Jul 30 2011

Bob’s notes ñ mission awareness trip to Guatemala

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“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trip participants. This trip is his first since completing Walk2gether, a nearly 8,000-mile walk through 12 countries to shed light on poverty and the benefits of child sponsorship. You can see Bob’s full update on his Facebook page.

To say the welcome offered to Cristina and me in Guatemala after completing Walk2gether was spectacular would be an understatement.

It was truly heartwarming and encouraging. We’re deeply grateful and look forward to moving ahead with confidence on all fronts.

It’s a pleasure to be in touch with you on this July 2011 mission awareness trip to Guatemala.

The children and families from the neighborhood of La Selva in the neighborhood of Peronia offered a spontaneous and well-prepared show for the sponsors. They won the hearts of all. Their spontaneity and childlike joy represented a great start for this trip.

Of special note is the testimony of 17-year-old CFCA scholar Pedro. Born into a struggling family in Peronia, Pedro has responded beautifully to his four years of computer studies.

His family has also learned to better manage their family budget. Working together, they were able to save 6,000 quetzals (approximately $770 US) to purchase a small computer and printer.

For his CFCA service project, Pedro tutors sponsored children and teaches them to make piÒatas.

A quick tour of Constitution Plaza on Sunday morning found us amidst the preparations of a large political rally for one of the presidential hopefuls. Guatemala is blanketed with campaign messages, in anticipation for the Sept. 11 elections.

One subproject near Antigua hosted us Sunday morning. It has 2,564 sponsored children and 199 sponsored elderly. Its Hope for a Family program is very much alive.

CFCA mothers Luki, Victoria and Clara shared their stories of struggle, family challenges and deep appreciation for their participation in CFCA. Mothers demonstrated samples of things they produce and market in the Antigua area. Luki and Clara have raised their children for many years totally on their own.

The day arrived when all the sponsored children come together in San Lucas Toliman. This is an emotional and memorable day for the sponsored, their families, sponsors and staff.

The relationship between families transcends borders, languages and cultures. Sponsored children from far-reaching parts of the country fast become sisters and brothers.

The venue for this celebration of dignity and unity is a pleasant, green spot on the shore of Lake Atitlan. ìFrutiî the clown kept everyone relaxed and involved, while the marimba band made us all want to dance. Itís inspiring to see the interaction of mothers, children, staff and sponsors.

Our in-country travels to families began Tuesday. I had asked our group to pick me up at the San Lucas Toliman parish. I traditionally ride down there each morning on a horse.

Itís also tradition that there are lots of parish visitors. They come to witness, learn and help out on various projects. A number of these good people are CFCA sponsors.

Others are interested in learning more about us. These groups represent a nice variety of denominations.

Some leaders and pastors asked me to speak to their group about Walk2gether and sponsorship.

Our buses did stop by the parish to fetch me. We took our group picture in front of the parish church and headed south to the warmer lowlands (Cuyotenango), where we have about 1,200 families in our program.

A warm, lively coastal celebration awaited us. We experienced 10 talent performances by the children, a demonstration of mothers’ livelihood projects, visits to four families and subsequent dialog between sponsors and the sponsored.

The following morning we enjoyed the boat ride and our visit to Santa Catarina Palopo. This indigenous community is on the north side of Lake Atitlan.

Stories of valiant and long-suffering mothers touched us all tremendously. Our visits to the families also have a powerful impact on all of us.

To date 11 new children have been sponsored by participants during this mission awareness trip.

Father John led our second Eucharistic celebration of the week Thursday morning. It was a meaningful, musical, bilingual celebration.

Every time we invite Padre Juan to celebrate Holy Mass, he arrives with a typed personal and ìqualityî homily. God bless you, Fr. John. Receive the deep appreciation of your CFCA family.

On our last evening in San Lucas, the sponsored children, families and staff gave us a fine demonstration of various Mayan traditions with Karen Allemang’s presentation. I feel confident that a good number of sponsors will want to join us as outreach volunteers.

We visited the Museo del CafÈ on the outskirts of Antigua on Saturday. This interesting, pleasant place offers sponsors a nice change of pace and a chance to learn about growing organic coffee, the history of the marimba and other native instruments.

Our free time in Antigua is a pleasant experience, where the sponsors and their families can relax and enjoy a nice meal in one of the restaurants.

Bob Hentzen
July 23, 2011

0 thoughts on “Bob’s notes ñ mission awareness trip to Guatemala”

  1. It was so wonderful readying about the July 2011 MAT. I will be participating in the August MAT to Guatemala and am so very excited.

  2. I had the good fortune to be one of the sponsors along on this trip. I know every trip is special, but it was icing on the cake to have Bob and Cristina along for it. Bob’s music, which was a part of most worship moments, plays on in my mind. These families and everyone who greeted us and spoke with us during our visits to the subprojects were so engaged and are hungry to find constructive ways to support their families, and keep their children fed, educated, sheltered and, above-all, LOVED.

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