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     I want to start out by saying our trip to Guatemala was both an awareness trip and a service trip. Some of these photos are not in the order that I took them, but put together with other photos to make a point about what I’m describing.  A few of these photos are from the Guatemala trip Bruce and I took with Deacon Jim Schulzetenberg in 2017 because I had a few photos from that year that better explain what we saw and did this year. 

     There were 5 of us traveling to Guatemala this year, Bruce and myself, another deacon, Deacon Jim Schulzetenberg and his wife Bonnie, and a priest friend, Father Jeff Ethen {Photo A001}.  We arrived in Guatemala City, Guatemala on the afternoon of March 21 having left Minnesota at 12:30 a.m.  We didn’t want to arrive in Guatemala City after dark as there are safety issues in the city.  We had arranged for a driver to pick us up and drive us to Antigua which is about an hour away. {Photo A002} Antigua was founded in 1543 and was at one time the capital of Guatemala. Due to the many earthquakes in the area, the capital city was changed to Guatemala City. Today it is a World Heritage City with many tourists who come to visit.  We stayed at a hotel called Posada San Sebastian.  This is the unique entrance to our hotel {Photo A003}, {Photo A004}, {Photo A005}.

     The city of Antigua has people everywhere with people selling things in the streets and on doorsteps {Photo A006} {Photo A007} {Photo A008} and because this city is a World Heritage City there are many tourists here.  The women and men selling things would often follow us as we walked, trying to get us to stop and buy from them.  If you stopped to look at their merchandise or go into a store to look at their merchandise many of the people selling in Antigua knew a little bit of English, so they would say things like “I give you good price.” “How much you want to pay?” You could negotiate prices with the people as they would always come down in their prices. If you started to walk away from them, they would lower the price even more. The dollar is worth 7.5 Q (quetzales) their system of money.  We kept having to use a little chart with dollar to Qs conversion because we got mixed up turning the Qs into dollars. There are lots of cars, motorcycles, and tuk-tuks (3 wheeled vehicles that are used like local taxis) {Photo A009}, {Photo A0010}, {Photo A0011}, {Photo A0012}

     On our first full day in Antigua we walked to Common Hope, which was several miles from our hotel. The streets of Antigua are cobblestones, very difficult to walk on due to the different heights of the stones{Photo A0013}, {Photo A0014}.  On our walk we passed a monument honoring educators.{Photo A0015}  It is common to see women carrying baskets with laundry or shopping purchases on their heads. {Photo A0016}, {Photo A0017}

Common Hope is a non-profit place that offers education, health care, and housing for people in Guatemala. They gave us a tour of the facilities.  For many years, Deacon Jim Schulzetenberg who is an electrician, came here and did much of the electrical wiring for them. The paving stones show the names of people who sponsor students or make donations to Common Hope. {Photo A0018}

     Students started school at age 7 or 1st grade.  They found that many students failed so they began a preschool to help students get ready for the 1st grade.  These are photos of the preschool area and students. {Photo A0019}, {Photo A0020}, {Photo B001}, {Photo B002}, {Photo B003}, {Photo B004}

Before Common Hope, the graduation rate was 17%.  Students assisted with Common Hope have a graduation rate now of 70%.  They work with 27 different communities in Guatemala. In the grades from age 7 – 14 they have 3,100 students from 1,500 families.  By age 14 they have to choose their career path.  They do some teacher training at the Common Hope facility. They have a computer lab as most families do not have computers.  

            Common Hope helps build homes.  {Photo B005} They can be built in one week.  The families can work service hours to earn a 1 or 2 room house or to gain access to housing improvements such as electricity or a fold-up bed. {Photo B006}, {Photo B007} It costs $1,500.00 to build one of these homes. These houses have outside kitchens and bathrooms. 

            Common Hope has clinics that are free to mothers, children, and the elderly.  The others pay 10 quetzales, which is about $1.50 in U.S. money.  They staff is 1 full time doctor, 1 part-time doctor, a lab tech. and a pharmacist.      

{Photo B008}

View of Mount Fuego, an active volcano which has experienced more than 60 eruptions since the 1500s, making it the most active volcano in Central America. {Photo B009}, {Photo B0010}, {Photo B0011}

{Photo B0012}, {Photo B0013}, {Photo B0014}, {Photo B0015},

This is the Centro, or a central park area of Antigua.  You find all kinds of people selling things, visiting with friends, or just people watching.  When you walk the streets in Antigua, because it has so many tourists, women, men, and children try to sell you things as you walk. {Photo B0016}, {Photo B0017}, {Photo B0018}, {Photo B0019} Even the children are involved in the selling of merchandise or wanting to shine your shoes.  

{Photo B0020}, {Photo C001}

These photos show the typical Guatemalan dress of the women. {Photo C002} This one shows how Guatemalan women carry their babies. Men typically wear regular clothing as we do in the U.S.  


{Photo C003}

Because we were in Guatemala during Lent, we saw processions that take place.  The Cathedral is lit up during the procession.  {Photo C004} On top of the float is a statue of Jesus.   The smaller one was carried by about 20 people. People sign up to carry this for different parts of the procession.  Carrying the float is considered to be an honor.  {Photo C005}, {Photo C006} We watched the smaller of the processions on a Friday night. {Photo C007} Behind the float a man walked with a generator to allow lights on the float to be lit.   They walked through the streets of Antigua going to different parts of the city for Stations of the Cross.  {Photo C008} Stations of the Cross depict the journey that Jesus took from being condemned to die until his resurrection. {Photo C009} This was one of the floats in one of the churches that would stay there until it was needed for a procession. {Photo C0010} Some of the floats were stored together in a locked area of the city.  {Photo C0011} The procession we saw on Sunday evening had the Cathedral lit up with purple lights.  

{Photo C0012} We watched a larger procession with a very large “float” carried by about 100 people.  Again, people sign up to do this, taking turns after each station.   {Photo C0013, {Photo C0014}, {Photo C0015} They have a band that plays music, people in costumes, incense, lights, and candles.  Thousands come out to watch the processions. 

{Photo C0016}

This is the front of the Cathedral in daylight.  Much of it was destroyed during earthquakes.  {Photo C0017}, {Photo C0018}, {Photo C0019} You can see the part behind has been destroyed.

{Photo C0020}, {Photo C0021}, {Photo D001}, {Photo D002}  This is La Merced, the ruins of La Merced Monastery.  Much of the monastery was destroyed in earthquakes and only the church is still in use. {Photo D003}, {Photo D004} Inside the church of La Merced is something called an Alfombras.  They use colored sawdust, fruits, vegetables and candles to form a “carpet.” When they take the procession “floats” out they will walk over the beautiful “carpet” that they have created trampling them in the process.  I read that during Holy Week, they create these beautiful carpets of sawdust in the streets and when the processions go through, they too are trampled.

{Photo D005} Antigua is known for its jade.  We toured a jade museum/factory where jade is made into jewelry.

{Photo D006}, {Photo D007}  This is called a pela, the traditional way women washed their clothes. Many women still wash clothes like this today.          

{Photo D008} After 4 days in Antigua we drove to San Lucas Toliman, about 50 miles from Antigua.  People from the Mission in San Lucas sent a van to bring us there.  San Lucas Toliman is on the southeastern shore of Lake Atitlan, a town of about 17,000 people mostly of Mayan ancestry.  {Photo D009}, {Photo D0010}, {Photo D0011}, {Photo D0012}    Lake Atitlan is a lake in the Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountain range and it is the deepest lake in Central America.  It is a blown-out volcano. 

{Photo D0013}, {Photo D0014}

This is the hotel where we stayed in San Lucas Toleman.  Most of the mission groups who come to San Lucas stay at this hotel called The Hotel Iqiotiu.  The fee we paid to the hotel included the food we ate at the Mission and transportation to various things we went to and saw.  {Photo D0015} Most nights we sat here at this tree table and played 500.

{Photo D0016} This photo shows how some of the people carry things on their backs.

{Photo D0017} This photo shows the jumble of electrical wires so the different shops could have electricity.

{Photo D0018} This is the church that Father Greg Schaffer from New Ulm, Minnesota came to in 1963 to begin work as a parish priest.  {Photo D0019}, {Photo D0020}, {Photo E001} This was an early morning weekday Mass.  Father Greg started programs in education, healthcare, construction, coffee, and a visitor’s program that lets people come to assist in the work of these different programs.  

{Photo E002} This is the school founded by Father Greg Schaffer in 1968.  It is a preschool/primary school.  {Photo E003} They have 670 students. “Friends of San Lucas” support the school so students can get scholarships.   They charge 10 Q (quetzales) per month which is about $1.50 in U.S. money.  Students attend until the age of 12 or 6th grade.  At that point they have to find money or work to pay for secondary education.  This school at present has 34 teachers – 7 preprimary and 18 primary teachers.  {Photo E004} The preprimary is run as a school and is for those kids ages 4, 5, and 6. {Photo E005}, {Photo E006}. {Photo E007}   The grades 1 – 6 use the principles of Montessori. They include classes in agriculture, carpentry, music, arts, and cooking.  85% of teachers in Guatemala are women.  Teachers have 6 years of teacher training and many of the teachers graduated from this school. {Photo E008} These photos are showing the kids having recess in the courtyard of the school. {Photo E009} Women come in to make lunch for the students and the students buy their lunches.  {Photo E0010} Notice the dogs that are everywhere in Guatemala, even where they have lunch. 

{Photo E0011}

This is very common way people travel around in Guatemala to get from place to place.

The mission provided us with some educational outings.  We learned about reforestation, coffee, and the women’s center and this is how we traveled around.  

{Photo E0012} This is the hospital.  Father Greg had a child die in his arms, which impacted him so much that he bought land and started a hospital/clinic.  It started with 10 beds and took 10 years to build into what it is today.  They have emergency care, maternity care, X-ray, and a pharmacy.  They have 2 full time Mayan doctors on staff and they rely on visiting health care groups from the U.S. to provide additional care and surgeries.  They are charged a minimal charge and no one is turned away due to inability to pay.  They focus a lot on child nutrition and diabetes care.  Two years ago they started free checkups to monitor diabetes medication and started giving out free fruit each month to people in their program, most of which are women.  They are trying to teach the families about the high consumption of soda.  One of the things we saw while we were there is the abundance of little stores that sell things like pop, juice, beer, candy, and chips.  They are like little convenience stores called tiendas. The open air markets are full of fruits and vegetables but we didn’t see one grocery store in San Lucas which I think contributes to problems with the nutrition and diabetes. Those people in their diabetes program to assist them with their care are given a woven bracelet of different colors, with each color as a different reminder.  Orange was the reminder to get their glucose checked, green was eat vegetables, white was to drink only purified water and not soda pop, gray was take their medications, and blue was the reminder to exercise.  

{Photo E0013}

We had a demonstration with a man that originally worked for the Mission teaching about reforestation. Guatemalans most often cook over a wood fire.  Trees were being cut down for firewood without being replaced.  This man helped teach them that they needed to replant.  Most thought they should plant trees during the rainy season, (May to October) but he learned that planting after the rainy season was better because the plants would have to grow deeper roots thereby helping the trees to grow better. {Photo E0014}, {Photo E0015}  The man that gave the demonstration is no longer employed by the Mission but makes a living carving wooden spoons and selling plants and trees. 

{Photo E0016}

            One of the ministries that was started by Father Greg Schaffer was a Woman’s Center which began in 2011, a year before Father Greg Schaffer died.  There was no place for women to gather to help each other or learn from each other.  Father Greg purchased land for the center to be built.  They have classes in weaving, sewing, and cooking as well as workshops on women’s health.  They have a play area for children, a garden area, chicken coop, and another pela, where the women wash their clothing.  We weren’t able to see demonstrations this year at the Women’s Center but 2 years ago we did.  {Photo E0017} They showed us making tortillas over an open fire and also how the men carry their firewood. {Photo E0018}, {Photo E0019}, {Photo E0020} The Women’s Center has subsidized transportation provided for women and there is a store for the women to sell their products. {Photo F001} They make skirts, pants, bags, scarves, traditional shirts, table runners and napkins. A table runner woven by a beginner can take up to 3 months to make.  A more experienced weaver can make one in 15 days. If the women can’t read or write they are taught how to write numbers for taking measurements. {Photo F002} This woman is holding up a napkin in the traditional San Lucas Toliman colors that I purchased.  

{Photo F003}

This is a close-up of the pela where women wash their clothes at the Women’s Center.  

Another ministry started by Father Greg Schaffer was the Juan Ana Coffee program. (Named after Father Greg’s mom and dad, John and Anna.)  It was founded in 1992 to help small coffee producers.  {Photo F004} This man worked for the mission and told us his story about growing up on a small coffee plantation where his whole family was little more than slaves working for the owner of the coffee plants. {Photo F005} {Photo F006} These were the man’s grandchildren.  Notice the girl is in traditional Guatemalan clothing while the boy is wearing a Minnesota Viking’s shirt!

  {Photo F007} Father Greg stepped in to help the people and purchased some land starting with 6 or 7 families.  Now there are 700 families who benefit from the program.  The coffee is purchased from small producers and they pay more than the market price. Coffee growers in the program get 200 Q (a little more than $27 U.S.) for 100 pounds of coffee beans.  Growers outside of the program get about 150 Q (about $18 U.S.) for 100 pounds.  {Photo F008} The Juan Ana Coffee program handles the drying, roasting, and packaging of the coffee which is shipped to the United States and sold across the country. {Photo F009}, We were able to watch a demonstration about the roasting of the beans. {Photo F0010}, {Photo F0011} Then we got to taste the coffee.

            {Photo F0012}         

This is a photo inside the Mission building where we ate our meals. The Mission employs over 100 people in Guatemala and it is almost all supported by donations (Friends of San Lucas).  Each year they get over 1200 visitor volunteers (high school, college, family, church and medical groups) that work alongside the people of San Lucas in the various projects.  When we were there this time there was a small group of adults from Paynesville, a youth group from Michigan, and a physical therapy group from Minnesota. The Mission has several long-term volunteers who help coordinate the work in addition to the short-term volunteers. {Photo F0013} Each group that comes down to volunteer gets assigned meal serving and clean-up duties. {Photo F0014} This was the dish washing area where we would form an “assembly line” to scrape, wash, rinse and set to dry the dishes. {Photo F0015} {Photo F0016 The Mission has its own well with good water so they have a place where people come to fill their water jugs.  You can’t drink the water from the faucets in the hotels or at the Mission except from the one faucet that provides the good water.

{Photo F0017},  {Photo F0018}

            One of our days in Guatemala, we traveled by a “truck taxi” to Santiago. These are photos taken while riding on our “truck taxi.”  {Photo F0019}, {Photo F0020}, {Photo F0021} (There are lots of dogs sleeping on doorsteps.)  On our way back to San Lucas Toliman, our “truck taxi” held 22 of us in the back, 3 in the cab, and a big box sitting on top of the cab that someone was bringing back home.

{Photo G001}

  While we were in Santiago we helped serve food at an elder center that serves the elderly war widows who have no means of support.  {Photo G002} The women and men who are part of the program are Mayan and mostly speak a Mayan language.  The elder center is supported by an organization called “Sharing the Dream.”  {Photo G003} The day we were there we served the women and men there a small container (one that they brought from home) of tomato based soup called pulik with a piece of chicken (it looked like chicken legs and thighs) 8 tortillas, coffee (which would be poured into an empty pop bottle that they brought for the coffee) and a vitamin.  {Photo G005} We got to try to make the hand tortillas before we served them.  It looks a lot easier than it really is!  {Photo G006} {Photo G007} They wouldn’t eat the food at the center.  They brought it home to eat and it would be their lunch, supper, and maybe their breakfast.  {Photo G008} After they got their food a man came in to do some chair exercise/stretching activities. {Photo G009}  

{Photo G0010}, {Photo G0011} Younger women would also come to the elder center to make beaded jewelry to sell.  

            A little history about the elder center in Santiago to the best of my knowledge: (The woman who told the story had to have it translated from Spanish into English for us as I took notes) It was started 21 years ago for war widows from the Guatemalan War which lasted for 30 years.  An American came to Santiago and wanted to do something to help the town because he knew that many women were hurt by the war. His idea was to give 7 women 30-35 years old,  some start-up capital to start a business.  He gave them each 700 Q (Quetzals) which was about $100. He came back the next year to see what they had done to start a business and instead of doing that they spent the money just to survive.  He decided to work with elderly war widows.  The first 4 years he would once a year give them staple foods for that year.  He met Diane Nesselhuf, who was the founder of Sharing the Dream and I believe joined her in her efforts to help the Guatemalan people. Sharing the Dream is an organization that promotes sustainable fair trade by providing fair wages and employment opportunities to low-income artists. You can look up their mission if you Google Sharing the Dream.  In 2002 they decided to give out staple foods once a month.  This also didn’t work.  They found the elders were selling the food as they had no way to cook the food and no money to purchase firewood.  They would use the money to buy already cooked food which was way more expensive to buy than the cost of the staple foods given to them.  Next they tried feeding the people at the elder center but found the people would take a bite, then sneak the food into a container to save for later.  Now they give them the food to take home. They currently have 60 elders in the program that helps feed them and provide medical care.  They feed them on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 40% of their funding comes from selling artist’s products and 60% comes from sponsorships and donations. 

            {Photo G0012}, {Photo G0013}

This is a school in Santiago. Their playground was right by the town center so you would walk right by them as they played soccer. {Photo G0014}, {Photo G0015}, {Photo G0016}

            {Photo G0017} While we were in Santiago, we visited Saint James the Apostle Church which was built in 1582. {Photo G0018} There is a Catholic School located here.  This is the site of the martyrdom of a Catholic priest from Oklahoma named Stanley Rother.  He was killed during the Guatemalan War in 1981 after his name appeared on a “death list.” {Photo G0019}, {Photo G0020}, {Photo H001}


{Photo H002} Back in San Lucas Toliman, we walked through a graveyard.  This is how they bury their dead. {Photo H003} Some were fancy, showing that the family had money. {Photo H004}  

            {Photo H005}

While in San Lucas we worked on hooking up two houses with electricity.  Deacon Jim Schulzetenberg is an electrician who has been working on projects at least 17 times in Guatemala.  He has a friend named Butch who has been coming to Guatemala for many years.  He asked Jim to come wire two houses in San Lucas, so those two houses became the projects that we worked on. {Photo H006} Bruce was his assistant as he knows quite a bit about electrical wiring.  {Photo H007} Bonnie, Jim’s wife and I were the assistants to the assistant to the electrician!  We held flashlights, screws, and tools for Jim and Bruce. {Photo H008}, {Photo H009}, {Photo H0010}    There was no ladder so Bruce stood on a wobbly old table to reach the ceiling fixtures and once stood on 2 plastic chairs put together to make it sturdier when he had to put a support board in. {Photo H0011}    

Butch or some of his helpers had made a stove for the family. {Photo H0012}, {Photo H0013}  

The first house we wired had 6 rooms and we were told 4 families lived there.  I didn’t want to take pictures of the house when the family was there so I tried to discretely take photos to show how many of the people in San Lucas live when the family members weren’t with us. {Photo H0014}, They pounded nails in the blocks to hang their clothing. {Photo H0015}, {Photo H0016} 

{Photo H0017}, {Photo H0018}, {Photo H0019}

The woman washed her clothes in a pela they had in an uncovered part of their home, hanging them to dry.  {Photo H0020} No clothespins, she tied them on to the clothesline. {H0021}      

Butch had some workers there making a new door for the family. {Photo J001}, {Photo J002}                The home had no closets and minimal dresser storage. {Photo J003}                

With the wiring job completed, Jim turned on the electricity in the home.  {Photo J004}, {Photo J005} {Photo J006} The woman broke down crying!


The second house was built onto a hill. {Photo J007}, {Photo J008} Parts of the house had a roof and parts did not. {Photo J009}, {Photo J0010} The part of this house that looks new is because it is new.  Butch built this bedroom for the husband, wife, and 2-year-old boy who live here.  {Photo J0011} It had mostly a dirt floor. {Photo J0012} There was a shower and a toilet. {Photo J0013} You can see how this family lived.  {Photo J0014}, The guys went to work getting the electrical work done. {Photo J0015}, {Photo J0016}, {Photo J0017} They cooked on a stove that was not as good of a design as the one that was built in the other house. {Photo J0018} The woman had a treadle showing machine that looked like she used. {Photo J0019}

The little 2-year-old boy was so sweet to watch as he played in his indoor-outdoor home! {Photo K001}, {Photo K002}, {Photo K003}

This was the pela where the women who lived up on the hill came down to wash their clothes. {Photo K004} We saw one woman who washed her clothes in the river.  They had built a playground for the children who lived in this area.  {Photo K006}, {Photo K007}

            One night in San Lucas we went out for pizza.  {Photo K008} A little boy about 7 or 8 years old walked into the pizza restaurant.  We asked if he was hungry and if he wanted to share some of our pizzas.  He agreed right away and ate at least 3 pieces of pizza with us! {Photo K009}

            Another evening we attended a youth marimba band concert that was held in a tin shed.  It cost us each 10 Q (quetzales) which is about $1.50.  They advertised their concert by putting out this tree sign to announce when their concerts would be held, usually 2 concerts for about a half hour each. They advertised in English as they were located very close to the Mission where many from the U.S. come all year.  {Photo K0010}, {Photo K0011}, {Photo K0012}, {Photo K0013},

{Photo K0014},

One evening we drove to the small town of Panamaquip.  {Photo K0015}

 Here the priest who traveled to Guatemala with us presided at the Mass along with Deacon Jim.  {Photo K0016} There was no more room inside of the church so Bruce, Bonnie and I stood outside along with other people from the parish. {Photo K0017}, {Photo K0018} In some Catholic Churches they ring bells to show when the bread and wind are turned into the body and blood of Jesus.  It’s called the Consecration.  At this parish they lit a fire cracker to go off at that moment and because I was standing outside, I was able to take photos just as it was happening. {Photo K0019},

{Photo K0020}        

            Every day there would a market in town.  All kinds of vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken, clothing, shoes, and other merchandise or cooked food to purchase would be displayed, sometimes just laid on top of a tarp on the ground. {Photo L001}, {Photo L002}, {Photo L003}

            This was a park on Lake Atitlan.  {Photo L004} Families would come to play, eat, and swim. {Photo L005} From here we got a boat to take us out onto Lake Atitlan where we visited 2 other towns located on the lake, Panajachel and St. Marcos, which were tourist towns.  {Photo L006} I was intrigued by this cement slide the kids played on.  

            Bruce and Jim both got a haircut in a barbershop in San Lucas.  It cost 10 Q ($1.50 U.S.) for each of them.  {Photo L007}, {Photo L008}

            Just a couple of other interesting things we saw in Guatemala.  {Photo L009} This was a man riding a bike with a loud speaker blaring advertisements for a political candidate.

            {Photo L0010} This was a painted step in the Centro of San Lucas.  When you stand far away it looks like a painting.  As you get closer you see it is painted on the sides of the step. {Photo L0011}

            This next picture was taken 2 years ago when I was in San Lucas.  {Photo L0012} The first one is of a woman on her knees making her way either towards the alter or coming back from the alter.  I saw this several times on my last trip there.

            The last 3 pictures I included to show the difference between those who have wealth and those who don’t.  The first one is taken from Lake Atitlan. {Photo L0013} Wealthy people have summer homes on the lake. 

The last 2 photos show what kind of homes many of the people of Guatemala live in, made from tin roofs and blocks. {Photo L0014}, {Photo L0015}

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