Editors Note: The following Story and photographs were submitted by Bill Emerson, one of the missionaries on the recent trip to Guatemala.
Between 18 and 26 June 2010 four members of the SE Synod visited Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala (ILAG). These were Bill Emerson, Dennis Fry, and Christina Daniel, all from Messiah Lutheran Church, Madison, AL, and Glenna Mason, from Christ Lutheran Church, Prattville, AL.
The ILAG is headquartered in Guatemala City and the Lutheran Center consists of three buildings, two of which have been built in the last three years, and are used by visitors and for classes and church services. One of the new buildings has four dormitory style rooms on the first floor, with each room having space for six people. Above these rooms are the new chapel and a storage area. The second new building has a kitchen and dining area and above that a large class room. This was the center for the SE Synod representatives while they were in Guatemala City.
On Saturday morning, June 19, the SE Synod visitors painted a wall at the ILAG center, then in the afternoon several native/indigenous women and their children visited ILAG. Glenna Mason helped teach sewing to the women while the others taught the children crafts and Bible stories, and supervised them at play.
Sunday morning we all attended a church, La Resurrección (The Resurrection), which ILAG has supported for several years. While it is in a poor neighborhood the building itself has greatly improved over the last four years and now has a nice floor, a roof, good pews, and is painted. When Bill Emerson first visited the church in 2007 it had a dirt floor and the cinderblock walls were unpainted. Missionary Amanda Olson de Castillo helped conduct the church service. After returning to the Lutheran Center we attended the chapel service at the center. In the afternoon we painted a large railing on the roof of the newest building.
On Monday, 21 June the group left Guatemala City and traveled north over the mountains and through the highlands in preparation for visiting two villages, which we reached the afternoon of Tuesday, 22 June. Each village contained about 12 families. Esther de Castillo and the younger Padre Horacio Castillo were the trip leaders. The last part of the trip included a 2-1/2 + hour ride over rough roads and a ½ hour hike through some muddy trails and crossing a few streams. We reached Bella Vista about noon and attended a two-hour church service, then met with village leaders and had a late lunch.
We then took a boat ride to another village, Porvenir de los Martires, where we helped dedicate a brand new church building and participated in the initial service in the building. We spent the night at this village. We left Porvenir de los Martires on Wednesday, June 23, and took a boat upstream for several miles where we met our van and driver so we could return to Guatemala City, where we arrived about 10:15 pm.
Bishop Horacio Castillo had been hospitalized with a hand injury and he was at the ILAG center when we returned and is recovering well. The SE Synod group, with Amanda, toured Guatemala City and then we visited a school sponsored by ILAG. We taught crafts related to Bible stories to the children at the school.
After a visit to Antigua on Friday, we left on Saturday, 26 June for a return to Atlanta!