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Guatemala Mission Trip

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Benet Academy has been on four mission trips to Antigua, Guatemala, to build houses through the organization Imagininguatemala. Imagininguatemala is a non-profit organization committed to working with the poor of Guatemala through the help of volunteer groups. The mission trip for Benet is normally set for ten days in June, but this year it took place over spring break.

This past spring break Mr. Greg Frey, Mr. Ramon Marth, and Mrs. Gerri Frey took a group of twelve seniors to Guatemala for eight days. The group of fifteen built three one-room houses that included an outdoor stove, electricity, and a bathroom. These houses were truly life-changing for the people. Most of the previous homes consisted of sugarcane walls, a roof, and a dirt floor.

On Sunday, the group attended mass at La Merced Church. Since this trip coincided with Lent, the students had the opportunity to witness one of Antigua’s Lenten processions. Thousands of men wore purple and walked down the streets followed by more men carrying floats depicting Jesus and the cross. Locals created colorful “carpets” to line the cobblestone streets for the procession. These carpets were made of dyed sawdust, sand, flowers and/or fruit. That afternoon was spent at an orphanage playing with the kids and eating a lot of candy. The children were elated to play with the students and their smiles proved that.

Imagininguatemala hires locals to help each group of volunteers construct the houses. The workers began the foundation of the houses on the Friday before Benet’s group arrived and before any work could begin, the families hauled all the material for building to their lots. Monday, the first building day, was when each group met the family awaiting a new house. This was the day with the most work and included placing cinder blocks, mixing cement, and sawing wood. On Tuesday, the teams painted the drywall either yellow, orange, or turquoise. They were then able to put up the walls and nail the tin roof in place. These were two full days of work, but there was help from the families and enough time to play with all the kids who came to see what was happening. On Wednesday, the floors, the windows, and the door were put in. On the final day of building, Thursday, the teams went grocery shopping for the families before heading over. They then finished grouting the floor and cleaning up the inside. As a thank you, the families made everyone lunch after the house was finished. After lunch, each group gifted the groceries to the family and handed them the keys to their new home. The families expressed immense gratitude and gave many hugs before it was time to leave.

After the construction was finished, the group went zip lining across the valleys. All the students were able to experience what felt like flying across a valley, strapped into a harness in the superman position. Friday morning was spent hiking to the top of a mountain to have lunch overlooking Antigua. After bussing back down the mountain, the students tested their bartering skills at the local markets shopping for souvenirs. That night was the closing ceremony at the Imagininguatemala office. The students were thanked for coming down during their break, and the students shared their favorite memories from the week. Chino, a Guatemalan worker, summed up how this trip made everyone feel by telling the students, “You didn’t just build houses, you built happiness.”

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Guatemala Mission Trip