Guatemala Mission Trip


A team in Chi Chi Casinago Guatemala with the family they just finished building a house for.

Claire Baker, Reporter

Elizabeth Garvey has been going down to Guatemala since February of 2006 with the church The House of Prayer. There she builds houses to help the people affected by guerilla warfare.  

When the guerrilla warfare hit any portion of the mountains the government military was also attacking whichever force got to a village first automatically took all the men and boys.

The people who refused to go were killed on the spot. If they went they had no training, they were frontline and they were killed. The guerilla warfare wiped out the vast majority of the male population from ages 15 to 60.

The warfare started at the end of 1960 – November of 1960, “The government had been so harshly treating the Mayan people up in the mountains. I’m picking my words very carefully,” says Garvey.

There was a great deal of unrest up in the mountains and then there was an overthrow attempt by the Military Academy. Guerrilla warfare mostly took place in the mountains. When the men and the boys were either taken or killed, family life came to a standstill. The people were so poor to begin with. They received very little government support of any kind and very few sources of income. Poverty became extreme.

“What kept me coming back was the desperate plight of the older women, at first, women whose husbands had been taken and whose older sons had been taken, they were living—and in some cases still live—in the darkest, wettest downhill corner of the old Adobe houses that a relative would have.  If they still had children, they were raising, they would have a corner with some ratty old blankets and quilts, and that was all they owned,” exclaimed Elizabeth. 

That just tore at her heart. And that’s one of the reasons but she kept going back. The extended family of the widow gives a portion of their land for the house to be built. Sometimes the Guatemalan team members, who are part of the staff, have to literally go in with hand tools, not big power tools or Caterpillar type tractors and front end loaders, things like that. They have to create a flat place from a hillside. 

Occasionally, the house is only with a 12×8 covered extension because that is all the land that can be provided. “It’s more space than they can imagine, and the joy on their faces I tried to contain my joy, while I’m sharing this with you won’t be too emotional, but the joy,” said Elizabeth. 

Volunteers also served meals and some weeks, there would be 150 to 190 children every single day coming to eat. Those children started to flourish and grow. 

“That’s the important thing with all the volunteers, no matter how young they are. We’ve had 10 and 11-year-olds go, no matter how old they are. I’m now probably the oldest one going or close to it, but going with a servant’s heart going not to expect to be helped, but going planning to be a helper…”