Planning a trip like this requires a lot of detail and patience. We started planning this trip in November of 2022. By March of 2023, eight had committed to going in July but we needed at least ten to be a “group” for the travel agency. We did a big push and ended up with twelve. As only two of the twelve travelers had been on previous trips to San Lucas Tolimán, we hosted a couple of informational/orientation meetings to introduce the new travelers to the story of the San Lucas Tolimán Mission and what to expect on the trip. The travelers were: Caron and Peter Stebinger, Sue Everson Rose and Roger Rose along with their son Maclain, and Sue’s sister, Mary Claeys, Erika Seavey, Carita Zimmerman and Peter Ekola, Stacy Walters, Wendy Charles and (me) Mary Corlett.
If you saw my pictures posted on the St. John’s Facebook page you saw the beauty of San Lucas Tolimán and Lake Atitlán. The first day toured the programs of the Mission – the school, the hospital, the women’s center and the coffee program. I think the newcomers were impressed with all the Mission does for the people living in the San Lucas Tolimán area.
Days were spent working and learning. For our work sessions we hauled sand up a hill to a concrete block house the Mission was building for a family. Our all-women concrete team hand mixed, poured and laid the kitchen floor for a new kitchen with a vented stove for another family.
Our learning activities also included visiting with Andre, a San Lucas resident, who told us his life story of escaping a slave-like plantation with the help of Father Greg, the priest who started the Mission. Andre helped Fr. Greg create the Mission programs and made San Lucas more livable.
We also went to a Mayan Ruin, visited the Peace Park where the locals of another town, Santiago Atitlán, were murdered by the military and then to the church where a priest, Fr. Rother, was also slain in 1981. So much history in this beautiful area. We ended our trip in Antigua, a 16th century cobblestone town, with an active volcano that seven of our travelers climbed while the other five went sightseeing.
Although we didn’t work as much as the group expected, I think they came back with some lovely memories of our trip and thinking they might want to go again.