Partnerships in Guatemala

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Guatemala!

Welcome to an amazing opportunity, organized by Second Presbyterian Church, to visit our mission partners in Guatemala, July 1-8. You will be part of a group of 14. We will be hosted by CEDEPCA, the Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America, a mission partner of the Presbyterian Church and of Second.  Our trip facilitator is Emerson Morales, serving with CEDEPCA and a special friend of our congregation.

We will step back from our context and into another, not to escape, but so it may open our eyes and our lives to others, to the complex issues we confront, and to allow us “to savor” God’s presence among us, surprising us, even challenging us. Our visit makes our mission commitments more relational, more personal, and strengthens our mutual witness.

It is easy to fall in love with Guatemala, a country of both breath-taking beauty and extreme poverty. One of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, it has one of the most unequal distributions of land and wealth. It struggles with sharp inequalities, a dysfunctional government, and its violent past, in which the Unites States played a significant role. The scars of the 36 years of war and genocide run deep. Learning about Guatemala’s history and present circumstances will be part of our itinerary.

The greatest beauty may be the people of Guatemala, who are shy but welcoming, warm, resilient, and eager to share their culture.  Beauty takes other forms, too—Colonial era Antigua features incredible Spanish architecture; the mountains, volcanos, and countryside are gorgeous; and Lago Atitlán has been called the most beautiful lake in the world. 

Our itinerary is fairly dense and our days are full!  We begin Sunday afternoon with a presentation on the history and current context of Guatemala by a noted professor. The next days will be at the CEDEPCA Center learning about their ministry, and Monday afternoon is with Emerson’s church and children. We will travel to Lake Atitlan to visit a program for children with disabilities and then continue to the Highlands for important visits with child laborers, a chef’s training program, a Mayan community and their garden project. On Saturday we will travel to Colonial Antigua for a coffee tour, a free afternoon and final evening. A visit to an ancient Mayan site is also planned.

Transportation within Guatemala will include buses, boats, and walking on cobblestone streets and paths. There is not much free time, but there will be some in Antigua and sometimes an hour before dinner to relax. Each evening we will have a time to reflect on the day, share impressions and ask questions. We will sing together and pray together.

While we will engage with children, we are not coming to do a project. We are coming to build hope and offer our hearts and hands in relationships and learning. Our visits are to foster dignity and affirmation, and avoid “the helper” and “the helped” distinction.  In the midst of these days may we find our lives renewed and humbled by God’s presence among us and return with full hearts eager to share with others.

Important information

Cost of the trip for July 1-8 is $910 plus airfare. Payment schedule is $200 by April 1, $300 by May 6 and remaining $410 by June 3. Checks should be payable to Second Presbyterian Church and memo line “Guatemala Trip.”

What is not covered: passport, meals in airports or on the plane on travel days, personal laundry, alcoholic beverages or extra snacks, tip for bus driver, and personal purchases. Guatemala textiles are known for their beauty and intricate design.

Health Insurance: Be sure you know what your policy covers while traveling outside the United States.

Security: Guatemala is a popular tourist destination and there are no travel warnings. However, there are many places that are not safe, especially at night. Every precaution is taken to insure the group’s safety and our host’s instructions are carefully followed.

Extra day in Antigua: If you have elected to stay over Sunday in Antigua, it will be your own expense and in the same lodging as the group on Saturday night.

Orientation meetings will be scheduled in May and June to accommodate as many travelers as possible and on June 24 the group will be commissioned in worship on Sunday morning.