Student Leaders: SPRINT

Summer 2010 SPRINT Teams: Guatemala

Trip Dates: August 9 - September 6, 2010

Project Description:
Working with America Latina, an organization which focuses on education, health care, and community outreach in Guatemala. Students will experience Guatemalan culture by participating in home stays near the schools and clinics which are run by America Latina. Students will volunteer in a variety of America Latina’s programs, including medical clinics and school classrooms.

America Latina

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Guatemala SPRINT Team

Team Updates

September 6

Guatemala Cake

Dear Friends of America Latina: It is with great gratitude to our God that this morning we sent safely back home our dear SPU girls.

We had our tearful farewell party last night, with a pretty thank you cake. The girls picture was on the cake, with nine hearts drawn on it signifying our love for them and how they had left their heart in America Latina and Guatemala. It was their very first picture as they walked into America Latina a month ago. They did not know then what God has in store for them during that time. America Latina's prayers have been answered : that may God "teach them to live", which is our school vision of us all.

Thank you for sending such wonderful, sweet, obedient and cheerful girls. Each was a huge blessing to their families, the school and those they served, which count over 3,000 children and almost 500 adults.

Gratefully, in behalf of America Latina,, Bea Zapata

September 5

Reu this past week was INCREDIBLE! It was just an awesome last week together in Guatemala. We had the medical clinics and gave free consults to a little over 100 people over the span on tuesday-thursday. And then we did flouride to around 500 kids I believe which brings out flouride count to an estimated number of 3700!!!! But more about Reu: it was filled with lots of laughter, smiles, cries, prayer, and just serving. It was an extremely emotionally and physically draining week but it was awesome to go through the week together along side all the team members. OH! And we adopted Tina, which is Debbie Espinor´s daughter who is staying for about 3 weeks and the first week was spent with us in Reu so we were a team of 10 girls just serving!

Reu was so beautiful! It looked like a tropical forest therefore we bug-sprayed ourselves multiple times a day. It was also humid, but not as bad as our parents and the other guatemalans made it out to be. We think it was just an exception for our team though... But on friday, our last day, when we were supposed to go to the water park, we ended up not going because there was SO much rain. Like constant for like 10 hours or something. And so we had to miss out on the park but it was fine. And also, yesterday my dad was telling me we got out of Reu right in time because yesterday, Saturday, there was so much rain and flooding from the rivers that no one was able to get out of the town.. so we were blessed with the weather while we were there!

Yesterday, we had another parade in Chimaltenango and it was AWESOME. The band was increidble; and there were fire torches everywhere!!! (AND! Belitta got Dom and I our own after some pleading so we got to carry some torches!!!) And then the rest of the girls joined in with the dance team and danced the entire parade! It was just so much fun. And then after we got to eat tons of typical food, that we aren´t tired of yet!, and then see some performances which included dances, poems, and songs.

Well this is the last update we´ll be sending from Guatemala. We have our family farewell party tonight at the school and we´re so excited to meet each others families and WE´RE ALSO HAVING A PIÑATA!!!! And then we are back at the school tomorrow morning at 6am to leave for the airport.

Thank you for all the prayers and support; it´s been a blessing to have the opportunity to serve in Guatemala!

August 30

The team models their Guatemalan clothes, purchased for Independence Day celebrations.

Students pose with America Latina staff.

Independence Day celebrations at America Latina.

During their visit to the zoo, the team shows off their flamingo wings.

The team will spend the next few days in Retalhuleu, Southwest of Guatemala City. Though it’s a tourist destination (read more about the theme park), the team continues their ministry work; they’ll provide fluoride treatment and help alongside America Latina’s projects serving workers in the park. As a thank-you, the team will have the opportunity to spend time in the park as well.

Michelle notes the team’s impending return; they’ll likely send another update before they leave Guatemala, but below, I’ll include some return flight information and ideas to help you make the most of the team’s return.

As the group returns, they’ll continue to think through this experience and its implications for their lives. It’s likely that this mental processing will involve at least some of these elements:

• Relief upon returning to familiar surroundings,

• Frustration with aspects of home culture that appear less desirable than the cultural values experienced during the SPRINT experience,

• Sadness and joy over relationships and memories developed during the trip,

• And hopefully, Resolve to incorporate the learning from this trip into daily life as life moves on.

It’s our hope that SPRINT participants will return to “life as usual” with expanded worldviews and a clearer sense of God’s work in their lives. The learning process continues after the trip experience; students will participate in a debriefing retreat in October, and will be encouraged to continue meeting with their SPRINT team to share the story of their host’s work and encourage future generations of SPRINT participants to serve.

I encourage you to give your student time to catch up on sleep and collect her thoughts, then set aside an extended period of time to share pictures and stories. Don’t expect completely-formed opinions immediately; the reflection process takes time. We remind returning SPRINTers that not everyone will have time to hear the whole story, but that they should find a few people with whom to share the longer, more in-depth account.

I’ve e-mailed team members a list of debriefing questions designed to help students think through their experience and its meaning as they move forward in their lives. If you’ve got time, I’d encourage you to talk though some of these questions with your student.

Thanks for your support of students on this team! Please let me know if you have questions. The team’s update is below.



I just wanted to let you know that we´re going to Rehu tomorrow and we´ll be there until Friday and we´re actually staying there because it´s 4 hours away and we´re all staying together in a seminary school building (which the team is SUPER excited about because we´ll just have time to debrief and talk and be together all the time!) but I wanted to email you because I´m not sure if we´ll have internet access while we are there...

We´ll be traveling Monday and then working at clinics Tuesday-Thursday and then going to a theme park, that I guess is comparable to Disneyland on Friday and we get to go because of the people we help Tuesday-Thursday.

And then Saturday we have another parade in Chimaltenango and then Sunday is our goodbye party with all of our families at the school and then Monday we´re off... I can´t believe it´s already the last week!

Thanks for the prayers!

August 25

Here’s a quick update from the team.  They’re busy, and clearly enjoying their experience with America Latina. 

The fluoride treatment Michelle describes is an important part of America Latina’s community outreach.  Unlike water in the United States, Guatemala’s water contains no additional fluoride to support healthy teeth.  This fluoride treatment provides a needed service, connects America Latina to a broad section of the community, and provides the opportunity to teach about dental care as well.


We started week 3 at America Latina, everyone in their respective classes again. But besides that, we went to the Guatemalan zoo last Saturday!!! It was last minute and a change a plans because we were supposed to go to the dump and do fluoride at the dump but there was a miscommunication and there weren't any kids! So we decided to go to zoo and it's SO CHEAP! It was 20 quetzales I think which translate to a little over 2 dollars. It was definitely a blessing just because after an entire week in Chimaltenango and giving fluoride to over 2100 students!!!! We just had a relaxing day to just relax and have team bonding which was definitely needed!!

Week 3 has been busy with the elementary school having PE finals (that included 6 different choreographed dances by each grade which was so much fun to watch); I've actually been working with Chochy, the school doctor and we applied fluoride to the kindergarten and the middle school the past few days and we have elementary school to do tomorrow!

This Friday is Dia del Guatemala at America Latina so everyone has gone shopping to the local markets and had our moms bargain (I can't think of the English verb right now because I've been speaking so much Spanish...) to get us traditional skirts and blouses that we're SO excited to wear!!

Other than that, we're loving Guatemala and we're getting ready to go to Rehu, where we will spend a week there, working with 2 different doctors and we'll be setting up clinics (and by setting up I mean making out of sheets and clips and rope) to help the women and children of Rehu.

Thank you for all the support and prayers!!!!

August 17

We just started week two and it was an amazing start to what we think is going to be an awesome week!

But before that, week one was great too. After getting the tour and meeting all the different principals, we got placed into our respective classrooms on Wednesday and we were with our teachers for the rest of the week. I believe there´s 2 in Mis Pasitos (My Little Steps - which ranges from 3 year olds to 6 year olds), 3 in elementary school, and then 1 in middle school and 3 in high school. It was a cool experience to see how a classroom functions in a different setting because obviously, everything was taught in Spanish and also because it´s just a different culture. The classes ranged from music class to Bible class to PE to English. We helped with our classes all week and most of them were reviewing because exams started today! (This week is finals week for the students!)

And then on Saturday we got a tour of the city from Dr. Zapata, the founder of America Latina! It was awesome. We got to see the National Palace, the Relief Map, and THE SINKHOLE!!!! We were driving around and it was POURING rain our driver had to bribe the guard with a diet coke to let us get a little closer to take pictures. And then on Sunday most of us went to church with our host families. And for me personally, it was a whole new experience. The church that I went to, Casa de Dios, was HUGE. My mom said about 20,000 people every Sunday, which is spread among 6 services. It was awesome to just worship in Spanish and hear a message in Spanish too!

Anyways, week two, because the students are taking exams, is in Chimaltenango, a small town about an hour south I believe. But we got there and went to two different schools and gave a little presentation about teeth and how important it is to brush them! And then we gave each of the students (over 300, in total) their own toothbrush and they brushed their teeth and then we applied fluoride on the teeth after. (PS! We had a surprise this morning and Chris Welter showed up with Carol this morning and he´s spending all week with us!). Anyways, this is what it seems like we´re going to do all week except on Wednesday, we get to do a little drama/skit about Joseph to the America Latina school in Chimaltenango for their Chapel.

Anyways, we´re having an AWESOME time. A few of us went to Antigua this past weekend and we´re loving our families. We can´t believe week two is already starting but we´re so excited.

Thanks for all the prayers!

Con amor,
Michelle and the team!!

August 11

A wonderful group of 9 beautiful girls from SPU SPRINT came Monday night.  They are happy as can be and we pray that that will be true through Sept.6th!!

Today we went over the schedule:  assist teachers in all levels, do fluorization in public schools in small towns and to 200 children in the ministry at the city dump, to the the water park, have lunch today with principals and Saturday with Dr. and Mrs. Zapata, participate in two Independance day parades, etc.

Thank you for making this possible.  For America Latina, Bea 

Guatemala Arrival

August 9

I just wanted to let you know that we got here safely! It's about 9:03 pm and we just arrived at the school. It was a long day of flights and waiting but WE ARE FINALLY HERE AND WE ARE SO EXCITED!!!!!! We'll keep you updated. Talk to you soon!

-Michelle and the team!!!!

August 9

As I write, 9 SPU students are enroute to Dallas, Texas, from where they’ll fly this afternoon to Guatemala City, Guatemala. The team will spend the next month working with America Latina, helping in classrooms and assisting with a vision clinic.

The team members have the unique opportunity on this trip to live with Guatemalan host families, parents of children in America Latina’s schools, carefully selected by Bea Zapata, America Latina’s director.  This immersive experience will provide great opportunities for learning and friendships.

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