Guatemala Mission Trip
Delivery Water Filters to families in XE’siwann
By Eric Heckathorne
We woke up this morning at 6:00 am in Antigua even though the alarm clock did not go off as planned. 5 of us (Peter, Paul, Patrick, Pastor Mike and I) met up with Dick Rutgers at our Hotel. We left for Rabinal around 8:30 am.
On the way to Rabinal, we stopped to visit a family in San Miguel Chicaj. Dick Rutgers has visited with this family many times in the past. They have a 12-year-old boy with MS who confined to a wheel chair. We met with them and delivered a 5-gallon bucket with a water filter attached. These people were very poor but appreciated that we would stop by to give them this gift. It was very hard to see how this family was living and the fact that they have a 12-year-old boy who probably has 4 years to live. This was my first experience on how a number of people live in Guatemala. It was hard for me to leave as I just wanted to continue to visit and help them out. As we were leaving I started to shed a tear because I just could not imagine the struggles that they face on a daily basis.
We then drove to Rabinal and checked into our Hotel. This was a very basic hotel and actually thought these were going to be the type of arrangements that we would experience during our entire trip in Guatemala. It was a very basic room with a bathroom. This bathroom had windows that would never close which I thought was unusual. Later on I discovered that the rooms were $6.00 US dollars a night.
We walked to the outside market, which started to close because it was late in the day. This market reminded me of some of the TV stories I have seen in past years of open markets in 3rd world countries.
On our way back to the hotel, we noticed a couple of ladies making tortillas and were selling them. We decided to purchase a bag for 5Q.
We went back to our hotel to have dinner. Nancy Watkins prepared a picnic basket. We had Peanut Butter & Jelly and Bread. The majority of us decided to make Peanut Butter & Jelly on the Tortillas that were previously purchased. It was very good.
After dinner we decided to cut holes in the bottom of the 5 gallon buckets that we brought with us from Antigua. We were preparing these buckets for the next day so we could easily install the filters that we brought along with no issues.
We then went to our rooms and everyone went to bed.
I was woken up at 3:00 am due to a Rooster who decided that it was Sunrise. I fell back to sleep but woke up several times due to this Rooster and the cat who was chasing it. We finally got out of bed around 6:00 am.
I decided that I was not going to shower, as I was a little freaked out about the electrical wires attached to the showerhead. I must admit I am willing to try new things but I convinced my self to skip a shower today.
We went to the room next to the hotel office to have breakfast, which was unusual but very good.
We packed up everything and met up with Luis and his wife who work with locals in Rabinal as well as the locals we were going to visit in XE’siwann.
We followed Luis in his motorcycle through very rugged dusty roads to XE’siwann. Once we arrived, we met with the local leader and were instructed to bring the filters and 5 gallon buckets to the school which was down the mountain. Back in the US you would think that they would have stairs or steps to this school because of the kids but this was not the case. We have a steep trail to walk down which was a challenge at times.
Once we brought down all the buckets and water filters we waited around a while for all the families to show up. We have 49 water filters to deliver to select families that were chosen by the local leader.
I am not sure of the exact order but I believe Luis’s wife went to the front to talk to the locals about why we were here and our purpose. Dick brought two young men with him who helped translate for him. Juan Carlos (Mike’s friend) came along as well to help translate. Dick introduced himself and the team from the US. He explained the water filters, how they worked and how it should be used.
Once the introduction was over, Mike Watkins gave the message of accepting Jesus Christ and your personal savior. He connected having a pure heart with Jesus with clean drinking water that would be provided to them with the bucket and water filter attached.
We then started to put all the water filters together. We handed out the gospel of John in Spanish with each water filter.
I was amazed how many families attended. Also I noticed that there were only a few men around. I understand the majority of the men were working on the farms.
It was very hard to see these people in need and the fact that they cannot get clean water as we take for granted in the US. These people struggle on a daily basis just to have food, water and shelter for their family.
After everyone received their filters, we walked up a road and up a steep mountain to visit a friend of Dick Rutgers. This family had a 16 year old boy (Ruben) who was confined to a wheel chair. Dick was previously told that their Mother died this past year and this was very hard on the family. The father was drinking and was not working which forced his young daughter to take care of the family including Ruben.
This girl wants to go to school but could not because she has to take care of her brother. His Dad wanted to put Ruben in foster care. Dick said he was going to look into putting Ruben in foster care and will let the family know what he finds out.
How sad it was to hear that the father wants to put his kid in foster care. I understand somewhat but at the same time I don’t want to be judgmental. The living conditions that they were living in were very bad in my eyes. There were animals running around, no doors on the walls and it was very unsanitary.
This day meant a lot to me. How blessed I was to have the opportunity to serve this community and hopefully save a generation with the water filters that we were providing. This is a day that I will never forget.
How spoiled we are in the US. Seeing the way people live in a 3rd world country on TV compared to seeing it for your self is like night and day. There are so many people in Guatemala who need our help and need to receive Jesus. I think and pray for Guatemala daily and hope that one day God will bring me back to serve again.
Dick – Thanks again for all the work that you do in Guatemala. You are a wonderful person. God had really worked through you to touch so many lives in this country. I have a better appreciation for your work and the mission field in Guatemala.
We left and headed back to Antigua.