Guatemala Experience

Haven’t written a blog for a while, but it’s for a good reason.

Kind of suddenly, an opportunity came up for me to go on a month-long trip to Guatemala, to help build a hospital way out in the sticks.

How it came about was through a church that I have started going to. Mandy and I always went to church back home in Minnesota. It was part of our routine and the care of our spiritual selves. So when I moved here to Florida, it was important to me to find a church.

I visited a few and then settled on one. It’s not too far from my home. The pastor is a middle-aged guy that seems to be fairly sane and humble. There’s a pretty good cross-section of people there: young, old, and in-between. And there are some activities during the week that help bring people together and solidify friendships and foster support.

So anyway, a guy from the church was planning this trip down to Guatemala. I’ve done trips like this before (not to Guatemala, though), and I have basic carpentry and masonry skills, so I can usually contribute to whatever projects are going on. They had had a complete team, ready to go, but one of the guys got sick and had to bail.

That how I got involved. I overheard some from the team talking, and I butted in, and that’s how it all started.

We flew in to Guatemala City and stayed on in a mission guest house overnight. Oh, I forgot to say, the team consisted of ten of us—eight men and two women. Surprisingly, it was one of the men that was the assigned cook. The two women were going as tradesmen like the rest of us.

The day after we got in to Guatemala City, we shopped for building supplies and for food. We stayed another night in the guest house and then caught public transport out to the hospital location.

The ride out was a little hair-raising, I have to say. That driver took those mountain turns like he was an Indy driver. A few times I thought my stomach was going to turn inside out. I caught myself hanging on, white knuckled, to the seat arms, as we flew around hair-pin bends and got terrifying views of the mountainside falling away below.

But we made it. We were housed with local families, and this turned out to be a remarkable and humbling experience. They took such good care of us, even though their resources were very limited.

I basically spent the month building concrete block walls and framing in interior walls. It was a lot of hard work, I can tell you, and I ended up every day extremely tired. But with a team of ten of us, we made fantastic progress, and we got a large portion of the construction done. We got all the block walls up, the interior framed in, the roof on, and sheet rock hung.

There’s another team going down in a week to continue the project.
So, that’s what I was up to. I was too tired to write blog posts, and the connection was iffy anyway.
Great, great experience. I’m ready to go again!

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