Today Friday 28th July 2017, marks our first week here in Guatemala. It has been quite an eventful week.
On our first day here Fr. Anton took us for a small tour around the area showing us the ports and explaining to us that this s where many people in Guatemala are employed. We also visited the church dedicated to Santo Hermano Pedro, which was previously built through funds from Guatemalta Foundation.
It was quite interesting going around town in Fr. Anton’s truck and getting to experience the differences in the Guatemalan culture and seeing the way of living and customs of the locals.
During our first week here, we got the opportunity to visit various villages where Fr. Anton goes to celebrate mass once a month. During these visits we got to spend some time with the local children while their parents attended the mass. We had prepared some games which we played with the children during this time. It was very heart warming to see how happy and joyful the kids were, considering the simplicity they live in when compared to our lifestyle. We also handed out some sweets and soft toys which we had taken with us and it was so fulfilling to see their happy faces and their appreciation. It was also very touching when the locals welcomed us in their homes and prepared us lunch.
Before coming to Guatemala, we had held a number of events to collect money to be able to build a house for a family in need. On one of our days here we got to help with the work being done on the house and we got to see the progress that had been done.
We also got to visit the men’s prison in Puerto Barrios, where Fr. Anton goes to celebrate mass for the Catholic men there. This was quite a new experience for us as we got to see the mere conditions that these people live in. Fr. Anton explained to us that whereas the prison is able to hold a little over 200 people, there are currently over 900 inmates, and we could clearly see the inconvenience in this when we saw many men sleeping on the floors in corridors due to lack of space. The mass there was such a pleasant experience. The men participating in the mass made it into such a wonderful celebration by the very cheerful music and singing. They were very happy to see us there and were very welcoming and friendly towards us. We also got to see the various jobs the men do around the prison, such as the making of hammocks, pens and bracelets which they sell to visitors.
It is so nice to see how much Fr. Anton is appreciated by the people of the community for the generous amount of work he does for them. We noticed this on many occasions where people greet him in such a warm and friendly manner no matter where we are. Fr.Anton has made sure to make this an amazing experience for us, by also taking us on some leisurely activities such as visiting the city of Coban and learning more about its culture. We got to meet various people working for the Stella Maris TV station and got to experience a day of filming with them when we went to meet the first ever bishop of Guatemala.
It has been such a great experience so far and we are so looking forward for the days to come and for the new adventures they will hold.