In June of 2008, seven St. Martin’s teens joined with seven adults for an unforgettable 12-day journey to the Guatemalan highlands …
About the Trip
In June of 2008, seven St. Martin’s teens joined with seven adults for an unforgettable 12-day journey to the Guatemalan highlands—home to our three companion parishes of San Marcos, San Juan and La Natividad. Led by Terry Clattenburg, chairman of the St. Martin’s Companion Parish Committee, the group spent quality time with dozens of our “companeros” in Quetzalenango, Chichicastenango and Totonicapan. The group was warmly received by members of these communities who, in turn, continued to express their gratitude to St. Martin’s for its generous support for their scholarship programs and other forms of financial assistance.
For the teens, the highlight was a five-day stretch of labor-intensive work projects sponsored by the San Lucas Toliman Catholic mission on the south shore of dazzling Lake Atitlan. With assistance from American mission volunteers and directed by Guatemalan supervisors, the St. Martin’s visitors worked side by side with local residents on projects designed to boost the local economy and preserve the area's delicate ecology. Projects included: Hauling acres of soil for playground construction; cracking rocks with sledgehammers to make gravel for building foundations; culling freshly harvested coffee beans for quality control and distribution, and the careful bagging of tiny cypress-tree seedlings in support of a well-established reforestation program. And though it may be hard for parents to believe, St. Martin's teens cheerfully washed dishes for a number of daily breakfast and luncheon meals served in the mission cafeteria.
The teen travelers included: Samantha Pitkin, Allie Grady, Leah Spalding, Sam Morse, Patrick Hawkins, Edgett Hilimire and Wyatt Good. Adult leaders included: Terry and Anita Clattenburg; Ralph and Karen West; Harry and Sandra Gould; and David Raasch.
What follows is a pictorial record of the 2008 journey, along with words of personal reflections written by each of the teen participants. Their remembrances reveal remarkable depth as well as a deepening awareness of God’s ever-unfolding plan for human reconciliation across the vast boundaries of geography, culture and material circumstances. As Patrick Hawkins observed: “Shoveling dirt is a simple thing, but it stands for something much greater.”