Despite several successful years of mission trips to Juarez, Mexico, in 2011 the CMLT spring break mission teams halted these trips as result of potentially dangerous conditions. After a hiatus of several years of international trips, in 2015 the trips were reinstated with a destination to San Raymundo, Guatemala.
Partnering with the non-profit organization Casas por Cristo, which translates from Spanish to ‘houses for Christ’, over the past two spring breaks CMLT mission trips have traveled to Guatemala to build homes for families in need.
The Guatemala Team after completing the house and dedicating it to the family. Photo: Emily Marciniak
“The worksite is small compared to what we would see in America—very dusty and the ground is very uneven. It’s a different culture there; families do not move too far away from each other. This allows us to meet grandpa and grandma, aunts and uncles, and all the cousins. The atmosphere is a happy one. Even though they seem to have very little they give so much. You can feel the sense of love and community in the air,” international trip student leader Rachel Chester said.
The home building process is approximately three days from cement foundation to metal roofing, but more important is the foundation built for the family in Christ.
Karolus showing his favorite Bible verse to the son of the family served. Photo: Emily Marciniak
“We are called to serve and love our neighbor, and this is one of the many ways to do it. We built a house for a poor family, but it was so much more than that. The father worked alongside us all week to help build, the mother cooked a homemade chicken dinner that took her all morning and afternoon, and the children and other neighboring kids hung out all week and loved playing with us,” student John Karolus, who attended to Guatemala trip in 2015 and 2016, said
According to Chester, relational development is crucial to the entire trip, and unique from the relationships built on the domestic trips. Cultural differences and languages barriers shape a very different communication experience for attendees. Guatemala’s national language is Spanish, and because many of the people served on this trip have little education, Spanish is the only language they know.
“This is a great time to practice your Spanish or see how Christ’s love shows without words! Once we have a community where they feel safe and comfortable the walls really start to come down and you really get to know them. The community that is built between the CUW students is amazing to see as well. Not many people know everyone going on the trip but by the end everyone knows everyone. It is cool to meet people you may have never met otherwise because of different majors or age differences,” Chester said.
Day 1 at the work-site, prior to pouring concrete. Photo: Emily Marciniak
Chester said students who attended the trip found they were able to communicate with the Guatemalan people despite language differences. Playing soccer in the streets or pato, pato, ganso, which translates to duck, duck, goose, were ways CUW students interacted with the Guatemalan people and created deep relational bonds.
“It opens up a person’s eyes and heart to those in need of the charitable care we are told to provide as disciples in the Bible. Not to mention, deep friendships are made that might never have been if it wasn’t for the community building that happens just as a part of the nature of a mission trip,”Karolus said.
Chester and Karolus said all students should seize the opportunity to participate in a CMLT international mission trip, no matter if you are new to mission work or the Christian faith. To learn more about the CMLT spring break mission trips, follow the group on Facebook, or contact Deaconess Kim Bueltmann for more information.
Karolus and international student Yu-chun Lin hammering siding. Photo: Emily Marciniak