They say missionary work is often a humbling experience. That was definitely the case for six Ohioans who recently donated their time and energy to help the people of Guatemala.
The trip marked Mandy Diller's first year as a missionary in Guatemala. Her daughter, Alysha, accompanied her; Mandy Diller plans on taking another daughter back to the region in several years. It wasn't just the beautiful mountains that drew her in and were embedded in her memory.
"The people impressed me the most!” Diller said. “They are so loving, caring and happy, despite the things they do not have.”
Guatemala is home to 15.8 million people and is the most populated state in Central America. It's also one of the poorest countries in Latin America with more than half the population living below the poverty level. Yet you wouldn't know about the dire circumstances by speaking to the people, Diller explained.
“They make you feel so welcomed and demonstrate that relationships and faith in God are far more important than material things,” she said.
The Catholic churches of St. Peter, St. Joe and St. Anthony in Mercer County, Ohio, have been sending missionary groups to the Guatemala region since 1999. People from nearby Ohio parishes also make the journey. This year's team included the Dillers, Nancy and Leanna Wolters, Ben Buening and Kathy Hemmelgarn.
The missionary group this year stayed in LaLabor with Sister Kris Schrader and Sister Dani Brought. Sister Kris operates the school in the village and Sister Dani has established five health clinics in surrounding villages.
“They are amazing people,” Diller said of the nuns.
The work performed by the Ohio missionaries is different year to year, depending on the needs.
“This year we painted a room in the health clinic, painted the rafters and walls of the home economics room at the school, sanded and painted desks at the school, planted trees for their reforestation project, helped the kids at the school learn how to brush their teeth for the dental care project, and tutored some students for their end of the year English test,” Diller said.
The biggest needs of the Guatemalan people are learning how to take care of themselves physically and financially. They also can use money for schooling and health care, she added.
TotallyPromotional.com recently donated drawstring bags and cups that will be delivered to the nuns this fall. The items will be used as gifts and giveaways at the school and health clinics. Diller said the Sisters are very grateful for the donation.
“They are looking for anything because the people truly have so little,” Diller added.
TotallyPromotional.com is proud of the Catholic missionaries who are helping make a difference in the lives of the young and old in Guatemala. We thank you for your efforts!