Last week I flew into Guatemala City from Miami…and got back early this week. I was surprised to be in the Central timezone at my destination…making keeping in touch with family back home a bit simpler.
Why I Went to Guatemala
We were there to build and improve upon land owned by a church my brother attends in St. Louis. The land was developed and donated to a group of widows and orphans. The land will grow in size when the church buys the adjacent property – making the entire parcel maybe 10-15 acres on the the side of a beautiful mountain.
There is a working farm, several homes, and now a new pavilion (thanks to our efforts) that acts as an outdoor school, church and craft center. The end goal is to provide a resident-sustainable livelihood. Chickens, cows, goats, homes, school…the works.
I built every day with a team of three other Americans and four Guatemalan locals in the city of Joyaba. Our main project was to roof the pavilion…but we also built tables, benches, shelving, and a new manger for the cows to dine from. We staked out the next new house that will be built in the coming year.
I thought the pavilion could use a cross and when I suggested as much, the response was, “Good idea – make one.” “Dang it.” So on a whim I designed and built a cross inspired by my aerial-view of Guatemala (as you can see in the picture high on a hotel roof down below).
The Guatemalan builders are genius at leaving nothing to waste. So I used all scrap lumber to create an image of the city reflecting the landscape I saw there. The cross ended up weighting over 100 pounds and took longer to mount to the cross beam we installed days earlier…than to build itself.
The Sights, Sounds & People of Joyaba
The people were as kind and loving as can be. Funny, family-oriented, and talented, resourceful hard-workers. I never met a group of people so defined by their individual efforts. Truly taking a piece of land with the natural local resources and forging, literally by hand, a life for their family and community.
There are only some paved roads, many dirt ones, no public sanitation and very little in the way of a water or powered infrastructure. But still — homes, iPhones, computers, wifi, cars, trucks, motorbikes, kids, dogs, parks and town markets. Ice Cream shops, chinese restaurants, killer local food, roosters, cops, cows, barbers, churches, hotels and a cacophony of exhaust-choking, honking, speeding vehicles of all shapes in the streets.
Getting used to the full-on sensory assault took a day or two. The nights are quieter, and scenery so breath-taking, one should never get used to it…and the people…so friendly and hospitable.
Thank You for Your Support
I thank everyone so much for helping me help others…your contributions were truly a gift to me and some great people we helped in Guatemala. As it turns out, the dates of the trip had to change, last minute, because of scheduling issues and Josh could not go. But I am planning to go back in June with him and January with Sam to do more work.
In the end it was fun and rewarding to be of service to people in need, to witness another culture and leave a little mark on Guatemala to memorialize the trip…
I am definitely looking forward to another!
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.