Building A Community Center – The Guatemala Construction Trip Report

Guatemala construction 2014 1

A community can be defined as a group of people living in the same locality or a group of people having common interests. Community is also a way of relating to other persons as brothers or sisters who share a common origin, a common dignity, and a common destiny. All of these apply to the six-member team who just returned from a construction trip to Guatemala.

Their journey to Guatemala forged a close-knit group who in turn labored in the community of Playa Dorado to build a multi-purpose community center. While accumulating sweat, scrapes, and sunburns, the team was closely observed by the locals, fed by a group of gracious women, and welcomed by Pastor Julio’s vibrant congregation as they built a community center made of more than concrete blocks, rebar, and cement.

guatemala construction 2014 food

Over the course of a week, they transformed an empty lot into a two-story building. The site once cleared for their work was soon littered with rocks, wire, rebar, empty cement bags, and a vast array of tools. The seemingly-small floor space consumed the construction materials, especially since it was all hand carried over uneven terrain! But seeing their progress as the building took shape brought great satisfaction.

After laboring for hours in the extremely hot sun and humidity, the team found shade to rest and just enough energy to make it to the table for another delicious meal prepared by others who spent hours sweating in a kitchen. The hospitality offered throughout their trip included beef, chicken, rice, beans, fresh corn tortillas, fried plantains, fresh pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, Hibiscus juice, … and of course delicious Guatemalan coffee so close to the source.

Guatemala construction 2014 volcano

The team was also refreshed by scenic views at first reminiscent of Colorado mountains and a drive to Estes Park. The lush landscapes included Lake Isabel, country roads, walls of trees, and the picturesque backdrop of dormant volcanoes. Other sights were surreal like spotting the surviving hens waltzing through the kitchen while chicken was being prepared for dinner or the sight of dogs, cats, pigs, horses, chickens, and a cow meandering freely while the sounds of Spanish television filled the air.

As team member Sandy Stansbury wrote on behalf of the team: “These amazing days have presented so many learning opportunities; some simply on perspective and habits, some on gratefulness. While we will all be leaving with similar memories, we will be moving forward on different paths with a new (or renewed) mindset of what is important in life … The music, the clothes, and the food will all change — but no matter where we are in the world, or where we have been, it’s important to stay focused on what is the core meaning in life.”

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