Friday, November 11, 2011

Guatemala Trip

The past couple of weeks, my church has been preparing for an out of the country mission trip with Young Life to Guatemala! We leave right before spring break, which is in March, but it is a long way away, and for big trips like this, you need a lot of time to prepare. First of all, I would love it if you would put me in your prayers. This is a very far distance, and if what happened on my last spring break trip happens again (broken collar bone), it could get complicated. Also, this trip is expensive. It's mostly just for the plane ticket, but it costs $950.00. I would love if you could donate some money. (Just click the Paypal logo to the right and it will go into my dad's Paypal account. Or you can send a check.) I plan to blog weekly, and if you want to get weekly updates, just subscribe! I will also be writing about the trip after I get back from it, so this could be a pretty interesting blog! Thanks.

Here's the Q & A that we were given:

Where is Guatemala?
Guatemala is located in Central America, just south of Mexico. The geography is shaped and reshaped by volcanoes, some of which are currently active today. Temperatures are moderate ranging from 60 – 84° F in the summer. Guatemala is a developing nation with few tourist facilities.

Is it a safe region?
As with all developing countries, Guatemala has its issues with crime. The Young Life hosts are very aware of what to do and not to do in these areas. There are many places of the world that you need to be aware of your surroundings and modify your behavior (students will be trained regarding this). A Guatemalan adult will be assigned to each small group of 3 – 4 students in conjunction with your trip leaders and a local YL staff person.

What exactly is the work?  
We are in conversation with community leaders deciding where they want us to serve.  We want to serve as best we can and to allow them to retain the responsibility for deciding (and living with) what gets done. 

The work will be some combination of the following: mixing, pouring, finishing concrete floors for people who live on dirt; building exterior block-walls for families whose shacks are exposed (and therefore in danger), replacing metal roofing; rebuilding shacks, building a concrete retaining wall for houses in danger of mudslides, and/or possibly building a new house from scratch. All jobs involve a pretty high degree of physical labor, but no particular skill is required to do them. Everyone will learn on the job.

Will there be enough work and enough materials for the jobs?
Yes.  Once we know how many folks will be coming down, we design the work to fit the group. We also buy the materials beforehand. There will be times during the week when we will wait a little while for some materials or some tool that we need but that can't be found or can't be delivered. But that's very much part of the Guatemala experience. In general, we'll have everything we need.

Who lives in the neighborhoods that we will work in?
For the most part, the people in our neighborhoods can be characterized as being of indigenous descent, and most families are very poor.  We are a few blocks away from the Guatemala city dump, and many make their living there.

Will we be together or split up?
Your group will be together. During the day we will break into work teams, but all will be within walking distance.

How will we travel from the airport to the accommodations to the worksites and back?
We will have a bus and driver.

Where will we sleep?
All but one night at a local seminary that is rented out to groups. One other night will be in a hotel in Antigua, (a possible side trip to be determined).

Is it guarded?
At the seminary, yes. In Antigua, no guard is needed as there is an active police force, but some hotels will have a night watchman. In the neighborhood, YL staff will be present.

Where will we eat? And who will prepare the meals?
We eat everything you will eat - we're very careful about the food. Breakfasts will be at the house, lunches at the jobsite (pb&j, fruit, and chips), and dinners will usually be at or from a restaurant.

Is there a water purification system where we are staying?
Yes. And we won't ever be in a situation where anybody will have any reason to drink non-purified water.

Will we eat any meals "out"?
Yes. Mostly restaurant food, plus one meal with the neighbors for whom we will be working. We are very careful about what they make for us, however, and it's very safe.

Will there be an opportunity to attend a club or campaigner time with your YL kids?
Definitely. This is a highlight for us. We'll attend (and participate in) club one night. We usually suspend campaigners that week because of the work, but we'll definitely be interacting with campaigner kids. Many of them will work with us. This is great for us, the local leaders, as we can offer our campaigners a chance to interact with the Americans, if that's something they want to do.

Will school be in session when we come?
Yes, school will be in session. But some of the kids who study come home from school early in the afternoon, so we'll get a chance to interact with them. A number of them really enjoy working with guests from the US, so I expect to get to spend time with them even if they're in school that week.

What kinds of shots are required?
We will spend all our time in a very urban setting, so we won't be in the jungle, in rivers or lakes, etc. Everyone definitely needs to make sure their tetanus is up to date, as we will be doing construction work, and in general the environment is very contaminated. Also recommend Hep A (plus Hep B update if needed) for those that can.

Distance from the airport to the site?
Not far. Our work and lodging is near the city center. Depending on traffic, 5-20 minutes.

Are there any bugs ie: mosquitos ?
No. Sunblock is a must, however. The sun is really intense here, being tropical plus the altitude.

Where is the nearest hospital?
There are several in the area. Since we're in the city, we have our pick of which direction we want to go to. All depends on traffic, but anywhere from 5-20 minutes to get to one of them.

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