Andy Bracken’s Mission Trip to Guatemala

Andy Bracken shares about his recent mission trip to Guatemala and the work La Mision is doing there.

Q: Can you tell us about your trip, who you were involved with, and what your group did there?

A: My church works with a group in Guatemala called La Mision, founded by a doctor who saw a great need in rural villages and communities around the country of Guatemala. Reach Beyond Borders is a local, US-based connection with La Mision, and together they facilitate assistance for Guatemalan communities. Much of their work is based on providing medical clinics and medical or dental assistance to those without access or limited access to medical resources. They regularly bring in local doctors, dentists, and nurses to help provide medical and vision checkups, prescriptions, and dental assistance for local communities.

The part that I was involved in was related to construction. In addition to having limited medical access, many of these communities and villages can’t cook inside their home or have access to clean water. So, a big part of the construction-based ministry was installing stoves inside people’s homes. Based on the selected locations, a portion of the team would install these stoves for people to use and be able to cook meals with. Many of these houses had only four wooden walls and a tin roof, so having a stove can make a big difference to these communities.

The other part of the construction I was involved in was working on a well and a shelter over the well site. This community hadn’t had local access to clean water for over a year and a half. Usable water, typically not drinkable had to be brought from other wells many miles away in 5 gallon containers. When we got there, the well had already been dug out. It was about 25 feet deep with about 10 feet of water and about a three-foot circumference wellbore installed, but the water wasn’t clean. Our task was to get the well operational and build a shelter over it. We pumped the old water out and installed filters, and they tested the water for different minerals and impurities. After four days of work, we got it all running, including the piping and a gravity-based storage structure.

Q: Where was the neighborhood you were working in?

A: It was a village way out into the jungle. We flew into Guatemala City, and drove a day to Puerto Barrios and stayed there as a home base. Our daily commute into the jungle was about an hour and a half, riding in the back of pickup trucks.

Q: What was the language barrier like with groups of Spanish and English speakers?

A: The language barrier presented some issues, but we had translators and people who could speak both languages. When the translators weren’t around, we used Google Translate a lot! That was a neat, modern way to communicate with people without having to have an interpreter.

Q: Did you have any great food worth mentioning?

A: The local tamales were really good. We were often treated with tortillas in different varieties, and it was all very fresh. If you’ve ever made your own tortillas, you’d know that most of the recipes you see use some sort of oil or lard. The corn tortillas they made here were just water and unbleached corn, which actually were very pliable and very good.

Q: What were specific challenges or key takeaways from the trip?

A: When you’re on a mission trip, especially all of us as believers and Christians, there’s a providential aspect to many missions. The biggest challenge we had one day, on Wednesday, was losing most of the day due to rain. So, when we returned on Thursday, we had one day to install the entire roofing system of the well, which was a lot to get done. Everything ended up coming together, and many people came together to help. Based on the two groups, we had 26 people in total, which is a lot on a mission trip. Despite that, thankfully, everyone got along well, and there were no personal issues or “squabbles”. Everything ended up coming together the last day and we were able to finish it all on time. We gave it up to providence, to the Lord’s will, and knowing that we would get everything done by the time we needed to leave. Thursday was a beautiful day, with great working conditions, and everything just clicked.