Guatemala Mission Trip

Church of the Red Rocks has a team in Guatemala this week, and we are glad to share their updates and photos!

Images and narrative courtesy of John Lothrop.

Day 1:  Sunday, March 4

After a long day traveling, we made it to Antigua Guatemala last night. The city is about 5000' and surrounded by volcanoes, one of which regularly spews smoke and stream. We had a great tour - the city is a World Heritage Site. After free time this afternoon we met with the Constru Casa volunteer coordinator for dinner. En route back to the hotel we witnessed one of Antigua's Lenten processions. It's quite amazing and difficult to explain in an email. 

Tomorow we have an early breakfast the head up into the mountains to work in the village of Xepatan. Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go.


Day 2 and work day 1:  Monday, March 5

After a 2-hour drive including, yes, rush hour, we arrived in Xepatan. It is a village of about 1500-2000 at an elevation of about 7500'. Beautiful country with a lot of farming, even in the mountains. People are primarily of Mayan descent.

We worked several hours this morning, ate lunch at the elementary school (with lots of attention from some students), worked more this afternoon then drove to Panajachel, a tourist town on Lake Atitlan where we are staying.

It was a great day, weather-wise and making new friends.

Here is the site for home #1. The workers were digging the foundation when we arrived.

Home 1 after lunch. Foundation dug and poured with re-bar in place.

House #2.  Foundation dug and poured, preparing to laying concrete blocks. This house is a bit challenging due to a very tight space.  Enough for today. 

Here is a photo of the group getting ready to leave Antigua for Xepatan this morning.


Day 3 of our Guatemala adventure is in the books. Another beautiful sunny day.

Work continued on the two houses and we are making good progress. We should have both done Friday.

We also visited the very small local medical clinic and will purchase some basic supplies to take to them on Thursday.


Yesterday when we drove from the work site in the village of Xepatan we couldn't see much of Lake Atitlan because we were looking into the sun. This morning with the sun behind us, we had a great view.

We went to the school briefly today and were mobbed by students eager to see Americans and try the few words of English they know. They seem genuinely happy to see us.

Proof that we're making progress. Yes, it is very cramped. Yes, we are mixing the concrete on the ground in the middle of the house.  All the volunteers are very pleased that we have been so warmly welcomed and that we are making a very positive contribution to this community. 

Tomorrow's a day off work. We'll do a tour of Lake Atitlan.

Day 4 was a play day. My first task was to go to the pharmacy with the Constru Casa volunteer coordinator. We had visited with the staff at the small medical clinic in Xepatan and got a list of needed supplies. With extra money the group pooled together, we bought as many items as we could. We will deliver the supplies to the clinic tomorrow.

We then went on a tour that took us to two cities on the shores off Lake Atitlan. In the attached photo we are boarding the boat. The first stop was San Juan Laguna. We went to a women's weaving co-op where we saw demonstrations of spinning the cotton, dying it with natural dyes and then weaving. Of course we also had time to shop in their store. The next stop was a chocolate "factory" where we learned about processing cacao. The samples were quite tasty!

We then took the boat to Santiago Atitlan and visited a couple of churches.

Tonight we ate at a family owned restaurant that included a culturally oriented show. It was quite entertaining and educational.

Tomorrow it's back to work. Hopefully we get the two houses to the point that we can complete them on Friday.

Demonstration at the women's weaving co-op.

This church in Santiago was built in 1547. The purple bunting is for Lent which is strongly observed here.

Sunset over Lake Atitlan.

Day 5: 

After a fun day touring we were back at work. At the start of the day the walls were about half up. Both houses should be finished tomorrow. Roofs will go on and concrete floors will be poured. It's really very gratifying to see a house come together so quickly and the families so excited.

While the masons did the skill work, we helped mix the concrete, keep the masons supplied with blocks and mortar, and other odd jobs on the ground. No, we did not climb up on the scaffolding.

By the end of the day, the walls were up. The masons are putting on the finishing touches.

There is a very small medical clinic in Xepatan. Friends on a trip in January visited the clinic and found that they need even basic supplies. With extra money that we all contributed, we were able to purchase some for them. In the photo, we are delivering the supplies to the doctor and her assistant.

Here's why we came to Guatemala. This is a cousin of the family for whom we are building the home.

We did it! We built (or more correctly, with our help the masons built) two houses! In a nutshell, we worked some on Friday morning helping the masons finish the roofs, finishing the concrete floors and cleaning up around the work sites. With our volunteer coordinator Keith we visited several families whose new homes were built last month.

In this photo we had arrived at our rendezvous place by the elementary school. The van was loaded with our luggage since we came back to Antigua for the weekend.

The day was very emotional celebrating with the families then having to say adios.

These photos show the masons finishing the concrete floor and the roof of our house.

Constru Casa hosts a dedication ceremony for the houses. This is quite an emotional event. Cake and punch are served, speeches made, and a ribbon cut. The families are extremely grateful and appreciative of the work done by the volunteers. The first photo shoes Judith, Dennis, Sue, and Glenn with new home owners Isreal and Jessica.

Volunteers Judith, Dennis, Sue, and Glenn with Isreal and Jessica in front of their new home.

The family at the second house made a weaving of the volunteers. This photo shows Pamela receiving her weaving from Blanca.

The celebration concluded with a pinata. We bought one in Panajachel then loaded it with candy and school supplies, e.g. pencils, markers, etc. It took many whacks but once it broke... chaos

Our Guatemalan adventure is drawing to a close. We spent a quiet day in Antigua relaxing, wandering, and doing some last minute shopping. Up early tomorrow for the journey home. It's been tiring but a great experience...very rewarding building both houses and relationships. We will certainly miss our adopted families but carry them deep in our hearts.

This is why we do it...