Missions Team trip to Guatemala
Glory to God for all things!
Greetings Vladyka Melchesidek, fathers and faithful brothers and sisters of the diocese. I greet you in the name of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ!
As Paul and Barnabus were sent out to minister the Gospel and returned to there community to report recorded in Acts 14:
"They passed through Pisidia and arrived in Pamphylia. After preaching the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there, they sailed to Antioch from where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work which they had now fulfilled. When they arrived, they gathered the Church and reported all that God had accomplished with them, and that he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles."
So, we too, with great joy, write here to report to our home parish (Sts. Peter and Paul - Crossingville, PA) and the Archdiocese of the work of the Gospel in Guatemala, through God's graces upon us. On May 19 Monday a team of 12 adults and youth from Sts. Peter and Paul flew out of Erie Pennsylvania to Guatemala City to spend a week at the San Migel Orphanage and Holy Trinity Monastery. The trip was organized by Anna Rochoki, who returned for her second visit. The responsibilities of the team were multifaceted. The ministry to the children of the orphanage was the main priority of the Team. While there we took all the older children to Antigua, Guatemala's oldest city, where we visited the fabulous Jade Museum followed by an ice cream treat for the children. The general routine of each day was to spend praying with the children and spending after school time with them. The girls and boys were segregated. The boys liked soccer and a special class on aerodynamics (which involved a lot of paper airplanes!). The girls made beautiful chalk drawings and taught the missionaries some new games. The morning began at 645am with Matins, breakfast at 730am and school begins at 8am.
The food at the orphanage is excellent, with Mother Ivonne overseeing all of the children's care making sure nutrition is good, and all the children are healthy. A whole pig is donated every 15 days. Madre Ivonne was a scientist before becoming a nun, so she has used her gifts to benefit the children. Medicinal mushrooms, fresh Papaya, and a menu of fresh whole fruits and vegetables was our diet. Most of which are grown on the property. We toured the tilapia farm near the monastery and the rabbit farm. Rabbits are preferred to chickens as they have less diseases. Cleanliness is also a priority in the whole of the orphanage and monastery.
While in school the team had the responsibility to do some needed yard work to keep the snakes out of the living areas. Having only moved in this new facility in November of this last year, the dormatories still needed some final fixtures to be put in, which our team had the skill to accomplish. The team also made other preparation during this time. Lunch was served at 1pm each day, then afternoon work resumed till vespers at 4:30pm.
Each day was finished with a daily vespers service and a time of reflection. Mother Ivonne was very pleased to have Two whole family units there in Fr. Daniel Mathewson and Mat. Gail with their three children, Olivia, Jesse and Nathan and Matthew and Anna Rochocki and their infant son Lincoln, with Grandma Lisa Danko. Debbie Kirzmanich and her daughter Rachael also offered the mother daughter relationship as well. The Mathewson's were able to stay together in one of the guest rooms for missionaries. The children, were able to watch the family dynamic, as, being orphans do not often see. Mother Ivonne likes for teams to bring this visual offering to the children. Teresa Hinkler was the lone single team member, who offered her great spanish speaking skills.
The setting is incredible, resting on the North side of Lake Atitlan in Buena Villa about 17 miles out of Guatemala City. The overlook of the whole campus is the lake and two large Volcanoes: Pacya and Aqua. Pacya is still active and could be seen at night. We finished our time on Sunday May 25th, the Sunday of the Blind Man. The team worshiped with the children at a beautiful Divine Liturgy with Fr Daniel as the celebrant. Following a Sunday agape brunch a mime was preformed by the team on the incarnation and Creation. The children thoroughly enjoyed it. The children then presented the team with some hand made gifts and many Gracias'.
The needs are great in Guatemala. While we were there, we had the opportunity to meet with Fr David Rucker and Mat, Rozanne the Mission Specialists for OCMC working in the highlands for three months at a time. They were just finishing work and heading home for three months. There goal has been to train pastors and lead the over 40,000 converts who have joined the Orthodox Faith in the last year! Guatemala is experiencing a revival to the true faith. These three nuns have begun a great work and the harvest is coming in. Now, Fr David says we need more laborers to help. He and Mat. Rozanne have been working in one parish of 1000 people where he serves the Liturgy each Sunday as the only priest. The receiving of communion takes an hour and a half! The remainder of the week is spent training the pastors who will become priests. Pray for Fr David and Mat. Rozanne as they rest, and pray that God would raise up others to help in this needy land.
The team from Sts Peter and Paul has offered and been used. We look to continue to pray for the children of San Miguel and the nuns and many others who care for these precious little ones. We were asked by both Mother Ivonne and Fr. David to continue to be missionaries where we are in Crossingville and in the Archdiocese of Western PA, and to continue to be faithful to the work of the Gospel.
We plan to help parishes in need in our own diocese this summer and will be making final announcements to the Archdiocesan website in the coming days. Likely dates for folks to volunteer for will be between July 14th and 25th 2014.