CDH Guatemala Blog 2022!!!

November 15th - Today was our last meeting with the students and go over any last minute details/reminders.

We are arriving at the Minneapolis Airport at 3:00am Sunday November 20th. We are flying on American Airlines which is in Terminal 1. Remember it is $30 each way to check a bag. 

We also discussed some suggestions and items you need or that you may want in your carryon. Things like medications, an extra change of clothes, minor toiletries, snacks, small hand sanitizer, small pack of tissues, and other things for the plane.

Please make sure you have your passport packed and an additional form of ID like a drivers license. If students are bringing a debit/credit card, make sure to inform your bank about your travel plans. 

We are so excited for the students to have this experience and look forward to seeing everyone "bright" and early Sunday morning!

November 20th - WE MADE IT!!! Checking in and security at the Minneapolis airport was some of the smoothest we've seen. Early flight to Dallas Texas and a couple hours for a layover was a nice break to grab some refreshments. We hopped on our second flight to Guatemala City and managed to land a little ahead of schedule. Customs took some time to fill out the paperwork, and some luggage was moved off the baggage claim belt, but it was all found and everyone got through with everything they brought. 

The last leg of the trip was a 3 hour ride in 2 vans from Guatemala City to San Lucas. Motion sickness was our enemy but we can proudly say we all made it to the mission in time for some dinner and moving into our hotel for the week. We are so excited for what is to come and everything we are going to experience this week. 

- Mr. Beithon

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November 21st - Hey awesome parents!! Today was such a busy day filled with learning and exploring. First, after breakfast, the group went to the local school connected to the mission. The director of the school told us that almost 642 students from ages 4 to 12 attend and some kids travel an hour to get to school. Next, we went to the women’s center where we learned about weaving traditional clothing. The center has three programs that women and some men can enroll in to learn how to cook, sow, and how to garden. After that, we traveled to the local hospital where they help a variety of different health problems and emergencies. The hospital also has traveling nurses and surgery teams that come from the US to help the local population. Lastly, we went to the San Juan Ana coffee to learn about how coffee is processed in made. We went there twice before lunch and one after lunch. Before lunch, we looked and the packaging and machinery from Carlos: the barista at the company. After lunch, we went outside to see the planting process and washing process. Then we watched Carlos make us coffee with very systematic ways of filtering the beans. We tried three different roasts with very unique flavors and everyone had a different favorite. One of the highlights, of our day was riding the TukTuk (a local cab scooter). The ride allowed us to see the bustling, culture filled street of San Lucas. After the thrilling rides, we got back to our hotel around 4pm and found out that our hotel has the most beautiful rooftop with a view of the lake, mountains, and the volcanos. We ended our busy day with a reflection circle and a game night. We are so excited for what’s to come next !!- Lily Cade

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November 22nd - Hola parents! Today was our first day of real service and it was rewarding to the say the least. We started off the morning by having breakfast until about nine o’clock then we all met outside of the church and split into three groups to go work at three of the mission’s worksites. Two of the sites were “mixed houses” which means that they are both concrete and wood. The other site was a “block house” which was purely cement blocks. After about three hours of morning work everyone started to head back to the mission for lunch at 12:30, which was amazing as always! After lunch, we met at the mission office to head out for our afternoon activity. We proceeded to walk to the market to collect supplies for bags to give to families who have been struggling to get basic needs such as soap, rice, beans, butter, corn, etc. When we got back, we met the nine women coming to collect the bags that we had put together. It was truly humbling for all of us to see how grateful these women were to get these everyday things that we have at home that we all take for granted. After meeting these amazing women, we had a bit of free time to relax until we took the vans for a sunset drive. We traveled to a lookout that was located in a nearby town outside San Lucas. After the drive, we had to hurry back for dinner which did cause some motion sickness for a few of us, but when we got some food, and ice cream, in us we all felt a lot better. We’re finishing out the night sitting in the common room talking about life and eating snacks. We’re all excited to go see a new work site and exploring more of the city of San Lucas!! -Grace Burke

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November 23rd - Good evening, Guardians of the Galaxy (Collett Akins). We’ve had the experience of such exquisite meals while being here. Today we were able to try a new fruit called Lychee, it was so gas. It was our second day at the sites for service, we were very sore.

My name is Liliana, and today I went to a place close to the mission where we gathered and carried bricks to help build a house. I also helped shovel dirt to clean up the area around the house. I had a great connection with the sweetest little boy who we were building a house for named Job Abesis. It was sometimes difficult to understand each other, yet the smiles we shared helped us build a great connection. We talked about animals, flying on airplanes, and we did fun little handshakes.

My name is Norah. I went to a different service site, then I did yesterday. As it being my second day, I felt like I was able to take in my surroundings more, and gain new appreciation for the work I was doing. Which I think is a big part of not even just this trip, but the mission as well. Through seeing these people live their everyday lives, like the mother and her children at my site today, I was able to bring myself to a different level of understanding for other people’s experiences and way of life, as well as how I approach my mindset to my own life and experiences.

After going to our 3 different sites with our groups, we all gathered back at the mission to have lunch, and get ready for afternoon activity. Andres, was a sixty-seven year old man who came to talk to us about his connection to the mission, and the impact it made not only on his own life, but the Mayan community, and the uniting of San Lucas as a whole.

Then we had some free time to walk around San Lucas. A lot of us went to a couple different place to get little treats, and snacks, and just explore the life in the community.

Today was another great day, and it was another opportunity to immerse ourselves into the community, not only at our service sites, but also on streets of Guatemala, itself.

-Norah Malloy and Liliana Lucio

I also wanted to say I love you to my mom. I miss you and I am so glad you are doing well. I am sending all my love and hugs to you. <3 I love you Jim, Dad, Henry, Addison, Monica, and all my grandparents and other family who helped make this trip possible.

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November 24th - Hola de San Lucas Tolíman, Guatemala! Our 4th day here was another beautiful, peaceful, and fulfilling day of activities. We started our day with another very simple but delicious breakfast by our two amazing cooks Olga and Marina. After that we again split into three groups to head to three different service sites (Santa Alicia, Pampojila, and La Cruz). I was with Mr. Kenny, Grace, Lily Cerk, Mara, and Colette at Santa Alicia assisting a construction crew in building a completely block house for a family of seven. We spent the morning putting together rebar which would be used to support the structure of the block house. We returned to the mission at noon for lunch and were surprised by the cooks with a Thanksgiving feast. The tables were covered by table clothes, flowers center pieces, and fruit. The meal was also amazing and consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, steamed vegetables, sweet potato casserole, a fruit assortment, bread rolls, and of course pie. It was incredibly special and heartwarming to have the cooks step out of their comfort zone and prepare food for a holiday that has no significance to them all to make us feel welcomed. We ate WAY too much food and went on to spend the afternoon at the Women’s Center for a day in the life of a Guatemalan/Maya women. We learned the traditional way to make corn tortillas using a grind stone. We rolled out and cooked our own tortillas and also “tayuoyos” which is a tortilla with beans inside. After we watched a demonstration of how clothes are washed and then washed our own piece of dirty clothing. We then tried, key word is tried, to balance the bucket of our clean clothing on top our head like the locals do. There was little success but at least we tried. Our final activity was carrying 20 lbs of wood on our back with a strap on our foreheads to distribute the weight. I believe this practice was called “amarar.” Our van was late to bring us back to the mission so we joined some local kids playing soccer across the road. It was fun aside from Lily Cerk absolutely decking me which resulted in a busted elbow. I will hand it to her that it was hard to slow down on the gravel. Anyways, we returned for dinner and quickly changed in to clean clothes to attend mass across the street at the only catholic church in the town. I think I speak for all of us when I say it was a really cool experience to attend mass in another language yet still we all were able to follow along and be a part of a community. Another great day in San Lucas making memories to last a lifetime! Can’t wait to see what we learn and see in the days to come. Buenos noches a todos! - Ava Junker

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November 25th - Hi family and friends!! Happy Friday!! Today was a very busy day in San Lucas. To start off the day, we had french toast for breakfast made by the wonderful chefs, Olga and Marina. After breakfast, each group went to their service sites, La Cruz, Santa Alicia, and the mission office. My group went to the office with girl boss, Mibi , and we filled 200 bags with different foods, soaps, etc!! After service, we had lunch and then some free time. Mr. Beithon and I walked to la tienda to buy bottled cokes which are fantastic. In La Biblioteca, we listened to Fermina, a local San Lucas resident, talk about her group called The Powerful Ones. This group advocates for Guatemalan woman, especially those experiencing domestic abuse. It was really interesting and empowering to hear her stories. This organization has helped so many women and men in San Lucas. After learning about Ferminas life, we went to a local futbol game and played with people from the mission. They were very good and it was so fun to experience what they do in their free time. After a brutal loss, all of us took a TukTuk home from the soccer field. It is basically a three -person scooter with doors. When we got back to the mission, we ate a huge meal after a tiring game. The chefs made us homemade guacamole from the avocado tree outside. It was delicious! To conclude the night, we went the center park to watch local basketball teams play against each other, which was super interesting to see. -Mara Gleeson featuring Catie Gaertner and Ruby Lexau.

P.S hi Mom and Dad say hi to the dogs for me!! Miss you guys -Mara

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November 26th - Despite Mr. Beithon’s earlier assertions that we wouldn’t be able to post on my blog day as I’d still be writing through the night, I am proud to present today’s blog before midnight! Once again, I’d like to shoutout our wonderful cooks, Olga and Marina. However, while they provided delicious oatmeal, beans, potatoes, and stew for us this morning and afternoon, today we also got a taste of cooking outside of the mission.

Today was our first day after finishing construction service. We started the morning with a return trip to the Women’s Center for a cooking class where we got to meet the women who regularly attend on Saturday mornings. The class empowers women in the community with marketable skills so they can help financially provide for their families. To ensure the recipes are accessible, the center emphasizes teaching manual methods that women can replicate at home, whether or not they have appliances. Today, we made pupusas, dobladas, and passion fruit punch, with sugar soaked (five pounds of sugar for five liters of water!) sweet potatoes for us to snack on while we worked.

Pupusas are made with the same corn batter as tortillas but are thicker and filled with cheese or vegetables before being fried in a pan. Dobladas also use the same corn batter, which is folded around a chicken vegetable mix like a wonton and deep fried. While we contributed with excessive pride or shame in batter handling and competitively chopping beans and carrots for the most finely diced final product, we spent a lot of our time “helping” by keeping balloons in the air for the women’s very adorable children. Don’t just take my word for it; two of our group’s “anti-little kids” representatives said they were definitely an exception to their general rule.

Somehow, after sampling our papusas and doblabas with tomato salsa, cabbage slaw, parsley, cheese, and salsa verde (for the brave ones), we still had room for lunch at the mission before setting off for some free time. While we’ll be shopping at our boat tour stops tomorrow, we wanted to maximize our last full day in San Lucus (and their lower prices). There were trips to one of the mission worker’s cafes, crepe shops, and massages, along with some preliminary lessons in bartering for keychains, bags, and other items I won’t mention as you might find them under your Christmas tree in a month. My favorite stop was a return to the local bakery at Collett’s insistence.

We gathered back at the hotel at 6:00 to leave for our dinner reservation at La Cabana, where we got pastas, fajitas, nachos, steak, and hamburgers and learned what a jamaica drink is in the midst of some intense games of BS. Everyone has turned in early for the night in anticipation for our exploring beyond San Lucus tomorrow! While, we’re all sad to leave Guatemala, we are excited to see you all again in only two days! - Greta

P.S. Happy birthday Dad! I got you a little present day practicing my bartering! I love you Mom, Dad, and Will (Leif says hi).

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November 27thToday was our final day. The bulk of our day was our big boat trip on Lake Atitlan. We traveled to two other cities on the lake, Santiago and Panajachel. We had a great day visiting these cities and the students were excited to explore the local shops and vendors in each city.

Now I could go on about what everyone bought and how great the food was, but instead I’d rather talk about your kids.

We ended tonight’s final day with a reflection question of “What are you taking from this trip and bringing back with you?”. Everyone shared their thoughts and feelings with the group. Many students shared about how this experience will be something they remember forever and that the bond we have made with one another transcends CDH and goes much deeper than that.

When the group had finished sharing and it was my turn to share, I was thinking about a lot of things. I’ve been on a lot of these kind of trips, during my time at CDH, my time in college, and back in high school as well. At the end of each of these trips, I found it extremely hard to implement some change into my life. Whether it was changing a habit, changing how I see the world, changing how I see others, or something else, it was always the hardest thing to do. Jumping back into “regular” life and the way things are back home made it hard for me to really take home what I learned. When it was my turn to share what I was bringing back and taking from this trip I said “hope”. These kids and my fellow chaperones have given me hope. Seeing what your young adults have done over the past week has given me hope in what is possible from trips like this. I am hopeful in the change and impact that these 14 students will make on those around them when they step foot off that plane tomorrow night.

So I leave you with this; talk to them about this trip. Maybe not first thing since they will be exhausted from the full day of traveling, but really hear what they have learned and what they have experienced. The work that was done over the last week, the bonding that took place on this trip, is truly life changing. I know that I will always remember this trip and the amazing individuals that were by my side this past week.

Thank you for letting your young adult come to Guatemala. Thank you for trusting us to take care of them. Thank you for the support you give them to experience this during their time at CDH. I am truly excited for them to share with you everything from these last 8 days. Thank you again and we will see you tomorrow. - Mr. Beithon

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