“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy

reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love” – Saint Basil.

“BELIEVE, LOVE, DO”, was the motto chosen by our group consisting of fifteen volunteers who have
been hosted for the past three weeks by the GuateMalta Foundation at the parish of Santo Tomás
de Castilla in Puerto Barrios, Izabal in Guatemala.

“BELIEVE”. This first word of our motto was chosen to reflect our Christian values and Catholic faith
which we aspired to share with others and base our missionary trip on. During our three week stay
at the Parish of Santo Tomás de Castilla we were struck by the high esteem which the residents
have towards Fr. Anton Gech, religion, and the Catholic faith. This was moresoever evident in the
remote villages which are situated in the dense tropical forests of Izabal, wherein despite their
limited financial means, they all had a well maintained and equipped Churches which were situated
at the core of their small villages. A memorable experience in particular was when we were present
for the consecration of a new church in the village of Creek Maya, wherein hundreds of residents
from nearby indigenous communities attended to a ceremony which was characterised by folk
dance and traditional marimba music. A common scene which we experienced without exception in
every church which we visited was the strong participation by the attendees, music, and the sense of
sincere peace, joy, and brotherhood. All these feelings and experiences made us realise how
sometimes our faith is superficial, and challenged us to go back to our roots and realise what the real
Catholic faith entails. These experiences also made us witness a Church which is juvenile, alive, and
humble.

“LOVE”, the second word of our motto represented one of the main pillars of our Catholic faith and a
basic value which all humans irrespectively of age, sex and race strive for. During these past three
weeks we could not but admire Fr. Anton’s enthusiasm and sincere love to the community which he
humbly serves and vice versa. This reciprocal love was clearly evident during a visit to a particular
village which is situated by the sea and only accessible by boats, wherein a group of about twenty
children greeted Fr. Anton swinging palm branches in their hands and singing traditional lively
hymns.


“DO”. “How to change the world? One random act of kindness at a time” – Morgan Freeman. Whilst
being aware that our deeds would not change the life and precarious situation which some villagers
face on a daily basis, we have travelled to Guatemala with the aim of assisting Fr. Anton and the
GuateMalta Foundation to continue working on various projects which will directly impact the lives
of some of the most vulnerable residents living at the Parish which Fr. Anton is in charge of. Being
there for three weeks, we could witness the various projects which the GuateMalta Foundation is
presently doing, and has done for the past years, including the building of a sports facility wherein
the children and teenagers of the vicinities can access freely, the setting up of a TV Channel which
has been running for the past three years, the construction of a Church dedicated to our Lady of
Stella Maris and the organisation of various educational courses in ICT and music. Although
admittedly our contribution was very small we were touched by the extent to which our deeds were
highly appreciated by the residents of Fr. Anton’s parish at Santo Tomás de Castilla and the other
remote communities which Fr. Anton is in charge of.

Whilst these three weeks have passed like a breeze, this experience will be forever carved in our
mind and hearts. We would like to sincerely thank Fr. Anton and the GuateMalta Foundation for giving us this opportunity which enabled us to grow both as human beings and as Christians. Last but
not least a heartfelt thanks goes to the residents of the Parish of Santo Tomás de Castilla who
made us feel at home from our first day. We will miss you!

Andrew Cauchi and Maria Grima