From April 8-18, a group of five women from Christ UMC traveled to Guatemala on a mission trip with Curamericas. Here, Izzy Harper shares her story:
My trip to Guatemala opened my eyes, and I realized how much we all have that we take for granted. I have always been thankful for a house to live in, but I have never been so grateful for my own bed, healthy water, a surplus of food, and I have never even thought about how lucky I am to have hardwood floors, and not dirt for a floor. I realized not everybody is as lucky as I am to go to school everyday. I had this amazing opportunity to visit a place that is impacted by poverty, yet they are happy with everything they have.
When my trip started at 4:30am in the airport, I was excited but nervous. As I got to know my team better, I also got more comfortable really soon. After spending the night in Huehuetenango, we were on the road to the Casa Materna in Calhuitz, where we would spend a few days. (Casa Maternas, or "Maternity Houses," are clinics created by Curamericas for mothers and babies.) I did not realize at the time, but I was on the way to one of my absolute favorite places. The staff at the Casa Materna cooked us amazing meals and made sure we were happy and full, and the daily sacrifices they made for us were countless.
Throughout the trip, we visited a few different Casa Maternas and helped do different things at each Casa. One day I picked up pinecones and carried dirt to bring back to the garden; I would have never thought I would have as much fun as I did carrying dirt and looking for pinecones. We got to teach the staff how to dye Easter eggs because that isn't something you do in Guatemala and they loved it. At the Casa Materna in Calhuitz, a bunch of young kids who lived nearby would play with us every day. It was so much fun to play with the kids. We went to the bakery and made bread, which is much harder than it looks, and met a little boy who loved tickle fights. We went on a few home visits and even visited a pregnancy class: One trained educator taught a group of women, who would then go and teach to the pregnant women in the community. The educators played games and talked about what they would do in certain situations.
One specific house stood out to me: The lady who lived in the home showed us around and as we walked in, it was just one room with four beds in it-but the lady had a smile ear to ear. She was happy the way she was living. I sometimes find myself jealous or unhappy with the home I live in because I don't have a big room, or I don't get to have a music room-but these families were happy with the room they all shared. There were no doors on the house, they were all together in one room, and they were happy.
The last night we were at the Casa Materna in Calhuitz, we went to cultural night. Cultural night was probably the best night of my entire life. We watched the kids sing and dance, and then we danced with them, and then we all ate bread rolls together. We got up early the next morning and went to the lagoon, which was amazing. We climbed up a waterfall, and it was beautiful. We walked back and ate lunch and talked to the staff and swam and headed back to the main area and walked all the way back up the hill.
That night, we went to a parade, and the streets were covered with beautiful designs that looked like carpet, but were completely made out of sawdust. We got to visit some co-ops and learn how yarn and coffee are made, and visit an art shop and a bee keeper. Then we were on our way to Antigua, where we celebrated Easter, the biggest holiday in Guatemala. There were lots of parades and beautiful handmade floats, and I got to attend a Guatemalan Easter service, which was amazing. As my trip came to an end, I thanked God for giving me this opportunity to visit a beautiful place with amazing people. -Izzy Harper