2014 Guatemala Pilgrimage
12 – 22 July 2014
REGISTRATION IS FULL!
Plans are developing for the 2014 Seekers work pilgrimage to Guatemala. Next July we will be working with the people of Panimachavac, in the highlands east of Tecpan, as they build their community library. The leaders of village have been working with PAVA to organize a library committee and buy the land. They are excited to be the third village to build a library with the new PAVA design.
This year we worked with PAVA (‘Programa de Ayuda a los Vecinos del Altiplano) or “Aid Program for Highland Communities,” in La Loma, Tecpan help them create a place where residents of the village can have access to books and computers even when the school is not in session.
Traditionally, PAVA has helped disadvantaged but eager communities build the schools and running water systems they need to support community life and the bridges they need to connect them with the world outside the village. Several years ago they began a mobile library program, stocking a ‘bookmobile’ that can visit villages and exchange books that families use to supplement reading lessons at school. Now they are helping local communities establish libraries where books and computer resources will be available much more often than a book-mobile can support.
Next July we’ll be working on a construction crew with folks from the village, playing with the children and sharing their enthusiasm and their hope. Each evening we’ll have time together to reflect on our experience and growing insights. We’ll be staying in Los Bucaros, a small hotel in Antigua, the 500 year old colonial capital city of Central America, known for its charm and great restaurants. Our days in the village and nights in Antigua will give us surprising opportunities for deepening our relationships with God, Creation and ourselves. Come ready to listen and expect to be changed!
After our week in the village we’ll stay 3 nights at Las Buenas Nuevas, a missionary retreat center in Panajachel. The cottages are in a beautiful garden setting overlooking Lake Atitlan. This will be our base camp for day trips across the lake to visit missions and ministries in San Juan de Laguna and Santiago Atitlan, as well as a visit to the famous indigenous market in Chichicastenango. We’ll also have the opportunity for some alternative experiences, possibly including a visit to the local tropical preserve.
Facilitated By: Marjory and Peter Bankson (Seekers Church)
Cost: $1,100 plus transportation to and from Guatemala City (Registration includes underwriting our projects in Guatemala, hotel for 10 nights; bus transportation in Guatemala and most meals. Price does not include airfare to Guatemala. Estimated cost of airfare to Guatemala City from major US cities is about $600. Check to see if your frequent flyer miles can get you there. Some scholarship assistance is available.
Plan to arrive at La Aurora airport in Guatemala City mid-day on July 12th and depart after 10:00 a.m. on July 22nd.
To register, print and complete the on-line registration form, and mail a copy with your deposit ($200) to Seekers Church (276 Carroll Street NW, Washington DC 20012)
The 2013 Pilgrimage is Complete!
August 2, 2013
Twenty-three pilgrims have returned safely from the annual work-pilgrimage to Guatemala sponsored by Seekers. Led by Marjory and Peter Bankson, and assisted by Aeren Martinez, our partnership with PAVA (Programa de Ayuda a los Vecinos del Altiplano) gives us a shoulder-to-shoulder opportunity to deepen our connections with the Mayan people of Guatemala on a project that they have begun and will finish after we leave. It’s also a chance to experience the incredible beauty of the land and the people “up close and personal.”
This year, we were working with the men of La Loma, in the Department of Chimaltenango, helping local families build a library which will serve as a community center. Four years ago, we were in that village to help build a primary school. Two of the most curious students we met in 2009 and recommended for further education have now become “library promoters.” We saw them helping village pre-schoolers learn colors and shapes in Cakchiquel and Spanish, so they will be ready for school in Spanish. Those two young people, Vanessa and Oliver, have also become leaders in preserving traditional Mayan culture – which they shared with us in the final celebration.
Since 2009, the village won a competition for educational achievement and purchased computers with the prize money. Now, to make those computers available to adults as well as children, the village pooled their resources to buy land for the library, and they will provide the labor to finish construction in the next few months. PAVA, with help from Seekers and each pilgrim, provides the materials needed for the project.
Following a week of vigorous manual labor in La Loma, we had three more relaxed days at Lake Atitlan, a mile-deep lake known as the “jewel of Guatemala.” The group took two boat trips — to San Lucas Toliman, to visit the reforestation project run by the Catholic Church there, and to San Juan de Laguna, to visit the coffee and weaving cooperatives there. We also spent a day at the largest Mayan market in Meso-America, at Chichicastenango, where we shamelessly purchased hand-crafts to take back home with us. After all, it’s a way to support the local economy!
The Guatemala Pilgrimage is a continuation of the annual work pilgrimages begun by Faith@Work in 2002. Seekers became the sponsor in 2010, and the trip continues to draw participants from a wide network across the country. Dates for the 2014 Pilgrimage are July 12-22 and registration (on this website) will open in January, 2014.