Mission team returns from Guatemala

Published 10:39 pm Monday, July 24, 2017

A mission team from several local churches spent about 10 days earlier this month in Guatemala City building stoves and water purification systems, running a vacation Bible school and doing other outreach.

A dozen people, mostly from East End Baptist Church, formed the team. Suffolk’s Mount Sinai Baptist Church and another in Virginia Beach also sent members.

“This was an opportunity to share the gospel with our hands and with our intentions of just coming and trying to be a blessing,” said Dr. Wayne Faison, pastor of East End Baptist Church.

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The church takes a team on a mission trip at least once a year, Faison said. In past years, teams from the church have been to Italy, Kenya, Liberia, Panama, Trinidad, Haiti and Jamaica, among other locations.

This year, they chose Guatemala and worked with an organization called Clubhouse Ministries, which already conducts missions in various locations in Guatemala.

A family in Guatemala shows off their new stove, built for them by members of a mission team from East End Baptist Church. The boy on the right is sitting on the stove. (Submitted Photo)

John Croston, associate pastor and missions facilitator, said the church was looking for a trip that offered a range of opportunities for team members to put their gifts to use for the Lord.

They got it on the Guatemala trip. While some members were leading vacation Bible school at an all-boys’ primary school, others were installing stoves and water purification systems in people’s homes. The team also led a service at a local church and made home visits during the 10-day trip.

“It opened up the opportunity to talk to different people in different settings,” Croston said.

The team that conducted the vacation Bible school was touched by the children’s eagerness to participate in craft activities, Faison said.

The school held grades kindergarten through sixth and was an all-boys’ school, Faison said.

“We didn’t think boys would like crafts,” he said.

Furthermore, students in Guatemala are not advanced by age and go to school only when they can afford it, so there were teens in grades as low as second, and even 18-year-olds in the fifth grade.

“We’re not talking about what we would consider a normal second-grader,” he said. “But they’re not looked down upon. That’s just the way it is.”

But the children enjoyed participating in the crafts, Faison said.

“They have to survive by relying on their creativity,” he said. “They are a very artistic people. They love colors.”

Those who participated in building stoves and water purification systems got to see firsthand the impact their work would make, Faison added. Many families in Guatemala cook very primitively inside their homes.

“You could see the soot on the wall, and you understood what they were breathing in just to prepare food,” he said.

Faison said everyone was thrilled with the trip and with the hands-on experiences they got to have in ministering to families.

“One of the things we try to do as a church is take our missions to the next level,” he said. “This was a life-changing encounter. We participated in making a difference in the life of the people there.”

The members of the team, in addition to Faison and Croston, were Robert Scott, Aquita Roberts, Julia Winslett, Stephanie Hazell, Inez Randolph, Rosa Hinton-Biggs, Stacey Sharpe, Russell Andrews, Cecelia Robinson and Jonathan Sharpe.