Photo credits for this report go to Bob Hentzen and CFCA-Guatemala staffers Ricardo Ajpuac and Gerver Churunel.
We send joyful and heartfelt greetings to you, this time, from Guatemala.
For Cristina and I, it’s great to have this awareness trip at home.
Each one of these trips is special and quite unique.
We try to share the magic and mystique of the sponsor’s presence with our families in various parts of the country.
We are honored to travel and learn with these good people.
In addition to seeing all of their own sponsored friends and their families, trip participants have sponsored and met six new children this week.
Very encouraging is the fact that these trip participants requested 78 child folders from around the world. Dear friends, we wish you every blessing and success in your efforts.
For this awareness trip in Guatemala, we are welcoming 27 participants from the following countries and states:
On Sunday, after Mass at the Cathedral in Guatemala City, our group headed to the highlands to visit sponsored friends and their families in Santa Cruz Balanya.
We find inspiring stories in the areas where we work.
Testimony from Marcos, a CFCA scholar in Guatemala:
“I found myself without a father. At age 9, I started working at a sawmill to help my mother and siblings. … to lose a Dad is the most difficult thing in life. With my CFCA scholarship, my dream is to graduate as an agronomist and help my family.”
— Marcos, a CFCA scholar
As you can imagine, I’ve seen an untold number of shows from sponsored friends and family members over the years. I enjoy each one, and I learn something each time.
Our mothers perform many traditional dances. Several of these dances honor Tecun Uman, king of the Ki’che’ people and national hero of Guatemala.
Maybe it is just me, but I hear the sadness of conquest in many melodies.
We visited families from San Pedro La Laguna, Santa Clara, San Juan and San Pablo.
A special warmth exists in these people.
They seem to regard us as real friends and family who struggle and walk with them.
The mothers are admirable with their income-generating activities. I told them we want to honor them and their culture.
Sponsor visits are very much sought after in Guatemala. We try to alternate visits in various parts of the country.
CFCA in Guatemala:
Children sponsored: 79,265
Elderly sponsored: 3,819
Waiting list: 7,612
Upcoming awareness trips to Guatemala:
Every year, hundreds of sponsors return from our trips deeply touched by what they see.
They see courage in our sponsored friends and their families. They see humanity. They see much more than poverty. They see potential.
On the trip, CFCA will introduce you to your sponsored friend.
That is only the beginning.
You will see first hand the realities of CFCA families and learn about their heroic efforts to walk a path out of poverty.
Your presence is considered a blessing by our families.
Guatemala became one of our first projects more than 30 years ago.
“I’m grateful and overwhelmed to really be here. I want to continue to help others.”
— Tina Coffelt, CFCA sponsor and trip participant.
“Madrina, te quiero mucho. … Me ayuda a mi y a mi familia.”
[Sponsor, I love you … you help me and my family]
— Nancy, Tina Coffelt’s sponsored friend.
“Many of our mothers are heads of households. They work very hard, keeping body and soul of the family together. Mary de Magdala was able to recognize Jesus when he called her by name.”
— Father John Goggin, San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala.
“I have graduated from the program now. I am 22 years old and fortunately I am working. I was sponsored for 18 years, and it is a real blessing to be able to see my sponsors, Carol and Peter. Thank you, Carol and Peter, for sponsoring my little brother.”
— Ingrid, a former sponsored child in Guatemala.
The sponsored elderly ask me about the next awareness trip after each of these gatherings.
Guatemala has been very blessed with over 83,000 families participating in our programs.
We are also blessed with a dedicated in-country staff and excellent international support staff.
Voices of hope
As we finish this awareness trip, I pray with deep gratitude for each of you who helped make it happen — safely and with profound learning.
Just as we send forth these gifted and wonderful members, Cristina and I will head further south to Bolivia for a national formation encounter.
We will be joined by Dan Pearson and an excellent team from international programs staffers in Kansas City.
We appreciate, beyond words, your solidarity.
Please know of our love and thanks.