BSM Students Make Meaningful Impact in Guatemala
It was an early wakeup call for 48 BSM students and chaperones as they made their way to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP) Airport on July 9 with tickets to Antigua, Guatemala in hand! Thanks to the generosity of BSM’s Parent Association and other donors, the team checked a record breaking 95 suitcases full of supplies that were brought to support the God’s Child Project in Antigua, an organization BSM has partnered with for five years. Their objective is to “break the bitter chains of poverty through education, housing, and healthcare.” Throughout the week, the students focused and reflected on growing in solidarity with their hosts, serving all people, and growing in relationship with Christ. There were three main components of the trip: connecting with the people of Guatemala through activities, serving the people of Guatemala through the God’s Child Project, and devoting time to notice God’s hand in it all.
The Red Knights arrived safely in Guatemala and were rewarded with delicious chicken at the popular restaurant Pollo Campero. After greeting their three host families, they made their way to the Dreamer Center for an orientation led by founder Patrick Atkinson about the God’s Child Project.
Interactions and relationships were abundant throughout the week as children embraced the group at the Dreamer Center and building sites. This provided ample opportunity to practice Spanish and visit with the kids and families! A game of fútbol developed on the first night, and despite BSM’s best efforts, the local children prevailed. Another highlight for the group was holding the newborns in the Jackson house that were receiving special care for malnourishment and medical issues. A benefit of staying with host families was the authentic Guatemalan breakfast the students filled up on before starting their day.
Their senses were on overdrive the whole week as they took in the scenic views of smoking volcanoes, historic Mayan temples, and Lake Atitlán; listened to the stories of the people, the noise of the market, and partook in a Catholic mass entirely in Spanish. The group tasted new dishes and cooked their own tortillas; felt the dirt on their skin after a hard day of work, and they swung around their dance partners after being given a salsa and bachata lesson. These new experiences were plentiful and impactful; one student stated, “The country is absolutely beautiful, and everyone we’ve met has been so gracious to host us in their country.”
Building six houses required a lot of physical work, including digging 25” trenches, cutting through rebar, mixing cement, and moving cinder blocks for hours on end; they even worked through the rain thanks to the wet season that settles over Guatemala this time of year. Despite the weather, the work ethic of the students was high as they wished to complete the houses according to schedule. They stayed on track, and our Red Knights once again successfully achieved their construction goal of building six houses and outdoor kitchens, as well as bunk beds in just four days’ time. A shopping trip for mattresses, bedding, groceries, and cleaning supplies allowed the students to put the finishing touches on the houses. The sun shone brightly on the final workday, and the project foreman led a blessing ceremony before the teams presented the new homes to six grateful families.
The BSM chaperones recounted, “Students shared that before the trip, they had been presented with one “story” of Guatemala—one of poverty and violence. During the week, Guatemala shared another ”story" with us—one of hospitality and generosity.” Our partners at The God’s Child Project were full of gratitude to receive the gifts of BSM’s time, talents, and treasures, but equally our BSM group was touched by the light in every person in Antigua.
The students reflected on a prayer from Archbishop Oscar Romero during the week which speaks of God’s magnificent vision. A portion of the prayer which was especially relevant to the building projects states, “We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.” God’s capabilities are extraordinary, and our BSM students were proud to see evidence of this up close.
Upon arriving home safely, the students have been challenged to nurture the seeds planted in them and others by answering the call to serve again in the future, in whatever form that may be.
The video below, created by Red Knight Liv Schmitz, is a small look into the tremendous impact the trip had on our students and chaperones.