fatima and Luz de Maria. Part of our group took on a huge job, organizing a donations supply room at Luz de Maria ! And of course, our team had time to play with and say “Hasta Luego” to the kiddos at the orphanage. At Luz de Fatima, we began construction on a play room for the infants and toddlers.
Mission Trip to Guatemala
Enjoy these amazing photos below sent from the 2015 Guatemala Mission!
Mission Trip to Rehoboth, New Mexico, March 2015
Mission Trip to Hidalgo, Texas, April 2014
ENTRY #1 Things are going soooo well and the kids and adults (41 in the group) are learning so much, experiencing so much and growing in faith with each moment we are able to interact with the people of Guatemala.
Today we had multiple service opportunities. We had two primary groups. The first group stayed at the NPH orphanage to work with the kids and worked on finishing a guesthouse (masonry, concrete work and leveling the lot)
The second group went to a near by town to work with kids at Open Windows, a reading and learning facility for under-privileged children. While a smaller group worked to build a tin house for a mother and her children in the near by town. We experienced true poverty today, but in the midst of it all the people are so loving.
In the evening we spent time with some orphanage children to just hang out. To say the day was impactful for everyone is an understatement. Our evening devotion time is spent reflecting and learning about each other’s experiences. Smaller group discussions allow us to bond with other individuals in our party while exploring our faith at a deeper level.
ENTRY #2 The following day the students divided into their groups. The first group stayed at the orphanage and did various projects. Some of the kids got to help in the English classrooms, some worked with special needs children, and some worked at the Montessori school (on campus) and yet others continued the building project at the orphanage.
The other group did a major painting project at a local school (some of the paint even found it’s way onto the
walls). Shane and Errol have formed a special bond with the local carpenter that has turned into a new tin house, an updated tin house, and another project in store for tomorrow.
This evening we shared a bonfire with music and dancing involved. All of the orphanage kids were so outgoing and wanted to dance with us. We have a new saying . . . instead of “dance like there is no one watching”, we now say “Dance like your at a Guatemalan orphanage”. It’s so fun to see the relationships that are forming in such a short time.
A major soccer match preceded our evening devotions. Tomorrow will be our last day at
the orphanage and I’m sure it will be a tearful departure.
ENTRY #3 Update from Guatemala...just some mild stomach maladies along with some bumps and scrapes. All in all we are in very good health.
We again divided into two groups. One group went to the “Open Windows” project to tour the village and see the results of some builds that we paid for and assisted in building during the week. It was incredible to see the results and to feel true gratitude from the recipients. This group also worked with the kids at Open Windows. All the kids are so enthusiastic and well behaved.
The second group stayed at the orphanage and continued to work on the building project there while also spending time with the kids, especially the special needs children. The program they have for special needs is really quite amazing. This group had to pack the luggage for both groups (Momma Kim and Momma Alice made sure every bag was accounted for)
The two groups met up in Antigua where we at dinner and had our daily devotion. Half way through the trip it made sense to concentrate on the virtue of patience in our devotions.
It was so hard to leave the NPH orphanage and the people that we have had a chance to experience through Open Windows. We feel so blessed to have experienced what we have in such a short time.
Oak Grove sophomores and juniors had and amazing mission trip to Hidalgo County in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. While in Texas the students learned about border issues, assisted 3 families in improving their housing, and worked with the Ozanam Center, a home that has historically housed refugees from Central America, and currently serves as a refuge for the homeless population of South Texas.
Students also had the opportunity to work with Project Arise. Project Arise is a program that serves impoverished families in South Texas as well. Thanks to the Oak Grove community for their support and prayers.
The students had an itinerary of what the trip should look like, but that itinerary changed according to what the Holy Spirit wanted the itinerary to look like. Bob Noel, Director of Student Leadership firmly believes this as he met with a neighboring pastor while there and she shared her ministry and how committed her church is to helping the children of their community to break the cycle of poverty through education and hope in Christ. She asked if our students would meet with her youth and discuss life.
Mission Trip Memories!
• Exploring the River Walk and The Alamo in the beautiful city of San Antonio. Eating AMAZING authentic Mexican food.
• Touring the Ozanam Center in Brownsville, a refuge for immigrants and homeless families. They did some work there as well.
• Taking part in the teen service worship, where they sang bilingual songs! Grovers performed a skit for the children and then made necklaces, bracelets and drew pictures.
• One day we headed out to what seemed like the edge of the earth, to an impoverished community north and west of Mission, Texas. Very eye opening.
• Students cared deeply about the work they were doing, and approached their work as "if this were my home, how would I want it to look?"
• Spending the day learning how to sheet rock, mud and tape seams and corners of a house for a family. Then seeing the families' faces when they walked through their houses being built.
• The bus ride was a great bonding experience for all of us!
• The devotions were so wonderful while there, the students seemed to love speaking about their experiences and worshiping our awesome God!