Guatemala Mission

Pictures and reflections from the 2014 Guatemala Mission:

We began a relationship with the mission director Shawn Smith, a Christian musician, when he came to our congregation five years ago to assist us with a servant event called “Be Like Jesus.” After the event, he led worship and began to teach us about how he had been called to begin a mission to help the very poor in Guatemala. The name of the mission is “Now Is the Time” because people tend to think that depending on what is happening in their lives, there is never a good time to serve on a mission. But when we interrupt our busy lives, we discover that indeed, “Now is the Time.”
Shawn extended an open invitation for anyone who was interested to join him that summer, and four of our members took him up on his offer. They worked on a floor crew that built concrete floors in the homes of the very poor, who typically live on $1-3/day. The concrete floors help protect the people from parasites that are picked up by living on dirt floors.
One of the first members to go, Teri Mitchell, was instrumental in working with the Lion’s Club to start an eyeglass clinic in Guatemala for the four weeks each summer that the mission is working.
The other main type of crew is the stove crew. These volunteers are trained to install efficient wood burning stoves that allowed the people to get away from cooking over an open fire inside their homes. (It rains 5 months out of the year.) The stoves are 70% more efficient than an open fire, which means that the average woman gets back two days each week, that previously had been spent gathering wood, that could now be used to weave their handicrafts to earn a living. The stoves also vent the smoke via a stove pipe through the tin roof which improved immediately the quality of life for these folks and eliminated respiratory problems related to breathing so much smoke. The smoke in the homes also caused damage to their eyes making the eyeglass clinic even more important.
In 2013, we had 26 people join the mission through St. John’s. The mission each summer is spread out over five weeks from mid-June to the third week of July. We are based out of the Hotel Candelaria in Antigua, where we join Christians from other churches around the U.S. Normal capacity is 40 per week. The owner of Hotel Candelaria, Redolpho, helps support this mission by only charging us 25% of his usual daily rate. That is a real sacrifice, because June and July is the busiest season for tourism in Antigua, but he is insistent because he believes in the mission.
Each year, the mission serves in four different communities around Antigua. Week one is always spent at the orphanage Hogar Miguel Magone. Over the years the mission has helped in the construction of the orphanage. Most recently, we were working on the construction of a girls’ home. Most of the children are not true orphans, but children removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect. Brothers and sisters are separated and sent to different orphanages because most orphanages are for either boys or girls. Hogar Miguel Magone wants to reunite brothers and sisters.
In addition to construction on the home, the stoves, the floors and the eyeglass clinic, volunteers have also hosted a humanitarian aid station where people could pick up shoes and clothing for the children so they can attend public school and where medication was dispensed to get rid of intestinal parasites. We also host a vacation bible school program.
There is always a reserve of money donated for the mission that is used to hire Guatemalans to continue the work of building floors and installing stoves until the money runs out. In January, Shawn and his wife Damaris (a native of Guatemala), return to meet with the village leaders to learn from their experiences of the previous summer and begin the hard work of planning for next summer.

Supporting St. John’s Mission Trips to Guatemala

It is as easy as filling your car with gas. The St. John’s Guatemala mission teams will once again be selling Kwik Trip Gift Cards. The proceeds of the fundraiser are designated to support Guatemala mission trips. The gift cards may be used at any Kwik Trip location to purchase both gas and items in the store. You can even pay for gas at the pump using your gift cards.

Gift Cards will be sold in denominations of $25-$100 and can be purchased with cash or check.

For additional information or if you want to purchase cards but won’t be at Sunday services, contact Marcia Szabados,


We will be working  at an orphanage called, Hogar Miguel Magone, and in the village of Aguacate. If you are interested in learning more about this mission trip, please email Carrie Odden, at




Ed & Melissa Swanson gave St. John’s a copy of a book entitled “How to Care For Missionaries as They Prepare To Go, Are in the Field and Return Home” for our Church Library. The book was written by Neal Pirolo and provides good insight.


Please see the March “Connections in Christ” for their newsletter and pictures.




Please see their newsletter and pictures in the March “Connections in Christ“.